“The Cellar’s Echo,” by Huberta Hellendoorn: A Child’s Experience of War: Link to a short story broadcast on Radio NZ

eight_col_pre-school-a

“The child on the staircase imagines a secret place with walls so thick she cannot hear the guns and no windows through which she can see the dead bodies.”

Imagine if you will, a seven year-old girl sheltering with her family in the cellar of their house as war rages in the streets outside. What does she feel?

Huberta Hellendoorn’s The Cellar’s Echo vividly recounts her own childhood experience in Holland during the last days of World War II. And who could have imagined that 50 years later she would make a remarkable re-connection with that fearful past?

eight_col_pre-school

Huberta at kindergarten (“We started school at 6 years old but because my birthday was in October I had to wait until August of the next year before I could start school.”) Photo: Supplied

The first Palm Sunday celebration after the war, which was held on a Saturday). Evidence of war damage still to be seen. (Huberta says this photo may have been taken by a newspaper.)

A photo taken by Huberta’s family GP, Dr JB Thate, whose sons Henk was her classmate.Photo: Supplied

Fear, dread, horror? These are powerful and primitive human emotions all children experience. We all fear the dark, the unknown thing under the bed, scary pirates from a movie. But these are products of our imagination, however real they may seem.

(To read more, and listen to the short story, please follow the link below…)

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/standing-room-only/audio/201822985/the-cellar’s-echo

Advertisements

Fear and Anxiety – An Age by Age Guide to Common Fears, The Reasons for Each and How to Manage Them, by Karen Young

Fear-and-Anxiety-An-Age-by-Age-Guide-to-Fears-Why-and-What-to-Do

It is very normal for all children to have specific fears at some point in their childhood. Even the bravest of hearts beat right up against their edges sometimes. As your child learns more about the world, some things will become more confusing and frightening. This is nothing at all to worry about and these fears will usually disappear on their own as your child grows and expands his or her experience.

In the meantime, as the parent who is often called on to ease the worried mind of your small person, it can be helpful to know that most children at certain ages will become scared of particular things.

When is fear or anxiety a problem?

Fear is a very normal part of growing up. It is a sign that your child is starting to understand the world and the way it works, and that they are trying to make sense of what it means for them. With time and experience, they will come to figure out for themselves that the things that seem scary aren’t so scary after all. Over time, they will also realise that they have an incredible capacity to cope.

Fears can certainly cause a lot of cause distress, not only for the kids and teens who have the fears, but also for the people who care about them. It’s important to remember that fears at certain ages are completely appropriate and in no way are a sign of abnormality.

The truth is, there really is no such thing as an abnormal fear, but some kids and teens will have fears that are more intense and intrusive. Even fears that seem quite odd at first, will make sense in some way.

For example, a child who does not want to be separated from you is likely to be thinking the same thing we all think about the people we love – what if something happens to you while you are away from them? A child who is scared of balloons would have probably experienced that jarring, terrifying panic that comes with the boom. It’s an awful feeling. Although we know it passes within moments, for a child who is still getting used to the world, the threat of that panicked feeling can be overwhelming. It can be enough to teach them that balloons pretend to be fun, but they’ll turn fierce without warning and the first thing you’ll know is the boom. #not-fun-you-guys

Worry becomes a problem when it causes a problem. If it’s a problem for your child or teen, then it’s a problem. When the fear seems to direct most of your child’s behaviour or the day to day life of the family (sleep, family outings, routines, going to school, friendships), it’s likely the fear has become too pushy and it’s time to pull things back.

So how do we get rid of the fear?

If you have a child with anxiety, they may be more prone to developing certain fears. Again, this is nothing at all to worry about. Kids with anxiety will mostly likely always be sensitive kids with beautiful deep minds and big open hearts. They will think and feel deeply, which is a wonderful thing to have. We don’t want to change that. What we want to do is stop their deep-thinking minds and their open hearts from holding them back.

The idea then, isn’t to get rid of all fears completely, but to make them manageable. As the adult in their lives who loves them, you are in a perfect position to help them to gently interact with whatever they are scared of. Eventually, this familiarity will take the steam out of the fear.

First of all though, it can be helpful for you and your child to know that other children just like them are going through exactly the same experience.

An age by age guide to fears.

When you are looking through the list, look around your child’s age group as well. Humans are beautifully complicated beings and human nature doesn’t tend to stay inside the lines. The list is a guide to common fears during childhood and the general age at which they might appear. There are no rules though and they might appear earlier or later.

Infants and toddlers (0-2)

•   Loud noises and anything that might overload their senses (storms, the vacuum cleaner, blender, hair dryer, balloons bursting, sirens, the bath draining, abrupt movement, being put down too quickly).

Here’s why: When babies are born, their nervous systems are the baby versions. When there is too much information coming to them through their senses, such as a loud noise or being put down too quickly (which might make them feel like they’re falling), it’s too much for their nervous systems to handle.

 

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

heysigmund.com/age-by-age-guide-to-fears/

An Introduction to Attachment Play By Marion Badenoch Rose

 When you dreamt of becoming a parent, did you imagine going on picnics with your child/ren, laughing in the sunshine, snuggling up to them, reading stories, and gazing into their eyes?
I imagine you didn’t visualise power struggles when they wouldn’t put their shoes on or brush their teeth, or feeling incredibly frustrated when they didn’t listen to you, jump up and down on the bed before sleep, or refuse to eat any vegetables?
Often the spark and joy of being a parent can leave us, and at moments we may feel intense frustration, anger, powerlessness, and despair.
All because our toddler won’t get into the car seat, or bites or hits us or another child, or asks incessant questions.
Is this you?
You’ve done all this incredibly gentle, compassionate, loving parenting when they were babies, and when they got older and don’t cooperate, you sometimes don’t know what to do?
You don’t want to get harsh, or threaten, or punish, or give rewards, or disconnect with your child, but how on earth can you help her to WANT to cooperate?

And what about those times when she doesn’t seem to want to be with Dad, and tells him to go away, or there’s a dentist visit looming, or suddenly she’s afraid of dogs, or is reluctant to start school.
It’s at times like these that we can be at our wits end.
How do we help our child, without just giving up and feeling hopeless that we’ll ever get out the door/ get them to sleep/ help them go to the dentist?
OR, perhaps you find yourself feeling so deeply frustrated that you use your bigger power over him, and force him into the car seat, or forcibly brush his teeth, or speak harshly when he doesn’t put his shoes on, and then you feel deeply uncomfortable afterwards, because this just wasn’t how you wanted to be when you became a parent?
Enter, Stage Left, attachment play.
Attachment play is an incredible resource, created by Aletha Solter, Ph.D., in her book of the same name, (www.attachmentplay.com).
Attachment play actually works at the ROOT CAUSE of why children do all those things that we find most challenging – the not cooperating, the running around, the swearing, the biting, the apparently not listening, the doing-something-they-know-we-don’t-want-them-to-do, the jumping on the bed before sleep, etc. etc. etc!

SO, WHY DO THEY DO ALL THOSE CHALLENGING THINGS?
Is it like the behaviourists said, in the 1950’s?
Is it because children are inherently ‘bad’ and need to ‘learn’ how to be cooperative, compassionate, connected human beings?
Do they need to be told, over and over again, that hitting hurts, or that we don’t want them to play with the lamp, and that we really do need to go to the shops so we can get some food?
When they do those things, are they doing it deliberately, to ‘wind us up’ or ‘make us feel mad?’
I know that sometimes, those are the thoughts that can come up for us when we are incredibly frustrated,because those are often the paradigms that we were brought up with, and at times of stress our conditioning can return.
In comparison, attachment play is based on a very different set of beliefs about children, and all human beings.

From an attachment play perspective, which comes from Aware Parenting (www.awareparenting.com), when children do things that we find most challenging, it is usually because of one of three reasons:
  1. They have unmet needs (in particular, for connection and choice);
  2. They have a need for information;
  3. They have pent up uncomfortable feelings which need to be released.
As adults, we tend to think that the main cause for challenging behaviour is number two.
If our son keeps pulling the cat’s tail, or our daughter keeps being rough with her baby sister, we may find ourselves saying, “gentle, gentle” over and over again, and being surprised that they are STILL not being gentle, and may actually be getting rougher over time!
And that’s when we might feel perplexed or flummoxed, and be thinking;
“Why DOES she keep doing it?”
And that’s when we might start getting frustrated, and trying to make her stop, or getting fed up and just giving up and letting it continue.
But IF we remember the other two reasons, we can solve the issue at the ROOT CAUSE.
HOW CAN WE SOLVE THE ISSUE AT THE ROOT CAUSE?
We can use attachment play to meet unmet needs AND help our child release uncomfortable feelings.
How do we do that?

ROOT CAUSE ONE –  MEETING UNMET NEEDS

One of the most magical things that we can do is to give them what I call Present Time, and which Aletha Solter calls non directive child-centred play.
 
PRESENT TIME
What is it?
It’s a set period of time, where we offer deep presence and connection with our child.
At this point, you might be saying, “But I already give my child lots of connection.”
And I know you do, but there is something magical that happens with Present Time.
 
Why is that?
Because it is set up to meet a child’s need for connection and choice, which are two of their main core needs.
(Remember that one of the three main reasons for challenging behaviours is unmet needs!?)
And because it meets those needs, it can dramatically reduce those challenging behaviours.

What precisely do we do?
  1. We check in with ourselves first and see if we really can give our child connection and choice. (Ideally, we give ourselves PT first, so that we’ve done something that we choose to do);
  2. We tell our child what it is. (parents often give it their own name, like “Sam’s time”);
  3. We set up the parameters. (eg. no hurting anyone, no screens, no sweets)
  4. We set the timer. (This is part of the magic. It means that we know that we are only being fully present for that length of time, which makes it easier for us.)
  5. We give them choice about what happens;
  6. We follow their lead, we offer our full presence, our exuberant love, our adoration, and our full engagement;
  7. We let them know when the time is coming to an end;
  8. We stay present with them when the timer finishes, and either help them with what happens next, or if they feel upset, we stay with them and give them empathy for their feelings, eg. “You feel really upset that PT has finished, sweetheart? I’m here, and I’m listening.”
 
When can we use it?
The beauty of Present Time is that we can use it preventatively, strategically, and in the moment, when things get challenging.
For example:
If your child is showing some challenging behaviours in general, you could offer Present Time every day, for 20 or 30 minutes, and notice whether this changes the challenging behaviour;
If your child has something new coming up, like a new sibling arriving, then daily Present Time can help him have reassurance that he’s still loved and cared about, and keeps his connection cup more full.
If there are separations, such as for daycare or playgroup or nursery school or kindergarten or school, the doing some Present Time before and afterwards can help with the separation and reconnection. Even 5 or 10 minutes of PT can make a real difference.
If your child is starting to get a bit antsy, or showing the signs that you’ve noticed lead to biting/hitting/doing things you don’t enjoy, you could put in some Present Time right then. Again, even 5 or 10 minutes can make a big difference.
 
Why does it work?
The power of Present Time is that, as a concise yet deep connection, it helps our child feel connected with us. 
It’s when they feel disconnected, that challenging behaviours often occur – because a sense of disconnection feels really uncomfortable and agitating for a child.

It also helps give them a deep sense of choice.
Remember that it’s a lack of sense of choice, as well as feelings of powerlessness, that feel incredibly uncomfortable for children (and adults), and is often the cause of those challenging behaviours.
It’s that double-whammy of connection and choice which creates the magic.
And there are often wonderful side-effects too!
Many parents come to me saying, “I did it to help my child, but I found that I fell in love with my child all over again, and I love it!”
Other parents say, “At the end of the day, I know that I have given my child Present Time, and that helps me celebrate myself and what I’ve done.”
 
Present Time also helps children feel closer to us, which helps them express other feelings to us more too.
You may find that your child more easily cries or has a tantrum when you start doing more Present Time.
It’s just like us – when we feel closer to someone, we often want to tell them about our deeper feelings and experiences.
So, if after Present Time your child cries when there is none of her favourite cereal left, you might choose to simply be with her and listen to her feelings and tell her that you are there with her, listening to her, loving her.
Her feelings are unlikely to be about the cereal, and more likely to be about something else that she wants to share her feelings about with you.
What if you want to learn more about Present Time?
I have a free 4 day online course called Powerful Present Time Practice.

You can sign up for it here:
To recap, Present Time is a practice, a preventative, and a problem-solver!
So, that was all about meeting unmet needs.
ALL of the types of attachment play meet children’s needs for connection, but they ALSO do what we talked about above – they help children release pent-up feelings that are often the cause of challenging behaviours.

 
ROOT CAUSE TWO – RELEASING PENT-UP FEELINGS
What pent-up feelings do children have?
Well, even if we are the most aware, conscious parents, and we do everything we can to meet our child’s needs, ALL children feel uncomfortable feelings.
They might feel overwhelmed, scared, sad, confused, powerless, disappointed, or frustrated. 
As adults, we often talk about our feelings.
But children need to express their feelings, and have those feelings heard, in order for those feelings to be released from their bodies.
How does that happen?
Well, with light fears, powerlessness, confusion and frustration, the feelings are released through laughter.
Laughter and play release feelings.
 

Have you noticed that yourself? That you might laugh in a social situation where you feel a bit uncomfortable?
Or that when you laugh a lot at a comedian, it’s about something that you fear, or feel worried about?
(I’ve been loving James Corden, especially one show where he and another talk show host play “Send to All” –  They post a rude text message on each other’s phones, to all their contacts, and then read the replies. I found myself laughing a lot. Obviously, sending a text to someone I didn’t mean to is a bit of a concern for me!)
Children are exactly the same!
Laughter is an incredibly powerful release mechanism!
 

And also a misunderstood one.
Has your child ever laughed when you got frustrated or angry, and you thought they were ‘winding you up’ or ‘laughing at you’? And if so, did you then feel even more frustrated or angry?
 

How would it be to learn that they were actually afraid, and releasing that fear through laughter?
Would knowing that help you think differently, feel differently, and respond differently?

Laughter and play are things that we can again use strategically, preventatively, and in the moment when things start getting challenging.
How wonderful is that, to know that with attachment play, we can prevent, and respond to, challenging behaviours, effectively and compassionately, without resorting to punishments or awards!?
 

What are the other release mechanisms? Shaking, sweating, crying, tantrumming, and yawning all release different feelings from the body.
What exactly is attachment play, and how can we use it to prevent and respond to challenging behaviours?
There are nine types of attachment play, and each type can be used for numerous challenges.
Obviously I don’t have space here to go into all 9 types in depth, but if you want to go deeper, you can find out about Aletha Solter’s book Attachment Play at http://www.attachmentplay.com/
and my online course based on the book, which is at http://www.attachmentplaycourses.com/join-in
What I’m going to do here is talk about a few things that parents often come to me wanting help with, and let you know what type of attachment play I would suggest.
With ALL types of parenting challenges, I would ALWAYS suggest putting in regular Present Time.
Even 20 or 30 minutes of regular PT can make a huge difference to a child’s sense of connection and choice and can really make a difference!
******
Challenge: Hitting
Your child hits, bites, or is rough with you, their sibling, other children, or the pet.
(Even though you have always brought him up with the most gentle of parenting, responding to his needs, and he hasn’t experienced roughness himself.)
Cause: Feelings of powerlessness, frustration, agitation, and fear.
(You might be thinking; “But he doesn’t look scared.” But if you reflect back on a time where you got harsh or angry with your partner, child or friend – underneath the loudness, were you feeling scared or frustrated or powerless or sad?)

Solution: Power-Reversal Games
What are power-reversal games? These are where you play being the less powerful, less competent, more scared one, and you let your child play the more powerful, more competent, scary one.

There are SO many ways that you can play this.
~ They can chase you round the house, and you can keep running away, pretending to be scared, and then letting them catch you, falling over in a big pile, and being mock-surprised at how fast they are;
~ They can be on a swing, and you are in front of them, and each time they come towards you, you pretend that they have knocked you backwards and you go flying backwards in mock surprise about how strong they are;
~ You can have a pillow fight, and each time they hit you with the pillow, you pretend to go flying and again be mock surprised or scared.

Like all attachment play, you are probably doing these kinds of things lots anyway.
The difference with attachment play is now that you know what it is doing, and can use it strategically to help your child.

As with all challenges, I’d always suggest extra Present Time, which increases feelings of connection and choice and reassurance.
Tip: Go with the giggles
If your child is laughing, then keep doing what you are doing!
IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not recommend tickling.
Even though a child may laugh when he is being tickled, the sensations are often overwhelming and can actually lead to more powerlessness.
If you were ticked as a child or teen, you will probably remember that for yourself!
******
Challenge: Feelings around separation 1 – being with Dad
Your child has feelings around being with Dad.
Cause: Feelings of sadness or loss if he goes out to work or is away a lot, or other pent-up feelings that don’t get to be expressed with Mum.
Solution 1: Power-Reversal Games.
Similar to above, only in this case, Dad pretends to be the one who doesn’t get to choose the level of closeness.
He could say, “PLEEEEEEEEEEASE let me play with you? Please? Can I look at you? Could I even just touch your toe? How about your ear?” And in a mock-silly voice, try out all these silly ways of connecting, and perhaps mock-crying about not getting to do any of these things.
Solution 2: Separation Games.
(see next section)
******
Challenge: Feelings around separation 2 – being with other people
Your child has big feelings about going to daycare, pre-school, kinder, nursery school or school.
Cause: Past feelings of loss or past separations that are coming up now, or fear, or powerlessness.
Solution: Separation Games
Separation games play with the edge of connecting, separating and reconnecting.
With babies, peek-a-boo is one of the earliest forms.
As children get older, we can play forms of peek-a-boo, like the “where is he” game – such as when he is on your back and you wonder where he is, and then you suddenly see him and say, “Oh THERE you are!” with joy and delight!
Hide-and-seek type games are also separation games. With younger children, they will need to hide with someone, otherwise there’s too much separation. Every time you get found, or find them, you could jump in the air with mock surprise.
Again, follow the fun!

******
Challenging behaviour: Not cooperating
Cause: Feelings of powerlessness, frustration, and other pent-up feelings that create disconnection
Solution: Nonsense Games, Power-Reversal Games, Present Time.

Nonsense games are all about feelings of competence.
Feelings around ‘rules’, ‘not getting it right’, and ‘not being able to do things’ can all cause a lack of cooperation, such as not doing school work.
When we play a goofy game of being the one who is incompetent, silly and goofy, our child can laugh and release their feelings around these things.
The “No puppies on the couch” is a lovely example of a combination between nonsense play and power-reversal games.

In this game, they pretend to be puppies, and we pretend that there are to be “no puppies on the couch!”
We say something like, “I’m going to turn away, and when I turn around again, I HOPE I am not going to see any puppies on the couch!” with a huge smile on our face and in a mock silly voice.
(Younger children may need some help to understand that we are actually happy for them to be on the couch!)
Then we turn away, and when we turn back, we pretend to be shocked and horrified that they are on the couch, “Noooooo! I said no puppies on the couch!” in a silly, over-the-top, voice!
Tip: Change the games to suit your child, and create your own versions together
******
 
Challenging behaviour: Not cooperating with teeth or hair brushing
 
Cause: Feelings of powerlessness, disconnection, or general pent-up feelings
 
Solution: Nonsense Play

There are lots of different versions of these games that you can use!
You can play the “Silly Toothbrush” game, where you pretend that you don’t know where their teeth are, and you say something like, “Oh I know where your teeth are!” and try to brush their arm, and they keep trying to show you where their teeth are and you keep on getting confused about where their teeth are.
You can do the same with brushing hair.
******
Challenging behaviour: Gun play and swearing
 
Causes: Feelings of fear, confusion, discomfort.
Most often, children have seen other children playing with guns or swords or swearing and they need to understand what was going on, and release feelings about being the recipient.
Solution: Nonsense Play and Power-Reversal games.

We can again combine these two types of play, for example:
they pretend to shoot us and we pretend to be scared, or we pretend to die all over them whilst kissing them,
or we pretend that the gun is broken and is just making us love them more (this is from the Love Gun Game by Lawrence Cohen).
With swearing, we can pretend to be shocked every time she says the word, and jump in the air, or fall over.
We can run around the garden or trampoline together, saying the words over and over again (as long as you aren’t worried about what the neighbours will think!)
There is deep power in CONNECTING with our child when she is trying to understand something and release feelings about it.
Home then becomes this safe and healing zone where your child can bring her challenges because she knows that you will help her with them.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember the cause of these challenging behaviours?
The cause IS NOT because they need to learn to be warm and compassionate, nor is it because they are deliberately trying to be annoying.
It’s because they need connection, they need to understand what happens to them, and they need to release uncomfortable feelings and heal from painful experiences.
If we try to stop the behaviours, such as hitting or biting or swearing or gun play, without dealing with the actual cause, then we are likely to find that those behaviours keep happening, or other more challenging behaviours occur.
******
Challenge: Upcoming dentist or doctor visit, or previous trauma around medical procedures, including during and after birth.
 
Causes: Feelings of fear, powerlessness and confusion
 
Solution: Role Play, Power-Reversal games and Nonsense Play

Again, we ask them to play the dentist or the doctor, and we do mock silly things, like show them our hand and say it is our teeth, or if they give us medicine, we pretend to be disgusted and vomit it all up, and other silly things.
Tip: Again, watch your child. If she is close to tears, stop the attachment play and listen to the feelings.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your child is already crying, it is important NOT to try to get her to laugh.Tears are releasing other feelings than those released by laughter, and she needs you to be present and listen to hear tears, not to distract her from the feelings.
******
Attachment play can be used to prevent, or respond to, pretty much every challenging behaviour in children, from not eating vegetables, to not doing homework, to jumping on the bed before bedtime, to not getting in the car seat, and so on and so on!
These examples are just a small proportion of the game types and game examples.
And the beautiful thing is, once you understand the philosophy, you and your child can make up your own, tailor-made attachment play games.
If you want to find out more, I recommend reading Aletha Solter’s book Attachment Play (www.attachmentplay.com)

(this is a picture of me and my son on the cover!)
And my four week online course, the Attachment Play Course, is at http://www.attachmentplaycourses.com/join-in

And the MOST BEAUTIFUL thing about attachment play is that it brings back the connection, joy, fun, laughter and wonderment of family life, which is probably what you envisioned when you thought of becoming a parent!

Here’s to more fun, more connection, and more cooperation!!

Marion Rose
Ph.D. Dip.Couns. Dip.Psych. Level Two Aware Parenting Instructor
I’m a Mum of two (they are now 14 and 9), and they have two siblings, twins who are 4.
I’ve been researching, studying and generally fascinated in learning about babies and children and how our early experiences affect our lives, for 28 years now.
I’ve trained in lots of things over the years, like  developmental psychology, Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, HypnoBirthing, Private Subconscious-mind Healing, Calm Birth, Aware Parenting, NVC and Field Training.
I’m a Level Two Aware Parenting Instructor and you can find out more about my gazillions of online courses at http://www.marionrose.net

Pictures © copyright Marion Rose 2016

They’ll Do What? The What and the Why of the Changes that Come With Adolescence, by Karen Young

zzz

The changes we see in our kids when they hit adolescence can leave many of us with a sense of whiplash. The tiny adorable humans who wanted to us to read to them, sing to them, cuddle them, kiss them goodbye at parties, at some point become … different. Loved, wonderful, funny, creative – but different, in a way that’s not so tiny or adorable. And don’t even joke about kissing them goodbye at parties. Or anywhere else where there might be people.

We blame raging hormones, lack of sleep, friends, ‘that show’ they’ve been watching, social media. Then there are the days – plenty of them – that we blame ourselves, wondering what we did or didn’t do that could possibly explain what’s going on.

What’s going on is adolescence. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. The changes they are going through are all being driven by a brain that is undergoing a massive renovation. It has to be this way to get them ready to be healthy, strong, productive, happy adults.

If you can understand what is happening in their brains, what they are doing will make sense. You’ll still find yourself baffled, angry, bewildered, sad – all of those things – but hopefully less than you would otherwise. You’re building humans, great ones, and as with anything that is worth the effort, it won’t always run to schedule, it definitely won’t look the way you thought it would, and some days – probably plenty – it will be a red hot mess.

In the same way they will wobble and fall when they are little people learning to walk and master their physical selves, they will also wobble and fall as their brains take develop into the adult forms. Keeping this in mind will help things run smoother.

The Changes that Every Adolescent Will go Through

  1. Adolescence – the apprenticeship for adulthood.

    The changes in the brain during adolescence are dramatic. They have to be – the transition from childhood to adulthood wouldn’t happen without some serious neural remodelling. During adolescence, they will be driven to experiment with the world and their place in it, try new things (important for their new adult roles), let go of the family and seek out peers, form strong social connections and think independently. Every one of these changes is there to fulfil an important developmental role and bridge the vast gap they will travel between childhood and adulthood. The results will be worth it but like any renovation, things will get messy for a while.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.heysigmund.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-adolescent-brai/

Paris attacks: How to explain the horror to children, by Sally Peck

paris-girl_3502479b

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 16:  A young girl lights candles to honour victims of the Paris terror attacks at Alliance Francais Manila on November 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. 129 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday night.  (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – NOVEMBER 16: A young girl lights candles to honour victims of the Paris terror attacks at Alliance Francais Manila on November 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. 129 people were killed and hundreds more injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

As parents, there is a constant temptation to shield our children from bad news. But sometimes, and in particular with acts of terrorism, bad news is unavoidable – it’s in on television, it’s on social media, and it’s on our minds.

Like most people, I’ve been carefully following the news from Paris. My family has close ties to France, and my children’s ears perked up when news of the attacks came on the radio.

How to talk to children

For guidance on how to talk to my children about the attacks in Paris, I rang Gemma Allen, a senior bereavement counsellor at Winston’s Wish, Britain’s leading charity for bereaved children, who offers the following tips for talking to children about terrorist attacks.

Sad child on stairs

Children may have already heard the news Photo: Alamy

Here’s what she told me:

Language matters: For children of all ages, the most important thing is to reassure them that they are safe. Don’t get into the political context with primary-aged children. That may come up in conversation with older children, but the importance at any age is offering the reassurance that they are safe.

For pre-school children, use concrete language: don’t say “This person went to sleep” or “We’ve lost that person” – because that could instil fear or anxiety in that child about going to sleep. And what does lost mean? They’re lost at the shops? Be accurate and mindful of the impact of your language.

Age-appropriate conversations: For pre-school, think about how much exposure they’ve had. Maybe they’ve overheard the news, so the conversation could be quite brief: acknowledge what has happened, and say that lots of people have died as a result of a really bad incident. You can say that we don’t know why this has happened.

Two minutes silence to remember those killed in the Paris attack

Acknowledge what has happened, and say lots of people died as a result of a really bad incident Photo: Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph

As the parent or teacher or carer, the most important part is to offer reassurance: this is very unusual, there are lots of safety checks in place to protect us. Use age-appropriate language, and be aware of what your child understands: do they really know what “died” means? It’s usually not until the age of 5 or 6 that children understand that death is permanent.

With primary school, the majority will understand what “dead” means. So it may be that you can add details – you may be able to sit down and watch the 6 o’clock news together.

The perpetrators: You should talk about a bad action or behaviour – not bad people. Ms Allen explains: “A lot of our work is with families bereaved through murder. With children, you must be careful about the language: people aren’t bad – it’s something bad that they’ve done – this helps prevent anxiety in children, and fears that ‘bad people’ are coming to get them.”

Paris terror suspects: (Clockwise from top left) Abdeslam Salah, Bilal Hadfi, Ahmad Almohamad, Omar Mostefai, Samy Amimour and Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Don’t call the suspects “bad men”

Social media awareness: Secondary school aged children will have come across news about the Paris attacks already on social media. Remind them that some of the things they have read there may be incorrect. Have a conversation with your child about what they think has happened. Talk about the images they’ve seen – these can be more powerful than words. If they see an image, and haven’t had a conversation with someone they trust, they will build up these images something that is so big that it’s unmanageable for them; you don’t want a child to start fantasising that someone is going to come after them.

Promote peace: As I explained to my children, who are primary and pre-school age, the facts of what had happened, I tried to shift their focus towards the coming together of the people of Paris, and the work people around the world to keep everyone safe.

A memorial to the victims of the terror attacks outside the French embassy in Mexico CityFocus on the coming together of people in solidarity  Photo: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

Shield them: From certain politicians’ dangerous reactions – for example, by sayings that terrorists were carrying out “an organised attempt to destroy Western civilisation,” Jeb Bush granted these men more power than they have. This hysteria is exactly what the people carrying out these acts want. And it is exactly this sort of hysteria that we, as parents, need to protect our children from.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/12000620/Paris-attacks-How-to-explain-the-horror-to-children.html?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fb_ref=Default&fb_source=message

“The Forever Years and Furry Friends”: How kids benefit from the company of “creatures great and small”, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Si & Willow FY

There’s a kind of “link” in our psyche between kids and animals.  So many children’s characters ARE animals… Scooby Doo, Daniel Tiger, The Wonderpets, Canimals, Lassie, Carebears, Franklin, The Octonauts, Skippy the Bush Kangeroo, My Little Poney, Boowa and Kwala, Wags the Dog, Ninja Turtles, Pooh Bear, Piglet and their friends, Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse and his friends, Big Bird, Kermit and other Muppets, Dinosaur Train, Tom and Jerry, Roadrunner, Boots the Monkey, the Penguins of Madagascar, Curious George, the Pink Panther, The Lion King… these are just ones I can think of off the top of my head (some of my old childhood favourites and ones our children love now), I’m sure you can think of others.  Kids’ toys, cuddly soft toys in particular, are usually animals of some sort– teddies have to be the all time favourite across generations.

Why do we draw this link between kids and the “creatures great and small” of our world?  And how does interaction with real, live animals benefit children?

mix-white-sm

Most people would agree that children seem to naturally be drawn to animals… as adults, managing early interactions for kids in our care is important.  Very young children sometimes don’t have a healthy respect for / fear of animals.  Conversely, others may like the idea of a cat, dog, horse or whatever, but be terrified when they actually meet a real live one.  Animals, like kids, can be random and unpredictable and have their own personalities.    Protecting animals from over-enthusiastic or terrified children by teaching kids how to respond appropriately (and in ways which keep both safe ) shows our children that while we love them, we also care for and respect the creatures of our world and that animals are important.  Taking responsibility for animals by feeding them at regular times and caring for them when they are injured builds our kids’ empathy and reliability, helping them mature emotionally.

Wild Willow

This is our family dog Willow, a Stafford-shire Terrier/ Hunt-away cross we picked up from our local SPCA about 11 months ago.  (She looks pretty crazy in this photo, with her tongue lolling out).  She was three months old when we got her and a lot smaller!  Learning to “live in harmony with Willow” was a bit of a challenge for our family at first.  She seemed to have boundless energy and wanted to literally throw herself at anyone and everyone she met.  She was also a very good escape artist and had a bad chewing habit.  She chewed the trellis along the top of our fence as though it was gingerbread, took chunks out of our deck, ate one of our son’s shoes and chewed the plastic hand off one of our daughter’s dolls.  The kids changed a song they knew about God so it fitted the dog… “our dog is so big, so big and so mighty, there’s nothing our dog cannot chew…”.  We’ve now blocked off the area near the trellis, restricted Willow from the hedge (which she used to manage to get through, despite the wire mesh we put there to prevent it)  and found that you can buy a natural spray (it smells like rotten apples) to spray on the house to prevent chewing there.  She sleeps inside at night, but wears a muzzle so there won’t be any more problems with shoes, dolly hands or anything else.  My six year old son (pictured with puppy Willow at the top of this article) loves dogs, and it was he who most wanted to get a puppy.  Initially, however, he was quite scared of Willow, because she was so boistrous, and was only comfortable with her when she was on a lead.  As the kids have grown more used to Willow, Willow has also mellowed– she is, after all, now 14 months old, an adult dog.

Willow Pumpkin FY

A big advantage of having a dog is that she gets us all outside more often than we might be otherwise.  Often, especially at weekends, the kids will groan when we say we are going to go and walk the dog, especially if they are doing something like watching TV or playing on the i-pad.  Once they are out walking Willow, however, they enjoy throwing her ball to her and get exercise and fresh air themselves and, because the whole family are involved in walking the dog, we are also interacting with one another– Willow has drawn us together.

I tell the “story of Willow” to illustrate the benefits of animals to families and children.  We also have a rabbit and a cat and all the animals are definitely regarded as part of our family.  They have shown our children patience, companionship, responsibility and unconditional love.  I believe that it is a natural part of being human to live with animals and I can only imagine that adults who dislike or, in the worst cases, are cruel to animals, have had either a negative experience of them (perhaps not tempered by a responsible adult intervening) or have had limited or no experience of animals at all.  It is also worth noting, here,  the co-relation that often occurs between cruelty to and abuse of animals and similar actions directed towards children… see a previous post on “The Forever Years” at the link below.

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/the-close-link-between-animal-abuse-and-child-abuse-by-ginger-kadlec/

I read a bumper sticker on a car recently, whilst parking at the “doggy park” where we commonly walk Willow.  It read “dogs not drugs”, which to me  expressed how animals can take us “out of ourselves” and “ground us” in a healthy and natural way.  For kids a pet can provide a sense of stability and connection, especially in situations where other factors are less than ideal.

Another interesting  finding is that emerging readers often prefer reading aloud to an animal friend than to another human.

Reading to a Cat

Psychologists have long been aware of the benefits to children (and to human beings in general) of interaction with “furry friends”, so much so that some interesting animal related “therapies” have been devised, some of which I’ll out line, briefly below for your information.

Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) are any kind of therapy involving animals being part of the treatment for a variety of conditions.  Dogs are a common choice in AAT, perhaps because they tend to engage with patients and require engagement in return.  The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

The  biophilia hypothesis (Edward O .Wilson, 1984)  is based on the premise that our attachment to and interest in animals stems from the strong possibility that human survival was once partly dependent on signals from animals in the environment, indicating safety or threat. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that now, if we see animals at rest or in a peaceful state, this may signal to us safety, security and feelings of well-being which in turn may trigger a state where personal change and healing are possible. 

[Source: Schaefer K (2002) Human-animal interactions as a therapeutic intervention Counseling and Human Development, 34(5) pp.1-18].

527416b2838a4.preview-620Equine therapy, also known as equine-assisted therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine ( horse-related) activities or an equine environment to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, depression, developmental delay, genetic syndromes (such as Down syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol addiction, and other mental health problems.[1] Since the horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.  Riders with disabilities demonstrate accomplishments in national and international sport riding competitions.  

[Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_therapy]

Dolphin Therapy involves swimming with dolphins.  Children have a one on one  session with a therapist and dolphins in a marine park.  The goals are similar to those of AAT and EAT (see above).

cdtc-2

Therapy Cats are cats used as companions to help people with illnesses and anxiety.  Cats are chosen to be used in therapy based on their temperament.  With regard to children in particular, the cat must enjoy being held and cuddled.

There have been arguments made that therapy animals can work as well as or better than conventional pharmaceutical medicine for helping people relax, lowering stress levels and blood pressure decreases, [Associated Press (December 1, 2009). “Even hairless Sphynx cats give patients a warm, fuzzy feeling”. USA Today. Retrieved 2012-01-14.}, causing the heart rate to slow down.  According to one report, therapy  cats can help children and teens with special needs to “feel relaxed”, and that the human-cat communication is beneficial. [staff writer (March 4, 2011). “Jersey City dance school mourns loss of therapy cat”. The Jersey Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-14.]

(Just as an aside, cats and their crazy antics are among the most highly searched Youtube videos).

therapy-animals-2014-13-750

A “Therapy Cat” in action with a young cancer patient

As well as Willow, our dog, our family have a black cat called Zoe and a black and white lop-eared rabbit called Puff.  Each animal has his or her own personality and figures strongly in the lives of our children.   Puff, our rabbit, is eight, old in bunny years (we got him when my second son was a baby).  He had a “wife” , a white lop-eared rabbit called Lippity (at one stage they had 14 babies together… we gave those to friends and to a pet shop and had Puff neutered).  Lippity’s funeral was sad for our four children… and for us.  She is buried with her own special headstone made from a painted rock in our garden.    I remember similar “funerals” from my own childhood, but I feel a sense of joy and warmth when I think of those pets (such as an old cat who used to make “tunnels” under my bed sheets and didn’t mind being pushed around in a doll’s pram).

K & K FY

These pets were part of the reason I wanted our own children to have animals as part of the fabric of their “forever years”.   Our “furry friends” live in the moment and ask for nothing more than food, care and love. Because a pet’s death might be their first time losing a loved one, the grieving process can help kids learn how to cope with other losses throughout life.  Perhaps there is a reason why, in normal circumstances, we out live our animals.  As well as all their other great qualities, animals teach us and our children to value life.

Zoe's tea FY

Related Links:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/pet_death.html

http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/

http://www.oprah.com/relationships/10-Reasons-Pets-Are-Good-for-Kids

 

 

Tedz4theKids… link to interview with Dunedin Co-ordinator Tracey Leishman

 

Traceyint

As a follow up to an earlier post about Tedz4theKids

 https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/4thekidz-and-tedz-for-kids-amazing-support-for-traumitsed-kiwi-kids-by-caro-cragg-and-tracey-leishman/

“The Forever Years” would like to direct our readers’ attention to an awesome TV interview with Dunedin Co-ordinator Tracey Leishman, who explains more about this amazing project which helps some of our most traumatised kids here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

 

12122594_447038015486498_4400734450808814962_n

997029_810921605665418_3051169869027849101_n

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=5weeks%20to%20save%20a%20life

https://www.facebook.com/Dunedin-Tedz4thekidz-425472774309689/?fref=ts