Confused by the fidget spinner craze?!...

Fidget spinners have become the latest craze for school aged children, right across Australia. For some children these are a fun toy, that provide hours of entertainment and distraction, which has resulted in many schools having to ban these from the classrooms and the playground. 

For other children however fidget toys such as stress balls, putty, stretchy items, fidget spinners can help with sensory processing, focus and attention and support emotional regulation.

So how do you know the difference?!? Occupational Therapist Kerri Wilmot explains the difference between a fidget item and a toy here

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Relaxation apps for all ages...

There thousands of incredible apps and websites, that can help with distraction, encourage learning, strategic thinking, increase coping skills and provide entertainment.  When life becomes busy and stressful, it can sometimes be difficult to settle our body and quieten our minds, particularly in preparation for rest.  

Following is a small selection of apps and sites that you may find useful, to encourage relaxation and a sense of calm, helping to settle the mind and body, at the end of a busy day.

Smiling Mind

Relax Melodies (free and paid versions available)

Mindful Kids (YouTube Channel) - Best relax Music for Children Quiet Time

Calm (Free)

Stop, Breathe & Think (meditation app)

If you've used any of these before or have other apps you've found useful, it would be great to hear from you.

Breathing exercises for your child...

Research has shown that taking a few deep breaths can help to calm the nervous system and make us feel more centred and relaxed.

Children are often introduced to a range of breathing techniques, to help support them with anxiety and at time of stress. It can be helpful for children to have a visual tool, to help them to remember some of the different types of breathing exercises they can do. 

The team at Childhood 101 have created a FREE breathing exercise card , that can be printed off, for your child to keep in their workbook at school, or on their bedroom wall at home.

 

Children and Television...

Every day we are surrounded by technology, hand held devices and television, as a parent it can be difficult to know how much time your child or young person should spend watching television or which programs they should be watching. You may also be left wondering, are there long term effects of watching too much TV and playing on devices? will they become increasingly anti-social?, or will I lose them for hours on end, to the world of technology?

This interesting article by Karen Young looks at some of the research behind children and television and provides some suggestions on how to view television time as an opportunity for you to connect with your child or young person. 

Creative ideas to help with separation anxiety

Children can experience separation anxiety at different times throughout their development and for a range of reasons. It may be due to starting playgroup, preschool or school, going away to camp, to a friend’s place for a sleepover, staying over at mum or dad’s place if they live separately, or perhaps the child or a parent is in hospital.

Children need to feel secure and connected to their caregivers, especially when they are away from them.  Here are 3 creative ideas which may help ease some anxiety.

 

Pocket Love (3 years and up*)

Many young children like to collect precious items, often seeking these from nature: stones, sticks, shells, leaves, clovers. If you can, spend time with your child collecting pebbles or small stones from the garden (or you can use shells). Choose ones that are small enough to fit into your pocket.

  • Paint onto your chosen item with something that represents your love for your child, this could be a love heart, a word, or colours. Your child can create one too. (Use white acrylic paint for the base colour, so added colours will stand out)
  • Explain to your child how your love passes into the stone or shell, you can hold it in your palm, even give it a kiss, telling them how much you love them.  It can be helpful to carry it in your own pocket for a time, before giving it to your child, to take with them. 
  • When your child is away from you, they can keep it in their pocket, take it out to hold it and know that your love is with them.  

TIP: It can be useful to make a few of these, if one goes missing, you always have a spare.

*Note: these are suggested age groups only and may vary depending on the individual child.

 

Invisible String (5 years and up)

A similar idea, instead using the concept of an invisible string*. A string that connects your hearts together and passes your love along the string, no matter where you are.  It can be helpful to get a ball of string or wool, to use as a visual tool, when explaining this to your child.

  • Give the end of the string to your child, get them to hold onto it, you hold the other end.
  • You can even move yourself (unrolling the ball) into another room, with the string still connected, to show them how it works.
  • Let your child know that you are always connected by an invisible string of love, no matter where they are. They could be at school, staying at a friends house, in bed, or even living a different house or city. It doesn't matter where the two of you are, you will always be connected through love.
  • I often add to this by asking the child to imagine what the string between you looks like, is it made of string? Ribbon or fabric? Is it light or heavy? What colour is it? Or is it invisible? By asking your child to use their imagination in this way, it will help them, when they are away from you, to visualise the connection between you.

*The above is based on a book called ‘The Invisible String’, by Patrice Karste, which can be purchased from online bookstores.

 

Little Notes (children of reading age)

A quick and easy idea, put a little note into your child’s lunch box, inside their workbook, pencil case, or under their pillow. Let them know you love them, and you’re thinking of them. Tell them what makes you proud of them.

Returning to school: how to support your anxious child

It's hard to believe but it's that time of year again. Many children across the country will be starting school for the first time, moving into a new grade, starting at a new school, or entering high school.  

Some children, young people (and parents) can find this time particularly daunting, leaving them feeling anxious and unsure of themselves.

This useful article provides 10 helpful tips for parents to help support children who are anxious about school.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Life can be busy, managing the day to day run of the family, keeping up with other commitments, such as; work, study, medical appointments, extracurricular activities for children, as well as trying to have a social life. 

It can be common for parents and caregivers, to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and often end up neglecting their own self-care along the way.

Here are some quick tips, to help recharge your batteries, when you have limited time and resources available.

  • Pause for a moment, take a deep breath in, then a slow long breath out. It helps!
  • Repeat a mantra to yourself such as;
    • 'I - can - be - calm'
    • 'I - can - be - strong'
    • 'I - can - be - kind'
  • Write down a list of 'things to do today,' then prioritise it! Ask yourself...do I really need to achieve ALL of these today? Is there something for ME on this list?
  • Ask for help and accept help and support from others, when its offered.
  • Be kind to yourself, remember no one is perfect.