Author

Chloe Cant

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Christmas can be an amazing time shared with family and friends, and yet many of us enter the New Year feeling drained from the holiday period.

Often when a co-worker, friend or family member returns from a vacation or travel, we hear the joke ‘I need a holiday after my holiday’ thrown around. When we are on holiday, the temptation to make the most of every day and minute can be so prevalent that we forget to simply stop and breathe.

The Christmas holidays look different for everyone. Perhaps it involves interstate travel, overdue catchups with extended family, work Christmas parties, friend parties and Christmas shopping and cooking.

And while all or at least some of this is fun, it is also not our usual routine. Several days or weeks like this in a row can overextend our social battery and sometimes it is too late before we realise, we are not just emotionally drained – but physically as well.

Learning to practice self-care and establish a sense of boundaries with yourself and others during this time can save you from post-Christmas burnout and make the holidays an even better time.

Here are some tips for keeping yourself sane, healthy and happy during the holidays.

  1. Establish boundaries with friends and family about money

Giving gifts should be something joyful and leave you with a good feeling. The ritual of picking or making gifts and wrapping up each one with a glass of Prosecco is half the fun. However, financial stress can suck the joy out of this if you feel like you are spending money you don’t have to not disappoint others.

Consider your finances and what you are capable of spending and what you are comfortable with. Then, try expressing this to your friends or family. It can be as simple as saying that you are a bit tight this year so you will just be doing small gifts. Or if you really want to, you can set a specific price to cap gifts at for everyone.

2) Don’t commit to things you don’t want to do

Over-commitment is another huge issue that will drain the joy out of the holiday period for some. As much as the parties, shopping and events can be fun, don’t lose sight of the small moments. Remember to make time for yourself curled up watching Christmas movies at home, cooking, or simply sticking to your regular routine.

It is perfectly ok to say no to things and still make time for yourself. The fear of missing out can be huge and the pressure to show up at events we don’t care for. Either way, remind yourself that saying no is ok.

3) Delegate Tasks Evenly 

For some of us, the desire to create an unforgettable Christmas experience for the people we love, and particularly our children, can cause us to bite off more than we can chew. Before you know it, suddenly you are the shopper, the chef, the party planner, the event organiser, and the cleaner.

This can make Christmas feel less like a party and more like hard work.

4) Simplify the Lunch Menu

The same philosophy goes to the Christmas menu – don’t bite off more than you can chew and don’t be afraid to delegate. It should never be one person’s job to spend hours toiling in the kitchen for everyone.

Eating, drinking and cooking with the people we care about should be a wonderful experience. However, feeling stressed and overworked can drain the enjoyment out of this tradition.

It is also important to know that sometimes less is more. Don’t get caught up in the notion that a good Christmas meal has to be a complex or ornate one. Instead, pick a few of your favourite simple dishes that everyone will enjoy and you can be sure it will not diminish the experience.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and celebrate and the end of the season should leave you feeling content – not exhausted. Make small changes during your Christmas routine this year and in years to come to make sure you are truly enjoying – rather than simply making sure everyone around you is enjoying it.

Studies are suggesting that teaching your children bodily autonomy and consent at an early age is crucial for their confidence and ability to set boundaries into adulthood.

Teaching your child how to navigate the complexities of the outside world is one of the most daunting challenges presented to parents and teaching them healthy boundaries is one of the most crucial lessons to pass on.

Teaching children boundaries for themselves and others is a social and emotional skill that will keep them safe with strangers and their friends. Empowering your children with the tools to assert their autonomy over their bodies and emotions will keep them safe from anyone who might want to exploit their vulnerability. 

Often, adults can take advantage of a child’s inexperience and inability to advocate for themselves. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to belittling, lower self-confidence, and physical and sexual abuse

Two young children hug each other outside amongst some trees.

All parents understand the basics of boundaries setting. For example, no hitting, no interrupting, no grabbing things from other children without asking and the importance of please and thank you. 

Child Mind Psychology says that these things are the basic principles of boundary setting that can be applied to everything. This is because they exist for two reasons; to understand and respect the needs of others and to understand and respect their own needs as individuals. 

While the benefits of boundary setting are beneficial for countless reasons, new movements in parenting are beginning to use these principles to teach bodily autonomy. 

Two young children laugh and hug each other.

Why boundaries matter

Christmas, Easter or a family reunion rolls around, and suddenly your child is faced with a crowd of well-meaning relatives they may not see very often who are dying to smother their niece or great-nephew with hugs or kisses. While the temptation to make people happy is present, you might cave and say, ‘Give uncle so-and-so a hug!’ there are several reasons this may be detrimental. 

In situations like these, children may feel like their bodies don’t belong to them but rather to the adults in the room and that adults can make decisions about what they should do with their bodies regardless of how they feel. 

It is also instilled in children to ignore their intuition and feelings to please others. And while it might feel like we are just trying to teach them social skills and empathy, these things will develop over time, especially once they have a strong sense of self. 

Two young boys in a classroom reach out and tickle their teacher who is laughing.

Children need to be empowered to foster a sense of trust in their instincts, not taught to ignore them. Educating them to listen to how they feel during these situations will keep them safe in childhood and adulthood.

While it is highly unsettling to consider, 90% of child abuse victims are abused by someone they know, like a family member or a friend. This is why teaching bodily autonomy to children with people they know and are close to is crucial. 

Openness and Honesty

Emotional honesty and communication are crucial elements of consent and autonomy. As well as fostering honesty around touch, it is essential to have clarity about ‘secrets.’

In addition to teaching about ok touch and not ok touch, talk about ok secrets and not ok secrets. Ok secrets are birthday surprises, Christmas presents or planning a surprise dinner for Mother’s Day. 

Not ok secrets are family members or friends who might use language like ‘this is our special game that’s just our secret,’ or ‘don’t tell anyone about our game or you will get in trouble.’

Make it explicitly clear what ok and not ok secrets are and assure them that there is absolutely no secret they would ever get in trouble for disclosing. Let them know that it is always ok to tell a trusted adult if someone asks them to keep a secret like this. Also, let them know that you will believe them if they share this with you.

Let them know that it is ok to tell another adult even if it is someone they love and trust. 

A school teacher in a classroom giving advice to two young girls in school uniforms about bodily autonomy.

Trusted Adults

Help your child establish a list of trusted adults that they can speak to, including people who are not family members. This might be a schoolteacher, kindergarten teacher, friend’s parent, or school counsellor. Often, children do not disclose abuse to parents and may feel more comfortable with one of these trusted adults, to begin with. 

Teaching children about boundaries, consent, and bodily autonomy not only keeps them safe and secure within themselves but is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence they will carry into adulthood. And lastly, it is never too late to start implementing these lessons. 

 

 

Teenagers are visiting emergency departments for intentional self-harm in record numbers since the pandemic, with some as young as primary-school ages.

The stress and pressures that lockdown has had on children and teenagers have seen reports of self-harm increase by 47% in NSW alone. In the year leading up to July 2021, there were 8489 instances of children and teens up to 17 years old presenting to emergency centers in NSW. This number had increased from 6489 in 2020.

Throughout March, June, July, September and September in NSW, VIC, TAS and the ACT, paramedics responded to 22,400 incidents involving suicide attempts or thoughts. The majority of this number was for young girls ranging from ages 15-19.

Statistics have shown that these numbers were already increasing before the pandemic; however, lockdown seems to have driven the numbers even higher.

The chairman for Lifeline Australia, John Brogden, confirmed that the daily average number of calls nationwide peaked at 3100 per day and has remained at this level since the start of the pandemic. Most of these phone calls are from people of all ages struggling with self-harm and suicidal ideation.

Federal Treasurer Josh Fydenberg called the mental health crisis a ‘shadow pandemic,’ caused partly by the impact of ongoing lockdowns and the research seems to suggest it is impacting young people the hardest.

Schools provide children and teens with face-to-face learning, interaction with peers, extracurricular activities, friendship, and social skills building, and, in most cases, access to mental health and resilience programs. However, with school-aged children already going through a crucial and sensitive time in their development, the added pressure of isolation and stress that is inevitable in lockdown has exacerbated the difficulties they already face.

Living through an unpreceded global event can be stressful for adults, and it is a lot for kids to take in as well. Meanwhile, things like school sports, dances, school performances and graduation ceremonies have seen teenagers lose access to many of the outlets that provide them with stress relief and fun.

Yourtown CEO Tracy Adams says, “The upheaval and stress Australian children and young people are experiencing from the pandemic is a cause for concern. Over the past six months, we have identified that 1,610 contacts to Kids Helpline were from young children aged 5-9 years of age up from 1,588 for the first six months of 2020.”

Adams confirms that Kids Helpline answered 1788 more calls for children and young people than ever in the first half of 2021, compared to the first have of 2020 and that, “Children and young people are increasingly experiencing mental health concerns, including suicidal ideation/behaviour and self-harm”

Self-harm is an issue that has been prevalent for decades and is becoming a predominant coping mechanism for young people.

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is the act of injuring oneself by either cutting or burning to achieve a momentary sense of calm or release of tension of emotional pain. Often, people will self-harm to gain a sense of control again or to momentarily be distracted from mental distress by the sensation of physical pain.

While not classified as a mental illness on its own, it is often symptomatic of a range of other mental illnesses or emotional suffering.

The physical signs of self-harm may look like:

  • cutting, burning, biting, or scratching the skin
  • picking at wounds or scabs so they don’t heal
  • pulling out hair, punching or hitting the body
  • taking harmful substances (such as poisons, or over the counter or prescription medications).

Motivations for self-harming could stem from trauma, anxiety, depression or overwhelming feelings of stress and pressure.

Sometimes children who are self-harming may be fascinated with the topic and spend time online reading about other instances of this. They may attempt to cover their bodies or exhibit a desire to hide their skin such as wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts in warm weather.

Other behaviors might look like mood swings or becoming withdrawn socially and could be potentially triggered by a traumatic event or upsetting circumstances like bullying or difficulties in a peer group.

How to help

If your child or teen approaches you and tells you that they have been self-harming somehow, the most important thing you can do is have a compassionate response. According to Melbourne Child Psychology, the most common misconception about self-harm is that it is a form of ‘attention-seeking or ‘acting out.’

However, in most cases, nothing could be further from the truth and chances are your child is experiencing guilt, shame and genuine psychological distress and confusion. The best thing to do is provide support and be their anchor by acknowledging their feelings and letting them know you are here to help them.

It is crucial to fight the urge to have a shocked or angry reaction and say things like ‘why did you do this?’ or ‘you need to stop this – this is such a stupid thing to do!’

Instead, remain calm and let them know you are here to help by asking open-ended questions that encourage them to talk about why they did it or how they were feeling at the time.

Once they are emotionally assured, ask more open-ended questions such as what they used to harm themselves and where they got it. Be sure to ask if it’s ok to assess their injuries and appropriately dress them or bandage them.

Lastly, seek professional help

As a parent, watching your child self-harm can be heartbreaking, and it is ok to feel that you are out of your depth and need to seek professional help or advice. However, it is essential not to make the mistake of thinking that just because you have addressed the issue with your child, it will go away or get better.

Get in touch with a psychologist and communicate to them what the issue is before an appointment, so they know best how to help.

A child psychologist will provide your child with a safe environment to express themselves and learn effective coping mechanisms and strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

Parents are trying a new type of weaning that skips the purees and lets your baby dive right into solid finger foods.

Weaning is when you start to slowly introduce your baby to solid foods or anything other than breast milk. Usually, most parents will choose to do this with purees and soft mashed food. However, some evidence suggests there are benefits to letting your baby move straight to little bite-sized pieces of appropriate food that they will pick up and feed themselves.

It is thought that this style of weaning could have an array of benefits, including aiding their motor skills, reducing the risk of developing allergies and allowing your baby to learn what their internal hunger cues are.

Weaning can be a complicated process for parents, as your protective instincts may make you concerned about choking or mistakes. But weaning is also a phase in your babies’ development that can be fun and exciting for you and them.

A baby around six months old eating a broccoli floret by themselves with their hands, a great example of baby led weaning.

You can start by cutting up foods into small bite-sized portions – but make sure the pieces are large enough for your baby to hold themselves easily. Ideal foods are sweet potato, banana, mango, broccoli florets and avocado. All these different colours and flavours will be mentally stimulating for your baby, as well as being good for their gut healthvitamin intake and motor development skills.

In addition, this may encourage your baby to participate in family mealtimes than the spoon-fed method. Just be prepared for slightly more mess.

Next, place the food on a mat or plate directly in front of your bay and let them choose what they want to try. Try to avoid the urge to take things out of their mouth if they seem not to enjoy them. Instead, encourage them to spit it out by sticking out your tongue dramatically.

in bite sized pieces, a slice of broccoli, carrot, kiwi, pear, egg, bread and avocado are lined up next to one another in a perfect example of what's appropriate for baby-led weaning.

Your baby will also learn to enjoy different flavours and textures at an early age, which will discourage food aversions later on.

The WHO recommends beginning weaning at around six months of age. However, some parents may find their babies ready to do wean as early as four months.

As a general rule, when considering if you should start weaning you should look for all the following milestones:

  • Your baby can sit upright themselves without being supported.
  • They are able to hold up and support their own head.
  • They are easily able to pick up objects and bring it to their own mouth.
  • Your baby is displaying an interest in solid food and seems to lean toward it our mouth for it.
  • Your baby is around the six month old mark.

a pair of small baby hands from an aerial view picking up small peices of banana, celery and pasta for themselves.

Your baby may cough, gag or spit out their food dramatically, but this is actually a sign of them developing oral-motor movement and a gag reflex actually prevents your baby from choking.

Your baby may also think its very fun to simply pick up the food and play with it or squish it. Remember, this is all new to them and everything is a learning process – including play and familiarising themselves with strange new things.

 

It may be 2021, but a lack of access to computers and the internet is still making life hard for Australian families in rural or low-socioeconomic areas.

Australian families have had to switch to online learning, work, and healthcare services in record numbers this year. For the 2.5 million families who do not have access to the internet or computers at home, this has created a challenging lack of equality that researchers call the ‘digital divide.’ This divide has presented difficulties for kids and teens as education moves online.

While schools have been increasing online learning in recent years, the pandemic has seen our reliance on online platforms become invaluable. Not only is access to the internet essential for education, but it also provides school-aged children with a sense of community and connection with their peers.

A study from the University of Tasmania suggests that 46% of children are potentially negatively affected by lack of educational outcomes, nutrition, physical movement, social and emotional wellbeing by being physically disconnected from school.

Families without the internet also miss out on Telehealth services and easy access to Government support such as MyGov, as those services increasingly move online.

For parents, a lack of access to a computer or the internet means difficulty applying for jobs, conducting interviews, or maintaining their current workload. For example, if a family only has access to one computer, either a child doing online learning from home or a parent working can access the internet at one time.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that finances, location, and a lack of digital literacy are the primary reason for the high numbers of Australians with no internet access. The digital divide is often socio-economic, but students in rural areas often do not have the same kind of internet access urban students do.

This is where public libraries would usually provide an essential service. Public libraries allow for access to books and free access to computers, printers, and internet services. In addition, public libraries often have reading times, and kids’ activities organised, which are an excellent way for children to learn and socialise and give parents a much-needed break while they access computers.

Not only are libraries great for families needing to access these services, but they provide free education and knowledge that can otherwise be found exclusively online.  State libraries often have reading groups, exhibitions, artworks and provide social groups that fill in for a lack of internet.

In addition to libraries, public Centrelink offices often provide computers and internet service for income reporting, job searching, printing and generally making digital literacy possible for people of all ages without computers or the internet.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has seen the closure of public libraries and Government offices that act as vital community hubs that provide essential services, making the digital divide wider than ever.

Considering a lack of public services, teachers become essential. The only option they have is to accommodate their student’s needs and provide work and learning primarily through hard copies. However, children who miss out on Zoom classes miss out on the benefits of group learning and socialising with their peers.

While the digital divide is being assessed and addressed, we can only hope the gap slowly disappears.

Thankfully, some charitable organisations such as The Smith Family are working to try and lessen the divide. They have been providing digital access programs to kids and teens since 2007 in the hopes that everyone gets access to digital literacy. You can provide sponsorship for digital literacy to a child by contacting the Smith Family.

 

 

When Marilyn Monroe died, her grief-stricken former lover Joe DiMaggio placed a 20-year order for a dozen roses to be placed on her grave three times each week, to symbolise his love.

Red roses mean love, daisies represent innocence, lotus flowers rebirth and gardenias happiness. This is the language of flowers. Flowers have been synonymous with sending messages of love, friendship, and condolences since Victorian times when every household studied their meaning and noted them down in flower dictionaries.

Of course, letters were always an option for Victorians. However, in a time with very strict societal standards about decorum and reputation, that was not always appropriate. It may not have been possible to tell someone your true feelings and so, using bouquets to send messages that could not be said out loud was a common way of communicating.

So, if you would like to become acquainted with this romantic form of communication, here are some of the meanings of flowers below.

1. Lotus Flower

The lotus flower signifies rebirth and new beginnings. This is because the flowers grow out of the mud in swampy areas. Each night, they slowly close and return to the mud, and each morning they bloom again, just as beautiful as ever.

In Greek Mythology, the lotus-eaters were people who lived on an island where lotus flowers were the primary source of food. However, the lotus flowers were a narcotic, and the island’s inhabitants slept their lives away. Whoever visited the island and ate the lotus flowers never returned and spent the rest of their days in slumber.

Today, if we call someone a ‘lotus-eater,’ it means they indulge in luxuries and apathy instead of dealing with practical problems. The  Victorians often took inspiration from ancient myths or legends about flowers.

2. Cactus flower

To Victorians these prickly plants surprisingly meant…. Warmth. They do after all grow in the warmest climates.

There are many myths and legends about cactus flowers, including a Native American tale in which a young man being pursued by wild animals asked the gods for help. In response they turned him into a cactus, creating the very first cactus on earth.

3. Acacia

This beautiful bloom symbolises secret love. They are commonly seen growing wild in Australian suburbs, and now you can handpick them to send to someone you’re admiring from afar.

The Acacia flower has also been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes in African.

4. Ambrosia

For Victorians, this bloom means that love is returned. It is a beautiful way of letting someone know that the feeling is mutual.

In Ancient Greek mythology, the gods drank and ate Ambrosia.

5. Gardenias

These beautifully scented flowers signify an overflow of happiness. Be careful with their delicate petals, as they can brown when touched.

It is common to see these flowers at weddings and in bridal bouquets, not only for their beauty but as an expression of joy.

6. Red Carnation

A red carnation indicates heartbreak. A yellow carnation means disdain and a striped carnation refusal. So…. Heartbreak and bad news all round for carnations despite their beauty.

7. Daffodil

A beautiful splash of cheerful yellow in a bouquet will signify regard and unequaled love. To send these in Victorian times was truly a compliment or a declaration of love.

The English poet William Wordsworth was so moved by the beauty of some daffodils he saw on a walk that he wrote a famous poem about them.

‘’I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’’

– William Wordsworth.

8. Daisy

It doesn’t seem surprising that daisies signify innocence. However, they have different shades of meaning and in some cases can represent a promise to keep a secret.

A common custom with daisies is to pull the petals off one by one and recite each time, ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ until the last petal gives an answer.

9. Geranium

These represent folly and stupidity so do be careful with these. Despite this, they look beautiful in a bouquet or growing wildly in your garden.

10. Hibiscus

While these blooms might make you yearn for a tropical holiday, they represent a delicate kind of beauty. So, not only are they bold and stunning but highly complementary.

11. Honeysuckle

Represent the bonds of love. Perfect for an anniversary and they smell beautiful. They also look amazing growing wildly along a fence or somewhere in your garden.

12. White Jasmine

Their scent is unmistakable and for many of us they herald the beginning of the Australian spring and summer. However, these beauties mean sweet love and fidelity.

13. Marigold

Marigolds signify grief and jealousy. The shock of colour from their petals sends a strong message.

14. Poppy

A poppy can be sent in consolation. Often, we see them around ANZAC day for this reason. Their meaning of consolation represents solidarity in times of grief.

15. Red rose

Simply, I love you. There is no reading between the lines here.

16. Yellow Rose

Along with other flowers that signify bad news, yellow roses must be top of the list. They signify infidelity and a loss of love.

17. Yellow Tulip

In this case, yellow signifies good news. It means to tell someone that their smile is like sunshine and they are hugely complimentary. Nothing will cheer you up quite like looking at a bouquet of tulips.

18. Tiger Lily

A tiger Lily represents wealth, so gift a bouquet of these to someone you love who is looking for financial growth or an income

19. Magnolia

Signifies a love of nature and a sense of nobility. Their pale faces and dark green leaves give this bloom an elegance that matches their meaning.

20. Iris

Meaning wisdom, trust, and faith, these beautiful blooms carry a lot of meaning as well as being beautiful.

Balancing your hormones is the key to health and wellness you didn’t know you were missing.

When we feel tired, sleep poorly, struggle with weight gain, or have mood swings, it can be hard to identify why. It might be simply that you need to get back to basics and balance your hormones.

The key to happy hormones and a healthy body is about adopting a healthy lifestyle. Below we have six easy adjustments you can make to assist with healthy hormone production.

Hormones are chemical pathways in our bodies responsible for sending messages through our bodies about what we need. If hormones are out of whack, it can lead to dry skin, hair loss, sugar cravings, bloating and lethargy.

Hormonal health is essential for women, as it can affect your menstrual cycle and lead to period pain, blood clotting, and a decrease in libido.

1. Drink green tea

Green tea has a multitude of health benefits and is packed with antioxidants and is all-around delicious. Green tea also has caffeine, which helps to boost your metabolism and provides energy. In addition, the antioxidants in green tea are thought to stop your insulin from spiking, so drink up.

2. Exercise

Exercise such as aerobics and weight training are effective in decreasing insulin levels and boosting your metabolism. However, if you are struggling to get into a fitness regime, grab your headphones and go for a nice long walk. Or maybe 20 minutes of yoga is more your style. Any exercise is better than no exercise.

3. Eat Fatty Fish 

Start adding salmon, sardines and mackerel to your dinner and lunch rotation. These sources of omega-3 fatty acids are powerhouses for hormonal health, as research suggests that they lower cortisol and adrenaline.

4. Avoid refined sugars 

This one might seem obvious, but refined sugars can have negative consequences for hormonal health. Refined sugars in beverages especially should be avoided, as they spike insulin and encourage your body to store belly fat.

5. Sleep 

It is essential to get enough sleep in the evening. Sleep is your body’s way of resetting, and the more quality sleep you get, the better. Avoid harsh lighting and looking at your phone before bed. Instead, try switching to a book, magazine, or podcast at least an hour before bed.

6. Manage Stress

This one is easier said than done but learning to manage stress is beneficial for your hormonal and overall health. The stress hormone cortisol can cause hormonal imbalance, weight gain, mood swings, and even cardiovascular disease if experienced long term.

Feeling like you are struggling with your health can seem overwhelming or be concerning. However, it is possible to address some of these things with small, incremental changes.

Try incorporating a few of these into your daily life and work your way up to as many as possible.

 

 

 

Mindfulness is a highly beneficial skill that can be taught to kids by incorporating it into games and activities. Not only will their creativity and sense of fun flourish, but also their social and emotional skills.

We know that mindfulness is good for us in all sorts of ways, but new research is showing that it’s suitable for your kids as well. Getting kids to sit still for long periods can be a mission. Games like Simon Says, Jenga, balancing on one foot, and even Hide and Seek all incorporate elements of concentration and awareness that increase mindfulness.

Games like Puzzles or activities like painting keep you and the kids busy and entertained when at home and help kids learn to calm their minds and bodies. A study by Mindful Schools has shown that it increases their attention and learning skills when children practice mindfulness. Not only that, but it will also improve their emotional and social skills and their sense of resilience.

In addition, studies such as the one carried out by BMC Psychology suggest that when kids practice mindfulness, it positively impacts their development into adulthood. Engaging in mindful play around the house is excellent for your child’s mental health and decreases their chance of developing anxiety or depression later in life.

Here’s how you can begin incorporating mindfulness games into your routine with your kids. These activities are suitable for several age ranges.

1. Yoga for kids

There are several fun ways to do yoga with your kids. Not only will you be getting a quick workout in, but it’s a fantastic way for your kids to engage in not only a fun activity but awareness and concentration.

Some of the best sources for yoga for kids are Cosmic Kids Yoga and Yoga for Kids with Alissa Kepas. Both can be found with a quick YouTube search as well.

Yoga involves paying attention, concentration, group work, and calming and breathing techniques. These kinds of games or activities are ideal for increasing emotional regulation, focus, and engagement.

kids doing yoga outside on the grass

2. Jenga

You might find yourself getting more carried away with this game than you would expect. If you’ve never played before, the game aims to stack a tower of wooden blocks on top of each other and slowly take one from the bottom or middle of the tower to place on top. The higher and higher the tower gets, the more intense your focus becomes.

Increasing concentration skills can help with improved engagement, which helps at school. Not only that but its teaching problem-solving skills

Two children sitting in the living room playing Jenga with wooden blocks

3. Balancing on one foot

Put your skills to the test with this one too. Again, it sounds simple but requires a great deal of concentration, calmness, and multi-tasking.

The key is to get your child to focus their gaze just below eye level and preferably on one spot. Then, take one leg and rest it on your other leg but above the knee, on the ankle of the opposite foot, or wherever they feel comfortable. Try to maintain a conversation while you’re doing this or even sing a song.

Four kids in the outdoors balancing on one foot

4. Safari

Take your kids on a walk and tell them you are going on a Safari; their goal will be to spot as many birds, bugs, and animals as possible. A way to make this extra fun is to give them an exercise book to list all the animals they see that they can draw or decorate later.

Kids will really need to engage with all their senses and concentrate on this one. It creates a sense of awareness and grounding in the present moment.

Four kids dressed in Safari gear playing outside

5. Spidey – senses

Tap into your child’s obsession with superheroes and tell them they are going to be Spiderman for the afternoon.

Instruct your kids to turn on their “Spidey senses,” or the super-focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spiderman uses to keep tabs on the world around them.

This will encourage them to pause and focus their attention on the present, opening their awareness to the information their senses bring in.

A group of children dressed up as super heroes in capes and masks

6. Taste Test

Take an assortment of different foods and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Anything your child loves to eat will do – a slice of orange or banana, a teaspoon of peanut butter or a cube of cheese.

Then, blindfold your kids and tell them you are doing a blind taste test game. Even if they guess their favourite foods straight away, prompt them to explain why. For example, was it the texture, smell, or taste that they noticed first?

This will require that they tap into all their sense and truly think about the sensation of eating mindfully.

A little girl peers over the a countertop at a cupcake

7. Eye Spy

Car rides can make us all feel cooped up or irritable at times. One way to overcome this is by playing eye-spy.

If you have not played before, someone picks something they can see out the window and tells everyone else only the first letter of its name but keeps the rest a secret. So, everyone else will have to concentrate very hard on the outside world to guess correctly what the other person spies.

Once your child has picked their item, they will say ‘I spy with my little eye, something starting with ‘L’…’, And then the guessing begins.

This is an excellent game for focus and concentration and makes the minutes of a car ride fly by as well.

A family in the car on a road trip

Games like these incorporate concentration, patience, mental clarity, and problem-solving skills that are invaluable life skills to foster in children. Encouraging kids to engage with their senses, creativity helps provide them with the kindness and confidence to tackle the world.

Attachment styles are how you have learned to love and communicate with others from early childhood, and it could be affecting you more than you know.

Attachment styles in relationships can be the root cause of arguments, abandonment issues, toxic behaviour, a lack of intimacy and poor communication, to name only a handful. They can be the result of the demise of relationships or repetitive bad habits that seem impossible to break. All of this can result in a sense of hopelessness or confusion as to why these negative feelings or situations keep arising.

The basics of attachment theory are that an infant must form a secure bond with a responsive parent from a very early age. If the infant’s physical and emotional needs are met, they will create a ‘secure’ attachment to their caregiver. This sense of security is essential in early development as this will stay with the child into adult life. A secure attachment style provides the security to form healthy relationships, communicate and navigate the world with a sense of confidence.

The kicker is, only 60% of parents provide infants with a genuinely secure attachment style. A lack of secure attachment can lead to difficulty showing vulnerability, asking for help, receiving affection, or trusting a partner.

So, if you’re struggling to open up to your spouse or frustrated with your best friend for asking for help, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s just your insecure inner child.

So, what is your attachment style?

a couple sit cross legged next to one another one the road

There are four major attachment styles. Learning which one is yours may be the key to a healthier you and healthier relationships. People who identify and work with their attachment styles often have an easier time correcting negative behaviours. Your style is either:

1. Secure

As already mentioned, secure attachment styles generally have an easier time trusting and communicating their emotions. Therefore, giving and recieing affection usually isn’t an issue for secure types. As a secure type, chances are the lines of communication are pretty open for you in your relationships, and arguments do not easily arise.

2. Dismissive-avoidant

Perhaps you hate the feeling of relying on others, and when others are dependent on you, you think of them as ‘needy.’ Maybe over dinner your spouse has tried to peacefully resolve an unfinished argument from the week before. Instead of listening, you angrily accuse them of not letting go and shut down the conversation by leaving the table. It could be that you prioritise your career over your friendships, and as a result, you find yourself increasingly alone in life. These are self-preserving behaviours that can become toxic.

3. Anxious-preoccupied

Anxious attachment styles are often plagued with fears of abandonment. For example, you may wonder why your partner is being distant and moody, be convinced they are dissatisfied and worry that they are planning to leave you for something or someone better. These negative thoughts can quickly erupt into an argument. Maybe you are jealous and read your spouse’s text messages when they are asleep and later feel ashamed of your behaviour,

4. Fearful-avoidant

This attachment style is a combination of an anxious and avoidant attachment. For example, you might crave love and affection but feel uncomfortable receiving it. This can sometimes result in high-risk behaviours such as substance abuse and difficulty maintaining relationships.

Maybe you struggle to become close to people and can only maintain relationships under the influence of alcohol. You might self-sabotage by distancing yourself from others and look for affection in places you know you will not find it.

Doing an attachment style quiz might help you develop a sense of which feels more like yourself.

a couple sit next to one another on a couch

Attachment styles in relationships

At some point, you’ve encountered the term ‘law of attraction.’ The idea is that our positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative people into our world. Well, your attachment style may have more to do with this than you think.

If you fall into an anxious-avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style, maybe someone secure and dependable feels a little dull. Subconsciously, you can crave the unpredictability and chaos that you are used to receiving. Your caregivers might have been angry, dismissive of you, or made you feel like a burden, and yet, you loved them. Because this is what your internal blueprint of love is, it’s what you seek out in another partner.

For example, suppose you are an anxious person who craves love and fears abandonment. In that case, you may spend months or years waiting on an avoidant person to be committed in your relationship with no change. As a result, avoidant and anxious people frequently end up together. On the other hand, two highly avoidant people might spend time apart throwing themselves into their respective jobs and lack communication.

If unaware of your attachment style, it can be easy to enter relationships and friendships on autopilot and often not identify why the same problems are constantly encountered. It’s possible to repeat the same emotional habits throughout your life subconsciously. For example, anxiety, fear of abandonment, or a general lack of care can contribute to turmoil in friendships and marriages.

a couple sit next to one another outside. One is texting while the other tries to read over their shoulder

You can correct your attachment style

If this is all sounding a little depressing, don’t worry; attachment styles can be corrected. The best way to do this is by mindfully identifying how issues in relationships may be rooted in both party’s attachment styles. This gets to the heart of the problem and increases compassion and awareness for each person’s emotional needs.

The first step is to educate yourself and take an attachment style quiz, then read literature, self-reflect, and speak to a psychologist.

Other helpful tools are;

 1 . Meditation

Practices that increase mindfulness are invaluable in high-stress situations. Set aside time each day to do a mindfulness exercise or some breathwork. In the midst of difficult conversations, using these techniques helps regulate emotions to reflect on the issue properly.

2 . Journaling

Journaling is a great way to reflect on the past, your childhood, and things responsible for your stress, anxiety, or fears.

3. Practice self-care

Practicing self-care and learning to nurture yourself is crucial. Provide yourself with the love and care that may have been absent as a child, and you will be more equipped to provide this for others in your life.

4. Therapy

Lastly and most importantly, health care professionals recommend that you address your attachment style through therapy. Some psychologists specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or trauma therapies. But, again, being open with a healthcare provider or doctor is the best way to find what you need.

Be gentle with yourself and the people that you care for. Often, unresolved trauma or neglect can be the root of obstacles in any relationship. Addressing this and healing can take time, patience and be hard work. Pushing through this to the other side will lead to more harmonious relationships and greater inner happiness.

a women sits on a therapists couch talking while the therapists hands are seen taking notes