Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

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With good communication important to so many aspects of a life, parenting a child who finds this tricky can be a real challenge. Mum of one Jenna Farmer, whose son has a speech delay, discusses the rise in children who have speech and communication issues, and how families can best support them to help them thrive

Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

Whether it’s the first time you hear ‘mama’, or perhaps a shrill ‘NO!’, the memories made when your child begins to talk can be really exciting. But, for some parents, these milestones can take much longer to happen. If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and communication development, then you might have already spent some time on Google. But what does it actually mean, and how can you get the right support for your child? As a mum to a three-year-old who is speech delayed, I chat to the experts about the rise in children who need some help communicating.

What is speech and communication delay?

Speech and communication delay is a broad term that covers a range of different causes for why your child’s speech and communication skills may be late to emerge.

The term ‘delay’ can sound scary, but it’s really just a way for you to understand if your child needs a helping hand. What’s ‘normal’ can really vary, but there are a few key things to look out for which may help you figure out if your child might need support.

Speech therapist Joanne Jones explains: “In general, we advise reaching out to access support if you have an 18-month-old who isn’t babbling, or isn’t trying to get their message across; a two-year-old who isn’t putting words together; or a three-year-old who isn’t yet able to have a two-way conversation or tell you about their day.” If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, having a chat with your health visitor could be a good idea.

Why might a child experience speech and communication delays?

This current generation of school and nursery starters have experienced part of their lives in lockdown, and recent Ofsted reports have found the Covid pandemic could definitely impact key communication skills, with half of four-year-olds not ready for school. In fact, a survey from Kindred2 revealed that 91% of teachers say at least one child in their class does not have basic language skills.

It’s reassuring to hear I’m not the only one experiencing this as a parent. But why has it had such an impact?

“There’s definitely more children having difficulties right now – schools and nurseries that I attend have said they would previously have one or two children in their class with significant communication delays, and now it’s more like five or six. This definitely is partly due to lockdown, but from talking to parents, they were finding it very difficult to access early support during this time too,” says Joanne Jones, who runs The Can-Do Bootcamp, a support group for parents who are often waiting to access NHS therapy.


30 questions to help young people discover their passions

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When your child reaches life’s key crossroads – such as approaching GCSEs or further education – a good idea of what makes them tick makes the process a whole lot simpler

30 questions to help young people discover their passions

Can you relate to a moment when you were younger when something just clicked? Perhaps you picked up a new hobby, stumbled across a book about something you’d never heard of before, just happened to walk into the room when a fascinating documentary was on the television, or were sitting in a classroom and suddenly everything the teacher was saying made sense.

Finding the things that ignite our passion, dreams, and imagination can set us up for a lifetime of discovery, intrigue, and fulfilment. Of course, as you would expect, things we’re passionate about do change throughout our lives. But, for young people, having a clear idea of what brings them joy can make those key life crossroads (such as choosing GCSEs, further education courses, and careers) that much easier to navigate.

That said, sometimes nailing down precisely what that is can be a challenge. So, to help, we’ve gathered together 30 questions that you can use as prompts to help get the conversation started, and uncover their passion.

  1. Do you enjoy being challenged?

  2. Describe your perfect day.

  3. What is something that you could talk about for hours?

  4. Which people in your life do you admire, and why?

  5. What subject or activity do you most look forward to doing at the moment?

  6. What do you believe are your best qualities?

  7. Do you like working on your own, or with other people?

  8. Do you ever lose yourself in an activity and ignore the rest of the world?

  9. Describe a time you felt most proud of yourself.

  10. Are there any activities or subjects you find draining?

  11. If money were no object, what would your ideal career be?

  12. What is something that you have always wanted to try?

  13. What are five of your strengths?

  14. What are some of your favourite hobbies?

  15. If you couldn’t fail, what would you try?

  16. Do you feel any pressure to take a certain route in life?

  17. What do you need help with?

  18. Describe a perfect day at school.

  19. Have you ever watched a film, or read a book, that changed the way you think?

  20. What do you find easy?

  21. What do you want to be doing in five years' time?

  22. Have you ever enjoyed something that you didn’t think you were very good at?

  23. Is helping others important to you?

  24. What achievement would younger you be most proud of?

  25. What causes or charities are you passionate about, and why?

  26. Do you like doing practical, hands-on things?

  27. What is your favourite compliment to receive?

  28. Who do you find inspirational, and why?

  29. What do you want to get better at?

  30. If you could change something about the world, what would it be?

Interested in input from a professional? Youth life coaching could help. Connect with a professional using the Life Co

How to make healthy, nutritious (and delicious) kids' lunchboxes on a budget

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Making a healthy, filling, nutritious lunch your child wants to eat shouldn’t be stressful – or break the bank. We share tips and tricks to help keep costs down while ensuring you’re helping make healthy food choices for your kids

How to make healthy, nutritious (and delicious) kids' lunchboxes on a budget

School dinners have always had a bit of a bad reputation. Just try giving it a quick google: Why are school lunches… and you’ll get an autocomplete suggesting ‘so bad’. For many, the lack of variety and memories of past frozen, processed foods from our own childhood lunches make us wary of school dinners. As of April 2022, the average cost of a school dinner has reached £2.60 per day, making them a costly option for many families.

New research has revealed that packed lunches aren’t much better. According to research released by Starling Bank in September, the cost of kids’ packed lunches has increased by an eye-watering 70% since April 2021, from an average £1.40 to £2.37 per day. When you add in the additional time spent preparing lunches, cleaning up, and meal planning, not to mention the often strict school guidelines on what can and cannot be included in your child’s lunch, it can make preparing a daily lunchbox a stressful task.

With worries about the cost of living driving many families to cut back where they can, the rise in the cost of food feels like a double-edged sword. How are you supposed to give your child the best possible diet, without over-spending? The good news is, despite 41% of Brits associating healthy food with unaffordable prices, you can eat healthily for less. With a little bit of planning, getting back to basics, and trying top tips from nutrition experts, you can start making packed lunches a less stressful, more affordable option for the whole family.

What should be in a ‘school-approved’ packed lunch?

Making a packed lunch can be tricky. While the exact rules vary from school to school, many have banned items that were commonly considered as lunchbox staples. For parents with limited time and money, this can make lunches feel like a challenge.

It’s always worth checking with your school directly to ensure which foods are and aren’t allowed. Including banned foods can mean that part of your child’s lunch is confiscated, or they may be required to eat by themselves in another room. This can mean some kids may still feel hungry after lunch, as well as missing out on valuable time socialising with friends outside of the classroom.

Commonly banned foods can include:

  • chocolate or sweets
  • high-sugar yoghurts
  • crisps
  • anything containing nuts
  • cake or biscuits
  • fizzy drinks or squash
  • foods high in processed sugars
  • processed, packaged meat products (sausage rolls, store-bought pies or pasties)

Food also needs to be able to last until lunchtime without needing refrigeration and should be edible without the need for reheating.

But what is allowed in your child’s lunchbox? Schools often recommend:

  • at least one portion of fruit
  • at least one portion of vegetables
  • meat, fish or non-dairy

6 ways life coaching for mums and parents can help

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Becoming a parent can bring so much joy, but there can be challenges with this new chapter. Here, we explore how coaching can support you

6 ways life coaching for mums and parents can help

Any time we move into a new stage of life, there is a mixture of emotions that come with it. Even the most positive and joyful transitions like getting married, moving home or starting a family can be stressful. In fact, these are often cited as the most stressful moments in life.

If you have recently become a parent or are a parent-to-be, you may understand this only too well. For some, the transition can trigger mental health concerns including postnatal depression and even postnatal psychosis.

Speaking about the challenges of parenthood can feel taboo, however. With societal pressure to be grateful for what you have and for parenthood to be nothing but rewarding at all times. But, the truth is, many struggle. And even if your mental health isn’t severely affected, chances are you’re navigating a whole lot of change.

This is where, for some, coaching can provide a lifeline. Life coaching for mums and parents looks to help you identify the challenges you’re facing and find a way to move forward.

“Juggling motherhood whilst maintaining a sense of self and purpose can be a challenging prospect.” Transformative life coach Catherine Crawley explains in her article, Life coaching for mums and mums-to-be.

“Many women in today's society are often 'something for everyone', leaving them feeling frazzled, stressed, and often with a depleted sense of who they truly are in life. I am passionate about helping women come back to their real selves, taking responsibility for their self-care and needs in life without losing what the true essence of being a mum means to them.”

Here we take a closer look at some of the ways coaching can help parents.

1. Help you reconnect with your identity (and embrace new ones)

For many, the early days of parenthood are purely about the new arrival. Ensuring your baby is safe, healthy and cared for is top priority and anything else becomes background noise. While this is to be expected, over time that background noise comes back into focus and some parents experience a sense of lost identity.

Your lifestyle is likely very different from what it was before, and you may miss activities you did pre-baby. You may feel as though you have morphed into ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, and that this is all you are now.

Coaching can help you reconnect with your core values and beliefs, exploring what may have changed since becoming a parent, and what’s stayed the same. Your life won’t look the same as it did before, but a coach can help you remember who you are and embrace the changes as they come.

2. Help to overcome overwhelm and parental burnout

Speaking to parents about how they feel after becoming parents, a commonly used phrase is ‘overwhelmed’, and this isn’t unsurprising. Life turns upside down when you start a family, introducing a pile of responsibilities and life admin that can feel incomprehensible at times.

In time, this can lead to parental burnou

30 back-to-school affirmations for kids

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Support kids with the return to school, with these motivating and uplifting affirmations

30 back-to-school affirmations for kids

With the school holidays coming to an end, and the school gates looming, it’s only natural that children will experience a host of different emotions. Mixed in with excitement about seeing friends and returning to routines, children might also experience anxiety about the coming school term. With academic pressure, friendship rifts, and growing pains, school can be a challenging place to be, sometimes.

This is where affirmations come in. They’re short mantras or sayings that we can repeat to ourselves to reinforce a positive self-belief. They can be used any time, any place. They can be said out loud, or in our heads. And they’re short and sweet, so easy for children to memorise and use themselves.

The key to a great affirmation is finding one that resonates with the individual. But, to start you off, we’ve got 30 affirmations to help kids with the back-to-school transition.

1. I am safe

2. I can ask for help if I need it

3. It’s OK to take my time with problems

4. I am interesting

5. I am ready to learn

6. I have good ideas

7. I am a good friend

8. I deserve to be treated kindly

9. I am focused

10. It’s OK to get things wrong

11. If I am worried, I can tell an adult

12. I treat others with kindness

13. I am clever

14. My thoughts are important

15. I can say ‘no’ if I want to

16. I learn from my mistakes

17. I am curious

18. I am in control

19. My voice matters

20. I am calm

21. I am creative

22. I can try again

23. I am growing and learning

24. I am talented

25. I am loved

26. I am supported

27. I can do the things I put my mind to

28. I ask questions when I need help

29. I try my best

30. I grow a little more every day

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