Young kids are like sponges, biologically ready from day one to soak up as many lessons about the world and their place in it as their minds can possibly squeeze in. From the very first moment they open their eyes, a child’s brain is firing, building connections and an understanding of how things work. As parents and carers, we are in the privileged position of being able to shape their perception of reality. If we nourish not only their bellies, but their imaginations and hearts too, we are setting our kids up for ultimate health and happiness.
Here are some simple suggestions for ways you can nourish the hearts and minds of little ones close to you…
Sensory rich experiences
Little fingers love to touch! The need to experience the world by exploratory touch is a normal and important part of a child’s development. Our sense of touch forms one of the core senses, with many other important functions like visual perception, body awareness and social/ emotional development dependent on it.
Try… setting up a discovery box full of different textures for your little one to play with. Natural fibres like wood, cotton, silk and wool all feel beautiful and are easily sourced. Smooth pebbles, tree bark and dry food items like beans, lentils, corn and rice are all accessible options to include too.
Preschoolers will enjoy getting their hands messy in taste-safe ‘Cloud Dirt’. Simply mix flour with coconut oil in a ratio of 8:1 (8 cups flour to 1 cup of oil), sprinkle in enough cocoa powder to colour your taste-safe ‘dirt’ and mix! The ‘dirt’ can be moulded into mini-mountains or pretend rocks and used to create small worlds with tiny animal figurines. Store in the fridge so that the cool temperature adds another elements of sensory stimulation
Sparking their imagination with beautiful books & stories
Stories are one of the easiest ways to connect with your little ones. The very ritual of snuggling up with a book, reading the words out loud and taking in beautiful illustrations together is soothing and calming for children. Extend upon the experience by actively discussing the events of the book, tie it back to similar experiences the child may have had or wonder together about ‘what if…’. Starting this ritual from a young age will instil a love of literature and set kids up for a lifetime of losing themselves in good books.
Try… sharing stories from when you were young! Young children in particular will feel connected to you and sharing your stories gives them a point of reference for how to handle their own unique situations and experiences. Share with them tales from your own childhood; the things you loved, the adventures you had. Doing so will help them to build a narrative for their own lives.
Making everyday moments magical
Even for a child, life contains daily rhythms and rituals that can become ho-hum. By taking those everyday moments and transforming them into something magic, we have the chance to create a special memory with very little effort.
Try… switching nightly bath time for a soothing Coconut & Lavender Flower Soak. Simply fill the tub with warm water and add in 1 can of organic coconut milk, 2-5 drops of your favourite essential oil (we love Lavender for it’s relaxing properties before bed!), a cup of Epsom salts and then scatter fresh or dried flower petals over the entire bath to create a fragrant and magical bath time experience. They’ll feel like fairy Kings and Queens!
Try… taking dinner outside for a picnic under the stars. When the weather permits, simply relocating dinnertime to a new setting can feel exciting and magical for young children. Head outside with a picnic rug, some soft cushions and blankets and enjoy dinner alfresco, picnic-style, all from the convenience of your own backyard or deck!
The beauty of these experiences lies in the fact that, once kids have experienced a little magic, it makes it easy for them to spot it everywhere.
Jacquie Ward, The Brave Space
Jacquie Ward is a Postgraduate Psychology student with a special interest in Developmental Psychology. When she’s not studying, you’ll find her being Mum to two busy little boys or working as an ABA/ Play Therapist for young children on the Autism Spectrum or those with behavioural support needs. If she’s not doing that, there’s a good chance you’ll find her drinking coffee or escaping to yoga class for a hit of peace amongst the happy chaos that is her life.
Jacquie runs The Brave Space with her Sister/ best friend, Kiersten. It’s an online haven dedicated to offering resources for resilience and enhancing the emotional wellbeing of young children. They are the creators of Brave Oil, a special formulation designed to be used in boosting children’s confidence and self-belief.