Article from Mamas & Papas

Volume 2 No 10 (June 2010 ) Exploring emotions through play -
Why playing can be therapeutic

Articles from Vrouekeur magazine

30 Oktober 2009 - Motiveer hom positief
18 September 2009 - Jou kinders verskil. Hoe nou?
12 Maart 2010 - Breek of bou jy?
30 April 2010 - Hy wil net TV kyk

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Index of articles on this page


Benefits of family game time
Giving them the reins
When compliments do more harm than good
Play makes it all better
Confronting disappointment
Using positive reinforcement to discipline
Why I teach my child about respect
The importance of play
My anxious child
Managing stress at school
Help your child set reasonable goals
When my child doesn't perform at school
Does birth position really make a difference?
Motivate him for school
Teachers handling problem behaviour at school
Handling problem behaviour at school
The importance of outdoor play
Children in health care
Children and the grieving process
"Mommy! I can't do it!"
Dealing with peer pressure
Effective discipline
Why I bite my friends
Television and your child
Raising a responsible child
A New baby in the family
Discipline
Performance
Boundaries
Motivation
Bullying
Depression
Support for child-headed homes
Sibling conflict
Puberty

More articles available on the Afrikaans website

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Benefits of family game time


I remember how we used to spend hours of fun over a game of Monopoly or Scrabble.  These games were definitely not without value to us; socially, cognitively and emotionally. It still adds value to our children’s development, the difference being that we might not get as much time to play these games anymore.

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Giving them the reins

As parents and teachers we know how important it is to be in control. We need to protect our children, guide them, and teach them the skills and knowledge they will need in the future. 

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When compliments do more harm than good

We all think our children are the cutest, prettiest and smartest. We may think so, in fact we should. We want to cheer them on and make them feel proud about themselves. Of course we want them to have a secure self-esteem, show good progress and even excel in what they do.

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Play makes it all better

It’s like a golden key that can unlock your child’s emotions, says Shanda Luyt. We take a look at what play therapy entails and how it works.

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Confronting disappointment

Life happens. Despite our efforts to protect our children from disappointment and loss, these things are bound to happen. 

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Using positive reinforcement to discipline

Discipline: the age old topic of discussion. Most people agree that it is necessary. Regardless of the style or method you use, your aim is to guide your child to be responsible. We watch and we reprimand when necessary:

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Why I teach my child about respect

Do we still have respect for our loved ones, or for that matter ‘the man on the street?’ Do we still say please and thank you or even a quick “Have a nice day?" We as parents need to lead by example because our children follow in our footsteps. 

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The importance of play

Play is fun. It is mostly recognised as a recreational activity for children – which is partly true but it is so much more than just a fun thing that children do.

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My anxious child

Children these days experience a lot of pressure due to exposure to formal learning too early, pressure to reach developmental milestones earlier, to perform better and take part in more activities. All the pressure sadly takes its toll.

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Managing stress at school

There are different reasons why children do not adapt to a new school or a new class, why they do not like school or even experience school as stressful.
Children who feel threatened by the school environment might find it difficult to achieve the outcomes required and to maintain healthy social relationships.

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Help your child set reasonable goals

Goals give direction, it keeps us going and motivated.
One of the reasons why children lose interest in their schoolwork or activities is because they do not have goals. They don’t know what they are studying for, why they are spending hours practicing sport or learning a new skill. It starts to feel like a waste of time and energy and there is no more excitement associated with it.

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When my child doesn't perform at school

Parents often feel discouraged, disappointed and worried when their children do their best to perform at school, but when the report comes back, the results are not satisfying or what you expected.

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Does birth position really make a difference?

There are lots of theories about how birth order influence relationships, roles and developing personalities in siblings.

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Motivate him for school

Our lives have changed over the last few years to fast paced, high pressure lifestyles. Our children also often feel pressured to take part- and perform in different fields. The expectations that children face with schoolwork, extra mural activities, social activities and family time can make them tired and feel uninspired.

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Teachers handling problem behaviour at school

Being an educator, you will be faced with children who present with problem behaviour. More often than not, children will do anything to get attention, even if it calls for negative behaviour.

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Handling problem behaviour at school

When the school informs you that your child causes trouble in some way, you might get angry and force an explanation from your child. The first important step though, is to stay calm en listen to what your child has to say.

Only when you have all the correct information you can act on it appropriately.

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The importance of outdoor play

Nature is probably the most resourceful learning environment. A space we often take for granted and don’t use optimally. Outdoor play is beneficial for each area of child development: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

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Children in health care

Going to hospital can be a very traumatic experience for any child. Except for being sick or in pain, the hospital is an unfamiliar place which can be frightening and where the child might feel lonely. Children often feel they have little control over their bodies and the situation and experience a lack of privacy.

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Children and the grieving process

A child going through the grieving process can experience symptoms of fatigue, sleep problems, eating problems, psychosomatic symptoms (e.g. headaches or tummy aches without a medical cause). The child might also experience intense sadness, guilt, fears and behavioural changes (such as aggression or anger outbursts).

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"Mommy! I can't do it!"

For some children, completing tasks and activities are easy. Other children feel overwhelmed easily and would rather avoid certain tasks, than do it. Here are a few reasons why children would rather say “I can’t do it” than having to learn new skills or take part in activities.

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Dealing with peer pressure

Peer pressure usually occurs when a person is manipulated by others, especially friends, to do things he/she wouldn’t necessarily want to do. Peer pressure is sometimes so subtle, we are not even aware of it!

Peer pressure can be positive and negative. Friends can have a bad influence on a child, but good friends can also influence a child positively.

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Effective discipline

There is, like many other things in life, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ discipline strategy. Every child is unique, every family’s dynamics are different and parents’ views are not all the same, all of which will determine the discipline style that will work effectively for a family.

Although there are different discipline styles and –strategies, there are a few things – whatever the discipline style – which should be applied to ensure that discipline works effectively

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Why I bite my friends

Small children have not yet learned how to communicate their needs and emotions effectively, thus they might bite or pinch their friends to give them the message that they are not approving of the current situation. In most of these cases the child is feeling angry, frustrated, irritated or even overly excited. They have a feeling that needs to be expressed – now!

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Television and your young child

Between working a full day and taking care of your family, it is sometimes easier to let your child sit in front of the television while you prepare supper. He seems happy enough, you know where he is and he is not around your feet as you are already tired by this time of day. But are the programmes your child is watching educational or does it stress him out? Here are a few guidelines when choosing a program for your child.

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Raising a responsible child

Responsibility already is a long word on paper; its meaning carries even more weight. Parents need to teach their children responsibility for them to become successful adults.

Responsibilities are expectations of what we need to do. Young children learn to be responsible when it is expected of them to do chores such as tidying their bedrooms or putting away their toys.

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A new baby in the family

Hi, I am three years old. Mommy and daddy give me a lot of attention. They play with me and we have nice long talks. When it is bathtime, I may sometimes play extra long in the water. When we go shopping, sometimes I get treated with a new toy or some sweeties. All the toys in our house belong to me. When we visit friends everyone comments on how much I have grown and how cute I am. Now mommy is expecting a baby. What I don’t get, is where does babies come from anyway? Everyone tells me something different, and I don’t believe anyone anymore. And I am scared! Will mommy and daddy still love me? Who is going to play with me, I hear babies take a lot a of mommy’s time. I adore my toys, what if the new baby takes it and breaks it? I am not so sure about this whole new baby thing...

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Discipline

Discipline is the punishment or consequences for unacceptable behaviour.  When a child is disciplined it is important that your child understands why he/she is punished.  Discipline does not necessarily have to be physical punishment, but for the school aged child it can be less relaxation time for example.

Before you discipline your child, your child needs to know which behaviour will be punished and what punishment to expect.  Punishment needs to appropriate for the infringement and the child’s age.  Give approximately two warnings before punishing your child, but do not give empty warning.

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Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is a severe fear of failure and other people’s reaction to the failure.  Performance anxiety is caused by social settings and/or situations in which the child needs to perform.  This might be situations for instance where the child needs to complete a task in a specific time frame, where success is expected of the child or the child lacks the confidence to complete the task.

Anxiety can be caused by:

Genetics – a family member/members suffering from anxiety;

Chemical (serotonin) imbalance in the brain;

Temperament;

Environmental factors – such as stressful or traumatic events.

Parents need to be patient and understanding of the child’s anxiety.  Do not punish your child for anxiety.  Routine is very important for the child suffering from anxiety.  Situations need to be very predictable and/or need to be explained to your child. Change your child’s diet to minimise the intake of dietary sugars and chemical foods as that also increase anxiety.  Relaxation exercises can help your child to cope in stressful events.  In cases of severe anxiety the child might benefit from play therapy.

The anxious child needs support from the parents to cope with social settings and situations.  Be a patient parent with understaning of your anxious child and the situation will already improve.

Recommended reading: 
Chansky, T.  Understanding children’s fears and worries.  Freeing your child from anxiety:  Powerful, practical solutions to overcome your child’s fears, worries, and phobias. 

(http://www.enotalone.com/article/2471.html)

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Boundaries

All children need boundaries to know which behaviour is acceptable and which is unacceptable.

Through boundaries

The child learns to distinguish between right and wrong,

What is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

What is seen as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in society.

Boundaries should already be set when the child is still a baby. When children are exposed to boundaries from a very young age, they become used to the idea that boundaries are set for their well-being. The boundaries set by parents will help the child to develop a secure personality. In cases where no boundaries are set, the children feel unsure of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. They will not be able to predict when they will be punished or rewarded for certain behaviour.

Boundaries set by parents should be age appropriate and should fit to the childrens’ developmental level and personality.

If you know your children, you will be able to determine how strict the boundaries should be and when to be more lenient. Every child is different and unique, thus the boundaries for each might differ. The older child will have more and stricter boundaries, where the much younger child might need less boundaries or more leniency from the parents. In other cases the school aged child may need more leniencies e.g. bedtime, where the toddler needs to go to bed earlier.

To raise healthy children, the parents need to set healthy boundaries. When children grow up without boundaries, insecure and unsure children will develop.

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Motivation

Motivation is a way of supporting children to achieve their goals.

Positive motivation can be described as any behaviour that gives children reason for performing and doing their best.  Positive motivation can include verbal encouragement or rewards.  Motivation can help children to improve their performance and try their best at the tasks they take on. 

Healthy motivation from parents and teachers can assist children even into young adulthood, choosing the right career and making a success of their futures. 

Reward your children for good work done or for good behaviour.  Rewards need not be big or expensive gifts, but extra play time or extra quality time with the parents can also be considered as a reward.

But not all motivation is healthy.  Negative motivation can include unfair punishment, encouragement for bad behaviour, verbal threats or any other behaviour that causes distress with children.  This type of motivation from parents, teachers or friends should be avoided at all cost.

Positive motivation gives children the courage to do their best and improve their performance.  Avoid negative motivation as this breaks children down.

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Bullying

Bullying is any verbal or physical behaviour that is aggressive of nature that harms or injures any other person.

Bullying behaviour is the result of aggression and/or unexpressed emotions that the child can not handle in a positive way.  Bullying can also be a result of copied behaviour seen at role models e.g. aggressive parents, siblings, friends or movie stars as children learn through observation of other’s behaviour.  It is thus important that a child has positive role models and friends.  The relationships at home should also be positive.  Punishment should be of such nature that it does not communicate aggression to the child, but rather that of love of caring parents.

Create healthy alternatives for the child to express emotions like anger in an appropriate manner.  Physical activities can help a child to use up all the build-up energy in the body.  Therapy can also assist children to cope with their situations and to deal positively with their emotions.

The victim of bullying is usually the quiet, well-mannered child that can not stand up against a bully.  The parents and teachers need to support the victim of bullying by protecting these children and teaching them basic skills to handle the situation.  Parents should inform the school as soon as it is known that the child is being bullied.

The parents of both the bullies as well as the victims of bullying need to seek professional guidance to support both parties of bullying behaviour.

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Depression

First it is necessary to distinguish between the terms depression and sadness. Sadness is short-term emotions for negative or sad experiences.  Depression is a long-term emotion of sadness and helplessness and negativity towards him/herself and the environment.

Depression is caused by an imbalance of the hormones named serotonin released in the brain.  This is something your child can not control or change.  Medication though, can fix the imbalances so that your child can function without depression.  Depression becomes a problem when it hinders children for normal functioning; that means when children are not up to participating in every day basic activities as before.

To support depressed children you can motivate them to talk about their emotions or else draw or write about the depressed thoughts and emotions.  If your child’s depression does not go away after a few months or it worsens, it might help to take your child to a therapist or psychologist.  Do not punish children for depressed thoughts and emotions as depression is something they can not control.

Medication or therapy can help depressed children to cope with every day activities.

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Support for child-headed homes

One of the rules of nature is that children need to be taken care of by adults.  In some households it is just not possible for an adult or parent to raise the children.  Some parents work away from home as this is the only opportunity for getting an income.  Because of HIV/AIDS many children are left behind after one or both parents passed away as a result of this virus.

Children sometimes have their hands full solving their own problems and handling what ever life throws at them.  Some children are given the responsibility of solving siblings’ problems, taking care of them and raising them.  This responsibility placed upon the child who is caring for and raising siblings can cause much distress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and poor academic performance, which can lead to low self-esteem.  If the child can not fulfill the siblings’ basic needs, such as food and clothing, the child may become involved in criminal activities e.g. theft, to be able to look after the siblings.

In situations like these, the community needs to offer support to these child-headed homes.  Taking the children into ones own home is not always possible, but by donating food, give emotional support, financial contributions, solving problems or just helping with homework, will already take a lot of distress from the child taking care of the siblings.

This is not a far-fetched scenario.  In rural areas, this is a very common arrangement.  These children desperately need support, else they might engage in disruptive, violent or criminal activities.

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Sibling conflict

Sibling conflict is a normal and unavoidable experience within every family.  Maybe you as parent wants to differ, but I can assure you, this happens in the best of families.  Through sibling conflict children start to practice how to handle conflict situations in later life.  They learn to defend themselves and to assume a point of view.  They get the opportunity to explore conflict situations within a safe environment.

Sibling conflict becomes dangerous when the siblings are aggressive and hurt each other in such a way that medical attention is needed.

Parents can support their children by creating opportunities for the siblings to play and solve problems together, compromise and to share their toys with each other.  Teach your children to handle conflict in an effective manner by giving them tasks to do together.  When needed, facilitate the process of conflict by guiding them by what to say and do and how to react.  Parents should also use effective and positive ways of handling conflict in their relationships as children tend to learn more through observation.

Parents need to be positive role models for their children in terms of handling conflict, facilitate the conflict situations between siblings and intervene when sibling conflict becomes violent.

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Puberty

Children reach puberty at approximately 12 years of age.  During puberty adolescents experience many emotional and physical changes.  Young adolescents need to be explained what to expect during this stage.  There are very effective books available for you and your adolescent child to read together.  Give your child the opportunity to ask questions, even if you feel uncomfortable with this situation.  Prepare your child for emotional and physical changes that will take place and give your child the reason for the sudden changes.  Young adolescents need to hear that these changes are normal and that he/she is not the only one going through this process.  You might feel uncomfortable talking about this topic to your child, but the young adolescent feel much more uncomfortable taking about a topic they barely have any knowledge about.

During this stage friendships play a vital role in the adolescent’s life.  Teach the child the necessity of good friendships with positive influences.  As the child’s physical development progresses the child should also know how to respect and take care of his/her body.  Bad friends might have a negative influence on your child’s self-respect and morals.  Peer pressure might influence your child in taking part in experiencing in negative behaviour such as taking drugs and practicing sexual behaviour.

Adolescents need patient parents to guide them to adulthood by setting clear boundaries, listening to the child and dry the tears without asking too many questions.

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