Friday, 22 November 2019 03:17

Supporting Change & Transition

Every single day we aim to provide a safe space for your children, an environment where children feel secure in their relationships so they go off and explore the world around them. One thing however that is out of our control are the moments and events happening outside of MICCC that influence children’s wellbeing and manifest in behaviours here. The simplest things that can bring so much joy to a family like; a new baby, a holiday, a new job, a new house, or milestones that you are excited about like transitioning to a new room or to school can be totally overwhelming for children... and even some adults too. All young children are still learning to communicate effectively, they are slowly learning all about themselves and haven’t mastered self-regulation. It is difficult for children to cope with tiny changes and transition, so imagine how hard it is for children who already have a trauma background, communication barriers or specific learning needs. It is HUGE!

This time last year I wrote a blog post about child behaviours being just the tip of the iceberg that had a list of 78 feeling words attached. It is easy for someone to assume a child is ‘angry’ when in fact there are 54 feeling words under the angry banner, words like frantic, distressed, frustrated and provoked. I also blogged this year about the importance of wellbeing and with the end of the year upon us, some children are starting transition visits, preparing to go on holidays, visiting Santa, swimming in the pool for the first time this year and some might have their house full of people on Christmas Day. With wellbeing and behaviour so interconnected it is vitally important to support children to develop self awareness, protective behaviours and the skills to regulate their own emotions so they can maintain positive wellbeing and keep safe as they grow older.

There are so many things that can impact on a child’s physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. Whether it be an experience that is verbal, physical or environmental, the loss of a person, place, object or independence, or just a thought that triggers an emotional response.... the simplest thing can manifest and become a catalyst for a behavioural response. No matter if it is your child is the one trying to process this overwhelming experience or your child is at the other end experiencing the resulting behaviours, know that we are here to support all of our children. We are here to help them understand, to learn ways to protect themselves, to keep themselves safe, to understand themselves/others and to help children develop respect and empathy. The BeYou ‘Grief, Trauma and Critical Incidents’ fact sheet released by the Australian Government (2019) states that “grief experienced from a loss affects the whole person, including their mind, spirit, and body, as well as the relationships they have with other people. Trauma occurs when someone has had a distressing or overwhelming experience, with intense pain, stress, fear, or helplessness.” Both grief and trauma can exist within change and transition.

A ‘change in behaviour’ for one child can change the whole dynamic of a room. As a parent of a five year old that has spent many days in childcare/preschool, I know that seeing your own child hurt by others is mortifying. There is such a fine line between the Child Protection Curriculum and supporting empathetic views that I even struggle with sometimes. From a Child Protection perspective it is important to ensure that children are receiving the right messages, it is not ok for others to hurt you or for you to hurt others, even hitting your own Mum to get attention is never ok and should be stopped. It is important for children to learn to understand their feelings and body responses, what was their body doing/feeling/thinking just before, what it felt like in the exact moment, and what they felt like after. Understanding yourself and seeking the perspective of the others around you is what supports the development of empathy. Educators and/or families working through these changes, transitions, extreme circumstances with their child can help to identify triggers and appropriate responses. Talk to your children, help them label their feelings and share your own feelings with them. Role model breathing and calming strategies and remind them that they are the boss of their own body. Many incidents cannot be discussed with families for confidentiality reasons, however educators will do their best to support parent and child understanding, so if you have any concerns for your child’s wellbeing don’t no hesitate to share this information with your child’s primary educator.

Where possible children need time to process what is happening inside their bodies and around them in the lead up to, during and after these moments in time. The BeYou framework helps our staff team to support our whole MICCC community. Our teams regularly reflect on children, families and educators where we have noticed a change in behaviour or have become aware of a critical event in their lives. We then develop strategies to check-in with and support them and the people around them. Within our Wellbeing PLC there is a focus on transitions, creating guidelines to support new children transitioning to our centre and for children transitioning between rooms. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with families to be able to respond to individual child needs and support the whole family through the process. We also try to avoid transitioning a child between rooms on their own without a peer. Our Wellbeing PLC links closely with our Special Educational Rights PLC and we would never exclude or send a child home because they are exhibiting behaviours that they cannot control. Instead we work with the child and their peers to help them develop strategies and language to to strengthen their own wellbeing. We observe the child in question without isolating them, we observe and reflect on all the children and educators in the room and alter our practice, review our behaviour guidance procedure and make the necessary changes to our environment so it is more supportive and inclusive, including rostering on extra staff to support the whole room. We are aware that there is no one way to lear, so what can benefit one child can benefit all children, thus we are creating a culture of acceptance and self awareness.

 

OLLIE LAUDER - MICCC Educational Leader

 

 

 

Australian Government, 2019, Beyou Fact Sheets, 21 November 2019, https://beyou.edu.au/fact-sheets

 

 

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