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Supporting young children in times of stress

In this video Carly and Paul Ramchandani, LEGO Professor of Play in Education at PEDAL will talk about how to mitigate the effects of stress in ECD
Hi everybody, welcome back. In this step I would like to welcome Paul Ramchandani, who is the Lego Professor of play at the Pedal Research Center at Cambridge University in the UK. And he’s going to help us understand, how we can mitigate the effects of stress on early childhood development. So we’re learning that the experiences children have during their first years of life provides scaffolding for their later health and well being. Doesn’t guarantee a perfect life, but it does provide a strong foundation for them to build on. In the previous step, we explored how stress and change can affect social and emotional development and how this can impact physical and mental health now and in the future.
And we’re seeing that it’s easier and more effective to support early development than it is to fix problems that arise later in life. Which is why the promotion and response strategies that we talked about with Rena and Ashley in Unit 3 are so important. So, Paul, what can we do to support babies and young children who might be experiencing stress? Can you give us the overview? So, we can support children by providing that consistent and responsive care and ensuring that they are exposed to lots of positive early experiences. In the step we’ll talk about some of the ways we can do this by firstly providing a safe and secure environment.
Secondly, by providing an enriching environment through paying attention to child signals. 3rd, by engaging in back and forth interactions and then finally fourth, be by providing children with routines. And if we think of this in terms of the change clouds, we can imagine a young child sat alone, surrounded by big stormy clouds. And these clouds represent the change and stress that they might be experiencing. This is really scary. And might prevent them from playing and learning as they normally would. And if we now imagine a sensitive and caring adult acting as an umbrella and sheltering them from the effects of stress and change and intern supporting their healthy early development.
I love that you brought up the change cloud and now I want to dive a little bit deeper into everything you mentioned through the lens of the different types of adults in a childs life. So, can we start with parents and caregivers who are with children in the home? Yeah, so as parents and caregivers you can offer support and protection by providing a safe and secure environment. It’s important that we provide babies and toddlers with this space, so that they feel confident to safely explore. And having that supportive and sensitive care and security allows a child to have the security to learn about their environment and recognize safe spaces and people. And second, we provide an enriching environment.
And parents and carers can do that, by paying attention to their child signals. That’s weather what the child says, but also the child’s behavior and responding to that in a warm and caring way. And this allows the child to know that they can rely on the parent for care and comfort, and it also helps you find opportunities for fun and enriching in interactions. And then thirdly, as discussed earlier in this unit, back and forth responsive interactions are essential for children’s development. So, ensure you’re providing your child with options for positive and playful interactions and simple games like playing peekaboo or singing nursery rhymes with your baby are great examples of this.
And fourth, the routines also provide babies and young children with a sense of comfort. That consistency helps them to feel safe and to learn to trust that their caregiver will provide what they need. And those routines, help them to predict what’s going to happen next, which gives them a sense of security too. That doesn’t mean you have to stick to a really strict routine, but it does help to have some consistency. For example, regular mealtimes or being able to put a regular time aside every day to either play with your child or be with your child.
Great, so what about the other adults in a childs life? The educators, practitioners? How do all of those things that you mentioned at the top apply to them? So other adults within the lives of children for the ones you mentioned practitioners, childcare professionals, other family members, they can support young children, both by working with them being with them directly, but also by supporting families and communities that surround children. And the same four principles apply. So, providing a safe and secure environment. Secondly, an enriching environment by paying attention to the childs cues. Thirdly, engaging in those back and forth interactions and supporting those back and forth interactions and fourthly through routines.
So, of course preschool and nursery stuff already do lots of this and support healthy development in early childhood. In addition to that, those professionals might also be in a good place, identified children and families who might need a little extra support and then direct them to that support. So that children can get that help when they’re still very, very young or families can get that even before children are born. One way in which that can happen is through programs for parents, and those can support parent and caregiver mental health. And provide advice and help for parents on how to do some of these things, so parents and caregivers can learn about responsive caregiving.
They can be helped to understand and recognize their child’s cues. Can think about what the child might be trying to communicate through those cues. And then respond to their child in an appropriate and sensitive way. And this helps caregivers to recognize their child’s needs and helps them to building a trusting relationship. And in turn that relationship helps children to build healthy social and emotional skills and also resilience to distress.
Well, thank you so much. It sounds like there actually are a lot of ways that adults can support little ones who are experiencing stress and change. Absolutely there are lots of roles to adults can play, weather it is caregivers and parents or as professionals and family around parents in ensuring that stressful experiences have the least impact by providing young children with responsive and sensitive care in a secure environment, they are much more likely to grow up and develop into healthy children and healthy adults. Paul, thank you so much, this has been really helpful.

In this step, we will hear from Paul Ramchandani, LEGO Professor of Play in Education at PEDAL, how will talk about some of the ways that you can support babies and young children during times of stress and change. He will provide you with some strategies and examples of simple but effective interactions that you can start using with children in your everyday lives straight away!

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Coping with Changes: Social-Emotional Learning Through Play

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