The headline ‘Pupils as young as four having panic attacks.‘ Wow, that makes me sad. Seriously, what kind of a world are we living in? Teachers reporting stressed out kids is nothing new, but at 4?? This has got to be addressed. And you know what one of the causes is? Social media. I tell you, social media is turning us into stressed out, unhappy individuals. Are the panicked ones the kids that are plastered all over social media to show everyone else how great their lives are? Are they the kids that go to every extra-curricular activity so a selfie of the kid with a certificate can be shared to the world? As teenagers, are the stressed ones the ones that just can’t complete with the fake world of social media?
Obviously it’s not all as clear cut as that as factors at home, relationships, friendships etc cause anxiety, and some kids have such chaotic lives they are simply out of anyone’s control. I also totally note the irony of me writing this on here, but social media is something that we can control. Carve out some quiet time. Do something retro like read a book. Switch your phone off for a short time every day and just feel the stress ebb away. It’s a gift you could pass on to your kids as well. Remember, when they are little, they want to do everything that you do. If you’re on your phone all day, they’ll think that’s the norm. If you read a book, that instead will become the everyday. I’m not saying switch off all together, but just let it have less impact in our lives. You never know, reading could be something your kids turn into a lifelong passion. Not something that you can say about the fleeting, ever changing world of social media.
I can imagine in every household with pre-school aged children there will be a toy box. I reckon much less, however, have a book box. And for today, that is all I’m proposing. You might not be a reader yourself so you wouldn’t naturally have a bookshelf, but a book box, with only say 10 books in it, is a great way to introduce little ones to books. Babies see books as toys as they are so colourful, can be handled (and chewed) without breaking, and by turning the pages themselves they feel they are doing something truly grown-up. Now these books don’t have to be brand new, in fact the more loved the better. If you fancy the idea, then a quick trip to your local charity shop can sort you out in minutes, and what’s really handy is that once read they can be swapped back. You could use library books, or if you did fancy investing in a few then head out to an independent bookshop where the owner will be a mine of information on what’s out there. It’s also a fab few hours out of the house, as most have a café where you can also stop for a coffee and a chat. In those long first few months with a baby I can’t tell you how lovely it is to talk to another adult! For toddlers there are often pens and paper out to doodle on, and they often host their own story telling events, all great ways to encourage a love of stories.
Now, once the book box is open for business, make sure it’s on the floor so that your little one can have a play around themselves. Let them get them out, feel the pages and look at the pictures. It really is a treat to see a child fascinated by a story. Once this is enjoyed then the fear of books is already lost! They become an every day object, which is seen as a plaything rather than a chore. You of course can also share the activity by reading together. And the best bit? Books have an ending so if you are a busy Mum, you can set a natural time limit even before you start. (Always useful, especially at bedtime when you’ve got your sights set on Corrie and a cold glass of wine. Don’t worry; I am a huge advocate of missing a few pages out if you’ve been on your feet since 6am!)
(I’ve had loads of fun routing through all our books, have a look at the menu above for some ideas!)