Hello everyone, welcome to our December newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on how to cultivate optimism in children even when the present situation is less than favorable to them. We will borrow techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy to teach children how to always have a positive frame of mind.
Topic of the month - Cultivating optimism in children
Children are naturally positive, bright, and cheerful in their mindset and demeanour. However, unfortunate circumstances and traumatic situations in their early lives can dash that optimism. And these negative events can have long-term effects on a child’s development and quality of life.
Today’s generation of children is particularly vulnerable to negative thoughts and feelings with the great isolation and limitations imposed on them. Most children have had to deal with being locked indoors, limited opportunities in having social interactions with their peers replaced by more screen time.
Some children also show signs of anxiety such as having a difficult time concentrating, increased temper tantrums and heightened sensitivity.
As children exhibit more behavioural problems, the more important it is for the child’s parents and carers to help them cultivate a more positive mindset, especially in these trying times.
What is cognitive behavioural therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy’s main proposition is that how we feel can be influenced by how we think and behave. By changing negative thoughts and bad behaviours in children, children are empowered to discover, explore, and develop at the same pace as their peers.
Cognitive behavioural techniques help children change their behaviours and thoughts that influence how they feel.
Cognitive behavioural therapy for younger children usually starts by changing their behaviours as this is a more concrete example a child can easily understand.
For older children, it can be done through a talk therapy wherein a behavioural psychologist can help a child identify negative thought patterns and reframe them in a positive way. They could also ask a child to keep a thought journal to help them track their thoughts and feelings.
What types of behavior can CBT improve?
Children suffering from long lockdowns due to COVID-19 may develop the following symptoms over time. Using CBT techniques can help parents guide their children to cope with these negative feelings and disruptive behavior:
CBT can help children identify the thoughts and feelings that trigger their anxiety and change the patterns of how they think.
A child who was once boisterous now becoming quiet and withdrawn. A depressed child feeling upset will need thorough guidance and help expressing their negative feelings while reframing it in a positive way. Through CBT, a child will be given the ability to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Hostile or aggressive behavior
Recognising what hostile or aggressive behavior they are performing is the first step to changing the said behaviour. When children understand their behaviour is particularly unpleasant or causes harm to themselves and/or others, only then will they be able to stop the behaviour.
Bedwetting, when not treated early on, can affect a child’s self-esteem. Studies have shown that cognitive behavioural therapy along with other psychotherapies is effective in resolving the matter and resulting in more consecutive dry nights as opposed to children who did not undergo any treatment or therapy.
As children deal with being with family members longer due to the lockdowns rather than interacting with people outside of the family unit, it can result in extreme shyness when they finally get to see the outside world and are given the chance to interact with strangers. CBT can help them overcome this shyness by providing them with a more positive thought pattern.
Cognitive behavioral therapy through play
Getting to know a child’s thought patterns is much harder than observing their behaviours. As they are still developing their vocabulary, CBT uses these creative activities to find out what a child is thinking while masking the activity’s true intention. In this way, the child never associates therapy with something boring or prescriptive. Through these activities, the child is able to express thoughts and feelings in a creative and positive manner.
Using puppets can give children an outlet to voice out thoughts they may feel uncomfortable to claim as their own. As behavioural therapists endeavour to find how a child is feeling, puppets can be a fun way to conduct the talk therapy without pressuring the child to open up.
Another way of grasping a child’s mental mindset is through storytelling. As a child tells their story about their worries, fears, and concerns, the therapist or caregiver gets valuable information on how the child thinks and the nature of their thought patterns.
If a child’s vocabulary limits them from fully expressing their concerns, drawing is another alternative activity in which the child can easily show their thoughts and feelings. As the child draws characters, scenarios, and other representations of his inner thoughts and feelings, a behavioural therapist can ask follow up questions.
Resources about cognitive behavioural therapy
These are just a few of the available resources for you and your family about cognitive behavioural therapy.
Raising Health Minds App
To help parents and caregivers about their child’s well-being, Raising Healthy Minds has released an app that answers parents’ most-pressing questions about their child’s behaviour and feelings.
THIS WAY UP provides evidence-based, online treatment programs for anxiety and depression. The programs are based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles and include courses on pregnancy, postnatal mental health, mindfulness, insomnia, worry, stress, depression, chronic pain and wellbeing. All THIS WAY UP courses are free when prescribed by a health professional. The site also features a range of free coping and resilience tools to tackle feelings of stress, anxiety, and low mood.
Is bedtime for your baby synonymous with sleepless nights for you and wailing time for him? Avoid falling into sleep traps and patterns that do nothing but encourage the wrong sleeping behaviours for your baby.
Whether you rock your baby to sleep, extend feeding times, or let him nap during the day, find the correct sleeping solutions that’ll give both you and your baby a restful sleep at night.
Find out more about sleeping solutions to the most common sleep problems for your baby.
1-2 year development
'Baby brain' doesn't last: study shows that motherhood doesn't diminish attention
Author: Bianca Wordley
It has long been a myth that mothers have a “baby brain” that is responsible for their forgetfulness and shorter attention span. However, a new study suggests otherwise. Researchers from Indiana and Florida put mother’s attention and memory to the test to see whether there is any truth to the baby brain phenomenon that plague new mothers.
Comparing non-mothers to mothers who have been one for at least a year shows that mothers actually performed on par, if not better, with non-mothers.
Read on to know more details about the study and its results regarding “mummy brain”.
2-3 year development
10 signs your baby has become a toddler
Author: Vivienne Pearson
When should you consider your baby a toddler? As your little one grows, sometimes it seems in a snap, you’ll suddenly realise the baby who filled your nights with cries and howls is now buzzing with energy and excitement zapping through the house. Find the 10 signs your baby has now become a toddler, growing and developing faster right before your eyes.
What Is Stimming and When Is It a Significant Child Behaviour?
Author: Patrick A. Coleman
Stimming is a term used by the autism community to describe repetitive behaviours done by a child to self-soothe. While stimming is often associated with those with autism, it is also a part of the developmental cycle.
Stimming manifests itself in two categories: physical and insistence on sameness. Physical behavior can range from nail biting to spinning while insistence on sameness happens when a kid falls into a pattern of playing with only the same toy, wearing the same clothes for days, weeks, or even months on end.
The pandemic has been hard on all of us, most especially on young children. And what it makes it more difficult for young ones is that it may be hard to spot. With their limited vocabulary and even more limited understanding of their behavior and emotions, what might be seen as a behaviour problem might actually be signs that your child is struggling in lockdown.
Spot the signs early by reading the article and give your children the extra support they need.
Light-Up Rocket Corner Bookmark
A fun STEM activity that teaches older children about electricity and origami, this craft will need adult supervision when it comes to creating the paper circuit that’s composed of a coin cell battery, copper tape, and sticker LED. If you want to make it safer for younger children, skip the paper circuit part of the activity for another day.
Introduce simple machines and how they make life easier with this fun STEAM craft that’ll have your little ones throwing objects with the use of a popsicle catapult. This activity is perfect for all ages. For children starting to learn how to count, this catapult can have them exercise their counting skills, measuring the length of distance and height at which objects are catapulted into the air. For older children, building a catapult is perfect for teaching them about engineering and science concepts such as gravity and force.
Does your little one tend to get into trouble sticking their little hands into places it shouldn’t be in? Keep their hands busy creating, crafting, and playing with their very own fidget spinner. Crafting one into reality helps your child develop their attention span and improve their ability to follow directions.
A fun STEM experiment that suits children of all ages, create a bombastic Christmas bath bombs using organic ingredients. For older kids, this experiment is a great way to introduce chemistry and the science behind the fizz that’s achieved by combining an acid and base. Adult supervision is required especially when mixing the citric acid into the mixture.