Shying away


A new study reveals that a major concern for parents of children age birth to three years is that their child will grow up shy. In the survey commissioned by children’s brand Stokke, a third of parents (30 per cent) said their child’s timidness was a cause for their concern.

In addition, around 1 in 4 parents were worried about their child not being able to stand up for themselves and anxious about their child being able to make friends. Nearly a third (31 per cent) of parents believe confidence is the most important characteristic for their child to develop, followed by kindness (22 per cent) and being well-mannered (14 per cent). Over half (57 per cent) recognised socialising/making friends as fundamental components in early years development.

Child therapist and broadcaster Kate Silverton, who is working with Stokke to help alleviate parental concerns around child development, shares her tips to raise a confident and happy child:

There’s no such thing as naughty

Understanding the science that explains how our children’s brains develop, and how that shapes their behaviour reveals they’re not naughty, they’re just trying to communicate how they feel and what they’re thinking, in the only way they know how. Children have very immature brains at this stage so we cannot judge them by our own standards, it’s an entirely unfair comparison!

Trust that you are your child’s best toy

Parents don’t need to feel pressure to buy lots of educational toys. Science confirms what Nature already knows: our children don’t need to be ‘doing’ in these early years. They need to ‘be’ and parents are more powerful than they know. I always say the best toy for a baby is the parent’s face. Every look, every smile, every interaction is stored in your baby’s memory bank, building up connections that will help children to read emotional and physical cues later in life.

Help your child regulate emotions

Emotional self-regulation is a crucial skill that all children need to learn. It’s far more important at this age than any traditional educational achievement. Helping a child to learn how to manage their big emotions is one of the best investments you will ever make for your child. We can do that when we welcome all emotions - even and especially anger! Rather than dismiss our children as ‘naughty’ we must reframe tantrums as a sign that our children are experiencing emotional overwhelm and need help to come back to calm.

Play, play, play!

The eminent neuroscientist, Jack Panksepp, was very clear on this… the best thing you can do for your child’s education is to get down on the floor and play with them. Your delight and attention is all the education your child needs. At this age we want to focus on building a good sense of self and a healthy esteem.

Put the phone aside

Being mindful of our screen time, especially in front of young children, is vital. Your child needs to see your face peering at them from the pram or dinner table ­ not the back of a phone. Putting away our phones in front of our children will go a long way to building strong connections and ensuring healthy brain development.