My Child Has An Imaginary Friend

The truth about imaginary friends

Did you know that around 65% children from pre-school to age 7 have created an imaginary friend at one time or another. Most imaginary friends are moved on after about 6 months and the majority of children have lost them by the time they start school. Imaginary friends are perhaps unsurprisingly most common amongst eldest and only children.

Imaginary friends can take many forms. Generally speaking however imaginary friends are either objects such as dolls or teddy bears or an invisible imaginary person. A study at the University of Oregon found that where children have an imaginary friend that is personified as a doll or teddy they tend to have a parent like relationship whereas if the imaginary friend is invisible, the relationship is more egalitarian. The study also found that boys tended to only create male imaginary friends where as girls would create both male and female companions.

It can be common for parents to be concerned about the creation of an imaginary friend. After all adults don’t have them! And it is perhaps this lack of understanding from adults that means parental concern grows. Well as you have already read above, first of all it is very normal.

Unstructured time alone is a big factor in children creating imaginary friends. This is why it is most common for only children to engage in this sort of activity. The obvious solution is that the child needs to spend more time in the company of other children. Well there can be no doubt that children interacting with other children is a good thing as it allows them to develop their social interaction skills. But an imaginary friend is good practise for children. Research by Yale University found that children with imaginary friends have richer vocabularies and get along better with their classmates. Therefore it is also unsurprising that they are better able to show empathy as they find it easier to imagine what others are thinking.

Children can create imaginary friends for a variety of reasons. The most basic reason is simply they find it fun. Subconsciously children are also creating them to practice fledgling social skills.  At times a child may create an imaginary friend to provide reassurance at times of stress or change. If a child feels powerless, they may create someone simply to give them control and have someone to boss around.

The study from the University of Oregon discovered that 99% percent of children are aware that their friend is imaginary and not real. Touchingly only one child remained adamant that their friend was real.

An imaginary friend can become a valued part of any family. Parents should relax and enjoy it, and take the opportunity to ask questions about the friend as it will undoubtedly present them with unprecedented access to their child’s inner most thoughts and feelings. Parents just need to be careful that they do not allow the imaginary friend to take over family life, or their child misses real experience because they are too engaged with with their imaginary friend. Most of all parents must make sure that their child is developing relationships with real friends.

Most children will lose their imaginary friends as they start school. These sort of relationships are not socially acceptable and so the child will make the decision to move on  themselves. If a child however, is withdrawing to spend time with their imaginary friend at the expense of real life parents should consider consulting a professional to determine if the child has any underlying fears, concerns or anxieties.

YogaBugs actively encourages imagination. At a YogaBugs class children do not simply do yoga poses they imagine themselves as lions or pirates. Imagination is a truly wonderful thing and every effort should be made to encourage it. At YogaBugs even imaginary friends are welcome.

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Concentration develops over time

Inspiring children since 2006

YogaBugs develops children’s concentration

 

 

My child won’t do as they are told

 At YogaBugs we work with children aged 3-12 years old. However we not only work with the children but also the parents. Our regular contact with parents mean that our instructors often feedback and we notice some interesting trends.

One of the most common trends is that “my child struggles to concentrate.” Sometimes parents are so worried by this perceived problem that they are almost reluctant to let their child participate in a class. They are concerned their child is ‘not ready’ “Sean doesn’t always follow instructions’, or ‘Faye will often just do want she wants and that will ruin the class.’

The concern these parents have for how their child may have a negative impact on the class for others is commendable but at YogaBugs we have great news for them. All children struggle to concentrate. We are able to tell parents ‘Your concerns are totally normal and we have done the research to make sure our classes develop this part of the brain.’

Toddlers and young children’s brains work differently to those of fully grown adults. Amazingly adults can find this a very difficult concept to grasp. The truth is toddlers and young children are so interested and excited in their surroundings that their innate desire to explore the world around them means that sitting in one place for an extended period of time is of little interest to them. Young children are notoriously self-directed, quite simply they have not yet developed their brains to fully understand social norms. A young child is still developing their emotional intelligence and as such they lose the urge to stay involved once their interest has faded.

We love this about young children. At YogaBugs we work with children to help them retain this fascination with the world and we believe it is our job to be entertaining and inspire the child to engage throughout the whole session. Yes young children may struggle to sit and listen for extended periods of time, but YogaBugs engages their imagination and keeps them busy physically.

Developing the ability to concentrate

 Young children are constantly on the move and with boundless energy move quickly from one activity to the next. They have so much energy they are actually hit with an overwhelming urge to move onto something else. Again this is almost incomprehensible to adults.

As a child matures their attention span develops and matures over time.

Passive to active. – When your child was a baby they could only look at and interact with objects directly in their line of sight. As a toddler they then develop the ability to look around and choose objects. As they continue to grow they will begin to make choices. It is then up to the adult to help the child make the right decisions.

Unsystematic to systematic searching. –  A baby will just gaze at objects in a haphazard way and then put the other end in their mouth. As a baby becomes a toddler it will begin to investigate the object systematically and methodically. As they continue to grow, they will begin to make choices on what they search for, becoming more able to discern what is and what is not of interest to them.

Broad to selective. – A baby struggles with filtering out other sources of information. Toddlers however are able to concentrate more selectively. Eventually children are able to multi-task, after all even young children can play a DS and watch television at the same time.

What can parents do to help improve concentration?

 

  • Minimise distractions
  • Avoid games and television that foster short attention spans
  • Actively encourage children to look for things
  • Create a quiet area
  • Keep the house tidy
  • Develop with the child, as a child progresses so must the parent
  • Encourage use of eye contact

 

YogaBugs and Concentration

The ability to concentrate is a key life skill. It is also an important skill in becoming a good footballer. YogaBugs classes are specially designed to improve concentration for young children.

 

What will it take for people to get the message?

Healthy diet and exercise is the only way forward

Healthy diet and exercise is the only way forward

This week The Sunday Times obtained some seriously scary information in a Freedom of Information Request from Newport Council. In August 2012 a five year old girl was taken into care because she weighed more than three times the weight of a healthy child her age. The girl weighted 10st 5lbs.

Newport council issued a statement saying, “a thorough assessment of the child and the family is always considered in cases like these.”  In October 2012 the girl’s weight rose to 10st 10lbs, but had fallen to 7st 7lbs  by August 2013 while she was in care. This extreme case highlights the bigger problem of childhood obesity.

A spokesperson from Public Health Wales, said “fast food advertising, especially for high fat, highly processed foods, as is the amount of fast food outlets in more deprived areas and a lack of play spaces for children,” were at the root of the problem.

Parents have passed the consumer culture onto their children. They are finding it more and more difficult to say no. The current economic climate does not help the situation either, with a Bargain Bucket growing in appeal for cash strapped families.

The cost of living is increasing and wages are not matching it. Times are tough and families need help. This can be done financially by the government, but organisations such as YogaBugs also have a role to play. The role is one of education. Both for the children and the parents.

YogaBugs encourages children to do physical exercise. The beauty of it is the children do not see it as a chore or task to be completed, they are in fact playing. Whilst doing the physical exercise of yoga, the children are participating in stories and going on wild adventures. There are many benefits of children’s yoga, such as improved concentration, but the YogaBugs programme is specially designed to also develop numeracy, literacy and self-esteem. YogaBugs also support the parents with booklets on exercises for home and the YogaBugs Fun Zone has some great stuff to help parents keep their children healthy. 

Keeping children healthy is the responsibility of everyone. The poor girl in Newport was let down by everyone who came into contact with her. Surely somebody could have prevented a situation where a child is taken into care because they are severely overweight.

if you would like to help keep children fit and healthy, could you run a YogaBugs franchise? YogaBugs are looking for the right people to join their network and help more children be physically and emotionally active. Make a positive difference!

Technology Is A Ticking Time Bomb For Children

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Researchers at Swansea University have discovered that the number of children receiving treatment for back or neck pain has doubled in the last six months. Their research has found that more than two thirds of primary school children are experiencing back or neck pain over the course of one year. Things need to happen to make a difference.

The research highlights the growing unease in the medical community about the excessive use of computers, tablets, consoles and smart phones. Children are becoming less active at home and spending more time on computers at school. It has been well documented that excessive use of these technologies can have a negative impact on posture. The excessive use of computers and consoles has also seen children take part in less physical activity  This has also resulted in high child obesity rates. More needs to be done get children to be physically active.  

Lorna Taylor the physiotherapist involved in the research said “Modern lifestyles and the increase in technology are having detrimental effects on our children’s musculoskeletal health and, if not addressed in school and at home now, will have far reaching effects for our children, the future working generation and society. This is a health care time bomb.” What Lorna Taylors’ predicting is a huge strain on the NHS in the the future, as it is overloaded by people with back and neck injuries caused by to much time spent in front of a screen as young children. It is not a cure that is needed but rather a prevention. 

Adam al-Kashi, the head of research and education at charity BackCare responded to this study by saying, “There are many pluses to modern life and technology, but the darker side is how it divorces us from the need to use our bodies and exert ourselves physically. We are now living dangerously convenient lifestyles, where you don’t even have to move to exist.” The solution is creating an activity that inspires children to leave the laptop and do something to counteract the damage. 

One of the key benefits of Yoga is how it can improve body posture., it realigns the spine. This can be done easily with a few yoga poses a week. A good session of yoga could be the difference between a life with or without back and neck pain.

Whilst it may be easy to explain the benefits of yoga to a an adult and an adult with a back injury will try most things to alleviate the pain, it may be more difficult to inspire a young child, and they almost certainly will have no interest or perhaps understanding of the benefits of preventing back pain. Therefore they have be inspired in a different way.

YogaBugs is for children from when they are first are able to walk until the age of twelve. YogaBugs however is so much more than just a yoga. YogaBugs uses yoga postures to take children on wild adventures, the postures are the medium through which a story is told and acted out by the children. The children love it but they do not realise they are doing yoga. They are getting all the benefits and having fun. The way YogaBugs has been designed means that for children there is also hidden benefits for numeracy, literacy, self-esteem and social interaction. YogaBugs is the answer to diffusing the ticking time bomb of back and neck pain.

Whilst across the UK there are already thousands of children benefiting from YogaBugs, many more still need to be offered the chance. YogaBugs are looking for the right people to join their franchise network. With 10 years franchising experience YogaBugs know what they are doing so much so, they are able guarantee their franchisees an income of at least £30,000 per year. 

An international franchisor represented in Australia, China and Singapore, YogaBugs is the leading children’s activity franchise. Franchisees do not need a background in yoga just a passion for making  a  positive difference to the lives of as many children as possible. Could you do it?

 

 

Yoga is now a secular practice

YUP - Down DogVarious traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and it is practised as a spiritual and ascetic discipline. It is of course for many still an integral part of their religion. Yet, yoga has been embraced across the Western world and by people of all races, cultures and most religions. Across the West, yoga with its breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practised for health and relaxation.

There are many hidden benefits with yoga such as improved concentration, posture and improved strength and flexibility. With YogaBugs unique use of storytelling and adventures told through the medium of yoga there are other benefits to children from when they can walk until the age of 12. These include concentration, core skill development and improved social development.

In the West for the vast majority yoga is totally secular. It is not a medium for teaching religious beliefs. But across the globe yoga instructors have come up against vocal and determined opposition. This was recently highlighted in the United States. The issue of yoga in schools reached a boiling point in California this summer when a family filed a suit against the Encinitas Unified School District after the start of a pilot yoga program in an elementary school. As Reuters notes, a judge refused to block the teaching in July, ruling that ‘yoga at it’s roots is religious.’ but its modern practice is secular and “a distinctly American cultural phenomenon.”

In the USA yoga practitioners simply dismiss such criticisms as a  ’concern of the far right’.  In the UK whilst yoga rarely has to fight such prejudice on religious grounds it is still viewed by some with scepticism. This is despite recommendations from many health organisations including the NHS.

YogaBugs has a crucial role to play going forward. Whilst it uses traditional yoga  postures it inspires children to be physically active and use their imagination. Yoga has simply become a medium of play with many benefits, hidden from the children because they are having great fun. It is learning by stealth. Anyone who ever watches or participates in a YogaBugs class instantly changes their preconceptions and marvels at how the classes work. The children really enjoy them and over time when they attend regularly parents see measurable benefits to their children’s life skills.

The only way for yoga to overcome the negative preconceptions is for companies like YogaBugs to drive the message forward. As a business opportunity YogaBugs has everything you could need to be a success. With 10 years franchising experience YogaBugs are the leading children’s activity franchisor. Whilst YogaBugs have franchisees making a difference across the country we are always looking for the right people to spread the message. If you would like to find out more about the YogaBugs franchise opportunity click here www.yogafranchises.co.uk

Many of our franchise owners are not yoga teachers themselves but were attracted by the nature of the business. YogaBugs has such a distinct offering that there is nothing else quite like it. It inspires children to be both physically and emotionally active. It ticks all the boxes and encourages children to think for themselves, which means ultimately they will one day be able to form their own beliefs. This can only be a good thing.

 

Summer fun with a sparkly explosion

Hi folks,
Amy here I am writing the blog today, with the kids breaking up from school this week, sometimes finding fun and imaginative things to do can be a hassle. That’s where I come in to help!

My Niece Olivia has been asking and asking to do some fun science experiments that sparkle and explode. Which I don’t mind as who doesn’t want to make things explode, takes me back to when I was at school in science class, hiding behind the desk while my science teach put mentos into a Pepsi bottle and watched it bounce around the room. But don’t worry this little experiment isn’t as messy! I hope you have as much fun as we did!

Supplies you need for a sparkly explosion.

  •  Vase
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  •  Food colouring (we used red to make it look like an explosion)
  • Glitter (we used blue to make it stand out from the red)
  •  Pan or box to contain the mess
  • Other supplies (look at step 4)

The 4 easy steps

  1. Place 2-3 tablespoons baking soda in the bottom of the vase and then place the vase in the pan/box.
  2. Add 6-7 drops of food colouring and 1-2 teaspoons of glitter (colour of your choice).
  3. Quickly pour in half a cup of vinegar and watch out for the sparkles!
  4. When all the action is over, why not repeat the experiment but this time let your child choose what to add. What does pepper look like in an explosion instead of glitter? Does adding salt change anything? Let your child or sibling change the variables and before you add the vinegar to make it explode, why not predict what will happen and see if anyone guesses right!

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Enjoy watching your little ones faces when they see the explosion, they will be sure to want to do it again and will keep them occupied.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, stay tuned for another great idea to do with your kids over the summer term.

We also have our own Pinterest page, which is full of more great ideas. Also please don’t forget to support us by liking and sharing our page on www.facebook.com/yogabugs

Why Developing Physical Literacy Is So Important

 

 

Last Monday we published our first evaluation of our Impact & Change programme in schools, the Improving Emotional and Physical Literacy Study and put up highlights from this study on our blog. This week, we’re looking at why it’s so important for children to become physical literate.

Research has shown that being physically active later in life depends on an individual’s ability to feel confident in an activity setting. That confidence most often comes from having learned the fundamental movement and sport skills of agility balance and co-ordination - or physical literacy - as a child. Without the development of physical literacy, many children and young people will withdraw from sport and physical activity and are more likely to become inactive and lead unhealthy lifestyles.

A child who has not developed their physical literacy is likely to be disadvantaged throughout their life course. An inability to perform fundamental movement skills will restrict their ability to paryicipate in recreational and competitive activity, as they are unlikely to choose to take part in an activity that requires proficiency in the required skills. For example, a child who cannot balance will be disadvantaged when taking parting in activities such as dance, gymnastics, games and outdoor sports and is therefore more likely not to try them out.

There’s good and bad news about kids and physical activity. The bad news is that less than half of UK children get the physical activity they need. The good news is that we can turn this situation around. Here are three proven ways.

  • Be a role model for your kids by being physically active yourself—and with them. Active parents have active kids!
  • Make sure your kids spend as much time as possible outdoors all year round.
  • Reduce your kids’ screen time. Screen time can take away from active time.

And finally ask your child’s school whether they have looked at the YogaBugs Impact & Change programme and study. They can get further information through the YogaBugs website – www.yogabugs.com.

New Story On Our Fun Zone!

In time for the holidays, we’ve added the first story to our fun zone - An Intergalactic Adventure! The story will take you and your kids into outer space where you’ll meet dinosaurs, cyber men and surf down mountains on the moon. Your mission is to retrieve Jurij, a Russian Astronaut, who has been left on the moon. So it’s YogaBugs to the rescue to bring him back down to planet Earth.

If you’re not familiar with all the yoga postures, worry not! We’ve put together a booklet containing our most popular YogaBugs postures and you’ll find this on the fun zone too.

Have you discovered our yoga routines to do at home with the kids? For over-excited YogaBugs, you could try out our calming bedtime routines, also available on the fun zone.

 

The Value Of Play

On 28 September, we wrote about a feature in The Telegraph in which a powerful lobby of more than 200 experts warning that half of all children are not ready for school at the age of five because of their sedentary lifestyles. At YogaBugs Mission Control, we’re great fans of play; and the more creative and imaginative the better!

Play is fundamental to children’s learning and development. It’s how children learn about themselves and the world around them. Children play spontaneously as it’s a natural instinct to explore the world around them.  As they develop new skills, children learn how to overcome obstacles and solve problems. Play teaches children how to get along with others and develops social skills.

It’s important that children try out a broad range of play activities, and don’t just focus on the same one, day after day. To understand the different types of possibilities, it’s helpful to think of play in terms of five categories – explorative, imaginative, creative, physical and thinking.

Explorative – children are by nature little scientists and have endless questions. What happens if I mix these colours together? How do these blocks fit together?

Imaginative – pretending to be a doctor or a fireman, role playing and dressing up

Creative – making something out of nothing

Physical – developing co-ordination, balancing, running, catching, skipping, hop scotch

Thinking – solving puzzles and problems, making up rhymes and songs, word games

Each of the five different play categories stimulates the brain and body in different ways. By ensuring that your child’s play covers a broad range of activities, you’ll greatly aid their overall development and build confidence. What’s so great about play is that it can be done anywhere, does not have to cost anything and most importantly is fun!