Today is Blue Monday, supposedly one of the most depressing days of the year, based on the weather, debt, time since Christmas, lack of motivation and many other factors. Undoubtedly, we probably all feel a little low at this time of year for a whole host of reasons. But for those people that genuinely suffer with depression every single day Blue Monday is just another day to them.
Depression in adults is a condition we’re all familiar with. Most adults have at some point felt mildly depressed and a surprising proportion of the population has suffered from clinical depression, whether treated or not. Although there is still a huge stigma around saying that someone as an individual is or has been depressed, it’s no longer the hidden condition it once was. Depression in children and teenagers, on the other hand, is much less widely acknowledged but potentially very serious.
What on earth do children have to be depressed about?
We may cast our minds back to the halcyon days of our own childhood and wonder what there is to become stressed and depressed about but firstly childhood was never that simple and secondly today’s children are facing an infinitely more complex world with shifting social norms, advancing technology and mounting media pressure. In Hollywood everyone is popular, rich and happy, the guy always gets the girl and we all live happily ever after. This can set up dangerous expectations for real life and if children can gorge on this constructed reality, they can end up feeling like they’ll never be good enough. If we’re honest with ourselves we were all anxious about school and schoolwork, keeping up with our friends and living up to parental expectations and today’s children are no different, even though the challenges they face are. It becomes more complicated when children become adolescents because the maelstrom of hormones, which leads to tears, tantrums, rage and rebellion, can mask depression – it all gets put down simply to being a teenager. It’s especially important at this time to watch out for anything out of the ordinary which continues over a lengthy period as it may point to a deeper issue.
How can I spot depression?
Knowing what is normal for your child or charge is key, and that can only be achieved by keeping the lines of communication open. It’s difficult when your efforts are met with angry rejection but keep letting them know you’re listening and do genuinely listen to what they say even if it seems insignificant to you. A constant refusal to communicate may be a sign that something is troubling them, but they don’t know how to talk to you about it. In this case be guided by your instincts and you may need to seek professional help along with your child. Although it may feel like a betrayal at the time, a child will get over that faster than untreated depression.
Surely my child is too young to be depressed.
In fact, depression can hit children as young as 2 or 3 years old so there’s no such thing as too young. The number rises sharply in adolescence, with girls twice as likely to suffer as boys at this point. Rest assured, depression in very young children is likely to be the result of physical or emotional trauma and rarely manifests in healthy children with a secure attachment to their parents. Children who are at risk of depression, be it from chronic illness or emotional disturbances in their life, are likely to be offered additional help, perhaps in the form of play therapy or counselling.
That said, although depression in children is rare it’s important to remember that it does still exist and shouldn’t be discounted because of age.
How can I prevent depression?
There is no one way to prevent depression but setting an example of a healthy, realistic lifestyle is a good start. Plenty of exercise and fresh air along with a good diet will help keep the brain’s chemistry in balance and ensuring plenty of time for relaxation and play is vital for relieving stress. Good communication skills lay the foundation for open and honest exchanges about emotions and will safeguard your relationship throughout the difficult teenage years. It’s never too early to talk to children, be honest with them and accept them for who they are, encourage them to express their feelings and give age-appropriate explanations for what they see in the world around them.
Get into the habit of looking for the good in life. At the end of the day encourage children to focus on the good things that have happened and consider encouraging older children who don’t want to be tucked in any more to keep a positivity journal. The act of reflecting on what has gone well prevents a spiral of negativity and a journal can be a source of encouragement when times get tough.
For more information please visit www.youngminds.org.uk
If your child is disabled, you may be entitled to get Direct Payments through your local authority.
The first step is to contact your local council and request an assessment. If the outcome is that the child is need of support, you will be given a personal budget.
The personal budget should cover employer’s national insurance, fees for payroll, pension costs and holiday pay.
If the child is already receiving support through the local council, but you would like to change to Direct Payment this is possible. It is up to you if you would like the council to take responsibility of the support or if you do (Direct Payments).
Like every child is different, every Nanny and Manny are different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are always prepared! Here are our top 10 essential items that every Nanny carries with them. What is your most essential item? Or What have we missed off our list?
- Mobile Phone with emergency contacts in – Mum, Dad, Grandparents, Neighbour, Doctor, Dentist, whoever is on your list make sure you have a plan of action if there is an emergency!
- Medical Information for each child. In the UK we have the Red Book which should contain all the vital info you need such as food allergies, medication, etc. But if you don’t have this then keep a note handy with all the details. If the child, you care for becomes ill the first questions you will be asked are ‘Is the child taking any medication’ ‘Does the child have any allergies’ Having this information to hand may save valuable time.
- First Aid Kit – You can buy a ready made one or simply carry the necessary items around with you such as Plasters, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, tweezers, gauze dressings, sterile eye dressings, crepe roll bandage, triangular bandage, disposable gloves.
- Tissues, wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
- Sunscreen and lip balm, even the most overcast days can require some protection from the sun, always better to be safe.
- Nappies (Or underwear if potty trained), Changing mat, wipes, cream disposable potty, – you never know when you might be caught out!
- Change of clothing, what child hasn’t rolled in the mud or been sick and needs to be changed.
- Healthy snacks – children are constantly hungry, ready prepared fruit, rice cakes, raisins, prepped veg and hummus. All great energy boosters if you have a flagging child.
- Bottled Water – Great for cleaning up a messy child or for a drink break through the day.
- Small toys and books, if you must queue, go on public transport of just keep a child occupied while you wait for something, having a toy or book handy will help deal with any boredom the child might feel.
Nursery-based childcare is a popular childcare choice. Although some families prefer the one-on-one, home (or home-from-home) based care that a nanny or childminder can provide, a nursery has benefits of its own. A nursery offers plenty of stimulation, an opportunity for children to develop social skills, and a structured environment that could help to prepare them for school later on.
Depending on where you live, there will probably be at least two or three nurseries to choose from. So how can you tell which one will be the best fit for your child and your family? Following are some important points to consider, and some tips to help you decide.
All registered childcare providers are required to be OFSTED inspected and regulated. The OFSTED reports of a nursery will tell you how well the nursery has scored in its last inspection, its strong points and its weak points. You can also ask to view any of the nursery’s written policies (there will be lots of them) to get an idea of how the nursery is run.
Observe an ordinary day
All of the OFSTED reports and written policies in the world can’t replace seeing how a nursery actually runs, day-to-day. Ask to come to the nursery for a couple of hours one day and simply observe. Watch how the staff interact with the children, how squabbling is dealt with, and how enthusiastic the staff are about their jobs. See what activities are available for the children to participate in, and what the daily routine is like.
Safety & security
How secure is the nursery? What rules do they have about picking up & dropping off? Are visitors required to sign in? Beyond security measures, how are the children kept safe whilst at the nursery? Ask to see their health and safety policy.
Access to outdoors
What is the nursery’s policy about outdoor time? Is the outside space safe, secure and suitable for all age groups? Can the children play outside whenever they want to, or is outside play limited to specific times?
Food and drink
Do the nursery provide meals for the children? If so, what is their typical menu? Do they cater to children with special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, dairy-free and halal? Are you allowed to provide your own meals and snacks for your child? If you are breastfeeding, make sure that the nursery staff are trained in the storage and correct handling of expressed breast milk.
Starting at a nursery can be an uncertain time for a child, no matter how old they are. It is likely to be a very different environment than they are used to, and it may take time for them to settle in. Find out how the staff can help with this, and what their policy is on allowing parents to stay with children whilst they settle in. Some nurseries will be more than happy to allow parents to stay with their children for as many sessions as it takes for the child to feel confident, whereas others will have a set limit. Find a nursery that fits with what you are comfortable with – you should never feel as though you are being forced to leave your child when they aren’t ready.
If you have provided nanny with private use of a car, you need to inform HMRC straightaway. The quickest way is to complete a form P46 car
By notifying them straightaway, they will reduce nanny’s tax code the month she is given the car.
Failure to tell them when she has the car, will mean her tax code will be coded incorrectly causing an under payment.
Even though you have notified HMRC of the car via a P46 car, you will need to complete a P11d and pay Class 1A National Insurance on the benefit amount.
Please see link below
Christmas is the perfect time to rekindle your child’s love of books and reading.
Children’s Christmas books are filled with happiness, wonder and strong morals. Reading is a simple, easy activity that can be enjoyed by children of all ages, no matter the weather.
Encourage them to learn by reading aloud or helping them to read along.
What are you waiting for? Pick up a book today and spark their imagination.
See below for our recommended top 5 festive children’s books!