I have developed this 15 minute video as part of October’s Selective Mutism awareness month. It was developed to support families and teaching staff to have a quick video to share with others that talks through the communication and education related difficulties experienced by individuals with Selective Mutism and to give quick and easy tips to follow for those new to the condition. I hope this helps to spread awareness about Selective Mutism and in particular support transition meetings for students heading into a new class or school.
I have so many families telling me that their picky eaters are really struggling at the moment with the loss of hot school dinners due to COVID-19 restrictions. Changing to cold foods is too big a step for these children in one go and the result is they are struggling to eat much at all during the school day.
If your child will only eat warm foods at the moment. Don’t despair. You can still send their warm foods in for their pack lunch using a trusty thermos!
Just heat the foods in the morning, pop them in a wide rimmed thermos, tightly seal that lid and their chicken nuggests will be warm until lunch!
When working with children with worries, especially Selective Mutism, behaviours are just the tip of the iceberg! To support lasting behaviour change we need to help our children with what’s going on underneath the surface. We also need to help our children plan how they are going to tackle their worries in a way that is “a just right challenge” this means using small steps, acknowledging fears and doing ‘with’ not ‘for’. This ensures that instead of enabling avoidance (which makes anxiety and behaviours worse) we are able to encourage engagement and success at that “just right” level.
Children and teens can struggle with stress, worry and anxieties which can mean they struggle to concentrate on academic tasks or they play out their worries in other ways e.g. withdrawing, aggression towards others, silliness.
Children sometimes need help to make sense of these big feelings. A worry box provides a safe place for children to put their worries so that they can focus their attention on other things. The worry box takes care of the worries until there is time to talk about them or until they are no longer something to worry about.
Download this handout for tips on how to get started with a worry box in your home! If you are interested in how to develop one at school get in touch via https://www.eatspeechtherapy.co.uk/contact-us/
Resharing this helpful infographic from @phoenixplace
My take on it is that anxiety can present itself in many ways. Our children may appear worried and scared OR they may be using delay tactics or oppositional behaviour to avoid things they are worried about! However, the anxiety is presenting itself, anxiety and worry are BIG feelings that children experience and need our help to process.
Our little humans are sponges! They soak up more than we know and in this crazy world at the moment they are processing so many things!If we are witnessing another “meltdown”, “withdrawal” or incidence of “bad behaviour” try to take a step back and consider what might have been bubbling under the surface.
In my favourite podcast @planitmum this week we talked about mealtimes tantrums and difficulties getting our little humans to the table to eat!
To target this, we first need to be able to put ourselves in our wee ones shoes. Toddlers attention span is short, think 3-5 minutes for each year of their life. So, sitting at the table for anything longer than 15 minutes if you are a three-year old can feel like an eternity. There can also be many underlying reasons for why a child does not want to come to the table to eat – not hungry, too hungry, too tired, feeling unwell, teething, underlying health issues that make eating certain foods unpleasant and/or painful… the list goes on. So, refusal to come to the table may actually be covering a range of issues and as such we must approach it calmly and consistently with a plan.
There are soooo many benefits to eating at the table, particularly for our picky eaters! They are exposed to foods that they may not be eating (which in turn can help them learn to like these foods!); they engage in the social aspect of mealtime which in turn helps to increase enjoyment and it is incredibly helpful for building structure around meals and snacks. However, it can also be really difficult to get around the table so if the perfect family dinner times aren’t working for you right now. Shed that Mum guilt and know that mealtimes are complex for our little humans! Below are some steps that can support you to gradually move towards more meals at the table!
Picky eating can be so frustrating for us parents. This is a especially the case when our little (and not so little ones’) preferences are unpredictable. We go to all the effort of making something we are sure they’re going to like, we’ve done the family style meal thing, we think we’ve nailed the weekly snacks and then they decide they don’t want a bar of anything we put in front of them!
Thankfully there are also many things we can do that can help make day-to-day mealtimes more enjoyable as well as prevent the normal picky eating phase from snowballing into longer lasting difficulties. One of these things is how we talk to our children about foods. That is, both the foods that they will eat as well as the foods that they are LEARNING to eat.