Care Moments

Throughout a child’s day, children experience many moments of care between them and
their parent/educator/caregiver. These special moments are commonly referred to as routines, but at a much deeper level, these are sacred moments shared with a loving, respectful adult who is fully present and engaged in the moment. Care moments can be a change of nappy, sitting down to eat, getting dressed, being supported to sleep, or any other intimate moment that requires care for a child.

While engaging in care moments, we as adults need to be mindful of our own movements, slow down and ensure the child feels involved and respected. The child is then more engaged, and will enjoy spending this special time with you. Imagine attending a doctor’s appointment where the doctor checked you over with no thought about your feelings, no conversation, no care? How would this make you feel? It is the same with children.

♥ Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world – Brainwave Trust ♥

We need to ensure we give them the respect they deserve and show love and kindness.
When this happens, the child becomes emotionally satisfied and the relationship between the caregiver and the child is cemented in trust and reciprocity.

An emotionally satisfied child feels secure in themselves and is happy to explore, play, and be involved, as they know all their needs will be met from a responsive adult.

The presence of respectful care, natural unfolding, and offering an unhurried pace, is especially crucial in a child’s early learning stage when they are developing a sense of self, as well as making sense of the world around them.

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By offering choice and our calm respectful presence, we empower children and communicate that their needs, feelings, and interests are important and worthy of respect – setting them up for life-long learning and a healthy self-esteem.

Take a nappy change for example – it is estimated that a child may have up to 5,000 changes in their lifetime! Imagine if all these opportunities for relationship building and learning were wasted or lost? Inviting the child to transition from playing into a care moment is a way to show that you respect what they are doing in their play.

Imagine if you were deep in thought and someone whipped you away, and plopped you
on a nappy changing table. An invitation can be as simple as getting down  to the child’s level, asking them if they are ready to engage in the care moment, or simply outstretching your hands with palms facing up. This works particularly well with infants. All you need to do is simply pause and wait for a response, whether this is verbal or non-verbal.

A young child may shake their head and tell you they are not ready, whereas an infant may turn their body towards you or hold their hands out to you. By taking this approach, slowly in time, you will find you will begin to read children’s non-verbal cues, listen to what they are saying, and respect them as little people with feelings and emotions, just like us.

For infants, care and education are inseparable because valuable learning is taking place during routine care times and this learning is hindered if the child does not have a strong reciprocal and consistent relationship with the person who is caring for them. In being cared for, the infant is learning to care for others.

The Pikler Collection

A ritual or a routine? What is the difference?

A routine is something you HAVE to do. It does not have any thought, or love, and you end up on auto-pilot just doing something because you have to.

A ritual is something more meaningful, beautiful, well thought out, delivered with care, kindness, and something that children enjoy and want to be actively involved in.

If you think back to your own childhood, it is the rituals that are imprinted into your memory because it was something you looked forward to and enjoyed. It was special and meaningful.

cute child girl on cozy outdoor tea party in spring garden with

Do you  often smell a particular smell, or hear a particular song and it instantly takes you back to a joyful time? What was it that made it special? Think about when you have a bath. Do you just jump in, with the lights on? Or do you add in bubble bath, light candles, a face mask, and sink in to soak with a good book? How does this make you feel?

A ritual is something that happens regularly and is what you look forward to. This is the same for children in our care. Children don’t choose to be in care, and even though they are having a great time, it is up to us to take the boring every day and inject a little bit of sparkle and magic. After all, children deserve the best.

As educators, teachers, parents, and caregivers, we need to ensure every day is special and that children have something special to look forward to.

“It is not enough to say we love the child, they must feel the results of the care”
EMMI PIKLER

What does a ritual look like?

Rituals require a little bit of thoughtful planning and time, but they are easy and fun to introduce.

Meal times are one of the easiest ways to inject a bit of magic into the mundane. Imagine sitting down to lunch with just your lunch box on the table. BORING! How about taking the extra few minutes to be prepared and lay out a table cloth, some warm lavender infused flannels for washing the face, a beautiful centre-piece, some calm lighting, some herbal tea, and real crockery (yes glass).
Involve the children in this process also and let them help set the table. This allows children to contribute to their environment and gives them a sense a belonging within the group. You’ll be amazed at how the authentic conversations and sense of calm will follow!

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One-on-one rituals such as a nappy change or sleep time, can also be transformed from something clinical, to a time that a child looks forward to. Try singing the same special song, setting a relaxing environment, allowing the child to be involved, drawing the curtains, a special foot massage before bed, having a child’s special cuddly ready, essential oils in a diffuser or calming relaxing music. In the words of Kimberley Crisp… “It is about being prepared in head, heart, and hands”.

Written by Angela StoneRockmybaby