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Mental and Cognitive Health

As children develop a sense of their emotions and a set of corresponding responses they will begin to feel a sense of belonging, being and becoming. The development of these emotions assists in good mental health.

Good mental health supports the development of positive relationships, resilience, self-esteem and confidence. The increase in these dimensions of mental health means children are likely to have fewer behavioural issues.

On the reverse side mental health difficulties can lead to stress. If you feel as though you cannot effectively manage mental health issues with yourself, your child or children you may benefit from Professional help.  The earlier in life that difficulties are addressed, the better chance a child has at improving their long-term mental health and wellbeing.

A relatively new concept to early childhood education is mindfulness. You have probably heard of it before in a professional development seminar, but what does it actually mean for children?

Kidsmatter.edu.au explores the topic in depth stating that

“Mindfulness with children involves tuning in to internal and external experiences… resulting in increased self-awareness, social awareness, and self-confidence”.

 

Research has also shown mindfulness has the ability to assist children with decision making and equally as important, self-regulating emotions. When it comes to emotions such as anger and frustration, children learn to be mindful through breathing techniques and other grounding activities such as “The Shake Jar”.

Dr John Irvine give practical and sensible advice on dealing with these types of emotions through his book “Helping Young Children manage Frustration and Anger”. When you combine this common sense approach as well as the point on mindfulness, it seems apparent that being reflective, patient and living “in the moment” boosts our mental wellbeing.

Cognitive wellbeing is also about the development of important skills such as language. A child’s ability to express and understand feelings hinges on their ability to communication.

Language is also a key concept in developing literacy skills such as reading and writing.

But what about speech? Is that the same thing?

Interestingly enough, the answer is no. Speech is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as

The expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulate sounds

This is what children are exploring in the first 12-18months of life. How we engage with children at these times is critical to their language development and wellbeing. Talking with, responding to, and reading to your child are some of the easiest ways to encourage speech.

Language is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as

“The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way”

Language is a more advanced skill and includes concepts such as vocabulary, grammar and discourse (sentence structure). 

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