Boost Babies’ Wellbeing With Laughter
Charity’s call for focus on mental health comes at start of Bookbug Week
Mental health in early years should be prioritised by parents, carers and professionals working with young children, according to a call from Scottish Book Trust at the start of this year’s Bookbug Week.
Fun and laughter are key ways to support good mental health in babies and toddlers, and parents and carers are being encouraged to take time to read playful stories with their children to promote wellbeing – in their children and themselves.
In Scotland, one in 10 children start school with emotional, social or behavioural problems¹ and in many cases, mental health issues can begin in infancy. While there are a wide range of causes for this, building positive mental health in early childhood is a key factor in continuing wellbeing in later life.
Currently there is little mental health provision for children aged under five, making it even more important that parents and carers have support to talk about wellbeing issues and guidance on what works.
The call from Scottish Book Trust comes at the start of Bookbug Week, an annual celebration of Scotland’s national book gifting programme. Hundreds of free events for children and babies will be held across the country this week.
This year’s theme is Bookbug’s Big Giggle which focuses on fun and encourages parents and carers to share playful songs and stories with their children. It highlights that laughter is essential for well-being and for building bonds between carers and children. Laughing is contagious and stress-relieving, it relaxes the child and makes the parent or carer feel good and positive about their role. Physical connection between the parent or carer and child is also key. Tickling songs and rhymes are a great way to encourage laughter and cuddles, both of which are important in promoting positive mental health.
The Bookbug programme encourages every family to take a few minutes a day to share a story, song or rhyme together. Sharing a moment tuned in together can have a positive impact on the mental health of parents, children and babies alike.
Sharing books and talking about the pictures and the story can also help babies and children make sense of the world and their experiences. It’s a safe way to explore feelings and to learn how to manage emotions and situations. Reading stories also helps us develop empathy, which can support positive mental health.
Now in its seventh year, Bookbug Week 2017 will see free Big Giggle themed events taking place in every local authority in Scotland, with special appearances from some of the UK’s best-loved children’s authors and illustrators. Schools and nurseries across the country can also tune in to watch a fun-filled Authors Live event with Alex T Smith, author of the ‘Claude’ series, streamed live at 11am on Wednesday 17 May.
Some fantastic Bookbug prizes will also be up for grabs in on-line competitions throughout the week.
Families can find details of all Bookbug Week events taking place across Scotland by visiting http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/bookbugweek or asking at their local library.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “Positive mental health is important for everyone, and particularly for babies and toddlers whose formative years can have a big impact on future resilience and emotional wellbeing as adults.
“This year’s theme of Bookbug’s Big Giggle highlights the importance of taking the time to laugh and have fun with your little ones. It’s such a simple way to promote wellbeing for parents and young children and has so many benefits. It boosts levels of happiness and strengthens bonding, as well as supporting good mental health.
“Parents of young children often have little or no time to themselves but it’s really important to take time out from busy lists of chores and tasks, to laugh and relax with your child. Reading and rhyming with children shouldn’t be a serious business, make it a fun activity that brings you closer and boosts the wellbeing of you both.
“It’s been very positive to see how attitudes towards mental health have changed for adults, but we need to ensure the wellbeing of babies and young children aren’t overlooked. Taking part in one of Bookbug Week’s hundreds of events across the country could be the first step towards ensuring children have the best start in building good emotional wellbeing for life.”
Funded by the Scottish Government, Bookbug is Scottish Book Trust’s Early Years Programme. It encourages mums, dads and carers to sing and share stories with their children from birth and provides every child in Scotland with four free bags of books by the time they are five years old, gifting 720,000 books every year.
More than 240,000 children in Scotland benefitted last year, with even more set to receive free books in 2017. Bookbug also runs regular free story, song and rhyme events in libraries, shopping centres and other community venues which attracted audiences of over half a million parents and children in 2016-17.
Notes to Editors
1. State of Child Health Report 2017 by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which includes several recommendations for action in Scotland. In particular, the report highlights that one in 10 children starting school experience social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
- The Bookbug programme is managed by Scottish Book Trust and run in partnership with libraries, health professionals and nurseries. The programme benefits from central funding from the Scottish Government through a Strategic Funding Partnership Grant, with support from Local Authorities and Health Boards through the provision of local staff time and logistics solutions.
- The Bookbug programme encourages all parents and carers to enjoy books with children from as early an age as possible, developing a lifelong love of books in children all over Scotland.
- 240,000 free bags of books, called Bookbug Bags, are gifted to all children in Scotland every year when they are around six weeks, 18 months, three years old and in Primary One, along with guidance material for parents and carers.
- A free library joining incentive scheme, Bookbug’s Library Challenge, encourages thousands of children to join and borrow books from the library.
- Parents and carers can find support and more information about sharing books with their children, and about the free Bookbug programme, online at: www.scottishbooktrust.com/bookbug Facebook.com/BookbugSBT and Twitter @Bookbug_SBT