Music, TV and Computer Games

I joined a gym recently (that in itself is a revelation trust me!). As I was jogging away, I was listening to a podcast on my iPhone. I do this because I don’t always like to listen to the music that is blaring in the gym. However I can still see the TV screens showing the music videos.

We’ve all heard about the influence (very often negative) of Music, TV and computer games on young people. There is plenty of evidence to support the case that over-exposure to these things, particularly when they are violent or sexually explicit can be harmful to them. I’ve heard these arguments too and often agreed. But being in the gym watching the music videos without the music, offered me a whole new insight.

You see when you hear the music at the same time, there is a story in or with the melody that occupies your mind, such that although you might be watching the music video, the video is not really the point. The video is the background part that you think you are not really paying attention to.

However, it’s these little repetitive things in life that bumble away in the background that we sometimes need to be most aware of.  For most adults reading this now, if I called out to you “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and -” you could probably successfully fill in the gap. (Even though there is very little correlation between chocolate bars and work, rest and play!) Despite the fact that it has been years since that advert was on the TV, and the song wasn’t important it was just the background part to you seeing the chocolate bar, you still remember it. Whether it’s now made you want a Mars bar is a different matter I suppose, but it has certainly done well to remain lodged in your memory, despite being the add on bit to something else.

Now what if it is the same with music videos? That whilst our young people are busy focusing on the song, the video images are the bit that get lodged. That would be great if the music videos showed, peace, love, kindness etc. However it appears they do not. One video I watched the other day appeared to show a quite graphic murder scene. The sad thing is it was probably a pretty good song, but the need to provide something provocative visually makes it all a bit risky (in my opinion) when we start thinking about young people watching this stuff.

Video games get a lot of bad press and as a whole that’s not quite right. I think it’s important for young people to be comfortable with technology and to be savvy with it. Computer games can help with that. I played computer games a lot as a child, starting out with a sinclair spectrum, a nintendo, a sega mega drive and then later a gameboy. I still have a DS now. I can honestly say I have never as a result raced a car on a public highway or shot a zombie. Though I did once throw a bread role at Lewis’s head not realising how stale it was and nearly killed him.) However, I didn’t play or enjoy particularly violent games and some games that are available are really rough. I wouldn’t want to play them now let alone when I was a child.

The problem is managing these temptations for young people. Often when they are banned from something, their desire or curiosity for it increases. I’ve met lots of children now who watched video clips on youtube that they shouldn’t have done and then they couldn’t sleep at night.

My tips for managing this stuff are:
Be honest with young people, tell them “This is why I think this is unsuitable for you”
Limit exposure
Acknowledge and discuss what they do see
Please post your tips below in the comments box – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By Gemma Bailey

Selective Mutism

Something I encountered for the first time many years ago (but didn’t have a “label” for yet) is selective mutism. The symptoms of this are characterised when a child who has an ability to communicate verbally does not. Often the child will have to be coaxed and encouraged into making any communication at all, such as gesturing, pointing or signing.

As the mutism is selective there are certain context where the child choses not to communicate – such as at school or with particular family members. This can be really frustrating for everyone concerned as it may appear to parents as though child is just being difficult or stubborn.  To teachers or others who fail to hear the child speaking, they maybe concerned about the child’s level of understanding and development. There may also be frustration here if the child is choosing to talk to other children but remains selectively mute around adults.

The very first child that I worked with who had selective mutism was a little girl who attended my nursery a couple of afternoons each week. Back then I had never heard of selective mutism so just assumed she was being s stubborn little so and so! As such my reaction to her “condition” was to be as persistent as possible With the belief that I would at some point get her talking.  I did! And looking back now, there were a few key elements that made it happen.

The first thing is was the use of quiet persistence. I say quiet persistence because my tactic was not to give up on speaking to her but equally to avoid making a fuss about the fact she wasn’t responding.

The second thing was to build rapport. I would often play alongside her and be chatting away even though she wouldn’t engage with me. The message I was giving her by doing this was that it was a safe environment and that she could be comfortable around me. It was also important that she viewed me as equal to her rather than the big looming adult.

The third thing was giving it time. As a result of taking things at her pace there was no pressure for her to “perform.” We worked within her time frames so that she was doing things at the rate and speed with which she felt most comfortable.

The fourth thing (which was the turning point) was to talk to her about something which was so familiar to her, she couldn’t stop herself from responding. With her, I stumbled across this quite by accident when at tea time she was refusing to sit with the other children who were all eating beans on toast. I went and sat next to her and started rambling. I started saying “I had baked beans at lunch today but my ones had the little sausages in them I don’t know if you’ve had those before my mum gets the tins from Sainsburys but not everyone’s mum goes to Sainsburys, some mums go to the other shops like Asda or-”
At this point she gave me the biggest ever surprise and spoke. She said “My mum goes to Tescos”

It was as if the whole room gasped and went silent! No one had ever heard her speak before. I really felt it was important to not make a fuss about the fact she had started to speak and so I simply added to her comment by explaining that my mum only ever went to Tescos if Sainsburys didn’t have all the stuff on her shopping list.

And she added to that. We carried on from there and we never mentioned the fact that for the first few months at nursery, she had never spoken. She went from mute, to shy, to being one of the loudest in the group!

Helping Shy Children to Become More Outgoing

Shyness is a challenge for many young children in Hertfordshire, luckily it tends to get better with age, however here are a few ideas as to how you can start to improve your child’s confidence now.

Labeling your child as “shy” could be giving them a title to live up to. If you give your child a different label such as “confident” they may feel that they can’t act “shy” anymore as it’s not who they are. Also by re-labeling your child in a more positive light may help you start to notice them being confident more often as that’s what you are looking for.

If your child is uncomfortable going up to new children and introducing themselves, encourage them to play along side other children instead. More often than not, children will automatically start to play with each other if they are near each other. This will make your child feel more at ease with new children as they don’t have to strike up a conversation, it develops naturally.

This can work for older children too. If they are afraid to make conversation with new people, a great way to integrate themselves is to be near the new person, mirroring their actions and behaviour.

Sometimes you may feel it is difficult to encourage your child to get out of their comfort zone. This could be down to a simple case of mismatching in either physiology, tone of voice or the type of language you are using.

When speaking with your child, be at the same height as them, this is a lot less intimidating and they will feel more comfortable speaking with you if they feel you are on the same level.

By matching or mirroring your child’s physiology, you can take them from an unhappy state to a happy state very quickly. It won’t work if they are in a state of hiding and you try to help them overcome that by being outgoing. The two states are too far apart.

Try to match your child on 3 things and then lead them into a more positive state by changing your physiology for example if your child is sitting in a slouched position and is speaking in a quiet, low pitched voice and is using very visual language such as “I see,” match them by sitting in the same way, speaking like they are as well as using the same language.

Once you feel or notice that you have rapport sit in a more upright position, if your child matches you, speak in a more happy and upbeat tone. By doing this you will feel connected with your child and will be able to take them from a reserved state to a more outgoing one quickly and easily.

Consider taking your child to visit a therapist for children in Hertfordshire to help them overcome their shyness.

By Gemma Bailey

Therapy for Children’s Behaviour Problems

Is your child driving you crazy? Many children face mental health disorders that are a major reason for lack of confidence, anxiety and depression in them. This interfere with their social, emotional and cognitive growth and development. If proper treatment is not provided to children facing behaviour problems, it is not only the child, but also the family who will suffer in the long run.

What is a normal condition in children?
Kids are the most amazing creatures in the world. They act differently at times when they do something unusual. Sometimes these behaviors are temporary and sometimes permanent. If something unusual persists in your child, make sure to see the child therapist for behavior issues as soon as possible. The ideal child therapist for behavioural problems in children must be a specialist in dealing with children with behaviour problems.

A good child therapist for behavioral issues, is one who understands your child mind and helps them to cope up with the behavioural difficulties they are facing.

Warning signs that says your child needs a therapist:
• Anxiety, lack of confidence or feeling of worry
• Poor concentration or lack of attention on things around him or her
• Sad and hopeless feeling at times
• Feel like crying all the time
• Start getting poor results in school and their performance starts to decline
• Feelings of fear and suicidal thoughts
• Loss of weight
• Loss of interest in toys that were once enjoyed
• Feeling exhausted and frustrated by life
• Fighting with their friends and siblings without any reason

What parents can do if they see these warnings?

Reward good behaviors:
The main reason of behaviour problem among children is because of problems at home between parents or siblings rivalry. When you as a parent see some of the signs that are mentioned above, try to ease family tensions. Try to encourage positive behavior with a reward system.

Seek help:
Sometimes parents by themselves are unable to resolve the depression. In such circumstances it is advisable to consult with a child therapist.
Find the best behavioural therapist for your child:
Finding a good behavioural therapist is not an easy task, especially for parents who are completely unaware about the problems. It’s better to ask your family consultant or physician to find a good Hertfordshire behavioural therapist for your child. Get information about 2 or 3 good therapists, visit them personally and choose one with whom your child can discuss the problems easily.

Many children face difficulties in school and in their daily life due to some mental health disorders that sometimes force them to behave differently. Behavioural therapy for children Hertfordshire is a great way to bring a child back to their normal routine. If parents do observe something strange in their children, consult a good behavioural child therapist without wasting any time.

By Gemma Bailey

Help Your Child Improve their Concentration

Struggling to concentrate is a problem that most people face in their lifetime. Lack of concentration in children is so common, as a child it is harder to focus as your imagination is constantly on the go and unfortunately sometimes, what’s going on in a child’s mind will be far more interesting than trying to learn their 7 x tables!

Children also suffer from “selective” concentration. Have you ever tried to talk to your child when their favourite programme is on? More often than not you will find they are so engrossed in their programme they won’t even hear you, however if you call your child down for dinner when they are supposed to be doing their homework they will be down the stairs before you have even finished your sentence!

Although improving your child’s concentration may seem like a difficult task, it is easy when you follow these few simple tips.

1. First of all, designate a place for your child to study. Make this place a pleasant place for your child to spend their time in, provide them with a desk and a comfortable chair. Make it clear that it is a place to study by not putting anything that could distract them in the room e.g a t.v or toys. Make sure this space is kept clear and tidy and that any books get put away on a shelf or bookshelf after they have been used so it doesn’t become cluttered.

2. Teach your child how to sit properly when they study, if they sit upright they are more likely to concentrate as well as not giving themselves back pain!

3. Before your child begins their studies, make sure they take 15 minutes to clear their mind, as it is difficult to switch off from everything else that has happened throughout the day immediately. Make sure that they have 15 minutes to relax before they do their studies. This way when they do come to do their studies they will be in the right frame of mind.

4. Make sure they don’t try and cover all of their subjects at once. It would be best for your child to spend their time focusing on one or two subjects really well rather than splitting their time up between lots of subjects and not really spend anytime on them. Also jumping between lots of subjects will confuse their brain as it can’t fully engage with one topic it has to focus on 20 at once!

5. Ensure that nobody disturbs your child when they are studying. Frequent interruptions can disturb their thinking as well as being very annoying! Try putting a note on the door or explain to whoever is in your house that your child need peace and quiet in order to study properly. Make sure that there is nothing else that your child has to do, as they may rush their studies so they can go and do it. Also it may play on their mind and hamper their studying.

6. Encourage your child to avoid letting their mind wonder, I know this is easier said than done but when they are studying they have to keep their mind awake and engaged at all times. If your child eats a light dinner it will help with their studies as eating a heavy dinner will make them feel sleepier than what they really are.

7. Help your child to believe in themselves! Self belief is the single biggest factor that will improve their concentration. When your child believes in themselves they will be able to achieve anything and they will find that they enjoy your studies as they know that they can do it!

Share these tips with your child, however don’t expect your child to do all of them at once. This may take time, but with your support and encouragement you will find that your child will unconsciously bring it into their everyday life.

By Gemma Bailey
G29 Regus Breakspear Park Breakspear Way Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4TZ
Phone: 0203 6677 294