Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

smiling mother lifting laughing child above her head

The first years of life are important for a child’s personal, social and emotional development. From birth, babies are reliant upon others for key survival and will only know their immediate needs such as when they are wet, hungry or need love. Babies begin to develop object permanence around the age of 6 months – the idea that they know something or someone exists even if they have disappeared out of sight. This gives a great insight as to when trust has developed and a baby can recognise the strong emotional connection they have to someone.

carly wray wimbledon park day nursery manager
By Carly Wray, Wimbledon Park Day Nursery Manager

Babies and children can be supported in working towards a positive mental mindset by providing them with key learning opportunities in self-regulation and resilience. This can include teaching self-soothing which may start as learning to soothe themselves to sleep but develops later in life into knowing how to calm your anxiety for exam preparation, interviews and sporting competitions or having self-control in having a calm conflict, debate or disagreement.

Children can be helped in their self-regulation by simply teaching maths that build on problem solving. We can introduce role play in order for children to work as a group or trying board games for taking turns and being patient. We can use science experiments to make predictions, encourage curiosity, make plans and review the outcomes or what we can learn from them.

The different monsters featured in Anna Llenas' The Colour Monster

Storytelling can help with identifying feelings and emotions in the characters which can inspire a wider conversation. Try reading the book ‘The Colour Monster‘ by Anna Llenas . Child initiated play will help them in making decisions and promoting independence.

We can use mindfulness and meditation to centre our thoughts and feelings and learn strategies to calm down.

Take a look at this website on activity ideas:

 https://www.firstdiscoverers.co.uk/mindfulness-activities-kids/

Remember to keep the activities short and sweet and keep in mind it is always better to have physical objects to relate to rather than encourage internal processing. For example, to encourage deep breaths, maybe using this Expanding Ball toy will be better to visualise.

Expanding Ball Toy

Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) may be a word you see us regularly use in your child’s next steps or observations. This is where we are looking at how the children are making relationships, building their self-confidence and self-awareness and how they manage their behaviour and emotions.

Check out: ‘What to Expect, When?’ for a parent friendly guide on the EYFS curriculum we follow: https://www.eyalliance.org.uk/sites/default/files/what_to_expect_when._a_parents_guide.pdf

A child should be able to leave pre-school with the ability to listen and respond to adults instructions and comply and understand rules, form positive relationships with other children and teachers, be sensitive to their own and others’ needs.

Baby looking away from camera while adult in mask carries them

During the pandemic, it has been recognised that the long-term impact on the children of lockdown could be the social isolation from other children and family members. The ability to pick up on emotions will be harder with adults ‘masking up’. Babies may be more easily distressed and need more physical contact. Pre-school aged children may return to behaviours they had already grown out of such as toileting accidents or fear of being separated from their parents. This emphasises why it is so important we place a primary focus on children’s PSED before we think about the next stages with school readiness, literacy and mathematics learning.

Let’s build the fundamental life skills for happy, successful futures!

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