7 ways to make dining out with kids easier

Amanda Abel, paediatric psychologist and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development and Hawthorn Centre for Child Development shares some tips for going to restaurants with your kids. 

Go early – this allows you to feed your child at their (presumably) regular eating time and decreases stress because the restaurant is likely to be quieter.

Be clear about the do’s and don’ts – before you go, explain what’s okay and what’s not okay (behaviour-wise) to your child. For instance, “we walk in the restaurant, not run” or “we use quiet voices”; “we keep our feet off the furniture” etc. You may want to put a motivator in place i.e. “if we can follow the restaurant rules, we might stop off for ice cream on the way home!”. Similarly, be clear about consequences for ‘not okay’ behaviour. If your child plays up, calmly take them outside and talk to them as calmly as you can to work out the problem and to find a solution. This is waaaaay easier done when you don’t have the family/friends/co-diners observing you so do what you can to move yourself and your kiddo to somewhere private. This also reduces the chances of your child playing up further out of embarrassment.

Restaurant choice – if you’re not used to fine dining, don’t go anywhere too posh. However these tips will work if you do! Sometimes taking a graded approach to posh restaurants can help i.e. gradually build up the posh factor, starting with a standard restaurant first and each time you go out go somewhere posher!

Take entertainment – whether or not you use devices is your choice but please if you do, TAKE HEADPHONES!!! There is nothing worse for other diners than hearing a child’s nursery rhymes blaring out of an iPad while they’re trying to enjoy their meal! Other successful options are sticker books, or colouring books (remember the pencils etc.!), dry erase activities, origami (if your kiddo is into it!)…You can also ask the restaurant if they have any colouring packs (but be wary – they often charge for them!)

Don’t overstay – kids get bored quickly and easily and it then means that no one enjoys themselves! Get the waiter’s attention and order as quickly as you can. Look at the menu online to speed up the process. Maybe don’t order 3 courses if you think that’s going to be too long for your kiddo to sit at the table for.

Don’t give too much choice – sometimes kids have trouble ordering off the menu. I often recommend giving a choice of 2 from the menu i.e. “do you want the spaghetti or the pizza?”. You don’t have to allow your kids to eat something unhealthy from the kids menu if you don’t want to – just don’t give it as an option. It’s okay to say no!

Movement – some kids just need a good walk around the restaurant to be able to stay calm and happy. It’s perfectly fine to take your kiddo outside for a little break if they need it, or if the venue is suitable, for a wander around the restaurant.

So, in summary, be prepared! Can you tell I’ve been through this many times?! It’s really important to remember that if your child is struggling, you need to stay calm. They feed off our anxiety/embarrassment/shame because it makes them feel uncomfortable and it can then exacerbate their behaviour. So try to get down to their level, connect with them, acknowledge how they’re feeling and devise a solution.

I’d love to hear any tips you guys have, so please let us know if you have any other ideas that might help the families we work with!

 

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Amanda Abel is a paediatric psychologist, mum, and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development (NCCD) and Hawthorn Centre for Child Development (HCCD) – multidisciplinary paediatric practices in Melbourne. Working directly and indirectly with hundreds of clients each year, Amanda’s mission is for every child to achieve their best outcomes by equipping families and educators with the tools they need to help kids thrive. Appearing on Channel 7 and 9 News, regularly featuring in print media, and as a contributor to Finch Publishing’s “Working Mums” book, Amanda draws on her own experiences of being a parent along with her extensive training and well-honed skill set to get children thriving. Having worked with children of all ages over the past 20 years and as a psychologist for the past 10 years, Amanda loves building the confidence of the adults in the lives of children so that they can connect meaningfully and help them reach their full potential. Amanda frequently presents at seminars and conferences, most recently at the 7th annual Learning Differences convention in Melbourne and Sydney in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The screen time tips you need to know about for your kids

Simone Gindidis – Psychologist at Northern Centre for Child Development

Screen time boundaries

As a psychologist, I particularly enjoy using technology such as apps with evidence-based counselling techniques, parenting support, and for clinical assessment.

One question frequently asked by parents relates to screen time recomendations.  This comes as no surprise; research is increasingly showing a relationship between unhealthy technology use and symptoms of poor mental health such as anxiety and depression.  It’s easy to see how parents might become overwhelmed by this information especially given there are so many different screen time suggestions available online and in the media.

So how can you help your children develop a positive relationship with technology?  Australian parenting website RaisingChildren recently published a great set of recommendations that are simple, straightforward, and evidence-based.  The recommendations are outlined below, together with some practical suggestions for how to make them work:

  1. Role model healthy screen use at home. One suggestion for this could involve making sure that no screens are used during family meals.  Studies show that family dinners can have positive benefits for children such as extending their vocabulary and emotional resilience.  Limiting screen time during dinner could therefore help you to connect with your children by maximising your quality time together.
  2. Discover your child’s technology interests. One way to make this happen could involve asking your child to teach you how to use their favourite game or app.  Who knows, maybe you’re a better Fortnite player than you think!
  3. Encourage your child to use good-quality content. This would also be a good way to promote your own digital knowledge – learn where to find information about app quality together with your child.  Questions to guide your process could include:
    • What are other app users saying about this app?
    • How does this game store and use our personal data?
    • Have there been any studies to support this app’s claims?
  4. Negotiate screen time rules as a family. Think about what boundaries work for your family.  Consider what message your child is receiving if the screen time rule set by the family is no televisions during dinner time and you’re still checking Instagram; while discussing boundaries don’t forget to remember the first recommendation and role model healthy use.
  5. Share screen time with your child. Extend on the second recommendation mentioned earlier and instead of only learning about what games or apps your child is using, attempt to share in their technology experiences.  Think about starting a game or a music playlist that can be shared and regularly re-visted.

Resource: www.raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/family-life/family-media-entertainment/family-technology-use

Keep us posted on how you go with setting some boundaries for your kids! And as always, get in touch if you need more specific guidelines for your family.

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Simone Gindidis – psychologist

Simone is a registered psychologist who recently submitted her PhD in Educational and Developmental psychology. She is dedicated to helping children, adolescents and parents achieve positive learning, relationships, and wellbeing across the lifespan. A lover of technology and gaming, she developed a successful e-learning iPad program to support second language acquisition in a private language school. Her PhD research investigated how smartphone apps can be used to support adolescents in therapy. In addition to technology and all things Harry Potter, she has considerable experience working in primary and secondary school environments training teachers and parents in the use of technology to aid communication and learning. She is trained in Cross-Battery Assessment of cognitive and academic abilities and ensures a flexible, responsive approach to providing evidence-based psychological services. Simone is sensitive to cross-cultural issues; fluent in both English and Greek. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and former representative on the National Committee of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. An occasional lecturer and teaching associate at Monash University in postgraduate psychology and counselling programs, Simone is passionate about marrying the latest research evidence with psychological services.

How to deal with a ‘threenager’

 

Read below as Madeline Sibbing (psychologist) discusses the ‘threenager’ concept and how to handle it…

Here’s a scenario that parents of 3-year-olds will know all too well:

Parent: “here sweetheart, let me help you put your shoes on”

Child: “NO! I’ll do it by myself!”

Parent: taps toes…..jingles car keys……tries not to lose patience as child struggles to wriggle their feet into their shoes…….child’s foot gets stuck…..child whinges…….parent then offers “come on darling I’ll help you with this tricky part, we need to hurry to school to pick up your brother”

Child: “NOOOOOOOOOO!” Kicks feet in frustration……..shoe flies off….…………….

Parent: …………………cops a child’s shoe to the head.

Parenting is just SO rewarding isn’t it?!

So what is a “threenager”?

Though it is certainly not a diagnostic psychological term, “Threenager” is the term some have coined for that difficult stage where our pre-schoolers are learning that they can begin to have some control over their world……….AND THEY LIKE IT.

Stop for a moment and think about the world your little one lives in.  Almost every decision is made for them – what they eat, when they eat, how they eat, where they eat, with whom they eat…….what they wear, how they wear it, where they wear it, with whom they wear it……you catch my drift. They have almost NO control over their world, thus causing huge amounts of frustration.

So, of course your little one then craves that feeling of control and seeks it wherever possible, becoming defiant and argumentative and wanting independence above all else sometimes! Sure it’s frustrating for us – but imagine you lived in a world where someone made every decision about your day for you.  Wouldn’t you also try and find the weak spot and push against it to gain some sense of control back for yourself?

What does this mean for us as parents? Well, if we want our children to develop a healthy level of independence, we need to allow them to have choice and control where appropriate. It might look like this:

  1. Choice of two – offer your child a choice of two options that you are comfortable with, such as “you can put your shoes on in the car or in the garage, which do you choose?”
  2. Picking your battles – we might have to intervene with getting dressed because that doctor’s appointment will not wait for us…………but later when we’re back home we will let our child change their shoes by themselves for as long as it takes.
  3. Teach independence for tasks that the child can do for themselves – I love the Montessori philosophy of “Help me to help myself”. Teach your child tasks that they have a chance of performing independently – such as getting dressed and undressed, washing up in the sink, drying up after dinner, helping to set the table. Teach these skills in a proactive way when you have ample time, as this will help your child to build their confidence and self-esteem in their abilities.

And remember – as hard as it can be now, that strong will might hold your little one in good stead when they are actually teenagers and faced with even greater challenges!

Madeline Sibbing is a psychologist at NCCD – see more about her here.

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The mindfulness app for kids you need to try

Simone Gindidis – psychologist at Hawthorn Centre for Child Development

Simone again with another tech article.  This time I’m chatting about the Stop, Breathe & Think Kids app (no they’re not paying me to recommend it!).  Mindfulness and relaxation is all the rage at the moment, and with good reason.  Research suggests that learning and practicing breathing techniques, relaxation and mindfulness can help with emotional regulation, releasing tension, and sleep.  To develop the necessary skills children engage in activities that help them to identify and process their feelings.

child relaxing in leaves

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids is for children aged 5-10 and is designed with activities and games to teach mindfulness.  An example of one of the activities (or ‘missions’) on the app is called Counting Breaths.  Muscle tension often happens when we’re anxious or stressed.  The Counting Breaths activity is a 2-minute guided breathing activity that has children doing a simple progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercise.  PMR is the process of creating and releasing muscle tension in the body – try curling and releasing your toes and you’ll get the picture.  This activity teaches children how to become aware of the way in which their feelings (such as worry) can sometimes impact how they feel physically while providing them with a strategy to use when wanting to loosen-up or settle down.

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids is free to download and there are additional paid subscription options for access to extra content.  The app is easy and fun to use and has received positive feedback from parents, children and mental health practitioners alike.  I do have a few cautions: the app requires you to setup a login and password using your email address.  Annoying, I know.  When apps request your data or other personal information, I always recommend parents take the time to either read the (often painful) privacy policies or email the app developer to ask how your data will be handled.

I regularly use apps with children and parents as some can offer families with information and  additional resources between sessions.  If you have any good apps or feedback about any of the ones we’ve showcased, please get in touch!

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Simone Gindidis – psychologist

Simone is a registered psychologist who recently submitted her PhD in Educational and Developmental psychology. She is dedicated to helping children, adolescents and parents achieve positive learning, relationships, and wellbeing across the lifespan. A lover of technology and gaming, she developed a successful e-learning iPad program to support second language acquisition in a private language school. Her PhD research investigated how smartphone apps can be used to support adolescents in therapy. In addition to technology and all things Harry Potter, she has considerable experience working in primary and secondary school environments training teachers and parents in the use of technology to aid communication and learning. She is trained in Cross-Battery Assessment of cognitive and academic abilities and ensures a flexible, responsive approach to providing evidence-based psychological services. Simone is sensitive to cross-cultural issues; fluent in both English and Greek. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and former representative on the National Committee of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. An occasional lecturer and teaching associate at Monash University in postgraduate psychology and counselling programs, Simone is passionate about marrying the latest research evidence with psychological services.

 

 

2 ways smartphones are helping your kids

Hi guys! I’m Simone, the newest clinician to join the Centre for Child Development.  I’ve been described as a tech-enthusiast and most recently, the ‘Anti-Pauli Effect’ – don’t worry – I had to Google that last one too (I recommend it if you have time for a giggle).  In addition to my work helping young people and their parents achieve positive learning, relationships, mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan, I’m a bit of a technology nerd.  By ‘a bit’, I mean ‘a lot’; and although my PhD thesis explored the use of apps in therapy with young people, I don’t discriminate.  Apps, smartphones, tablets, computers, wearables, gaming systems – you name it, I’m all over it!  To encourage greater understanding and positive relationships with technology, I’m going to share tips and insights based on the latest research.

child with phone Photo by Diego Passadori on Unsplash

When used appropriately, smartphones can actually be helpful for young people.  That’s right, the iPhone you can’t seem to separate from your child’s hand can actually do some good! Here are two ways that smartphones can actually be helpful:

  1. Smartphones can allow kids to stay connected with friends.  In some cases, this connection may even increase the quality of their friendships. Of course you’ll need to address appropriate use of the phone in terms of ettiquete (i.e. is it okay to use the phone at the dining table? What would adults think if you were frequently checking your phone while they’re talking to you?) and safe behaviour (i.e. sending images and bullying spring to mind here).
  2. Smartphone apps can also be helpful, with research showing some apps can reduce symptoms associated with anxiety. We even use these apps in the clinic! I’ll be sharing more about the types of apps that can be helpful over the coming weeks, but in the meantime have a think about which areas in your child’s life technology/apps might help? It can be a great way to motivate a somewhat reluctant child to practice relaxation and mindfulness!

It’s important to remember that we can all experience challenges negotiating our relationships whether it’s with parents, siblings, children, colleagues, food or exercise.  Technology is no different – as Oscar Wilde said, “everything in moderation”.

As always, we really recommend that you address boundaries and household expectations around the use of smartphones in your home to avoid any challenges or negative effects of overuse etc.

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Simone Gindidis – Psychologist at Hawthorn Centre for Child Development

 

Simone is a registered psychologist who recently submitted her PhD in Educational and Developmental psychology. She is dedicated to helping children, adolescents and parents achieve positive learning, relationships, and wellbeing across the lifespan. A lover of technology and gaming, she developed a successful e-learning iPad program to support second language acquisition in a private language school. Her PhD research investigated how smartphone apps can be used to support adolescents in therapy. In addition to technology and all things Harry Potter, she has considerable experience working in primary and secondary school environments training teachers and parents in the use of technology to aid communication and learning. She is trained in Cross-Battery Assessment of cognitive and academic abilities and ensures a flexible, responsive approach to providing evidence-based psychological services. Simone is sensitive to cross-cultural issues; fluent in both English and Greek. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and former representative on the National Committee of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. An occasional lecturer and teaching associate at Monash University in postgraduate psychology and counselling programs, Simone is passionate about marrying the latest research evidence with psychological services.

3 top tips to connect with your teen

Madeline Sibbing – Psychologist at Northern Centre for Child Development

Adolescence – it’s an inevitability and a time in our childrens’ lives that many of us dread.  I love this quote about the adolescent years – “Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” That Earl Wilson, he was one clever dude.

In all honesty, though, adolescence can be a truly exciting time – during which young people start to develop their own opinions, to take on greater responsibility, to contribute more to the world, expand their horizons and begin to develop their unique identity. So, rather than simply ignore it and “ride it out” – how can we embrace this exciting time and stay connected with our teenagers?

teen-boy-Photo-by-RAYUL-on-Unsplash.jpg

 

  1. Be around – this sounds obvious, right? But one thing I learned from many years working in a secondary school is that teenagers still need us just as much, if not MORE, than they did during primary school. Many parents think their kids are now in secondary school so it’s a great time for them to both return to full-time work.  Keep in mind, however, that the transition to secondary school is huge for all kids, especially those with ASD, ADHD, anxiety or other challenges.  This is a time when they need their parents’ time and attention more than ever. It is also a time when they will be increasingly connected to friends outside of school and online – so our availability to talk through problems is absolutely vital.
  2. Exploit those ‘captive’ moments – yep, a car ride is no longer just a car ride! When teens are ‘captive’ in the car and not sitting facing you having to make eye contact, this is the perfect time to ‘casually’ raise topics or inquire about their day. Open-ended questions or conversational invitations using your own comments (eg. “wow I’m exhausted from my professional learning at work today – I don’t know how you do it for six lessons each day!”) are a great way to encourage conversation from your teens.
  3. Get involved – no, I’m not suggesting putting on a leotard and joining your daughter in ballet class! Just get involved in their hobbies and show interest in their social circles:
  • Play that video game with them. That way you know what it is about (and can monitor appropriateness) as well as sharing in the experience with them!
  • Invite their friends over or offer to drop them home. That way you can meet their parents and develop a network of people caring for your teen’s friendship group.
  • Read the books they’re into – you might find that a bit of teen fiction is actually quite enjoyable! And added bonus, there’s another connection for you both!

I’ve no doubt that if you can connect, both you and your teen will absolutely reap the benefits. You will get to see that fabulous mind and personality as it blossoms and they will benefit from the security and connection with one of the most important people in their life.

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Madeline Sibbing – Psychologist

This article was written by Madeline Sibbing for Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric psychology practice in Melbourne. Madeline is a Paediatric Psychologist with a Master of Educational and Developmental Psychology from Monash University. Her fifteen years of professional experience has been attained within government and independent schools in assessment, therapeutic interventions and consultation with children, adolescents, parents and teachers. She also developed primary prevention programs, mental health awareness activities and teacher training in a secondary college. Madeline spent several years working as an Educational Psychologist in London, UK, as a Chartered member of the British Psychological Society before returning to Melbourne, Australia. Madeline works with all ages at the Northern Centre for Child Development in Preston (Melbourne), from young children through to adolescents and parents. She is able to adapt her therapy accordingly, using playful, creative therapy and parenting strategies for younger children and for older children and adolescents she employs Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solution-focussed Therapy and mindfulness techniques.

Photo credit: RAYUL on Unsplash

Teaching your pre-schooler to WAIT

Madeline Sibbing, Psychologist at Northern Centre for Child Development

Being a working Mum is hard work.  You get home from a long day at work, your kids are hangry, you’re trying to explain to your partner how your NBN connection STILL isn’t working (true story), and your 3-year-old keeps shouting “Mummy mummy mummy mummy water!”

It’s enough to make your brain explode!

This is a frequent scenario in my household – so, many years ago I learned this simple tip for teaching pre-schoolers to WAIT. Yes you read that correctly, my children CAN now ACTUALLY WAIT!

It’s totally simple – and it only requires consistency and a bit of perseverance to pull it off.

mother and child in street portrait Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Here’s the trick – credit goes to someone on the internet somewhere sometime ago for teaching me this strategy:

  1. Child interrupts your conversation or your task
  2. Stretch out your arm and extend your hand
  3. Explain to the child that if they want your attention, they need to place their hand on yours.
  4. When the child has placed their hand on yours, you place your other hand on top of theirs. (This acknowledges that you know they are waiting).
  5. Commence with a short wait that you think your child can cope with initially. Even 5-10 seconds is a good start.
  6. Praise the child warmly and thank them for “waiting quietly” or whichever words feel right for you! And immediately give them your full attention.
  7. Keep doing this each time they go to interrupt. Extend the wait time gradually each time.

Good luck and happy waiting!

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Madeline Sibbing – Psychologist

This article was written by Madeline Sibbing for Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric psychology practice in Melbourne. Madeline is a Paediatric Psychologist with a Master of Educational and Developmental Psychology from Monash University. Her fifteen years of professional experience has been attained within government and independent schools in assessment, therapeutic interventions and consultation with children, adolescents, parents and teachers. She also developed primary prevention programs, mental health awareness activities and teacher training in a secondary college. Madeline spent several years working as an Educational Psychologist in London, UK, as a Chartered member of the British Psychological Society before returning to Melbourne, Australia. Madeline works with all ages at the Northern Centre for Child Development in Preston (Melbourne), from young children through to adolescents and parents. She is able to adapt her therapy accordingly, using playful, creative therapy and parenting strategies for younger children and for older children and adolescents she employs Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solution-focussed Therapy and mindfulness techniques.

Photo credit: Sai De Silva on Unsplash

5 Ways to Get Your Child to Sleep – from Paediatric Psychologists

Sleep issues have to be one of the more common problems parents will want to discuss when they come and see us at our clinic. They range from mild behavioural issues, to chronic (behavioural or medical) problems. We are lucky at NCCD to have two terrific paediatricians working with us (you can check them out here), so we often work together as a team if there are chronic sleep issues presenting. For us psychologists, our usual treatment starts with some simple behavioural modification steps, and here our our top 5 tips (there are many more, but this is a good start!):

  1. Get a night time routine sorted ASAP. If you need to know why, check out my post here. But generally the routine should involve sleep inducing, predictable activities in the lead up to bed (shower/bath, brush teeth, PJs on, story, light out).
  2. Stop screen time a couple of hours before bed time.
  3. If your kiddo is a bit anxious, make a time earlier in the day to talk about their worries, not right as they’re getting into bed – or at any point during the home-stretch to bed! If your child starts to raise something at this point, you can thank them for telling you and explain that you’ll chat to them about it in the morning.
  4. Calm down the house prior to bed. You can dim the lights, put on calming music and generally be calm yourself.
  5. Set clear behavioural expectations that can be reinforced in the morning. For instance, for children that procrastinate about going to sleep, set an expectation that if they go straight to sleep then they can have TV or a special breakfast etc. in the morning. And conversely, if they play up at night time, there is no TV (or whichever reward you’ve offered) the next day. Choose motivators that work for you/your family. And ensure you follow through the next day. Remember, this is not bribery – bribery is offering a reward for a behaviour to STOP once it has already started, and is never going to end in behaviour change.

I’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these tips, and how they worked for you. Often it’s trial and error with behaviour change!

 

Amanda Abel
Amanda Abel

Amanda Abel is a paediatric psychologist, mum and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric centre in Preston. Follow us on facebook and Instagram @amanda.j.abel

 

Photo credit:  Photo by Iana Dmytrenko on Unsplash

 

 

Why bedtime routines are so important

When parents come to see me in the clinic about sleeping issues for their children, my first question is always “what’s your night time routine?” When this is answered with ambiguity and vagueness, then I know what our first step of intervention is! Why is a bed time routine so important, I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you!

To begin with, think about your own routines and rituals around bedtime. If you asked my husband he would tell you that I take about an hour to actually get into bed once I’ve announced that I’m going to bed. I think he’d be exaggerating, but my point is that we all have little ‘bits and bobs’ we want to do before we head off to bed. It might be wiping down the bench, washing your face, turning on the dishwasher, locking the doors etc. But we often find that unless we’ve carried out these tasks, we might struggle to settle. Well, it’s the same for our kids! Here’s why…

Firstly, we know that predictability, routine and functional rituals can decrease anxiety. This is because it is something familiar for us to hang our hat on, so to speak. When our kids know that the same thing happens each night before bed, they don’t have to worry about what’s coming up next, particularly at a time when we are likely to see more challenging behaviours thanks to tiredness.

Having the predictable routine also decreases the chances of ‘pushing the boundary’ type behaviours, because your kids know that there is a set routine and there is no use trying to disrupt it, because mum and dad are consistent.

The night time routine is also a really beautiful time to connect with your child. While I dont recommend opening up metaphorical “cans of worms” at this time, and disecting your child’s worries from the day (this should be done earlier in the day, not right before bed), it’s a great time to tell your child how much you love them/how proud you are/ask them what was amazing about their day and perhaps discuss something to look forward to tomorrow.

Reading a story together is a way to further solidify your routine, and check out some of my book reviews for some ideas about great books for bed time.

Having a regular night time routine allows your child an opportunity to learn how to self settle and quieten their mind after a busy day. By reading a calming story and spending time with them in the dim light of their bedroom, using quiet voices and generally being calm, we show them how to slow down in preparation for sleep. This way they can drift off to sleep independently and (fingers crossed!) stay that way until morning!

Stay tuned for my top tips for a sucessful bed time routine so you can become bed time routine MASTERS!

Amanda Abel
Amanda Abel

Amanda Abel is a paediatric psychologist, mum and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric centre in Preston. Follow us on facebook and Instagram @amanda.j.abel

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

Book Review – Nightlights (by Civardi, Petty, Dunbar & Somerville)

Are you searching for stories to read to your preschooler – or primary-schooler at bedtime? For a few years now, we’ve been reading stories from the “Nightlights” collection to our now 5-year old daughter. The first book in the series is a collection of stories designed to “encourage calm, confidence and creativity” according to the authors. In my opinion, the stories certainly fulfill this claim, but also provide an opportunity for you to introduce your child to visualisation.

Visualisation, or guided imagery, is a proactive strategy that encourages a child to  be still and listen and imagine the scenes and stories you are reading aloud to them.

Visualisation is a great way for your child to adopt appropriate relaxation and self-regulation strategies. We know that children who are able to self-regulate and are armed with proactive strategies for problem solving are likely to be more resilient.

I like the Nightlights book because it takes a bit of the hard work out of the equation for us parents, so we can just set ourselves up with our kiddo and read! Sometimes I do casually omit sections or skip over some stories which I think might be problematic for my kiddo. For instance,  I may not want to be reading stories with themes of ‘extended absences’ and ‘saying goodbye’ at bedtime if we’ve just experienced our own situation along those lines. While it is great to talk about these things,  bedtime is not ideal when it is time to quieten the mind.

Otherwise though, I really like this book and have consistently used it for my daughter so much so that it is essentially embedded in our night time routine!

So, if you’re looking for some bedtime stories that might serve the double purpose of connection time at bedtime, as well as providing your kiddo a chance to learn some self-regulation skills, try the Nightlights range!

I’d love to hear of some other books so please comment with your recommendations! I’m always up for extending the library!

Amanda Abel
Amanda Abel

Amanda Abel is a paediatric psychologist, mum and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric centre in Preston. Follow us on facebook and Instagram @amanda.j.abel

 

References:

Enhancing Resilience in Children: A Proactive Approach. Mary Karapetian Alvord and Judy Johnson Grados, Alvord, Baker & Associates, LLC. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 2005, Vol. 36, No. 3, 238 –245