Our prime areas of learning and development are the foundations of who we are and how we function, children need strong foundations in order to be able to build effectively on top with more specific areas.
Children may start with strong foundations but life happens and this can cause cracks to form so it’s important to revisit those foundations and underpin them.
Many children are entering schools with weaker foundations than ever before...why?
Sending summer born children to school without the extra time in pre-school or at home, less time playing and exploring independently which allows time to figure things out for themselves (without Mum or Dad stepping in), and so much screen time are just a few of the reasons why.
Our brains still need the same experiences and connections that they always have done in order to develop effectively, yet life has changed dramatically over the past 20 years.
The decline in children’s mental health tells us that more focus must be put on these prime areas of development because when foundations are strong and deep; you can build skyscrapers on top.
Find out more about our training and parent workshops email@example.com
We hear the saying “Time Flies” so often that we have almost stopped taking time to think about what that means for us.
“Make the most of them when they’re young, they grow up too fast”
When it comes to our children we get to a point where we, put simply, CAN NOT BELIEVE how quickly the time went. I speak to so many parents who are experiencing this so I wanted to share my perspective with you all.
I look back at my eldest’s younger years with both a feeling of “that seems so long ago” but at the same time “where has the time gone?” It’s looking forward to the future and being immensely proud of who he is, how he’s learned from mistakes, how he continues to mature and change week on week and at the same time feeling so incredibly sad.
When my son was set to leave primary school I struggled, I felt at times like my heart was breaking. I would cry at night, spend hours looking through old photographs of him and all the time not understanding why I felt like this. I had my son, I was so incredibly blessed. I knew parents who had lost their children, people who had been unable to conceive and here I was with two healthy children feeling sad; I then added guilt into the big mixed bag of emotions I was feeling.
I know how complex emotions are, I talk about it in my work every single day yet I was being hard on myself for feeling how I felt.
I can’t remember when or where I first read about grieving for our children’s childhoods but I’m forever grateful that I did. I read something that just made me say ‘Ahhhh, that makes sense’ and I could begin to process and strategize.
When my son was younger he broke his arm and needed an urgent operation, I remember cleaning his muddy legs in A&E and thinking “these feel bigger”, I remember HIM telling ME that it would be OK and then me thinking “when did this happen. When did he grow to this stage?” I think that was my first experience of feeling this type of grief. As he started secondary school it got worse and I knew if I didn’t work through it I would lose out on time with him now and forever be looking backwards instead of forwards.
Just like when we look at a photo of ourselves and hate it only to look back 10 years later and think ‘what was I stressing about?’ I knew I would look at photos of the age he was and think how young he looked.
The only way I could do this was to accept it for what it was and allow myself to grieve for the little boy he was and love and accept the young man he was becoming.
Grief is ever changing, it is not a place to stay and it is completely necessary in order to look forwards. Although the difference between this kind of grief and a real grief is that this passes, it doesn’t stay as a constant hurt; which is fantastic to hear. So although at the time it hurts, it changes, it doesn’t stay and we can get on with enjoying our children as they are.
I’m aware not all parents feel this way and that’s fine too, how we feel is just that, how WE feel and we mustn’t feel guilty for it.
Having spoken to my dad about this topic he raised some interesting points and one that resonated was that we have access to almost an unlimited number of videos and photos of our children now; there aren’t any videos of me as a toddler for my parents to sit and reminisce over, in fact there are only limited photos. Does the fact we have all these memories to watch make it harder to move forwards?
Whatever the answer to that question I’m not sure, but my Dad kindly forwarded me a poem he wrote about me when I was 14 and I would say that videos or no videos, photos or no photos we all need to address these feelings to some degree at some point (as for the ‘loud and rude and coarse’ comment, I’ve no idea what he’s on about).
So, as my youngest now prepares to start secondary school and my eldest attends university open days I have more days to come watching old videos, looking at photos and longing to feel their chubby toddler arms wrapped around my neck again – and that’s OK. As with all feelings it’s important to acknowledge and not suppress, only then can we process and move forwards; and I shall be moving forwards with 2 young people who still need me more than ever, and who I am immensely proud to call my son and daughter. Just as I hope my dad is proud of me.
It’s hard to think these photographs are old,
yet hard too to deny the evidence:
there’s you on your first day at school
standing up against the ‘old-house’ fence,
recalling someone that it seems I knew
before the flow of time created you.
I’ve known you now for nearly fifteen years,
but somehow never know who you may be
at any stage along the path of change.
Your past personas tease my memory
like lost friends from a half-forgotten past
recalled to life in faded photographs.
I could embarrass you, and write in terms
of my loved daughter, and the joys
she brings: but you would cringe
and read my words in funny voice
with cruel affection, mocking me
for writing sentimentally.
And yet it isn’t joy you bring,
it’s life, with all its force:
you aren’t some fragrant angel;
you’re loud and rude and coarse.
You make me laugh, you make me rage,
you see the whole world as your stage.
I watch each growing step you take
and follow gladly in your wake.
Our emotions are physical sensations within us, they are feelings in the true sense of the word.
If we don’t develop effective ways of processing and releasing those feelings that energy stays in our bodies and we search for ways to distract us from them.
It’s not easy to begin talking about how we feel but I can help you to start. Talking about it helps to reset our internal alarms and brings good flow to our nervous system which can help reduce physical symptoms and anxiety.
The best way to help children develop good emotional literacy skills is by starting early - from birth.
I WISH I’d of had this knowledge when my 2 children were younger yet I’m so grateful that I have it now! Emotional Literacy strategies honestly makes a huge difference to connections with our children and other relationships in our lives.
It also helps gives children the tools to verbally express how they feel and the confidence and security to do so.
Children grow up and can learn to use the things we do to distract from feeling how they do, let’s give them the best chance that we can.
It’s not a guarantee but it’s a good insurance policy.
Contact us today to find out more.
I just wanted to share some exciting news with you…
I’ve been chosen as a finalist by a panel of judges for a national business award!
The Mpower National Business awards recognises and celebrates the achievements of women throughout the UK who are successfully juggling the challenge of starting and growing a business with family life.
It meant so much when I received the email to tell me that someone had taken the time to nominate me and when I heard I had been shortlisted as a finalist I was delighted! I work so hard and to receive feedback saying that the information I am sharing is making a difference to how parents are responding to their children’s emotional development makes it all worthwhile. I’m passionate about making a difference to the mental health, not just of our children, but of our community as a whole; being shortlisted motivates me to continue to strive for emotional literacy training for all parents and teachers in Derby.
The winners will be announced on June 23 at the Mpower Gala in London and although I’m not expecting to walk away with an award in my hands I am still incredibly proud to have been nominated and shortlisted, especially as it is in the ‘Community’ category.
Find out more about the business awards below
Thanks for sharing in my exciting news!
A man sits in the pub surrounded by loved ones, drinks are flowing, laughter can be heard but nobody can spot the dark cloud hovering over his head. Lonely and desperate in a room full of people and loved ones.
Coronation Street's portrayal of Aiden’s suicide is brave. It’s brave because it tackled the epidemic of male suicide in a realistic way which is something that has still been taboo in British soaps, even in 2018.
Aiden was not a villain choosing to jump rather than face prison, he wasn’t a loud obvious choice of character to be depicted as have been suffering from depression - that’s why it’s brave. It will do more in terms of raising conversation around the topic than any other portrayal of depression I’ve viewed.
That’s the reality isn’t it? It’s not always obvious, the energy it takes to keep up a public face means everything is zapped from you behind closed doors. Not talking, keeping it in for shame, inability or a feeling of ‘I shouldn’t be feeling like this’ is the reality for a lot of males suffering from depression. It’s a quiet voice rather than a loud roar.
There are subtle signs that were planted throughout the story-line and I hope that as a nation we discuss those signs, as they could be what makes the difference to you reaching out to someone you see or love. The portrayal of Aiden by Shayne Ward has been brilliant, acting that would fit in well on the silver screen. Our country has incredible actors in our soaps, and without them the amazing scripts would not have anything like the impact that they do.
As a viewer I was so focussed on David’s torment after his rape ordeal, his roars so loud yet also so silent that I didn’t recognise the subtle hints that Aiden was suffering from depression. When Imran told David to ‘man up’ I applauded the writers in my head.
Isn’t that an issue. What is ‘man up’? Is it ‘don’t talk’ ‘don’t be sad’ ‘’be tough’ ‘be strong’ because that’s what a man does, a man doesn’t open up, articulate his emotions because for so many years that is what we have programmed our young men to believe. When they feel themselves not measuring up to that standard we are serving them a slab of shame to go alongside their depression.
If they haven’t had practice along the way then how are they to know what to do when the big, overwhelming emotions encompass them. Times are different. The world is different. We NEED to be different.
Suicide doesn’t just affect Men of course, but the figures tell us that it is the single biggest cause of death for men under 45 in the UK and these are three times higher than female suicide rates. That is a problem that continues to grow amongst our male population. Something must be done.
We MUST MUST get emotional literacy activities, strategies and language in homes and schools. We MUST MUST start ensuring parents, carers and educators have the knowledge and confidence to support emotional development in the right way, based on evidence.
When will we STOP and take note of the year we are in? We need to look at brain development studies which show what we need to thrive, and then look at what is missing in today’s world. We have more information than we’ve ever had. How then can we account for the huge decline in mental health? When will we start looking at trauma informed practice as a way of ensuring all children get the correct emotional support growing up?
It’s 2018, not 1948! The time needs to be now.
Coronation Street have laid down the gauntlet and we must pick it up to push forward and evoke change, because as David said, ‘I don’t want to die. I want to live’.
You find your perfect pair of shoes and you couldn’t be more excited. They are exactly what you’ve been longing for and you are finally walking very happy steps in your pride and joy.
You get to your destination and are met with mean comments about the colour of your chosen shoes, you feel upset, hurt and you start to question your choice of footwear. You definitely liked them in the shop but now it seems they weren’t the right choice after all – I mean they can’t be when your friends are telling you that the colour is not for you.
You feel confused because now you like them but hate them all at the same time. You love them because they were exactly what you wanted, you loved the colour, but you hate them because suddenly it appears your choice means you no longer fit in with your peers.
Imagine that. In a space of an hour going from happy to sad and now feeling completely unsure about your ability to make good decisions. That leaves you with a funny anxious feeling in your tummy.
Now imagine you’re 4.
Imagine you have no way of understanding why the way your friends responded makes you feel differently, no idea what this physical sensation you are feeling is. You are so confused and anxious that you begin to feel angry.
I received a question through messenger off a follower on my Facebook page:
“Hi, wondered if you post questions for followers, or if you would give me some advice. My 4 year old son wanted some pink shoes recently and had wanted them for a while, so we bought him some and he loved them. He's worn them to preschool for four days and then told me kids had been telling him they were not for boys and has worn blue wellies into preschool the last 2 days. It has really affected his confidence and he's been get explosive and tearful and anxious this week. Am looking for help in helping him feel safe and confident in his choices.”
This is a heart-breaking question because there is no clear-cut answer.
In this scenario we must focus on building up confidence so that he feels less concerned by what his peers say, it would have been a response he wasn’t expecting, why would he when the shoes were perfect for him?
This is where approaching the early years setting and discussing the situation that has arisen is great. If they are a good setting they will take this on board and do some planning around this issue. At my last setting boys paraded around proudly in dresses and heeled shoes and the girls dressed up as builders, they’d swap outfits over and I can honestly say there was never a murmur of “That’s not for boys”, or “That’s not for girls” – I appreciate this is not the case everywhere.
Children are building their confidence all the time and being able to make decisions that are right for them is a big part of that, although the comments have hurt him now, if dealt with appropriately it could be used as something that will build him up instead of knocking him down.
Books can be read at home and importantly in setting too. Early Years settings should have a child led approach to planning so that when issues arise they can use that to make informed choices.
These 2 books are an easy place to start as they help to raise the topic of gender equality in a way that helps to teach empathy and build self-confidence -
Talk to your child about the anxiety they are feeling. Explain to them what anxiety is.
Get help with this here -
We can’t solve this situation for him, but we can help him to learn from it and gain the confidence to put those wonderful shoes back on his feet.
Relate to your own experiences (I know I had plenty of them) and talk them through with your child. Use stories and role-play with small world toys to act out scenarios similar to his own, be consistent and go gently; it’s important not to add any feelings of shame or guilt.
Has Dad got a pink shirt or jumper he can wear? Can you make a collage together of boys wearing pink and girls wearing blue, boys as nurses, girls as footballers and all those other old-fashioned stereotypes, using old magazines or google images?
Empathise with his feelings and use activities and modelling, acknowledge that he’s angry for all the reasons discussed at the beginning and check for clarification of this.
Be there, continue to love him and try to stay calm and not worry; although painful to watch, he is going through a learning experience that could help him in the future.
Now, if only I had this knowledge when I went for the cherry red Doc Martins instead of the black – it would have saved me a lot of pocket money spent on black shoe dye.
This came up on my Facebook memories today & it is still very relevant and worth sharing (scroll to read the full paper).
It’s what drives ‘Bridge the Gap’ The research is there to support all we say - starting children at school at a young age has detrimental effects on their emotional well-being.
Why do we choose to ignore this?
‘When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion’.
With more children than ever before developing mental health problems, it is critical that policy makers start looking at the full picture, the whole child, from the very beginning.
Cutting down on time needed to build the strong foundations in their three prime areas of development has a huge effect later down the line. You can build for so long on weak foundations but continue to build on them and what you’ve built will crumble.
‘In Finland and some other developed countries, formal academic education doesn’t start until the age of 7, when children are deemed to be mentally and physically ready for the challenge (though students in Finland have had access to high-quality preschool, which would affect their performance in kindergarten)’.
I will never stop being an advocate for change in our education system, but in the meantime I will strive to ensure we are doing all we can to support children’s emotional development. If teachers and educators work together we CAN help to bridge the gap that our system has created.
Our children deserve it 🌈
I’m very happy to say things have been very busy at Bridge the Gap lately, though I feel the website and blog have been neglected as a result. So I thought I’d pop on and have a little catch up with you all.
Firstly, I want to thank everyone who has supported us on our social media accounts lately. As I’m sure you are aware, social media is a huge part of business in 2018 – especially a business like ours, where we are sharing such important information with parents and carers of children and young people. It helps us to reach more people and creates momentum around the movement that we are supporting. Many people that have had nowhere else to turn have found us through social media. Some children that have been discharged from CAMHS but still need support, and children and parents who are struggling to know where to turn next.
Every like, every comment and every share help us to reach more people’s timelines. Even if you can’t relate to a post yourself it might be something that one of your friends can relate to. For this reason, and this reason alone, we ask you to interact with our posts, share them with your contacts and invite your friends to like our page. We don’t make any money from social media, but we have been able to help parents that were feeling alone, the more parents we can reach the better.
Right, that’s the admin side of things out the way!
What have we been up to?
We have been working very hard to develop our Teacher Training Programme. It has taken a lot of development, a lot of research and a lot of consultation but we are close to finishing a new and updated training course for educators that we will be launching before the end of the year. If you work in education then please join our mailing list to be kept updated.
We keep our courses affordable for schools and that’s because we want as many teachers, early years professionals, dinner ladies and teaching assistants to receive this training as possible. We believe our training offers something very different and we are proud of our engagement and feedback, which is sure to rise with the updated course coming soon.
We have also been updating our parent workshops - we are constantly researching and studying to make sure we are up to date with the latest papers and findings to ensure that our seminars and workshops give you information and strategies that matter. We have incorporated a little more on the development of the brain, more on childhood anxiety and have made it more relevant for parents of pre-teens and teens. The feedback so far has been fantastic, and we look forward to delivering this newly updated seminar to more parents over the coming months.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Baasit Sidiqqui who is taking plenty of time off the Gogglebox sofa to launch his fantastic initiative titled ‘Let’s Pitch It’.
‘Let's Pitch It’ and ‘Let's Pitch It Juniors’ are day long workshops run by Gogglebox’s Baasit SIddiqui. The workshops have been created to raise aspirations for disadvantaged students in later years primary, and early years secondary schools. The kids involved get to pitch an idea for a TV show. They do their own research and development into their ideas and get the chance to win several prizes both for their schools and for themselves. The workshops, delivered by Baasit himself, start in January and are already gaining high praise from a number of educational institutes. Baasit was a teacher for many years and his passion for reaching children and raising their aspirations is infectious. We are looking forward to collaborating on some events soon, so watch this space and join our mailing list to be kept in the loop.
I had the idea many months ago about creating community drop in clinics where parents could come and access free advice. I am looking for schools and community centres who are willing to host these clinics for free. All we need is a few refreshments, volunteers (to serve drinks and give a warm welcome), a room and a welcoming environment – if you feel you can help in any way then please do get in touch. We would like to get the first one off the ground before the end of the year, but we can’t do it alone. By next year we hope to be doing a clinic fortnightly at various points across the city. This support is needed and vital, so any help you can give is appreciated.
Lastly (for now, so you don’t fall asleep) I am almost ready to deliver our seminar online which I hope will help many parents who have contacted me but are living outside of the East Midlands. I am still finding my feet with the software but I’m ALMOST there! I have many of you on our mailing list for this already but if you are not then please do join to be kept informed.
There are 2 other lovely events coming up as well which I am excited about! I feel I have bombarded you all enough for now, so I will do a full blog post on this for you a little nearer to the time – it warrants a post of it’s own.
So, as you can see we have been very busy and have lots going on. It is time for change and I can feel momentum building in this movement which excites me greatly. Please, be a part of it.
Thanks for reading and please do check out our social media to read useful articles, information and gain support – many thanks, Jennifer.
Crawling is an incredibly important stage of child development. It allows children to develop their upper bodies strengthening the trunk, shoulders and hand muscles. The mechanics of crawling also stimulate different areas of the brain that are important for future learning.
Some children miss this stage of development but don’t worry, just provide plenty of opportunities for crawling to happen; even as they get older.
Keep children away from chairs! They spend a long time sat on chairs at school so make sure you provide the opportunity for them to develop the core strength needed to do this with steadiness and confidence.
They have a lot to think about once they’re at those school tables so the steadier they are, the better their posture is, the less they have to think about.
You don’t prepare children to sit on a chair by sitting them on a chair. Contradiction?
You don’t go out on the motorway driving until you’ve had lots of lessons and gone down the quite streets, you have to practice all the skills needed first to get to that point.
Crawling is a skill that is great for developing both physical and cognitive development so encourage it in your home.
Do the colouring lying on your tummy on the floor, build train tracks, set up small play on the floor, push cars, crawl through tunnels or under tables.
And chairs? Leave them for crawling under unless they are sat on them for meal times. If your child’s feet do not meet the ground when sat on the chair then ground them by providing a stool to place their feet on.
Crawling so much more than getting from A to B.
When children come into this world they are small and so dependent on us. They have so much to learn and it is our job to facilitate that learning; the problem is there is so much parenting information how are you to know what to dismiss and to listen to? This is especially true when it comes to tantrums.
The BEST advice is one that comes from evidence based research, based around your child’s brain development. When we understand ‘why’ our children are reacting in specific ways, we are able to respond appropriately to enhance that development.
Tantrums are a part of your child’s emotional developmental. When they are born they do so with the capacity to feel the same emotions as we do as adults.
‘By the end of the first year, children usually have displayed the primary emotions of joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, and surprise. The secondary emotions such as embarrassment, empathy, envy, pride, shame, and guilt appear later when the child has reached a higher level of cognitive development’. Barb Grady
When a child has a tantrum they are releasing emotions that they haven’t the ability to verbalise yet; they have not yet found a strategy for coping with.
Children can either repress, express or release their feelings. Repressing their emotions is not good for their well-being and therefore it is important to remember that tantrums are healthier than a child repressing their emotion.
As adults we can find it hard to open up and talk about how we feel, often we ignore our primary emotion until it explodes into a secondary emotion like anger or sadness. Children are the same. There are SO many emotions to experience yet being able to name them, recognise how they feel in our body and then be able to talk about it is a skill we often expect our children to do when we are unable to do so ourselves.
‘The Anger Iceberg’ from the Gottman Institute is a great visual for helping us see just how many feelings can be underneath the surface of our anger.
Young children do not have the capacity to deal with primary emotions, their brains are developing cognitively so it is to be expected that as they begin to experience these primary emotions for the first time it overwhelms them.
‘The tantrum you permit your child to have is a way of releasing emotional energy and clearing her emotional system so she can think again. When an upset arises, we want to put an end to it as quickly as possible (especially if we are in public or at our in-laws). Some parents try distraction or reasoning; others use intimidation or force. Whatever the methods, conventional wisdom says that it’s our job to end the upset. We require our children to repress their upsets and be “good” again. We don’t want them to grow up uncivilised, and we don’t want to feel or look like “bad” parents with “bad” children.
Contrary to what we’ve grown up believing, tantrums and other expressions of feelings are actually useful. A tantrum is like an emotional sneeze and the usual struggle of parent versus child at emotional moments does not have to take place. We can throw away the judgement that meltdowns are a mark against our children and ourselves. Then we can begin to change our perceptions and the way we handle our children’s emotional outbursts.’ Barb Grady
I love the term ‘emotional sneezes’ it’s a fantastic way to describe them. Barb says it all so well...
‘If you now believe the truth that tantrums are healthy emotional releases, what is your role? All you need to provide is support and warm attention. It takes courage to listen to your child’s tantrum from beginning to end. It’s usually an emotional wringer for the parent who tries it. However, the results are thoroughly convincing. Your child feels heard. She sees that you’ve stayed with her though the worst of how she felt. Her mind clears, and life is OK again. As parents gain experience staying close through their children’s emotional storms, they find that the trip no longer feels quite so risky or gruelling. Their child’s upsets, which once seemed to point to a serious failure, now simply signal the need for a good cry, or a good tantrum.’ Barb Grady
So we know that tantrums are a good healthy stage of development but how do we deal with them knowing that? The first important thing to remember is to share your calm and not to join their chaos. Take deep breaths and remember that this will pass and you are helping your child learn with a stage of development just as you were through weaning, crawling and walking.
Below is Barbs advice on how to deal with a tantrum.
1. Stay close to your child and keep him safe, but don’t try to stop him. A tantrum is full of noise and movement. Your child may become hot and perspire. He needs to writhe, wiggle, and throw himself around to get the frustration out. Make sure he doesn’t hurt himself, gently put your hand between his head and the floor, so he can use force without hurting himself. Let him know you are on his side by saying things like, “I’ll stay with you.” Most tantrums are relatively short. Once it is listened through, a tantrum clears rapidly, perhaps with some giggles and warm affection between the child and listener. This transformation of your fallen-apart child into a gently reasonable person is one of the real wonders a parent can work.
2. If you are in a public place, you may carry your child to a more sheltered spot to ride out the tantrum. Children often pick public places to tantrum. It might be that they feel safer to explode with lots of people around, or perhaps the strain of being in an adult environment finally overloads their tolerance. Often it’s worth the trouble to move your child to a less public place, so you feel freer to handle things thoughtfully. Most onlookers will be glad that you look like you know what you’re doing. In fact, most have been there at one time or another. Don’t worry too much about others.
3. Try to remember that your child’s frustrations aren’t your fault, or hers, and that this tantrum is a good and healthy event. Often, being exposed to our children’s’ emotions makes us feel emotional. Set good boundaries and realise that your child has a right to express his emotions and to release them through tantrum.
‘Aren’t we reinforcing a lack of control? This is a common question. Supporting a child to complete a tantrum looks permissive (if we believe what our parents believed), but it isn’t. Permissiveness is ignoring misbehaviour or failing to set reasonable limits on behaviour. It doesn’t help children when their misbehaviour is ignored or when reasonable limits aren’t set. Children rely on us to let them know what is OK and what is not OK. Step in when your child is going off track and gently but firmly prevent any hurting, grabbing, throwing, destruction, withdrawal, or giving up. Go ahead and limit the child, physically stopping the behaviour, but allow the feelings while you are holding those limits. Tantrums, crying, trembling, and perspiring in the release of fear, and all the loud noises that go along with that release, are not misbehaviour. They are part of a healing process.
Permissiveness and punishment result in patterns of behaviour that grow in depth and difficulty as the child signals that she can’t think and needs emotional release.’
When your child is expressing an emotion this way, respond with love and acceptance. We know so much more about brain development in the last 20 years than ever before and it’s important to listen to this new evidence. We now know the importance of emotional development. We used to want children to be seen and not heard but we now recognise that as being unhealthy, the way we have dealt with tantrums in the past has also been unhealthy.
Using emotional literacy from a young age helps children develop this important part of the brain which is so vital for long term health, resilience and well-being.
Name your primary emotions to them, name all of their emotions for them. Vocalise your own strategies for dealing with emotion, be consistent and make it habit. Read books that allow children to experience emotions that are difficult to process for them, don’t protect them from the hard stuff. Use role-play with small world toys to explore the world of emotions and give them opportunity to come up with their own solutions e.g. “Oh, he’s fallen over. He looks sad. I wonder what his friend could do to help?”
Have fun! Play is the best way to learn anything and the same is certainly true for emotional learning. We need to understand how to support this important area of development the same way we do the physical areas.
It is the foundations for life that we build upon; let’s make them strong.
Jennifer Wyman is founder of Bridge the Gap and is an Emotional Literacy trainer. Jennifer is married with 2 children and has over 21 years of experience working within child development and early years.