5 Ways to Ease Pre-school Separation Anxiety in Your Child

Ease Preschool Separation Anxiety in Your Child

Starting pre-school should be a time of immense joy and anticipation as your little one will be taking his/her first steps into the school setting, and forging meaningful relationships with teachers and classmates. However, this could prove a challenging time for both you and your child, with some toddlers even developing separation anxiety. Nonetheless, give your child a boost of courage, as you tread the positive path of having confidence in him. As the saying goes, “70% of success is about turning up”. So go ahead, let your toddler take the first steps to education and lifelong learning.

Check out our five tips for effectively easing your child’s pre-school separation anxiety:

1. Attachment Theory

Quite the opposite of separation anxiety is “Attachment Theory”, and according to world-renowned psychologist John Bowlby, children who form a secure attachment with their parents at an early age have the following characteristics in common, among others:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Increased ability to manage their impulses
  • Increased ability to cope with difficulties
  • Positive relationships with parents and other care-givers – and with authority figures

Such children are less disruptive, less aggressive and more mature. They are better able to concentrate, and therefore learn more effectively and more successfully. These are all vital aspects inculcated in a toddler who will prove to be a Champion at the start of school, as well as beyond. So what’s their secret?

Bowlby’s extensive research reveals that the best way to achieve a strong attachment with a child is through “bonding experiences”. The acts of holding, rocking, singing, feeding, gazing, kissing and other nurturing behaviour involved in caring for infants and young children are all bonding experiences.

In terms of “how much bonding is enough”, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem say in Talking with the Sky that “different children require different amounts of bonding time, and besides, the quality of the experience is rarely time-related”. They add that precious moments occurring “every half-an-hour a day will make a world of difference to your child, and to you.”

If you want to ease separation anxiety in your child when school starts, start those bonding moments now!

2. Communicate with the Teacher

The central figures in school are certainly the teachers. If you missed your child’s pre-school orientation, fret not. You can still get to know your child’s teacher, drawing her attention to your child’s personality and other important information that she should know about. For instance, if your child had recently been ill, inform the teacher so that she can understand your child’s bouts of discomfort or challenges in acclimatising to the new environment.

3. Be Positive About the Time When Your Toddler Gets Home

Perhaps on a given day, the time that you dropped off your child at pre-school coincided with your busy schedule and the episode of separation anxiety, causing some words intended for good to come out the wrong way. For example, when you mean to say, “Don’t worry, it’s all okay. Your teacher and friends will be with you, and Mum will pick you up at the end of the day.” But somehow, at the spur of the moment, you say, “Don’t worry, it’s okay. Think about what a fine time you’ll have at home when Mum picks you up,” in a matter-of-factly tone.

If communication had been unclear, and your toddler is now having separation anxiety with a meltdown, reassure your child immediately. Time spent at home is meant to be positive and fun, a time for the whole family.

Thus, when referring to time spent at home, keep conversations about it positive, even more so when everything seems to happen haphazardly at once. Rise above it, and set a role model for your child.

4. Don’t Deliberately Leave without Saying Goodbye

Now you see Mum, now you don’t. This may sound a little amusing, but not to your child. She may be shocked at the sudden disappearance of Mum, and separation anxiety is sure to set in. Instead, find a special way to say goodbye to your child, a method that is fun or even better, let her think of one, like “It’s never goodbye but see you later!”

Once she’s done that, let her enjoy the fun yet engaging activities, and that’s a cue for you to leave.

5. Prepare for the Second Week

If the first day of school turns out splendid without any signs of separation anxiety, don’t let your guard down the second week.

As your child is still very young, there is the possibility of separation anxiety setting in even after school has started for a few weeks.

Ease your child out of it with the points mentioned above, and remember that “young people are not built as adults to cope with stress, because the pre-frontal cortex of their brain is still developing. They are more likely to respond with their ‘unthinking’ emotions than with logical faculties when challenges arise,” say authors David Chiem and Brian Caswell in The Art of Communicating with Your Child.

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Top 5 Best Spots to Catch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks (2016 Edition)

Fireworks visible from the Fullerton Hotel Singapore and its vicinity.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
Fireworks visible from the Fullerton Hotel Singapore and its vicinity.

An eventful year, 2016, is going to exit with a big bang. As we bid farewell to 2016 and usher in 2017, New Year’s Eve will be a sight to behold here on the shores of Singapore. Without doubt, Singaporeans and visitors alike will enjoy the spectacular fireworks display and a myriad of other exhibits even more as space for revellers are designated as ‘vehicle-free zones’.

Head to the Marina Bay precinct and join in the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2017, Singapore’s annual iconic New Year’s Eve celebration.

From this focal point, you can find spots to catch beautiful views of the fireworks and other exhibits on display. Check out our suggested venues for an awe-inspiring night, including some practical tips on what to do if your child becomes nervous at the loud celebrations happening all around.

1. Fireworks from the Benjamin Sheares Bridge

It really pays to know one’s bridges and the history of a fine President. The Benjamin Sheares Bridge is named after Dr Benjamin Sheares, a distinguished obstetrician and gynaecologist who became the second President of our Republic.

Incidentally, the bridge is the longest and tallest in Singapore.

The Benjamin Sheares Bridge offers pedestrians a splendid view of the fireworks on Marina Bay. Here, you can celebrate the arrival of a New Year with your family, with a prominent historical landmark as the backdrop.

2. Fireworks from The Lawn @ Marina Bay and the Promontory

The Lawn @ Marina Bay and the Promontory are not smack in the middle of action, but you can still catch decent views of the fireworks.

The Lawn @ Marina Bay is where you can catch fireworks from ground level, while the waterfront Promontory looks directly onto the Bay.

3. Video Mapping on The Fullerton Hotel’s façade

The special light display at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
The special light display at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

 

View of the fireworks from the Clifford Pier, in the same direction as One Fullerton.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
View of the fireworks from the Clifford Pier, in the same direction as One Fullerton.

As part of the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2017, the spectacular 3D projection show ‘A New Dawn’ will light up the façade of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore from 26 to 31 December 2016 at the following times: 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 11pm.

On 31 December 2016, the extra show at 11:54pm will be followed by splendid fireworks display. These shows can be viewed from Cavenagh Bridge across The Fullerton Hotel, and at One Fullerton.

4. Sumptuous Dining or Glass of Champagne at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Dolce Vita restaurant
Photo by The Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Dolce Vita restaurant, with Harbour View Terrace just steps away

Indulge in a 6-course Italian set dinner at Dolce Vita (S$298++), and at this prime position, you will have full view of the fireworks. Seats are filling up fast, so you might want to make a reservation quickly. Otherwise, it’s walk-ins (no reservations and standing only) at the outdoor Harbour Terrace for $75 nett with a glass of champagne. Guests are welcomed here 10pm onwards, with a full view of the fireworks.

5. An Organic Wonder with Fireworks at Gardens by the Bay

Set amidst beautiful pavilions and wide open lawns, the Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay offers amazing views of the Marina skyline and fireworks display.

The Garden is open 24/7 and admission is free, which makes it a perfect place for the whole family to usher in the new year. Enjoy!

Not sure what to do when your child gets nervous about the fireworks display? Head over to the next page for some tips!

5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for the New School Year

Back to school

Once, a passenger onboard a plane was greeted by the air-steward who said, “Hi Sir, I served you onboard the last time,” to which the passenger replied, “Holiday’s over. A great year is about to begin!”

Like the passenger, we can certainly look back with pride as we embark on another exciting time for our children, some starting school for the first time, to achieve their milestones in the new year.

Opportunities abound with more to learn, more friendships to forge and greater discoveries to make, all through fun and engaging activities. With the Champion Mindset and the Education and Life philosophy of 100% Respect Zero Fear, coupled with the practical checklist below on how to start the year, the beginning of 2017 will prove a fruitful time for all.

1. Make Use of Your Public Holidays – especially New Year’s Day

It proves great to have New Year’s Day because after all that partying and celebration, we all need a day off to sleep well, wind down and get our children ready for school.

On this day, tell your child about school, explaining that it will be a new place filled with a kind teacher and kids that are his age. Open up his school bag together with him, and delightfully explain to him some fun activities in his text book. Once you see that joy on his face, tell him there are more to come, together with nice, yummy food, a fun time with other children, singing and art.

Remember to let your child know that you will be waiting for him to tell you all about school on the first day when you pick him up. That way, you can gauge your child’s response and experience at school, doing the necessary to balance out the details for him, such as getting him more stationery.

2. Thoughtful Orientation Programmes

As most schools offer orientation programmes, be sure you attend them because they offer you some vital facts surrounding the school, such as information about the school premises, classrooms and gyms. At times, information will be obtained from you and documented on paper or digitally during orientation.

MindChamps’ orientation for parents are superbly thoughtful and exhaustive, applicable not just for the start of Playgroup, Nursery and Kindergarten but for all Champs who are commencing classes basically. What is more, at orientation, Champs meet their teachers, with whom they will be spending a lot of time.

In addition, your child will familiarise himself with the school premises, while you gain an understanding of the key learning outcomes and what to prepare for your child through the curriculum talk/update. This usually occurs at the start of the year. This is applicable to all Champs, whether they are starting school for the first time or otherwise.

3. Play with Your Child, for a Securely-attached Kid

In the book Talking with the Sky, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem address the secret behind “securely-attached children” who are “able to separate from parent with confidence.” The secret to such children lies in the fact that their parents tend to play more with them.

The book lists the quote from Reverend Jesse Jackson, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

Thus, spend quality time in playing and bonding with your child; the benefits could well be seen on the first day of school, when your child is able to enjoy school right from the start, fully aware that Mummy will be there for him when school is over.

The book continues to explore that “bonding with children is different from spoiling them,” and that bonding is “the easiest parenting task of all”, being the “least expensive too”.

And all it takes is a hug. So go ahead, plan for the first day of school with a hug!

4. Make Friends

Another confident booster for your child lies in making friends. When conversing with your child about school, throw light on how interesting it will be for her to find out about the similarities as well as differences there are to the friends around her. Nurture her inquisitive nature as a child to find out about the right things, such as cultural differences and different pets. Before you know it, your child will have good friends so that she will enjoy school in this aspect too.

5. Establish A Sound Sleep Routine

Your child will probably be highly excited with all the occurrences at school, including the new friends he’s made, so understandably, you’d have to introduce a wind down time so that your child can get the necessary sleep he needs.

In Talking with the Sky, Caswell and Chiem write about the importance of sleep, as it affects children’s concentration the following day. Indeed, at the tender age when “three- to 10-year-olds need 10-12 hours [of sleep] a night,” the authors suggest that “children spend 30 minutes unwinding with a quiet activity such as doing a jigsaw puzzle, reading a book or quietly playing with a favourite toy before starting their bedtime routine.”

The bedtime routine takes another 30 minutes and they include wearing pyjamas, brushing teeth, a goodnight hug and then soft music.

“This way, your child will anticipate sleep at a non-conscious level.”

Indeed, that is sound advice, and your child will be ready for school the next day, all fresh and ready for more learning.

Find out more about MindChamps PreSchool, the industry leader with Number 1 market share in premium range preschools in Singapore.

This article was first published in the MindChamps blog.  

7 Christmas Gifts for Children That Will Last a Lifetime

Christmas

This Christmas, how about giving your child gifts to last a lifetime? If we take a moment to remember some of the meaningful gifts in life, we’d probably remember them with a backdrop of a peaceful family gathering or Daddy and Mummy with loving smiles.

The gifts are certainly valuable, but that precious backdrop, immeasurable in value.

This Christmas, give your child that cherished gift. In turn, he/she will have fond memories of the precious gift that only you can give:

1. Love – A Gesture

It is certainly true that some cultures are less expressive in their gestures of love to children. But if your child gets a loving gesture from you, he will be positively affirmed and loved, and these acts are remembered forever, between you and him.

Whether it’s a hug, holding his hand or a brush of his hair, a small gesture goes a long way.

2. Protect Your Child

Think of three things: a father, his daughter and a balloon while crossing the road. Dad is slightly flustered that his daughter is unwilling to cross the road because the balloon flies off. However, Dad succeeds and both get to safety.

By getting her to safety, Dad teaches his daughter about priorities and safety, lovingly reassuring her that he loves her. As for the balloon that flies off, there’s a brighter one at the store just round the corner.

Whenever your child faces these situations or some difficulties, like if she has fallen ill, take her to the doctor and ensure that she takes her medicine.

When you show concern and protect your child, your child will appreciate it, and she will learn the importance of taking care of her own well-being and health as well.

3. Love Your Child Enough to Discipline Him

There will always be moments of conflict, but the real deal does not lie in the conflict itself – what matters most is how we manage them. We can turn these situations around for the good of everyone. If your child has misbehaved and discipline needs to be meted out, carry it out firmly and positively.

Where the situation becomes hard to manoeuvre, like if you child decides to scream at you, here’s some advice from the experts. In the book Talking with the Sky, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem share the following advice: “If you are very upset or angry about a behaviour or an incident, allow some ‘time out’ to calm yourself and regain control before ‘dealing’ with the incident.

“Emotional responses are never as effective as considered ones. Though you might feel the need to address the incident immediately, it is far better to deal with it effectively and with a positive resolution, than to take action that is fueled by unmanaged emotion.

“Send the child away on his/ her own, to think about what has occurred, and then to find a way to disperse the anger before discussing the incident. This will allow for better communication, and it will allow time for the child to reflect on his/her behaviour too”.

4. Have Peace at Home this Christmas

Christmas is all about peace, as you might remember the song Silent Night.

Make it a point to shower your child with peace this Christmas. Set your home in the right mood for peace with elements like the Christmas tree and a hearty spread that signify and contribute to domestic stability.

5. Focus on the Beauty in Others

By focusing on the beauty in others, you choose to see the positive sides of people. For some of us, this may require a change in perspective, but if we persevere, we will reap a bountiful harvest of positive thoughts, gifts for ourselves and the people around us.

Say your child is making her bed on her own for the first time, and forgets some small detail. Choose to see how she’s contributing to the chores for the first time. Teach her about the small detail, saying, “Thank you, you’re trying your best and Mummy loves it.” Your child can witness the act of positive thinking which leads to a positive outcome.

Incidentally, focusing on the beauty in others is a MindChamps value.

6. Share A Meal Together

As the saying goes, “A family that eats together stays together.” For a close-knit family that is grounded on understanding and support, sharing a meal is one of the best gifts in life. Need we say more?

7. Don’t Leave Anyone Out!

While bestowing gifts that last a lifetime to your child, ensure nobody is left out. A family member with whom you may not have much conversation or contact could turn out to have a great character you don’t know about, until you make the discovery.

If you impart values of not leaving people out to your child, it entails character-moulding and the use of effective communication and interpersonal skills.

This is possibly the best gift you can give to him.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Find out how your child can develop effective communication and interpersonal skills through MindChamps’ Thinking Cap programme.

This article was first published in the MindChamps blog.

6 Ways to Teach Your Child to be Grateful in Life

Thanks for existing in my little galaxy

From sheltering your child from the rain to putting his/her food on the table, we all know how it feels like to have a sense of satisfaction when we do something special for the ones we love. If you find yourself too busy performing all these tasks, with no time to spare in teaching your child the roots of having a grateful heart, think again.

Scientists at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkerly have recently conducted a research to  understand gratitude and the circumstances in which it flourishes or diminishes. From the findings, they found  a host of benefits enjoyed by individuals who practise gratitude regularly, which includes feeling less lonely and isolated, and living life with more joy and optimism.

Similarly, a child who is appreciative is such a joy to behold. Here are some things you can do to nurture gratefulness in your child:

  1. The Quintessential Thank You

Teach your child to always be mindful about his/her manners and observe etiquette. There are no boundaries for saying ‘thank you’, so whether it’s the bus driver who halts his bus so that your child can board, or a waiting staff who has just refilled your child’s glass of water, ‘thank you’ might just brighten the day for everyone.

  1. Be A Doer of Appreciative Deeds

One just can’t say he/she appreciates someone by paying lip service. Where being appreciative is concerned, you can always teach your child to do something for someone who loves him/her. For example, your child could use his/her savings to buy a thoughtful gift for that person.

In What makes A Champion, Professor Emeritus Allan Snyder (Editor), who coined the term ‘Champion Mindset’ writes about Prof Gavin Brown, a distinguished mathematician, who said: “Champions have the capacity for critical vision but it is their thirst to be doers that sets them apart.”

  1. It’s All from the Heart

In everything that your child does, coach him/her to do it from the heart. That is, it is not merely about  doing just for the sake of it – he/she should mean it as well. Inevitably, there will be moments when your child’s good intentions are either brushed aside or not reciprocated; don’t fret, for that in itself is a learning curve. Continue to encourage your child to do good and the rewarding moment will arrive, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

  1. Let Your Child Perform Tasks

Preparing a meal or planning a birthday party is time-consuming. If you let your child join in the preparations, he/she will be taught what they entail and they will become more appreciative when they are on the receiving end of such tasks in future.

  1. Explain to Your Child Why He/She Can’t Always Get A Gift

When you are shopping with your child, there’s a chance you will encounter him/her asking you: “Why can’t I buy it this time?” Thus, you will need to explain the vital concepts of money and budgeting.

Even better, adopt ‘real life’ money calculation. The latest research shows that young minds are able to grasp the complexities of the world through experience, experiment and understanding, and the MindChamps Numeracy Strategies approach is ideally suited to help these young minds. These strategies are developed through grouping and counting exercises, the physical manipulation of numbers and groups, shapes and patterns, and through calculating and experimenting with money denominations.

  1. Let Your Child be an Active Participant of a ‘Gracious Society’

The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), stresses the importance of graciousness, philanthropy as well as tolerance, among other acts of kindness. It says: “With every small act of kindness, we create a pleasant society with good social behaviour, and make life better for everyone.”

If your child is considerably young, this will be a great opportunity for you and him/her to practice acts of kindness together. Jointly, both of you can let a disabled person pass first, return the food tray when you are done, or help an elderly who needs directions.

As SKM says: “Kindness, bring it on!”

Let your child make a difference today.

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.