education

  • mainly music is a fun and social time for the whole family – but it’s also much more than that!  There’s  physical, spiritual and educational connection points in what we do.

    Here’s a summary of some research from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa about healthy parenting in these moments of connection:

    Backbone Parenting:  Love and Limits!
    We know every child and family situation is different, but if there was one sure recipe for happy, healthy kids it can come down to two key factors:  love and limits.

    First comes Love.  Our first primary job as parents is to love – to love fully and unconditionally.  Caring for a child’s emotional needs is every bit as important as their obvious physical requirements.  You cannot love a child too much – you can not spoil them with too much love.  Love, expressed through physical touch, talking, smiling, singing, dancing, telling stories, mucking about together and just being silly – all builds a strong foundation for a secure, happy child from which they can grow, learn and explore their world.

    “Every bath, every nappy change, and every cuddle are opportunities to help a child feel loved”

    • Keryn O’Neill, Brainwave Trust Aotearoa

    Limits -  providing structure to their world.  Secure on a love foundation, every child needs to have their world constructed with clear and consistent limits.  Your children look to you as their guide to discovering their world – and they are not stifled but rather flourish under firm but fair limits.

    Limits needs to grow with your child – the more they are able to understand, the more we need to explain and help them understand the rules.  When they are younger, boundaries tend to be more physical (preventing our young explorers from hurting themselves); but as they grow boundaries and limits are there to help them learn acceptable and appropriate behaviour.

    Love and Limits:  the two go hand in hand.  They form the backbone of our parenting journey – and it’s not a short trip!  Parenting is often described as a marathon – not a sprint!  And the best possible start for your family begins with both Love and Limits.

    To read the full article from Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, click here. https://www.brainwave.org.nz/love-and-limits/

  • Are you expecting too much from your toddler?

    Take a deep breath and read Miriam McCaleb's words of wisdom on how to parent a willfull two year old.

    What gives? What makes us think it's acceptable to label two year olds as "terrible"? "The terrible Twos" is a common phrase used to describe our divine children as they negotiate the rocky path of toddlerhood. Just when toddlers need their adults to be at our most compassionate, understanding and helpful, we turn on them with our language and expectations. Within their earshot, these groovy toddlers are described as "terrible".

    If i knew i was being described as a "Tragic Thirty-something" rapidly approaching my "Foul Forties", i would be highly likely to lay my most awful behaviour on you. Really, you wanna see terrible? I'll give you tragic! You aint seen foul like i can deliver it....

    We've certainly moved on from thinking it's okay to use such terms when describing gender, ethnicity or ability. So why is it socially acceptable for two year olds?

    Rise up, dear readers and join me in a campaign to say "NO!" to using this unfortunate moniker. Yes, friends, beware the power of the fulfilling prophecy.

    Bye bye baby, hello toddler

    Let's explore some of the developmental tasks of children as they near the age of two, and how we as adults need to adjust our expectations. After all, when we know what is going on for children during toddlerhood, we have no need to label their behaviour "terrible".

    Toddlerhood can emerge as a shock to many parents. You've adjusted to the needs of infancy, you have been brave and giving as you negotiated sleepless nights, sore boobs, and the constant aroma of baby vomit. But along with the challenges, you've enjoyed the rewards of parenting a baby: the admiring gazes of folks on the street, the convenience of the non-mobile infant (still in the same spot where you left him, 10 minutes later!) and the glorious baby grins and giggles. Seemingly all of a sudden, this portable and somewhat malleable baby is replaced by a toddler, determined to practise his newfound walking (running, and climbing) skills, a toddler with his own ideas about where to go next and what he would rather be doing, wearing or eating. This shift must be met with a shift in your skills, or conflict will arise.

    Dr Ron Lally, one the founders of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care, a research-based training organisation in California, talks about the tension that occurs when adults continue using the same skills that were successful in caring for a young baby when they're engaged with an older infant or toddler.

    He explains that the main development task of a very young infant is to experience security and that the ultimate caregiving style for a very young infant is modelled on a warm, bosomy grandmother. Calm, gentle, sensitive love delivered by an attuned and nurturing adult with tons of time to snuggle. Perfect!

    But as that little baby grows into a mobile infant, the envelope of the cost embrace becomes more of a part-time residence. The main developmental task of the mobile infant is exploration, and a child of this age (who has made the cognitive leap that "mummy ends and i begin") has a ton of work to do in figuring out how his body works. He must learn to roll, commando-crawl, rock on hands and knees, pick things up with a pincer grasp, stand up, walk and climb. Huge work!

    Step up, coach

    Now that the middle infant has started to walk, he is, by definition, a toddler. And toddlers have a whole new world to negotiate. They've mastered much of their physical work, and they're moving into a complex world of understanding relationships, emotions and identity. ("Me! Mine! I do it!") This learning is profound and important, and Dr Lally uses the analogy of a coach to describe the type of skill set that will serve a toddler well.

    The coach is encouraging, clear and patient. The coach recoginises that some skills will need to be practised over and again, without becoming frustrated. A skilled coach wont become angry or take it personally when they receive messages, "I need your help. No, go away! I can do this on my own! Actually, hey, i really do need your help!" recognising that the need for support ebbs and flows when negotiating new skills - sometimes within moments.

    No need to get mad about it - it's not naughtiness or willfullness, its just how it is. Sue Gerhardt repeats this language in her excellent book Why Love Matters. She talks about the role of a skilled adult as an "emotion coach". Our toddlers need us to identify what they seem to be experiencing, to weave it with some empathy, and to avoid judgment of their emotion.

    A threatening toddler storm in the supermarket checkout can be responded to with something like: "Oh, I Know! All of those chocolates look so interesting and it's hard when you can't have what you want, eh? Looks like you're mad about that! Oh well .... sorry, babe, no chocolate today."

    This is quite a different message to, "Stop being silly. You don't need chocolate. Stop it!"

    The limit is the same (I'm not buying a chocolate bar), but while the first response acknowledges that human desires and emotions are normal (and lets be honest, whose not tempted by the beautifully wrapped treats?), the second serves to add an unhelpful layer of shame to the mix (It's silly to feel like that). When we are honest with ourselves, we realise that it's entirely reasonable to feel discomfort when faced with the yearning for something desirable that we cannot have. New car, anyone? Coveting another pair of impractical shoes or beautiful handbag? Yes, it's hard when we can't have what we want.

    Local parent educator and university lecturer Nathan Mikaere-Wallis has another terrific analogy when talking about supporting children through this time. He talks about a child's need for an emotional apprenticeship. Just as the master mechanic wouldn't mock the junior for not yet knowing how to manage a blown carburetter, wise adults know we must share our experiences, to avoid abandoning children in the complex world of emotion.

    Recipe for brain development

    Exploring the work of Dr Bruce Perry, a Texas-based neuroscientist, author and child psychiatrist, gives us another lens through which to view this idea. Dr Perry developed what's known as the neuro-sequential model, a fantastic tool for understanding the way our brains develop. The neuro-sequential model demonstrates that toddlers are working with an incomplete brain. Their brains have a way to go before being totally organised. Is it any wonder they need our help?

    This model teaches us a hierarchical nature of brain growth and function. Dr Perry uses the analogy of a layer cake: The bottom layer must be firm and cooked so other layers can rest upon it.

    We now know that our brain uses a foundation of simple functions and later develops more complex functions. The first region of our brain to develop is the brain stem, focusing on survival functions, for example: breathing.

    Next, the neuro-sequential model teaches us that toddlers do huge work to develop control over their bodies, as they wire up a region known as their mid-brain. Then, the "layer" of the limbic system is developed, and this is the home of emotion.

    Anyone hanging out with toddlers will recognise that they often feel deep emotions, and they move from one to another for reasons that may seem illogical to adults. Most grown-ups have access to a region of the brain known as the cortex, which enables logic to override an emotional response. Research indicates we don't fully wire up our cortexes until we're in our mid-20s. So, to expect a two year old to "calm down" just because you say so is unreasonable.

    Toddlers have an emotional brain, but they don't yet have a logical brain. Robust cortical growth happens most readily when it rests upon a strong foundation. This can't happen when the "layers" of the "cake" that sit underneath have raw cake batter in the middle.

    It is arguable, then, that the best way to ensure a healthy wiring (and perfect bake time) for the limbic system is to engage emotionally with toddlers as they do the work of learning about feelings.

    Imagine your 20-month-old wants to wear the green T-shirt and it's wet on the washing line. He's disappointed, maybe sad. Perhaps a tantrum is looming. While it's great if you take the time to talk with him about the wet fabric and the fact that he'll get cold if he wears it now, he will not be able to hear your logical messages and explanations while he's in the midst of his emotional reaction.

    Instead, start with his emotion. "Oh, I can see your face looking really sad about that. Are you disappointed about the T-shirt being wet? Because you really love that T-shirt, don't you? But do you know what, honey? It's all wet! It was dirty, so I washed it, and now it has to get dry before you can wear it again."

    See - all those logical explanations are in there too, but we must begin by allowing, acknowledging and explaining the emotion. Over time, children become more skilled at recognising the emotions that pass like clouds across their consciousness ("Yes, I'm angry!"). Knowing what they are, as well as having been coached about how to manage them, is essential in learning to regulate them - to calm oneself down.

    Understanding tantrums

    Speaking of regulating emotions, let's take a moment to talk specifically about tantrums. Tantrums are usually a result of a child not having yet learned to deal with their powerful emotions in more of a socially acceptable way. They are not usually about naughtiness or manipulation - remember, these children don't yet have much of a logical brain, so they're not able to plan, plot or control their parents.

    Most tantrums are what author and child psychotherapist Margot Sunderland calls a "distress tantrum", and these children should be thought of as having the words "I need to be soothed" or "Help me to handle this" printed across their beings. These children need empathy, language to describe their feelings and perhaps some distraction.

    The minority of tantrums are described by Sunderland in The Science of Parenting, as "Little Nero" tantrums. A child having a Little Nero tantrum is usually older, there are no tears or stress chemicals in his brain and body. Only a minority of tantrums are about manipulation. This is the child who needs clear limits and a calm, firm parent.

    Which brings us to the final point. In order to be the sort of parent our children need us to be, we must strive for calm, warm, consistent parenting. This is very hard to do when we are stressed ourselves. Our buttons are pushed much more easily when we're tired, when we haven't learned to process our own emotions, or if we just need a snack.

    So just as you're practising kindness and acceptance of those toddlers (the Terrific, Tantalising Toddlerific Twos), practise a little kindness and acceptance of yourself, too.

    Miriam McCaleb has been working with children for 20 years. She reckons the coolest among them are toddlers. The last decade has seen Miriam concentrate on teaching the adults in children's lives (who are also cool) and in caring for her whanau (the best of the lot!).  She works with the Brainwave Trust, blogs at www.baby.geek.nz and this February delightedly welcomed a new baby. 

     Special thanks to OHbaby! magazine for providing us with the content of this piece.

    Republished with permission – www.ohbaby.co.nzweblogoohbaby

  • Self-esteem. Parents are sometimes placed on a guilt trip. We measure ourselves. The critics say, the child's self esteem is all up to parents.

    It has been recorded that worry does not add a single moment to your lives. That wherever our treasure is, there our heart and thoughts will also be. And that each of us is more valuable to God than the birds of the air.

    How can we, as parents or influencers of these youngsters, present a bigger picture so they know we 'choose' them, that they are held in our hearts as 'loved'?

    Firstly, we can reduce the 'worry' factor. We can take stock of the atmosphere in our home, not talk about wrongdoings in their hearing, and stop ourselves from confiding our own fears to them.

    Secondly, we can encourage them in treasures beyond themselves - let's help them find a passion - dance, sport, art, literature. They don't have to be 'first' or 'best' - instead be satisfied with a job well done, a game well played.

    Finally, we can explore with them a picture beyond ourselves. If Gods finds us and our children more valuable than the birds, we can relax in that knowledge. Look at birds dressed so finely; they have detail far beyond our nakedness; they worry-not. Sure birds don't have schedules or iPhones, rent or mortgage, bills nor credit cards. Birds' lives are relatively care-free. But listen to their song - they sing as the sun rises, they sing as the sun sets, and whether its raining or sunny, they find something to be thankful for. Have you considered and 'i'm thankful' list !

    Start by doing  what is necessary. Then do what is possible. And suddenly you are doing the impossible.
    Francis of Assisi. 

  • It’s just occurred to me that we’re going back in time.

    I’m not much into history but I have been thinking recently about historical ways of life after seeing the movie, Suffragette.

    Throw into the mix one of my children having a chat to me about self-value. “Mum”, he said, “tell me how valuable am I to you?”

    Along with the constant awareness I have of children sitting in trolleys or buggies with electronic devices; observed at meal tables when we’re out; or seen in cars on journeys [where, let’s face it, there are windows so they can see what is going on in the world].

    Put this all together … and what have we got?

    I think we have a new way of ensuring children are ‘seen and not heard’.

    We’ve gone back in time. We’ve gone back to a time of life that we look back at and say, “Wouldn’t want life to be like it was for our grandparents.” And yet we’re now partially in that place.

    All too often, we give our children an electronic device to stop them making noise [and they’ve worked out ‘noise’ gets them the electronic device] while we’re out and about. This stops us from having conversations about the world and how it works. This stops us having conversations with our children. This stops us talking about life and what matters to us.

    What did I answer to my son’s question? How much I loved his attention, how I delighted in his opinions, how I valued his stories and more – I’m not going to give detail because that was a conversation between him and me. But how could I answer his question? We have had shared time, chatting, wrestling with issues, talking through ‘what if’s?’, asking tough stuff – together. He’s in his twenties and back when he was growing up, there weren’t devices to hand over. We talked at the table. We chatted in the car. We conversed while we journeyed through life.

    As someone in another phase of ‘family’ to those of you in the pre-school and primary years, can I encourage you to think about the place of ‘the device’ in your lives? It does have a place. But is the use of devices causing your children to be ‘seen and not heard’?

    Jo

  • Part of reading is finding enjoyment in the alphabet. Here are some fun activities to bring enjoyment to your child as they become familiar with the alphabet. Using 26 sheets of paper, draw a lower case letter on each sheet or you could use the document we have produced for downloading [there are two paper size options]. Lay each alphabet letter on the ground in a line or fix them to the wall so your child can view them all.
Page: 1 of 1

5 Item(s)

Choose project:

Fires, floods and other nasties
Families at risk
Bring connection during Covid-19
Fires, floods and other nasties
If there has been a natural (or man made) disaster in your country, like fires, floods or even terrorism, and you'd like to support the groups in that area, depending which country you give from, we'll make sure these groups get help. The money will go to celebration items (like Christmas books or birthday gifts) and financial support of the local groups affected.
Families at risk
We're connecting with families who don't always see the value of mainly music sessions first off - but when they attend other services provided by agencies and participate, their smiles return as they connect with their child. It fills mum's life and develops the bond with her children.
Bring connection during Covid-19
We have many stories where mothers say, "I went to my GP. I was told to go on medication. I found mainly music. I don't need medication at all." Post natal depression, social isolation, anxiety along with Covid-19 restrictions can stop anyone in their tracks. Contributing to this fund from anywhere in the world will help those mainly music groups who are struggling financially.
Donation amount:

$