Wendy White discusses supporting social, emotional and mental health (SEMH).

Could you start by introducing yourself?

I’m a 63-year-old retired Child Minder from Maidenhead in Berkshire. I started childminding in 2000 and have seen a lot of changes, from being under the wing of social services to being under the wing of Ofsted. I embraced the changes and my business thrived, with three Outstanding grades! In 2018, I was thinking of retiring but I wasn’t sure of which direction to take. It was actually my Ofsted inspector who suggested that I market the little set of emotion stars that I had made and had been using for my children’s personal, social and emotional development!

Why is SEMH so important and how do you support this?

I don’t believe that children can be fulfilled, happy or able to learn without good SEMH. Coming from an abusive background, my siblings and I struggled without any emotional wellbeing in our formative years. We had no support at our schools; emotional wellbeing hadn’t been ‘invented’ then!

I think that it’s important for all children to be able to talk about their emotions and feelings at school and children’s organisations so that they feel able to share how they’re feeling as well as develop empathy for others.

I supported this throughout my child-minding years with activities that included talking about and sharing feelings and using books and props like my yellow felt stars depicting different emotions.

How can educators and parents support children with their emotional literacy and self-regulation?

There are many ways, here are two of them:

Label the emotion that the child is showing:
“I can see you’re sad that we can’t go to McDonald’s.”
“I can see you’re angry because Jake broke your truck.”
“You’re smiling – you look happy about Daddy coming home early.”

Modelling your own emotions in front of your child:
“I’m sad I didn’t get that client today.”
“I’m excited to visit Grandma. I’ve missed her.”

Self-regulation comes from co-regulation. If you don’t teach a child or give them the tools to show them how to calm down, take breaths, wait their turn, share nicely and release their anger in a safe way – they won’t know what to do or how to do it.

On your website, you also have cognitive stimulation for the elderly. Can you tell us more?

This came about during the first lockdown when many of our older generations were having to self-isolate and not have any visitors. The stars were originally a communication tool for them so that they could tell their family how they were feeling by holding up a relevant star. They were so popular that care homes decided to buy them and wanted some activities for their clients to use. The soft feel of the stars evoked happy memories for those with the onset of dementia. They are for everyone from 9 months to 90 years old!

Author

  • Wendy White

    Wendy is the CEO of My Mood Stars and was previously a Childminder. She is married with three grown-up kids and has a love of Early Years teaching, and supporting children with SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) needs.
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