This year has been challenging and like none other we’ve lived before. We’ve experienced months of anxiety and uncertainty, physically separated from many of the people we love. Now that schools and businesses are re-opening, we are all learning to adjust to this new way of living.
It’s important that we take the time to look after ourselves before we offer help and support to others. Self-Care is not selfish, it’s vital in order to be able to give our best to those we love. Like, many other people, I often neglect self-care and just continue muddling through. Yesterday, I had a quieter work day after several extremely busy weeks and I used the opportunity to reflect on my own self-care. The sun was shining so I laced up my trainers and headed out the door for a little run. I used to run a lot but over recent months I’ve not done much running at all. I started again a couple of weeks ago and have already noticed a really positive change to my well-being. I’m looking forward to getting out again over the weekend (and for taking our puppy Barney on his first walk next week!)
While I was running along the sea front (one of my favourite places to be), I spent some time thinking about the different things that we can do to support the emotional well-being of our children (and the whole family). As well as being important to emotional well-being, there’s also lots of opportunity to continue supporting your children’s Speech and Language skills. Here are some of my top ideas for supporting self-care (and language) for all the family.
We all know that exercise is good for us and as well as the physical benefits, there’s also lots of emotional benefits too. Many of us have done lots more walking this year, especially over lock-down, and continuing to build this into our week will continue to have positive effects. Going for a walk also allows opportunity to develop speech and language skills:
- Go on a listening walk
- Use a checklist like this one and listen out for different sounds in the environment. With older children you could talk about what you might hear before you go.
- Comment on the things you can hear and provide describing words e.g. “the dog is barking ”
- I spy
- For younger children, instead of using the first sounds in words you could choose an adjective and see how many things you can see that are ‘big’, ‘fast’, ‘green’ etc.
- Choose a sound e.g. ‘s’ and see how many things you can find beginning with that sound when you are out walking
Do something you love everyday
Making time for doing the things you love makes you feel good. This could be something small like having a hot shower or a cup of a tea and biscuit, or something bigger like going for a run. When your children are doing things they love this can be a positive opportunity to develop their language skills. Children learn best when they are having fun; commenting on the things they are interested in helps them learn words that are meaningful to them.
Talk about your feelings
It’s always good to talk to those we love about how we are feeling. Sometimes having someone to talk to makes things feel easier, or at least less lonely. It’s important that we teach children the vocabulary around emotions so that they are able to identify and talk about their own feelings. Labelling our own emotions can be a useful way of supporting this e.g. ‘I feel happy I went to the beach’, or ‘I feel disappointed that I have no biscuits left’ etc. I have some activities in the resources section of the website to support emotions.
It can also be useful for children to talk about their worries. Writing down their worries and posting them in a ‘worry jar’ or feeding them to a ‘worry monster’ can also be helpful for children to pass on their worries rather than only thinking about them and worrying on their own.
If your children have returned to school this week, or are returning soon, I hope they settle back in quickly and enjoy being with their friends again (or making new ones if they are just starting for the first time). I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried, or are planning to try some of the ideas in this blog.