04 July 2024

How to protect your family's mental health

How do I keep my child motivated? What can I do to help protect my child's mental health? Psychologist and child development expert Dr. Lisa Damour answers these questions and more.  , How do I approach the topic of mental health if it is considered to be a taboo in my family?, Experiencing a wide range of emotions, including uncomfortable feelings, is an important part of being human. You should not feel ashamed or be made to feel ashamed if you experience sadness, anger, frustration or any other feeling that can be sometimes painful. When we have uncomfortable emotions, the healthiest thing we can do is to talk about…, What can I do to help protect my child's mental health?, Nothing protects a child's mental health like having a warm and loving relationship with adults. So anything you do where your child is having fun and you're having fun with your child is good for your kid. That might be playing together, kicking a ball back and forth together. Or it can also be things like cooking dinner together or fixing…, How can I best balance providing attention to my child and my busy work schedule?, Raising young children takes a lot of time and energy, and it can be hard to juggle that with having a busy job. One thing that helps is to try to focus on only one thing at a time. Focus on your child or focus on your work. If you try to do both at the same time, you'll become frustrated and your child will become frustrated too. And remember,…, How do I keep my child motivated?, At times, it can be hard for kids to feel motivated. Sometimes they can feel tired and worn down. Don't worry that there's something wrong with your child if they don't always feel like doing their schoolwork or the work around the home. It's okay to support them by doing things such as offering to do your work next to them while they do homework…, How can I manage loneliness as a parent?, Being a parent can be a very lonely time of life. Working to meet your child's needs can make it hard to meet your own. As a solution, see if you can connect with another parent who's raising a child about the same age as yours, either talking over the phone or getting together. Other parents know what you're going through and make for excellent…, How can I stay positive during hard times?, It's easy to feel despairing during difficult times. To help yourself feel better, one thing that works well is to focus on what you feel grateful for. A joyful moment with a child, a beautiful day, the presence of loved ones. When we practice gratitude, when we think about the things for which we are thankful, it almost always boosts our sense of…, How can I help my child adjust to a big life change?, Change, by its nature, is stressful. This is true for unwanted changes, such as needing to move way from a home that one loves, and also for welcome changes, such as going on an exciting trip. There’s one key to helping children manage the stress that comes with change: prepare them for what to expect. When we tell children as much as we can about…
04 July 2024

How to reduce stress

Being a parent can bring with it a rollercoaster of feelings – from happiness and love to worry and fear and back again. It’s anything but stress-free!  Stress happens to everyone and is a normal human reaction. A small amount of stress can even be useful in our daily lives – it helps us to focus and be productive. But stress can be harmful when…, Recognize the signs of stress, We can’t avoid stress completely, but there are ways to stop it from becoming overwhelming. Stress affects people in different ways. Feeling overwhelmed, increased anxiety, irritability, and fatigue are some of the effects that people experience.  Try to recognize the signs that you need a break and take steps to stop stress before it builds up –…, What to do if you get angry, If you ever feel yourself getting angry, step away and take 20 seconds to cool down. Breathe in and out slowly 5 times before you speak or move. If you can, go somewhere else for 5-10 minutes to regain control of your emotions. , What is burnout?, One of the negative consequences of accumulated stress is burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that results from prolonged exposure to stressors or situations that are emotionally demanding. It is emotional exhaustion. Burnout includes many symptoms that can be both physical and emotional, such as: Feeling tired…, Relaxation techniques for parents, Your breathing affects your whole body. When you feel stressed or worried, your body can become tense and your breathing speeds up. You can use breathing techniques to help you calm down. It can be very helpful to spend two to three minutes breathing deeply a couple of times a day to help you feel calm.  These exercises can be done anywhere,…, The importance of self-care, Self-care is any activity that we do intentionally in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept, it’s something we can often overlook.  Good self-care is key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety. A self-care activity can be as simple as taking the time to enjoy a cup of tea, listen to your…, Positivity, problem-solving and play, When you are facing challenging times, it can be difficult to feel hopeful that things can improve. But it is important to remind yourself that you do have control over different aspects of your life and that you can bring about change. When we feel hopeful, it helps us to focus on change, look to the future, and actively look for solutions to the…, Don’t hesitate to seek professional help, If you are finding it difficult to cope, consider meeting with a trained expert who can help. Your family doctor or a counsellor should be able to advise you on your options, such as time with a psychologist who helps people to manage stress and establish positive mental health habits.  Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If stress is…
04 July 2024

Self-care for parents

Parenting is hard. It’s a full-time job and many parents find themselves prioritizing their family’s well-being before their own. When we are able to meet our own mental and physical needs, it not only benefits our well-being, but our children’s as well. But how do you make it happen? We asked three mental health experts, who are also parents, how…, What have you learned about self-care as a parent?, Lisa: Very often, I think parents assume that taking time for themselves means that they are taking time away from their children. But this isn't true. When we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for our children. And caring for ourselves underscores for our children the importance of self-care while also showing them how it's done.…, How do you personally practice self-care?, Sonali: The time I take out for myself is what I call my 'Pause Rituals' – a conscious pause in the day followed by rituals that are self-soothing at a physical, mental and social level. I came up with this term after I struggled with burnout about 10 years ago. The key is to focus on just one thing when engaging in these self-soothing practices…, How do you find time for self-care?, Hina: Time for self-care feels out of reach for me – it literally slips through my fingers as I run around parenting my two young children and completing the tasks of my day job. I always feel on duty. I prioritize self-care by baking it into my routines with my children and at work. When I brush my teeth, I practice mindfulness, while I cook, I…, How has your family benefitted from your self-care?, Lisa: When I'm well-rested and my mind is clear, I am much more patient with my children and a lot more fun to be around. After a good night's sleep, I have energy to play, host a "kitchen dance party," or come up with other ways to enjoy my daughters' company. And when I'm not distracted by my own concerns, I am much better able to focus on my…
04 July 2024

How to talk to your child about mental health

Our mental health is a fundamental part to our overall health and well-being. As a parent, you play a huge role in supporting your child's mental well-being. Nurturing and loving care build a strong foundation, helping your child to develop the social and emotional skills they need to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.    Here are expert…, Mental health conversation starters: 0-5 years, Lay the foundation in this period of growth and learning. From the first smile and first step to experiencing a whole range of emotions, your child is passing many important childhood milestones. This is a time of growth and learning and an ideal time to start supporting your child’s mental well-being., Laying the foundations for a happy and healthy life, Your child looks to you for love, learning and safety. Try to spend as much quality time together as possible. Fostering a warm and tender relationship, and helping your child feel safe and cared for, go a long way to laying the groundwork for a lifetime of good mental health. Babies Spending quality time with your child is good for both of you.…, Mental health conversation starters: 6–10 years, Starting school, navigating friendships and building resilience – the focus shifts to the outside world. As your child starts school, their physical, mental and social skills are developing rapidly. They are learning to describe experiences and talk more about their emotions. Friendships and peer pressure start becoming more important as they…, Time to check in, Starting school brings children face-to-face with the outside world and is a major life event! It is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as navigating relationships, learning at school and sports, and managing their emotions. Checking in on how they’re doing and supporting them along the way can help them…, Mental health conversation starters: 11–13 years, Physical changes, appearances and friendships – there is much to navigate in this challenging time. As your child enters puberty, they are better able to express their feelings, and have a stronger sense of right and wrong. They can make their own choices about friends, sports and school. With this independence comes a bigger focus on their own…, A time of change, Rapid physical changes combined with concerns about their appearance and the importance of friendships can affect a child’s mental and emotional well-being. It can be a challenging time for children as they navigate this important stage of development. Knowing that they can talk to you about their worries or problems can make a world of difference…, Mental health conversation starters: 14–18 years, How to tackle emotional, behavioural and health risks that could influence the rest of their lives. In this time of growth into adulthood, your teen is developing a unique personality and is looking for more independence and responsibility. Teenagers increasingly interact with others through social media and mobile phones. As a result, they may…, Teens can experience, Rapid physical changes which can lead to concerns about body size, shape or weight. Eating problems or concerns. Heightened moodiness and social anxiety. Sadness or depression, which can lead to low self-esteem or other problems. More than just feeling blue Poor mental health in adolescence can go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioural…
27 June 2024

21 learning activities for babies and toddlers

Curious about what to do with your baby all day? Play is an important part of your child’s learning and growth – it's how they explore their environment, practice developing skills and bond with their caregivers (that’s you!). As your baby grows, playtime will evolve based on what developmental skills they are working on. Ready to get started? We…, Activities for 2-month-olds, Tap along Place your baby on their back and sing them a song. As you sing, tap the bottoms of their feet in time with the song. How your baby benefits: This game is great for developing listening skills. Your little one will delight at hearing your voice and the tapping adds a new way to experience singing songs together. Chit chat Face your baby…, Activities for 4-month-olds, Story time Read and look at baby books together. Point to the objects, animals or plants on the pages and name them. How your baby benefits: Making time to read together promotes bonding, language skills and visual development. Texture talk Give your baby different fabrics to feel and use words to describe them such as “smooth” or “rough.” How…, Activities for 6-month-olds, Let’s get rolling! Place your baby on their back or tummy on a safe surface and place their favourite toy or another baby safe object just out of reach. Encourage them to roll over to reach for the toy. How your baby benefits: This game helps support your baby’s gross motor skill development by working on a big milestone like rolling over. Go…, Activities for 9-month-olds, Copy cat Observe what your baby does and copy their actions. This lets your little one take the lead! How your baby benefits: By showing interest and placing importance in what your baby does, you’re helping them to develop their social and emotional skills. Independent explorer Let your baby explore your home on their own but stay close by to…, Activities for 1-year-olds, Hide and search Hide toys or other baby-safe objects under a towel or blanket while you play together. Encourage your little one to find it and help them if they need it by pulling it out and saying “here it is!”. How your baby benefits: This kind of play teaches your baby all about object permanence: Even if you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s…, Activities for 18-month-olds, Walking buddy Encourage your toddler to walk with you in a safe space as soon as they are able. Go slowly to match their pace. How your child benefits: Your little one will feel more confident practicing their new skill with you by their side. It’s also a great way for you to enjoy getting exercise together! Make believe Encourage pretend play…, Activities for 2-year-olds, Household helper Invite your toddler to help with age-appropriate tasks around the house such as sorting clothes or serving food. Try to turn it into a game and let them know that they’re a great helper! How your child benefits: Including your child in household activities helps to foster independence and build self-esteem by letting them know…
27 June 2024

Your toddler's developmental milestones at 2 years

By the age of 2, your toddler is talking, walking, climbing, jumping, running and bustling with energy. Your child now has a growing vocabulary and acquires new words on a regular basis. They can sort shapes and colours and may even show an interest in potty training. As your little one grows more independent, they may show signs of defiance as…, Social and emotional milestones at 2 years, Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around them at 2 years: Likes to copy adults and other children Gets excited when they're with other children Is more independent, even more defiant Tips for parents Find opportunities to engage in play and conversations with your toddler. Playtime could be as simple…, Language and communication milestones at 2 years, How your toddler is expressing their needs: Says short sentences with two to four words Points to things when they are named Knows familiar body parts Recognizes familiar people Repeats words they have overheard and follows simple instructions Tips for parents When taking them for a walk, tell them the names of things you see. children, Brain development milestones at 2 years, How your child’s brain is growing: Starts to sort shapes and colours Can find things hidden under multiple layers Completes sentences in familiar books Plays simple make-believe games Builds towers with four or more blocks Can follow two-step instructions May start to develop a dominant hand Tips for parents Encourage them to go looking around the…, Movement and physical development milestones at 2 years, How they’ll move through their environment: Can run, kick a ball and throw a ball overhead Climbs up and down from furniture without assistance Makes or copies straight lines and circles. Tips for parents Create little fine-motor skills challenges for your toddler, like asking them to turn the page of a book. children, Food and nutrition milestones at 2 years, What mealtimes look like at 2 years: Chews with full jaw movements Uses utensils with some spills Tips for parents Be calm and accepting. Give your child positive attention when they do eat, but don’t make it a problem when they don’t eat. Just take the food away, cover it and offer it to them again a bit later.  children, Things to look out for, While all children develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician if your 2-year-old: Doesn’t know how to use common objects Doesn’t use two-word phrases Doesn’t copy actions or repeat words Doesn’t follow basic directions Can’t walk steadily Loses skills they once had
27 June 2024

Your toddler's developmental milestones at 18 months

Your 18-month-old toddler is now walking and using basic words. At this age, children love to play and explore. They begin to show some independence and may play pretend and point at objects they want. They also begin to understand what things in the house are used for, such as a cup or spoon. Your toddler may have temper tantrums around this age…, Social and emotional milestones at 18 months, Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around them at 18 months: May be afraid of strangers but will show affection to familiar people Points to show interest in something Likes to play by handing things to people or playing simple pretend May have some tantrums Might cling to caregivers in new situations…, Language and communication milestones at 18 months, How your toddler is expressing their needs: Shakes their head “no” Can say several single words Points to show what they want Tips for parents Pay attention to what your toddler is pointing to and make it a language development opportunity by naming the object. children, Brain development milestones at 18 months, How your child’s brain is growing: They recognize everyday objects Points to get attention Pretends to feed their favourite stuffed animals Can point to a body part Can follow one-step commands without gestures Tips for parents Provide your toddler with toys for pretend play. children, Movement and physical development milestones at 18 months, How they’ll move through their environment: Can walk alone Can help undress themselves Uses utensils when feeding May start walking up stairs Pulls toys while walking Tips for parents Encourage your child to participate in everyday routines like getting dressed. children, Food and nutrition milestones at 18 months, What mealtimes look like at 18 months: Tries more chopped solid foods like chicken or squash Can hold and drink from a cup Tips for parents Give them plenty of time to eat. They will be able to eat most of the same foods as adults and more easily use utensils. children, Things to look out for, While all children develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician if your 18-month-old: Can't walk Doesn’t point Doesn’t try to copy others Isn’t learning new words Can’t say at least six words Doesn’t notice when a parent leaves or returns Loses skills they once had
27 June 2024

Your toddler's developmental milestones at 1 year

Congratulations, you officially have a toddler! Toddlers are more active, curious and expressive. At this age, your child may begin to use words, be able to stand on their own and take a few steps. To help your little one learn and grow, read books to your child and encourage active play. children, Social and emotional milestones at 1 year, Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around them at 1 year: Hands you a book when they want to hear a story Cries when their parents leave Is shy around strangers Puts out an arm or leg to help with getting dressed Has favourite toys Repeats sounds to get your attention Tips for parents Play social games…, Language and communication milestones at 1 year, How your toddler is expressing their needs: Is using basic gestures like waving and saying basic words like “mama” and “dada” Their babbles sound more like speech Responds to simple requests you give Will try to repeat words you say Tips for parents Encourage your toddler to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ Praise your toddler when they do so, as this…, Brain development milestones at 1 year, How your child’s brain is growing: Copies movements and gestures Bangs objects together Drinks from a cup and uses other objects correctly Finds things that are hidden Looks at the right object when it is named Can follow simple directions and lets go of objects without help Puts objects in containers and can take them out Tips for parents Give…, Movement and physical development milestones at 1 year, How they’ll move through their environment: Can take a few steps without support Gets into a sitting position without support. Pulls up to stand and walks while holding onto furniture Tips for parents Try placing your toddler on flat surfaces to help them develop their gross motor skills like crawling and moving their arms and legs. children, Food and nutrition milestones at 1 year, What mealtimes look like at 1 year: Eats a greater variety of foods, such as soft-cooked vegetables and soft fruits Starting to learn how to eat on their own Can thoroughly chew their food Beginning to be able to use an open cup Tips for parents Give your toddler half a cup of food four to five times a day, along with two healthy snacks. Continue…, Things to look out for, While all children develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician if your 1-year-old: Isn’t crawling Won't search for hidden objects Is unable to stand without support Doesn’t point Doesn’t say simple words Loses skills they once had
27 June 2024

Your baby's developmental milestones at 9 months

By 9 months, your baby is much more mobile and likes to explore. Babies at this age are crawling and can raise themselves to stand, so safety in the home becomes an important issue as your baby's curiosity (and mobility) grows. Your baby now responds to their name, loves to cuddle with family members and may show shyness or fear of strangers.…, Social and emotional milestones at 9 months, Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around them at 9 months: Starting to cling onto adults they're familiar with Might be afraid of strangers Has favourite toys that they reach for often Tips for parents Follow your baby’s signals by letting them take the lead during playtime. children, Language and communication milestones at 9 months, How your baby is expressing their needs: Pointing at things with their fingers Understands the word "no" and makes lots of different sounds Starts to copy movements they see and sounds they hear Tips for parents Because your baby loves to point, read some board books with pictures. They’ll be able to show you what they're interested in. Cut out…, Brain development milestones at 9 months, How your child’s brain is growing: Likes to play peek-a-boo and look for things you hide Tracks objects as they fall Moves things from one hand to the other, and likes to put objects in their mouth Picks up small objects with their thumb and index finger Tips for parents Support and encourage your baby during playtime. Help them develop their fine…, Movement and physical development milestones at 9 months, How they’ll move through their environment: Can get into a sitting position and sit without support Pulls up (using furniture for support) to stand Starting to crawl Tips for parents Place your baby close to furniture so they can try to raise themselves up. children, Food and nutrition milestones at 9 months, What mealtimes look like at 9 months: Enjoys teethers Beginning to eat thicker pureed foods and stays full for a longer period of time after eating Reacts strongly to new smells and tastes Tips for parents Try giving your little one half a cup of food three to four times a day, plus a healthy snack. children, Things to look out for, While all babies develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician if your 9-month-old: Can’t sit without assistance Doesn’t babble Won’t respond to their own name Doesn’t put weight on their legs Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play Doesn’t recognize adults they know Doesn’t look where you point Can’t transfer toys…
26 June 2024

Your baby's developmental milestones at 6 months

At 6 months, your baby will start using sounds to express emotion. They may mimic sounds they hear, like "ma,” “da,” “ah,” “oh" and even "no!" Your little one will begin to recognize familiar faces, reach and grasp for toys and will soon be crawling — start preparing your home (and yourself) for a mobile child! Get ready by removing any sharp,…, Social and emotional milestones at 6 months, Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around them at 6 months: Is usually happy and responds to the emotions of others Starting to differentiate between familiar faces and strangers Enjoys playing with you and others Has fun looking at their reflection in a mirror Tips for parents Talk to your baby about…, Language and communication milestones at 6 months, How your baby is expressing their needs: Will recognize and respond to their name Puts vowel sounds together and likes taking turns saying them with you. They are starting to make some consonant sounds, too. Will respond to noises by making sounds Is making sounds to show positive and negative emotions Tips for parents Engage in playful…, Brain development milestones at 6 months, How your child’s brain is growing: They are curious: They look at objects nearby and try to grab ones that are out of reach. They pass things from one hand to the other and brings their hands to their mouth. Tips for parents Provide your baby with toys that are easy to pick up with one hand. Have conversations with your baby about different…, Movement and physical development milestones at 6 months, How they’ll move through their environment: Is starting to be able to sit without a support Is rolling over in both directions Will push down on their legs when their feet are on a hard surface Rocks back and forth Tips for parents Leave their favourite toys nearby so they can reach them by rolling over. f, Food and nutrition milestones at 6 months, What mealtimes look like at 6 months: Are showing an interest in food and opens their mouth when spoon fed Are moving food from the front to the back of their mouth when they chew Are starting to eat cereals and single-ingredient pureed foods like carrots, sweet potato and pears Tips for parents At 6 months, your baby needs more than breastmilk…, Things to look out for, While all babies develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician immediately if your 6-month-old: Doesn’t show affection to parents or caregivers Won’t respond to nearby sounds Doesn’t laugh Has a hard time getting things into their mouth Doesn’t make vowel sounds Seems too floppy or too stiff Can’t roll over in either direction Doesn’…