Workbench...

Welcome to the EASEY course for early years professionals.


  • early childhood educators 
  • StrongStart BC facilitators and staff
  • family drop-in program facilitators
  • primary school educators 
  • public health nurses
  • therapists 
  • college and university educators and researchers 
  • post-secondary students in early childhood–related programs
  • other early years professionals 
The course is self-paced and will take approximately three hours to complete. It consists of six sections:
  • Learning outcomes here?
  • Learning outcomes here?
  • Learning outcomes here?
  • Learning outcomes here?
  • Learning outcomes here?
Definition of ‘parent’ For the purpose of this course, the term ‘parent’ will be used to encompass any person who takes up a primary or shared responsibility in raising a child. This may include, for example:
  • biological and adoptive parents,
  • stepparents,
  • foster caregivers, and
  • kinship care providers, including out-of-care arrangements.
Thankfully, we can draw from brain science, mental health research and cultural teachings to find ways to protect the young minds and hearts of children, and have a positive impact on them as they grow.

When a child senses a real (or imagined) disconnection from their primary sources of attachment, their brain can go on high alert. Of course, many times this is just a false alarm. A caregiver might just be exhausted, distracted by work, or less emotionally available when being pulled in many directions. Regardless, a young brain is wired to be alerted to “threat cues” that indicate, rightly or wrongly, that their needs may not be met.

When caregiving is inconsistent or not addressing deeper needs, a child may become more stressed as their brain frequently returns to this survival mode. As a result, a child might internalize the incorrect message that there must be something wrong with them, or that they must work harder to be loved and cared for.

From birth to 18 months, young children must have interactions with caregivers that nurture and strengthen the security of attachment. This will avoid creating imbalances in the brain architecture that may lead to anxiety and fear.

(Infant and Early Mental Health Promotion, SickKids)

Definition of ‘parent’ For the purpose of this course, the term ‘parent’ will be used to encompass any person who takes up a primary or shared responsibility in raising a child. This may include, for example:
  • biological and adoptive parents,
  • stepparents,
  • foster caregivers, and
  • kinship care providers, including out-of-care arrangements.

Co-regulation also looks like:

  • slowing down
  • soft face and warm gaze
  • lowering ourselves to the child’s level
  • pausing, and using fewer words

Co-regulation sounds like (sometimes said internally):

  • “I see you”
  • “I’m listening”
  • “I’m here”
  • “You’ve got this”
  • “We’ll get through this”
Pause:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Stretch a little on the spot
  • Yawn or stretch
  • Shake your arms a little
  • Count to 10, or count backwards from 10
  • Do some positive self-talk
 
Validate:
  • “It’s nice and quiet over here. Sometimes it’s hard to go into the snack room when there’s a lot of noise.”
  • “It’s really hard to leave when we’re having fun.”
  • “You seem excited to finish building your castle.”
  • “You had a plan to build a really big castle before snack, and you’ve run out time.”
Adapt:
  • “Would you like to bring a block with you to table?”
  • “Would you like to tell me about how you are going to build your castle at the snack table?”
  • “How many more blocks do you need to add before snack? 100 would take a long time. Let’s add five more blocks before we go for snack.” (Show five fingers and put one down for each block.)

Behaviourally inhibited and sensitive children can get upset when routines are disrupted. When possible, stay curious and look beyond the tears and clingy behaviour to the way the child’s nervous system is getting overwhelmed. The child is desperately trying to feel safe again.

Use “previewing” to give them a heads-up about what is going to happen, or any changes: “We are going to walk to the library tomorrow after snack and we will stay for about three stories.”

Referring to visual daily schedules through the day can reduce anxiety by providing structure and predictability.

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In a Nutshell

  • Not all stress is harmful. With caregiver support, moderate levels of short-term stress build capacity to cope with future stress.
  • Fight-flight-freeze responses are automatic and an attempt to gain more control and safety.
  • Be curious about what is underneath a behaviour. What need is the child trying to communicate without words?
  • Look for patterns and possible triggers of stress.
icon_nutshell

In a Nutshell

Most stress doesn’t feel good. However, learning how to cope with moderate levels of stress and adversity is an important part of healthy early development. Short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth and help children build their confidence and learn how to cope with larger stressors in the future.
What were your body clues or signs of anxiety when you were a young child?
Tips to support a more cautious child
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Nature-based activities to help with stress
  • Watch fish swimming or birds flying.
  • Do a nature scavenger hunt or a nature walk.
  • Invite children to help you grow and tend a garden outside or in planters. Attract interesting bugs to watch. Gardening has known calming benefits.
  • Do an art activity outside for a change of scene. Use sidewalk chalk.
  • Blow bubbles outside. This has the built-in bonus of requiring deep breathing, a known way to relieve stress.
  • Invite children to take a few slow breaths, and then have them use their senses one at a time to identify:
  • one thing they can see
  • one thing they can feel
  • one thing they can hear
  • one thing they can smell
  • Prompt children to:
  • find something that feels soft or prickly
  • find something that smells good or bad
  • listen carefully and raise their hand when they hear a bird song, or when they feel a breeze on their cheek
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These two toggles below are samples that MCF wanted to see – the icon aligned left with text wrapping, and aligned right, but at a slightly larger size. At this point they are not used in the course.

Bravery requires that we be willing to intentionally face the discomfort of fear because of some desired outcome on the other side of it. Facing the scary thing on purpose is hard for all of us, and especially for young children, who can’t coach themselves through it yet. Though you may begin to see small glimpses of bravery in five- and six-year-olds, most young children have not yet developed the ability to override a strong and automatic fear response, as they can only feel one strong emotion at a time.

As adults, we know that fears can persist when we avoid things as a way to cope. We also know that overcoming a fear usually means gradually facing what we are afraid of. Unfortunately these ideas are not an easy sell for young children, and reason and logic and even incentives are not going to be much help at this age.
Bravery requires that we be willing to intentionally face the discomfort of fear because of some desired outcome on the other side of it. Facing the scary thing on purpose is hard for all of us, and especially for young children, who can’t coach themselves through it yet. Though you may begin to see small glimpses of bravery in five- and six-year-olds, most young children have not yet developed the ability to override a strong and automatic fear response, as they can only feel one strong emotion at a time. As adults, we know that fears can persist when we avoid things as a way to cope. We also know that overcoming a fear usually means gradually facing what we are afraid of. Unfortunately these ideas are not an easy sell for young children, and reason and logic and even incentives are not going to be much help at this age.

Toggles below this point are not approved – they are just the result of my experimenting and testing in Learndash. 

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
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