14 August 2017

From the Head of Junior School

Victoria Prooday is a Registered Occupational Therapist with an extensive experience working with children, parents and teachers. Victoria is a founder and a clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic for children with behavioural, attentional, social, emotional and academic challenges.

In her article entitled "The silent tragedy affecting today's children", Victoria comments on how the environment and changes in parenting styles have contributed to some of the challenges children face today. She suggests that for a healthy childhood children require; emotionally available parents, clearly defined limits and guidance, responsibilities, balanced nutrition and adequate sleep, movement and outdoors, creative play, social interaction and opportunities for unstructured times and boredom.

Parenting is a difficult job that doesn't come with a manual (perhaps it should). Far too often children are presented with digitally distracted parents, indulgent parents who create a sense of entitlement, poor sleep habits, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and an over exposure to technology. These changes to parenting may be contributing to an increase in the prevalence of conditions such as mental health issues, ADHD and depression.

It is not all bad. Victoria offers some simple strategies or changes to show parents how to have a positive impact on our children and their future.

  • While it is great to have a positive relationship with our children, we need to set limits for them as their parent. Provide a well-balanced lifestyle filled with what they need not what they want. Say 'No', they will survive.
  • Look to provide a healthy diet. Food feeds the spirit and the mind and contributes to energy levels, concentration and behaviour.
  • Get them outside doing activities on their own and with their family, without technology.
  • Eat dinner together, without technology
  • Play board games
  • Give them daily chores that contribute to the well-being of the household. This should be more that cleaning their room.
  • Have consistent sleep routines and times. Ensure they get the correct amount of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation impacts on moods, energy levels, concentration and behaviour.

Age

Recommended

May be appropriate

Toddlers 1-2 years

11 to 14 hours

9 to 10 hours 15 to 16 hours

Preschoolers 3-5 years

10 to 13 hours

8 to 9 hours 14 hours

School-aged Children 6-13 years

9 to 11 hours

7 to 8 hours 12 hours

Teenagers 14-17 years

8 to 10 hours

7 hours 11 hours

  • Don't pack your child's backpack, don't carry his backpack, don't bring to school his forgotten lunch box, and don't peel a banana for a 5-year-old child. Teach them the skills to do it for themselves.
  • Let them be bored. Boredom is often when creativity happens. You are not your child's entertainment crew. Help them create a set of things they can do when they feel "bored".
  • Be emotionally available to your child by turning off your technology until they are in bed. Help them to learn to manage their emotions. Teach manners, greetings and conversation skills.

These simple changes take discipline on the part of parents but the outcomes will be worth it in the end.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School