12 June 2024

10 ways to create healthy digital habits at home

Raising kids in the digital age isn’t easy. It can be tough to keep up with the pace of emerging technologies and to understand how to balance the risks and opportunities that come with them. We spoke to digital parenting expert Dr. Jacqueline Nesi for her top tips on fostering a healthy relationship with technology as a family., Communicate early and often about the role of technology in your family’s life., 1. Ask your child questions about their devices the same way you would any other activity they’re engaged in. Find out what they like about them, what they don’t like about them, how often they use them and what’s working. 2. Discuss the risks of technology use. Talk to your children honestly about concerns you may have, such as devices getting in…, Set boundaries that make sense for your family., 4. Make “yes” and “no” rules. “Yes” rules are things your child should do. How do you want them to act online? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What does “healthy” technology use look like in your family?  “No” rules, on the other hand, are things you don’t want them to do (like bullying others) or things they shouldn’t do for…, Be aware of your children’s use of devices., 7. Explore technology together. Try co-viewing and co-use with children of all ages. This simply means watching or using technology together with your children. This could include watching a show together and talking to them about it. For an older child, have them show you what they’re up to online – what they’re interested in, what apps they like…, Model healthy habits for your children., 9. Act as a team. It’s important as parents to be aware of how (and how often) we’re using our own devices – and that’s hard! But joining with your children in establishing healthy habits and boundaries is a good opportunity to step outside of the “me versus you” dynamic that so often parents fall into with their children, and instead work to…
20 April 2024

Vaccinating a child during an emergency is more important than EVER

During the European Immunization Week, UNICEF's Refugee Response in Poland published a report on a study conducted in collaboration with the Mother and Child Institute Foundation, Yale School of Medicine, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The report focuses on factors that facilitate and barriers that hinder the participation of refugee-experienced children in routine vaccination programs.The research revealed that over one-third of mothers from Ukraine in Poland, whose children have not yet reached the age of seven, do not know how to vaccinate their children in Poland. In response to these findings, actions are necessary not only to rebuild trust in the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations but also to promote vaccination among families living in Poland.Experts examined the impact of communication about vaccinations on the decision-making process of mothers from Ukraine. Testing different messages aimed to determine which of the three narratives would influence the decision to schedule children for vaccination appointments (through a link provided in the study). The results showed that the most effective message emphasized the unique situation of residents from Ukraine, which led to an increase in the number of vaccination registrations through the link provided in the study.Decisions regarding participation in protective vaccinations are shaped by various factors. The Behavioral and Social Determinants of Immunization (BeSD) framework indicates that cognitive and emotional elements, along with social dynamics, play key roles in motivating individuals to get vaccinated. Moreover, the way information about vaccinations is presented can significantly affect the decision to get vaccinated or not, hence the importance of how the communication is phrased."Low vaccination rates mean that both refugees and host communities are at risk of preventable diseases. UNICEF continuously works to protect children from diseases, which is why we collaborate not only with government authorities, local partners, and organizations but also listen to the voices of those we help to better understand their behaviors and reach them with messages that positively influence their vaccination decisions" - says Nona Zicherman, National Coordinator of UNICEF's Refugee Response Office in Poland.This report summarizes the findings of mixed-method research, using both qualitative and quantitative studies, to identify factors influencing the participation of refugee children from Ukraine in Poland in routine vaccinations.
20 November 2023

"It is cool here, no doubt about it... but home is home."

On World Children’s Day, three international organisations working in the field of child protection in Poland - United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Plan International and Save the Children - release a research report on the subjective wellbeing of children and adolescents living in Poland in the face of the war in Ukraine. The report is based on children's voices and opinions through pictures taken by them and participatory dialogues. The consultations were framed around these three themes: the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugee children from Ukraine, their education, and their integration into Polish society. Key findings from the report include: Children from Ukraine expressed feelings of nostalgia for the people, pets and places they had left behind. Some children and adolescents become apathetic and resort to excessive sleeping and eating when they feel overwhelmed with feelings of stress. Over half of the participants from Ukraine said they would like to talk to “someone professional” about their mental health. Those who attend a Polish school reported that although they face many challenges such as language barriers and adaptation to a new educational system, going to school provides some routine. Studying at an online Ukrainian school was deemed to be very tiring because of the amount of screen time but especially because, according to participants, the classes were not well organised. Fewer than half of the participants from Ukraine expressed a desire to stay in Poland. Some children from Ukraine reported experiencing discrimination at school, from both teachers and classmates. When Polish and Ukrainian participants had sufficient opportunities for deep one-on-one exchanges with others, they recalled positive experiences, getting along together and building friendships.   In response to these challenges, the report recommends concrete and practical steps for national and local authorities in Poland, United Nations agencies, NGOs and civil society organisations. The recommendations are categorised into three key areas: Mental health and psychosocial wellbeing Increase awareness of and access to specialised, free of charge mental health care services for refugee children from Ukraine, e.g., through recruitment of Ukrainian-speaking mental health experts. Foster parenting programmes, elevating the capabilities of educators, intercultural assistants, and volunteers.   Education Deploy more Ukrainian intercultural assistants in Polish schools and enrich teacher training content with modules on social and cultural cohesion, conflict sensitivity, anti-discrimination practices, and wellbeing. Prioritise Polish language classes, remedial support and peer-to-peer mentoring programmes. Provide information about education options for children from Ukraine.   Cohesion and participation Fund extracurricular activities that enable children from Ukraine, especially those who attend an online school, to build meaningful relationships in Poland. Provide anonymous and child friendly feedback mechanisms in schools and child friendly spaces, to ensure that children have opportunities to safely report their concerns.
04 October 2023

How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way

There comes a time when every parent struggles with how best to discipline their child. Whether dealing with a screaming toddler or an angry teen, it can be hard to control your temper. No parent wants to find themselves in such a situation and the bottom line is that shouting and physical violence never help. Thankfully, there are other, more…, Why positive discipline?, “Parents don't want to shout or hit their kids. We do it because we're stressed and don't see another way,” says Professor Cluver. The evidence is clear: shouting and hitting simply do not work and can do more harm than good in the long run. Repeated shouting and hitting can even adversely impact a child’s entire life. The continued “toxic stress…, Engaging with younger children, One-on-one time can be fun – and it’s completely free! “You can copy their expressions, bang spoons against pots, or sing together,” adds Professor Cluver. “There’s amazing research showing that playing with your children boosts their brain development.”, Engaging with older children, Like younger children, teenagers seek praise and want to be thought of as good. One-on-one time is still important to them. “They love it if you dance around the room with them or engage in a conversation about their favourite singer,” says Professor Cluver. “They may not always show it, but they do. And, it's an effective way of building a…, What you can do in stressful situations , Every family goes through stressful times together. Here are some tips that can help parents get through such times: 1. Pause We all know the stress when we feel our child is being difficult. At moments like these, being present and stepping back is a simple and useful tactic. Hit the “pause button”, as Professor Cluver calls it. “Take five deep…
04 October 2023

How to talk to your children about conflict and war

When conflict or war makes the headlines, it can cause feelings such as fear, sadness, anger and anxiety wherever you live. Children always look to their parents for a sense of safety and security – even more so in times of crisis. Here are some tips on how to approach the conversation with your child and to provide them with support and comfort.…, 1. Find out what they know and how they feel, Choose a time and place when you can bring it up naturally and your child is more likely to feel comfortable talking freely, such as during a family meal. Try to avoid talking about the topic just before bedtime. A good starting point is to ask your child what they know and how they are feeling. Some children might know little about what is…, 2. Keep it calm and age-appropriate, Children have a right to know what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. You know your child best. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. It is normal if you feel sad or worried about what is happening as well. But keep in mind that…, 3. Spread compassion, not stigma, Conflict can often bring with it prejudice and discrimination, whether against a people or country. When talking to your children, avoid labels like “bad people” or “evil” and instead use it as an opportunity to encourage compassion, such as for the families forced to flee their homes. Even if a conflict is happening in a distant country, it can…, 4. Focus on the helpers, It’s important for children to know that people are helping each other with acts of courage and kindness. Find positive stories, such as the first responders assisting people, or young people calling for peace. The sense of doing something, no matter how small, can often bring great comfort. See if your child would like to participate in taking…, 5. Close conversations with care, As you end your conversation, it’s important to make sure that you are not leaving your child in a state of distress. Try to assess their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing. Remind them that you care and that you’re there to listen and support…, 6. Continue to check in, As news of the conflict continues, you should continue to check in with your child to see how they’re doing. How are they feeling? Do they have any new questions or things they would like to talk about with you? If your child seems worried or anxious about what’s happening, keep an eye out for any changes in how they behave or feel, such as…, 7. Limit the flood of news, Be mindful of how exposed your children are to the news while it's full of alarming headlines and upsetting images. Consider switching off the news around younger children. With older children, you could use it as an opportunity to discuss how much time they spend consuming news and what news sources they trust. Also consider how you talk about…, 8. Take care of yourself, You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping, too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know that you are calm and in control. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people. Be mindful of how you’re consuming news: Try…