To mark Children’s Mental Health Awareness week I’m beyond grateful to begin a series of chats with the delightful Dr Genevieve Von Lob. A psychologist, speaker and author by day and a new mum by night we talked about the importance of the first year, simple tips to be present with the babes and how first and foremost we should look after ourselves.
Tell me a bit about your background and your new book?
I’ve been a Clinical Psychologist for over ten years now and have worked with hundreds of children and families providing support through private practice and NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for local authorities around the London area. The book Happy Parent, Happy Child draws on this work and the reoccurring themes of our stressful world, with the aim to bring a sense of confidence, calm and balance both to families and children.
As a Psychologist and as a new mum, do you think the first years are the most important?
Absolutely. 90% of the brain develops in the first three years of a babies life and it’s amazing to be a able to nurture this. It’s the time when babies start to learn about trust, manage emotions and how to form healthy relationships. I think it’s all about attuning with your baby. Responding to their eye contact, their facial expressions, their cries. You don’t have to be on it the whole time, if you’re responding to their needs and emotions even 30% of the time then I think you’re doing just great.
You must be well versed in baby play both at home and at work. Can you give us any tips?
Get on the floor, be present and take in the surroundings through your babies eyes. It’s simple things like lying with them, mirroring back facial expressions and actions and letting them take the lead that will make them feel safe and valued. Repetition is also super important, like us it’s how they master new skills and in turn become confident in themselves. Sitting together and reading is also great for bonding and helps them to develop their language skills. I also think getting outside is key. The fresh air, taking in the seasons and connecting with nature all helps their imagination and overall development.
We’re all guilty of the overwhelm and anxiety taking over. Do you have any simple ways we can be kinder to ourselves?
Firstly do whatever calms you down. It could be listening to music, taking deep breaths, or going for a walk. It’s then important to start to recognise when you’re getting anxious, the patterns and when the mind gets too busy. Try to find the head space. Also, acknowledge that the mind is naturally biased. Primitively we look for threats and negatives therefore it’s a good idea to practice gratitude. There may be many things to be anxious about, especially with a new baby in tow but it’s important to note what you feel good about, what you’re grateful for today and know that you’re doing absolutely fine.
I love to hear people’s hopes and dreams. What are yours for your baby?
I hope she finds her passion and purpose in life. That she is kind to others and also to herself and I hope she will have good friendships and loving relationships with people she can talk to and trust.
Genevieve's book Happy Parent, Happy Child: 10 Steps to a Stress-free Family Life is out now and can be ordered here.
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