Blueberry Blog

Men in Early Years - By Baz Smythson

By Sharn Smythson 26 Jul, 2017
Blueberry has started regular sessions with some of the older children, away from nursery, to enable them to learn the principles of the natural environment. Through problem solving, investigation and assessing risk.
The development of technology has meant that children do not experience the benefits of outdoor learning as much as their parents and grandparents. So many practical skills are lost. Being outside is known to increase a child's wellbeing and enjoyment whilst learning new skills.
By Sharn Smythson 26 Jul, 2017
Teaching our children to recognise healthy, valued and respected relationships. Fostering self esteem and sense of self.
As we grow we gradually develop our sense of empathy. Seeing things from another persons point of view is key to enabling us to form good relationships and sense of self. It helps us understand a persons actions that may upset us while also recognising when behaviour is unacceptable. It fine tunes us into seeking and maintaining connections that are enriching and avoid those that chip away at our self esteem. All the basic teachings go into forming our sense of self. How we correct our children's behaviour is therefore a fine balance as its important that they do not see themselves as a bad person and have the ability to separate and recognise that it's the behaviour that's wrong and needs changing. We need to teach them to relate, understand and recognise when it's time to accept an alternative situation whilst also enabling them to form firm boundaries to protect them in the future from entering into situations that threaten their emotional balance.
Helping them develop their self esteem enables them to love themselves but be able to recognise and accept helpful criticism in a positive way without feelings of anger and vengeance and separate this from destructive comments that serve no purpose. It enables them to be loved and accepted but also holds them together and helps them recognise situations that are unfair and unjust. Whilst loving ourself, understanding the needs of others is an essential part of our psyche as without this we are lost in a narcissistic cycle of becoming obsessed with ones own self ..living in a continuous system of highs when we get attention and lows of complete irritation or anger when we perceive that we are not being given what we deserve. Emotional balance and strength is embedded in our belief that we are a good, ok person. This protects us from depending on others to manipulate how we feel about ourselves. Inner strength helps us grow with guidance whist being confident to form our own opinions.
EXAMPLES OF HEALTHY BOUNDARIES ...
To be able to accept and take pleasure and give positive genuine feedback to others for their achievements whilst also receiving acknowledgement for our own accomplishments.
Accepting and respecting the differences in others without the need to mould or control to fit ridged ideals. Whilst being accepted and valued ourselves.
To develop the skill and desire to be interested and listen to others.. The good and the bad. Whilst receiving the same consideration in return.
To develop the skill of understanding a persons actions and how they feel whilst feeling the reassurance that we are also understood.
The need to be able to love wholeheartedly without control or condition and feel and receive that in return.
The need to recognise and appreciate the efforts of others and feel that our efforts are valued and are making a difference.
The need to be respected and give respect to others.
The need to make people feel safe with us and our needs to feel safe emotionally and physically.
EXAMPLES OF UNHEALTHY INTERACTIONS.
When your mood and happiness is constantly being lowered through the actions of others.
Hot and cold behaviour.. Unpredictable emotions towards you where one minute you are communicated with, attended to accepted and loved and the next you have attention withdrawn without warning or reason.
Frequent silent treatment.. A dangerous passive aggressive tactic that threatens to destabilise even those with a strong sense of self. Examples.... Reduced eye contact, one word answers, no conversations are initiated, no smiling, touching or reassurance that you are still accepted or loved. Messages and attempts to connect are ignored or not responded to or delayed for days, months or even years ... This type of behaviour all shows a hidden personality that stores an irrational irritation, jealousy, anger or need to punish you emotionally. Or just a signal that the person lacks empathy and is unable to consider you or assign any value to you.
Disrespect, overtly critical, sarcasm that exhibits continuous put downs. Talking about you in the third person. Hearing the telling of negative scenarios where your actions are detailed but supposedly attached to a fictitious character to criticise with authority to prove a point. Gaslighting where emotional barbs are covert and when challenged are denied as you being irrational or oversensitive.
As parents and teachers we have a duty to be constantly learning about ourself and our interactions with others. By becoming more insightful we can understand our own sense of self and confidently pass on these skills.
By Sharn Smythson 21 Jun, 2017
To Feel Deeply
High Levels of Empathy, admired by some, seen as a weakness by others.
Why this ability to feel deeply leads a person into care giving roles or trying to save the world.
People all demonstrate different levels of empathy. You come across those who cannot relate to the the suffering of others, through no fault of their own, to those who can feel everything. Found in the description of the empath which is a slightly mythical term used to describe people who appear to have a supernatural ability to link into the feelings and energy of others even from a distance. It is said that they are so sensitive to peoples emotions they feel the same joy or discomfort within themselves. They are subconsciously highly tuned to facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, breathing rates, shakiness of speech or even to a persons distance or written response. True feelings cannot be hidden from the empath who can interpret when they are being fed falsehoods. They know when they are wanted and can sense when not to intrude when not wanted any more. Their instinctively know when people are hiding anger or pain. They know when their offer of help will be welcomed and when a person needs space . They are forgiving and cannot cause others injury or hurt as to do so would mean they would feel it within themselves. They are nurturing rescuers that will willing do anything within their ability to relieve the pain of others without expecting anything in return and often get themselves into overwhelming situations which they find hard to escape from. They can't stay close to those who manipulate, are mean minded, unkind or disrespectful. It zaps their spirit. They enjoy the company of positive thinkers and the likeminded and feel lifted in their company. They appreciate opened mindedness, those that don't hide what's inside, the good and the bad and are drawn to this honesty. They do get hurt when they go against their intuition but will soon distance themselves when they start to feel pain. However their ability to understand why someone has reacted in a certain way often saves them from personal injury but not from everything. Despite injury they cannot harbor bad feeling and have an incomprehensible understanding. They sense stress within a group of people and can predict when situations are going to erupt. They instinctively know how people will react and how these reactions will change over time. They are giving but need a lot of time alone to recuperate from the influx of feeling to get back in touch with themselves. Sometimes in hostile situations or where they feel the atmosphere jangled, or too busy they involuntarily discontent to refresh and so can often be be seen as distant or dreamy. Some say this sensitivity is innate others say it's learnt and in some cases is due to living in traumatic circumstances, in childhood or later, where their highly tuned perceptions were needed for survival. In some it just develops over time.
Most would wish to fall somewhere comfortably in-between as to absorb too much of the feelings of others, without insight on how to manage it, could condemn someone to a stressful life. However many will relate to experiencing some or much of the above. It's the altruistic nature of those that have a high level of empathy that we rely on to give us the support we need when we are suffering. They are the ones that will recognize our needs and give freely. They are naturally drawn to seeking work in caring roles or leading big projects to make life better for others all over the world.
When searching for people to work with children we need this high level of empathy in those we employ to instinctively know how a child is feeling. When they are tired, hungry, or feeling stressed. When they need to be given comfort or space without intrusion so a more gentle approach can be offered. To recognize when they are highly engaged in an activity so as not to disturb. Therefore fostering their independence and sense of accomplishment. To know when they need support in their learning to enable them to complete a task. Practitioners need to understand the stress parents are under, read anxiety on someone's face and understand reactions that maybe upsetting. They also need to be able to relate and care for their colleges and offer mutual respect and support. Collectively this gives the nurturing environment that all of us yearn for. It provides positivity in our work, relieves anxiety in parents and gives the child the feeling of safety to make them feel secure and confident to try new things. Therefore maximizing their ability to learn and develop their self worth.
Baz Smythson

By Sharn Smythson 18 Jun, 2017
For many parents and kids, snacks are unhealthy treats – packets of crisps, cupcakes, or little chocolate bars – but this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are so many really tasty things we can snack on that are just as cost-effective, and are also just as easy to buy or make.

HABITS

Healthy snacking is reliant on planning and shopping. What we have in our cupboard is what we are going to graze on at home.

A little planning before visiting the supermarket goes a long way towards having things we want to eat in our cupboards, and reducing the number of things we might not want our kids (or ourselves!) to eat.

If we want to eat less cake, chocolate and crisps, then buying less (or none at all) in the supermarket is a good place to start. It sounds pretty simple, but life for the average family nowadays is so busy that we rarely take the time to stop and re-evaluate the little things that can have a big effect on our lives.
By Sharn Smythson 18 Jun, 2017
Children need emotional stability. So do adults..What do we mean by this?
How swinging emotions cause insecurity and anxiety.
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Initially you would think emotional stability means staying the same. Always being consistent. Never showing an angry side or a sad side. Always keeping the happy face to make children feel safe and secure... An unrealistic view which serves no purpose in helping the child understand emotions and interpret the world. As parents we are always feeling guilty when our toddler or partner makes us angry or upset and we loose control and show it. ..An embarrassment we wouldn't want anyone to know about.... we are nice calm people aren't we?. That's how we want the world to see us.. Emotionally stable.. Isn't this a sign of a good parent?. However I guarantee that behind closed doors you will see many different faces. These faces enable our children to become social interpreters and help them to feel happy to experience and understand their own emotions when appropriate without guilt or feeling bad. Our emotions are important and should not be suppressed. Through seeing our family get upset angry or sad we learn how to get along with others and it becomes instinctive to read emotions and be able to empathize and know how to behave in certain situations. It helps us become social beings enabling friendship and loving relationships.
What is important to enable them them to grow securely is the predictability of the emotion and initially to explain why you have been upset or why you are angry. It's the predictability that makes the emotions safe to use. If a child or adult can predict what causes upset they can learn how to manage conflict and have the confidence to address an issue assertively without manipulation or aggression. Adults who have these skills are equipped to deal with the world. Can put their point of view across positively and are seen in a good light reinforcing self esteem and confidence.
It is the unpredictability of an emotion that causes the most damage psychologically. In adult relationships unpredictably is sited as emotional abuse. This doesn't always present itself as an angry outburst out of know where. Unpredictable emotions can be so subtle and hidden they are often difficult to spot. Sudden swinging from being loving and attentive to withdrawing attention, using silent treatment, ignoring, not listening, belittling, not responding to someone ...causes intense anxiety. In both children and adults. Otherwise known as 'gaslighting'... as when challenged wrong doing is denied as imaginary. This leaves the person who's been dealt it feeling unhinged and unsettled leading to further anxiety. In children they can't understand what's happening only that they feel panic as they fear the loss of approval and love. Often used by those insecurely attached themselves with the need to gain control over another. Unfortunately adults that have been dealt this as children grow up wanting to be pleasers with lowered boundaries or they adopt the same emotionally abusive tactics themselves because they need a constant reaction of another's distress to feel secure.
Our job is to recognize this within others and ourselves and understand that open communication is the key. Most emotions are good, even the angry ones if predictable and understood. Hopefully with this knowledge we can become insightful employers and parents and provide the security needed to set our children on a road of self confidence and inner strength. Enabling them to establish their boundaries and recognize what's acceptable in our family relationships, friends and partners.
Baz Smythson
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By Sharn Smythson 11 Apr, 2017
This week in treetops we will be having lots of Easter themed games and activities. On Monday we all spoke about Easter and made special nests for our chicks. As you can imagine, the children loved the experience. Here is a few shots of this weeks Easter activities.
By Sharn Smythson 07 Apr, 2017
Food tasting and healthy cookery activities
By Sharn Smythson 07 Mar, 2017
There are incredible psychological benefits of learning another language. These benefits extend way beyond being able to order a cup of tea abroad.
At Blueberry, French and Spanish lessons are introduced at Treetops and, without even realising the children are learning a second language, they follow the story book adventures of favourites such as ‘Bob le bricoleur’ and the ‘La Chenille qui a très faim’. Using the mediums of music and drama, the children can be heard spontaneously singing along to French and Spanish songs. Pictured is our energetic French teacher dancing with the children.
But why should learning another language be started at such a young age?
Simply, the younger the learner, the better they are at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation. The brain is open to new sounds and patterns in preadolescence.
At this age, young children have time to learn through play-like activities. Language lessons can be informal and children’s minds are not yet cluttered with facts to be stored and tested. Before children become self- conscious they can try out their newly acquired languages without fear of embarrassment.
Children who grow up learning about languages develop empathy for others and a curiosity for different cultures and ideas; prepared to take their place in a global society. Furthermore, in later years, career opportunities increase for those with additional languages to offer.
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