Lockdown in NSW again…

Home Schooling? Spending 24/7 with your kids?

Are you already rolling your eyes, abit apprehensive and frustrated that you have to do your own work, housework and still have to teach and look after your kids?Are you longing for lockdown to be over just so you can go back to work?

Be honest. You’re not alone.

We all need space and time away from our kids, no matter how much we love them.

ACTVoices – Supporting Parents/Carers can help you with home schooling in the primary years and with your kids in the early childhood years.

WE LOVE… kids, being around them, teaching them.

YOU NEED… to keep your sanity; to balance your work, family and personal life; to have a positive mental health so you can have positive interactions with your family.

You don’t need to feel guilty. That’s what our job is. Your chosen occupation doesn’t involve being around children for extended periods of time, so we get it, and you should get it too. Let us support you during this time of extended time with your kids.


We are only supporting a small group of families dependent on location, so get in quick and contact us.

Self-esteem and Self-efficacy and How to Build Each One

Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy – The Link With Building Your Mental Health

The following ‘self’ words are all important in contributing to a growing positive wellbeing and identity – The foundations for life.

When you work on your self-esteem and self-efficacy, you are building your socio-emotional wellbeing, that is, your mental health. This all contributes to developing your self-concept– an accurate self-concept.

BUT HOW???? Continue reading…


~ Feelings of self-worth and self-value. 

~ An overall evaluation of oneself. 

~ High self-esteem is having a good self image. Ie. self-esteem is like a mirror where you see your own qualities. 

~ Low self-esteem is not realising your potential, which translates to poor self-confidence.

REFLECT… When you look through the mirror, what qualities do you see? 
REFLECT… Define  your potential? Have you lived up to your potential? What can you do to see your potential being realised?
What you can do to build your self-esteem 

~ Limit negative self-talk, self-criticism and labels. 

~ Increase focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. 

~ Give yourself a break.

~ Practise saying ‘no’. 

~ Look after your physical health. 

REFLECT… Which one/s can you focus on today to build a positive self-esteem?
REFLECT… Which one/s can you use to help someone else build their self-esteem?

Orange needle on Master level on experience levels speedmeter


~ Belief in your capacity or competence to handle, perform and succeed at tasks. 

~ Self-efficacy varies from one situation/activity to another. 

~ It builds up as you go on learning and mastering different abilities in life. 

REFLECT… What tasks/situations/activities are you still growing in and learning? Which ones are you going to continue to work on?
REFLECT… Which situations/activities have you mastered? How can you use your mastery to help/support someone else?
What you can do to build your self-efficacy

~ Set some goals that are easier to achieve so you can develop confidence and the belief in your capabilities. 

~ Have other goals that will challenge and stretch you so you will develop your learning and grow in mastery. 

~ Avoid comparisons. Run your own race. Be proud of what you can do and what you have achieved.

REFLECT… What have you achieved thus far in your life – personal, professional?
REFLECT… What is one goal you can set for yourself that can bless someone else and their life?
Make your mental health a priority - unique vector hand drawn inspirational, positive quote for persons suffering from personality disorder and Awareness Month. Phrase for posters, t-shirts, wall art.
Improve your mental health as you focus on building your socio-emotional wellbeing. 
To shape a confident IDENTITY, you need to…
Build your EMOTIONAL WELLBEING, through developing a high…
Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

Click here (Part 1 and Part 2) to read more about the importance of building your self-concept and how you can improve your mental health through developing your self-concept.

At ACTVoices we can help you with your self-esteem and self-efficacy. As you grow in these two areas, you are building your self-concept – an accurate self concept. Contact Us now. 



Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 1

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Collaboration

Community concept - pictogram showing figures happy family

Improve your mental health as you focus on building your socio-emotional wellbeing, which includes developing your self-concept. Self-esteem and self-efficacy are just the foundations. You can actively improve your mental health by growing in a ‘learning community’.

Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

What is your self concept? 

~ A combo of self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

~ Belief about yourself. 

~ A factual description of how you perceive yourself, whether it may be true or not. 

~ If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.

REFLECT… Write down your perceptions of yourself.
REFLECT… Now write down a factual description of yourself.

Color handprint background concept, human hand print illustration for kid education, school learning or diverse community help. EPS10 vector.

Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

What you can do to build your self-concept

To grow in a ‘learning community’ work on 2 major skills… 

~ Collaboration. 

~ Reflective practice.


Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with COLLABORATION, EXCHANGE, TRUST, ASSIST, GOAL, SUCCESS and INSPIRATION concept words

To develop your self concept, COLLABORATE! 

Build and grow in a ‘learning community’. 

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT… Who will you include in your ‘community’? Who will you exclude from your ‘community?
Building a ‘learning community’ includes 4 ingredients… 

Grunge black encourage word round rubber seal stamp on white background1. Encouraging, supporting and being there for each other. 

To be there for your family includes encouraging, supporting and being there for one another to help each other learn, develop, and grow. To be there for your ‘community’, who is also learning and growing with you also entails encouraging, supporting, and being present for each other. 

REFLECT… As I asked before, who will you exclude from your ‘learning community’? This is an important question that you need to clarify so you can learn more, develop wider and grow further.

Feedback Constructive Insightful Actionable Puzzle 3d Illustration2. Engaging in honest and constructive feedback. 

You need people in your life to be honest with you. To tell you what you don’t want to hear to help you grow. To give you reflective insights about your life to help you self-reflect, and change things in your life. 

REFLECT… What honest feedback can you give yourself?
REFLECT… What feedback can you give someone in your ‘learning community’ to help them develop in their skills – to grow in some area of their life? 
As you do this, you will help each other develop accurate beliefs about yourselves (ie. your self-concept).

Business Team Success, Achievement Concept. Flat People Characters with Prize, Golden Cup. Office Workers Celebrating with Big Trophy. Vector illustration3. Celebrating success in its many forms – small and big wins, stepping stones and just each other. 

Just as we celebrate children’s birthdays, performances or participation in concerts, when they win a competition, when they get the award for being the best helper and the award for the highest marks, we need to celebrate the people in our ‘community’ and celebrate together with them.

We need to celebrate the people in our ‘learning community’ and celebrate with themDon’t forget to celebrate each other… just because! 

Do you really need to have a reason? 

But, if you do need a reason, then celebrate… 

~ The successful performance, engagement and participation on that last outing or work meeting. 

~ The routine that you got through without screaming, crying, getting angry. 

~ Being on time. Getting things done on time. 

~ The new promotion, job, home. 

Whatever is worth being celebrated, big or small… share it with your ‘community’. Let them share in your joy.

REFLECT… When was the last time you celebrated someone or something with your ‘community’? Isn’t it about time you celebrated yourself and/or others for the big and small things you have achieved? When will you start?
REFLECT… Remember, your ‘community of learners’ does not include your children. It is your ‘learning community’ where you and others learn from, support and help each other; and grow and CELEBRATE one another… together.

Handwriting text writing Don t not Compare Yourself To Others. Concept meaning Be your own version unique original Megaphone loudspeaker screaming turquoise background frame speech bubble.
. Avoiding comparisons.

Each person comes with their own gifts, talents and character traits that bring with it amazing results and influence, whether big or small, and leaves short and long term effects. You don’t need to compare yourself to others because you were made for different plans and purposes in life.

REFLECT… The last point in building your ‘learning community’. Comparison can be a killer. A killer of joy, perspective, reality. Make sure, you stay joyful, maintain the right and correct perspective and reality, not a distorted perception of yourself or your achievements.

You may look the same, do the same things, have the same goals. BUT… each of you have been made for different plans and purposes. Run your own race and run it with all your heart! Remember, it’s not how much, how high, how long… it’s the heart and how much of your heart you have put into what you do.

REFLECT… Don’t get side tracked from your goals, plans and purposes by looking left and right at what others are doing, have achieved or are pursuing. Keep looking ahead and continue to work towards your goals, plans and purposes.

“Comparison is the thief of joy and the stretcher of truth. Comparison says, “I am ill-equipped for the task at hand.” The truth is God has given me everything I need for the plans he has set before me”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Keep your joy and peace by minding your own business. What I mean is, looking after and ‘minding’/taking care of your own life, goals, plans.
Don’t mind the ‘business’ of what another person is doing, has done, looks like etc. Avoid comparing yourself.

As we find our confidence in other people’s approval rather than finding it in God, we are comparing ourselves. “God created us all for a distinct purpose. When we have confidence in our God-given purpose we don’t feel the need to compare ourselves to others or seek their approval”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Do I need to add anymore? Except to say, remember, don’t compare yourself to others. When you don’t compare then you are building an accurate self concept that will lead to a better, more positive mental health.

Paper doll people holding hands

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. 

To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about building and growing in your ‘learning community’. 

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.

To read about this second major skill, click here


Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 2

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Reflective Practice

Creative business team stacking hands together in office

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about growing in your ‘learning community’. (To read about this again, click here)

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.


Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

Paper people on the grey wooden background

In this post, we look at the second way to grow in your ‘learning community’ that will help you build an accurate self-concept, which helps improve your mental health.

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT word written on wooden

To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE

This incorporates holistic reflection, and includes both self-reflection and collaborative reflection.

Business Concept writing SELF REFLECTION on Blackboard SELF-REFLECTION

Reflecting by yourself, about yourself

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Concept of sharing skills to find a solution, with two men face to face who collaborate to find an idea.COLLABORATIVE RELFECTION

 Reflecting together with the people in your ‘learning community’ about yourself.

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Building a ‘learning community’ through reflective practice includes reflecting on yourself AND the environment AND others in combination with each other. 

Holistic reflection is important because people AND the environment AND others affected or involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other. One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area. Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.


*To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE!

This includes, HOLISTIC REFLECTION. Holistic reflection is important because you AND the environment AND others affected/involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other.

One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area.

Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.


*When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.

This includes… ~Changing the culture of the setting (e.g. home, work).

~Influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area.

It is a change that… ~ Is long lasting. ~ Takes place over a period of time. >>>>So, how do you get transformational change?


*To get transformational change and develop your self concept,

Engage in holistic reflection through SELF REFLECTION AND COLLABORATIVE REFLECTION

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .


Man's hand with concept of new or next normal digital transform in industry business, disrupt from coronavirus, covid crisis impact to small business or SME. Turn to next normal in financial concept.


When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.



Holistic reflection of you…

AND the environment. (E.g., the work/classroom/home environment).

AND the people affected or involved in your life, your ‘learning community’ and/or in that particular environment .

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .

Reflection… observe, interpret and reflect.


~ Enable you to look back, reassess and understand actions, words and behaviour.

~ Identify ways to improve and how to do it differently.

~ Provide clarity, new perspectives and possibilities for the future.

REFLECT…What do You Want to Change words letter, written on paper, work desk top view. Motivational business typography quotes concept


Aspects of your environment?

Culture, interactions in your enviro?


When you reflect (self and collaborative), you are initiating and inspiring transformational change.

This results in changing the setting’s (e.g., home/work) culture. In doing so, influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area including you AND the environment AND other people.

It is a change that is long lasting and takes place over a period of time.

Transformational change allows for personal growth. Growth that will empower you. Empowerment to use your ‘voice’ and have your ‘voice’ heard. Empowerment to overcome challenges encountered with more skill and knowledge.

Developing relationship concept: Construction machines building up with letters the word relationship, isolated on white background.

If you want to change things, change people, change you THEN… focus on relationships. Relationships with children, with colleagues with families/carers, with people in your ‘learning community’. 

Form genuine relationships built on sincerity, respect, kindness and care, and the door is open for change to occur.

REFLECT… Which relationships are important to you? Why?
REFLECT… Which relationships do you want to change? What changes do you want to see?
REFLECT… Do you need to change? Or does the other person need to change? Or do both of you need to change?

merger icon, illustration, concept vector template Teachers AND children have an impact on each other, as does parents/carers AND children. 

ALSO the environment (emotional, organisational and physical) have an impact on teachers/children, as well as parents/children. 

So, if you change any one of these areas it will have an effect on the other.

REFLECT… What do you want? What do you want to change? 

Once you have clarified what you want and what you want to change, then you can seek help, support and information. Then you will see change start to occur.

REFLECT… Observe, interpret, reflect on each of the 3 areas and their interaction with one another.

How do you, the environment, and the people affected or involved interact with each other?

~ THEN make changes in one area, and observe the changes, interpret, and reflect how it is impacting on the other 2 areas.

~ THEN take the perspective of another area AND ‘observe-interpret-reflect’ again.

~ Repeat the process with the 3rd area. 


What Do All These ‘Self’ Words Mean?

The following ‘self’ words are all important in contributing to a growing positive wellbeing and identity – The foundations for life.

To shape a confident IDENTITY, you need to…
To build your EMOTIONAL WELLBEING, through developing a high…
Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

~ Also known as self-worth and self-value, self-esteem incorporates feelings of self-worth and value .

~ An overall evaluation of oneself.

~ High self-esteem is having a good self image. Ie. self-esteem is like a mirror where you see your own qualities.

~ Low self-esteem is not realising one’s potential, which translates to poor self-confidence.

~ To develop self-esteem limit negative self-talk, self-criticism and labels. Increase focus on strengths, rather than weaknesses.



~ Belief in one’s self-worth and likelihood in succeeding.


Self esteem is a permanent internal feeling while self efficacy is a feeling that depends upon the performance at hand.



~ Belief in one’s capacity or competence to handle, perform and succeed at tasks.

~ Eg. completing a puzzle, dressing independently, studying. Self-efficacy varies from one situation/activity to another.

~ It builds up as you go on learning and mastering different abilities in life.

~ To encourage self-efficacy skills allow them to make decisions for themselves and include them in decision-making with you.



~ Belief about oneself.

~ Is a factual description of how you perceive yourself, whether it may be true or not.

~ If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.

~ People with a good self-esteem and self-efficacy are often able to recognize their limitations without a judgment attached.


It is possible to have low self-esteem and yet have high self-efficacy, often seen with perfectionists.

Ie. Someone may tend to be overly-critical and negative about oneself and yet see themselves as quite capable in certain areas.

For instance, they might see themselves as uninteresting and unlikeable but see themselves as a competent speller.

But the first step you need to take is FINDING YOUR ‘VOICE’, that is, feeling empowered to speak up.

This will heighten your view of yourself, knowing that you can and do make a difference. This empowered voice will show you that your voice is valued. This voice developing your self-worth/esteem (Read above about this concept).


Empowering Children’s, Parents’ and Teachers’ Voices

Being listened to, respected and valued


Building One’s Emotional Wellbeing

High self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept


Shaping Children’s Identity

I accept myself for ‘who I am’

Then we have… Strengthened Foundations


If you want to make a change and clearly know who you are and why you are here,  or if you want to deal with your mental health, or if you just want to know more, contact us.

© Tirzah Lim 2017

Special Offer for Parents/Carers

As posted on Resourcing Parents 

Finding your voice – Reflection and self-growth. One-on-one support, mentoring and advice

*Start any time. A 10 session, once a week phone or virtual call. Sessions can vary from 1 hour to 2 hours – whatever you need, and will occur once a week.

*Catering for anyone around Australia via zoom or phone call.

Though it might seem that talking and listening is nothing significant, in my service, it is what drives the success for families. I provide one-on-one support, mentoring and advice (if needed), but most importantly I am a sounding board for reflection and self-growth, and that’s where the talking (from you) and the listening (from me) fits in. You will be surprised how successful this approach is to any circumstances. Whether you have no children, young children, or even older children, I can be your sounding board.

On the other end, I’m an early childhood facilitator at ACTVoices and I support leaders and teachers improve their social-emotional wellbeing that influences the type of environment that is cultivated and interactions that take place between teachers and children.

Cost: $90.00
10 sessions. Sessions can vary from 1hr to 2hrs (whatever you need), and occur once a week.

Hours available: Monday to Saturday, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Catering for parents/carers with children of all ages:
0-1 – Infants
2-3 – Toddlers
4-5 – Children
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Interested? Get in contact us and cite ‘Resourcing Parents’ in the questions/comments box.

What Does Ethical Leadership Look Like? Part 2

How Leaders Can Face and Deal With Challenges Ethically in an Early Childhood  (EC) Context

From Part 1 we discussed how ethical leaders have certain traits such as, character and ethics (which are characteristics of intentional leaders), and who embody three foundational principles of philosophy, passion and vision. Other important leadership roles that were identified, included  the role of ‘steward’ – a role where one takes their vision and made it part of the everyday life.

Time to reflect… Implications for early childhood practitioners (ECPs)

CHARACTERISTIC 1: Two leadership qualities/styles


  • This is reflective of the use of ‘referent power’ (17, p.128) and is characterised by influencing others through personal qualities.
  • A ‘power with’ approach is used which is effective in leading, guiding and motivating others – to empower them to make decisions (2,14,17).

On the other hand, some leaders use the ‘power over’ approach who believe they “… come with knowledge more superior to others because of their position…” (17, p.130).

They exercise and/or believe they have the right to have ‘power over’ their team.

Wilberforce used a ‘POWER WITH’ approach. This reflected ethical leadership where leaders would empower their followers who would hold differing views, interests and needs. As a result, this enabled shared decision-making and ‘voices’ from all stakeholders to be heard which was an important aspect of Wilberforce’s success in leading in politics (14,17).


  • Leaders are seen as motivators through the personal emotional link they have with their employees (2).
  • The emphasis is on the importance of stakeholders communicating differences and disagreements openly and honestly. Leaders promote creativity and “… encourage multiple ways to view a problem or opportunity” (3, p.26).

Wilberforce’s most striking characteristic and rule that he lived by as a leader, was also a characteristic he used to address his challenges…

His ability to see the best in people and build bridges with everyone he met, no matter from what background they were from.

Initially, he thought bridges should be formed only with people who were like-minded. However, upon reflection, Wilberforce found that the best and most effective way forward was to “… work together with philosophical opposites for the greater good (1, p.95).


From reflection of this first issue there is a necessity of ECPs to recognise the importance of all stakeholders in EC settings. Stakeholders are important in terms of developing the organisation’s philosophy, vision and values. They are also important in relation to high quality teaching for the positive development of children.

  • ECPs, in particular leaders, have a responsibility to be ‘WEAVERS’ (16), and to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with all stakeholders. That is, their team of teachers, families, children and the community.
  • This is because leaders cannot lead by themselves. Instead, it is most effective to do so with and through others(16, p.648).
  • We cannot go forward by ourselves. We need to go hand-in-hand with others as it is a COLLABORATIVE WALK that will enable us to take the next step and next leap.

CHARACTERISTIC 2: Shared ethos characteristic of intentional and pedagogical leadership


As Wilberforce brought together those with differing opinions, values, skills and knowledge this reflected both intentional and pedagogical leadership.

  • When those roles are practiced under a shared organisational ethos only then can differences and diversity be acknowledged and respected (17).
  • This can have positive contributing effects for both internal and external stakeholders, importantly families and children, with long-term effects (17).


  • Ensure that a shared ethos is established in the EC setting so that differences are acknowledged, respected and utilised for the benefit of all stakeholders.
  • In this way, a strengths-based approach is also promoted with stakeholders whereby they are encouraged to see themselves ‘with power’ with a voice. They can then make a difference with the knowledge and skills that they do have, rather than see themselves as powerless and without a voice (3,6,14,17).

However, it goes beyond just the sharing of knowledge. But also ensuring that pedagogical leadership is in place to “… build the capacity of the staff team as curriculum decision-makers” (17, p.95).

  • Building the leadership capacity of stakeholders. In particular, ECPs and families so that they become less dependent on the director and/or other EC leaders. Instead, become INTERDEPENDENT thinkers and decision-makers with each other (14).
  • For effective school leadership it is very important for leaders to ensure that stakeholders know that they are needed to participate ALL THE TIME – that leaders rely on them, “… rather than just include them when it suits the purposes of the leader” (16, p.651).
  • In this way, ECPs and stakeholders are able to develop trusting two-way relationships, whereby quality care can be realised together (10,12,16).

CHARACTERISTIC 3: Leadership style and strategies

Wilberforce also contributed to the positive acceptance of change and the successful transition to change by adopting a certain type of leadership style, as well as utilising specific strategies that characterise effective EC leaders.


  • This leadership style empowers the team through shared leadership, and collaborative, participative decision-making processes (2,12,14).
  • In particular, during times of change, this style of leadership has been found to have positive outcomes for all stakeholders.
  • This approach is team-oriented, with flexible lines of authority, “… builds on each person’s strengths and interests… and enables [stakeholders] to contribute in ways that match their creativity, skills and capabilities… ” (3, p.26).


  • Give ECPs a ‘voice’.
    • By giving them a ‘voice’, ECPs develop a personal investment to the team through a sense of responsibility (3, 6,13). A ‘voice’ to speak their concerns, interests, needs, wants. As well as a ‘voice’ to speak out their opinions during change.
    • Having a ‘voice’ empowers all stakeholders and has positive outcomes for directors, team leaders, ECPs, families, and most importantly, children.


  • Importance of EC leaders and ECPs to develop cognitive and emotional empathy skills (9).
    • Cognitive empathy skills or perspective-taking skills = Understanding how others see the world.
    • Emotional empathy skills = Feeling how the other person feels, sensing how they feel.


  • Without good listening, you can’t have empathy. Listening is one of the greatest predictors of either leadership failure or success (9). So it is most important to develop ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS.
    • Active listening is characterised by respect.
    • It is done through being involved in the conversation, reflecting feelings, asking open-ended questions, making non-judgemental statements, as well as through summarising and reflecting feelings to show that you understand what you have heard and to seek clarification if needed.


In empowering stakeholders with a ‘voice’ “… teamwork and collaboration can be problematic as it MAKES ASSUMPTIONS. It assumes that everyone has the capacity to and will contribute effectively to the work environment… and to how matters are resolved” (17, p.160).


*** In reality, not everyone will contribute, and will want to contribute to the work environment, solving of problems, and inclusion of changes to the same degree. ***

However, ALL contributions should be accepted as equal. It is not about equal giving, but about equal sacrifice.


  • EC leaders need to recognise and acknowledge, as well as respect ALL contributions from ALL stakeholders.
  • Acknowledge their way to express their ‘voice’ and match them with the most appropriate and effective way to express this ‘voice’. Acknowledge their contribution to the EC setting.
  • Reflect on human resource management (HRM) policies and procedures. Ensuring that ‘soft’ HRM (i.e. expressive/developmental approaches) and ‘hard’ HRM (instrumental/rational approaches) are taken into consideration (17).
  • As a result, people and teams, in addition to motivation and empowerment are values that are promoted for the benefit of ECPs, other stakeholders, and for the ‘greater good’ so they feel safe and supported to contribute to the team and EC setting as a whole.

CHARACTERISTIC 4: Connection with external stakeholders

Passion is often seen in terms of… social justice(5, p.5).

It is through connections with external stakeholders that EC leaders can express this passion.

It is to this idea that a final point is paralleled with Wilberforce and the characteristics of EC leaders. That of HAVING A PASSION and HOLDING A VISION. Wilberforce’s twenty-year long-term vision of ending the slave trade would have been impossible if not first considering the ‘Reformation of Manners’ – his passion for social justice. 

In Wilberforce’s situation, by considering the political and social climate (namely, that England was highly involved in the slave trade), and addressing that goal first, it realigned his vision where it could be placed in a context that was relevant to his community.


  • Politics influence policy, that inevitably will influence social outcomes, including the contexts that both directly and indirectly relate to the ECEC field, EC setting and ECPs. As a result, this will affect families and children.
  • The political arena and political climate also influence EC services directly. When EC leaders stay current and involved in the world of politics they are in a position to be active and more influential in the decisions that are made when changes and improvements are instigated through the political context (11,12).


  • It is important for ECPs, specifically EC leaders to become knowledgeable and aware of things that are happening, specifically in relation to the political side of early childhood.

As theorist Freire said “teaching is a political act” (17, p.21).


To ensure that the vision is lived and breathed in the organiation, it is important for EC leaders to engage in all roles and responsibilities of organisational culture and operational changes (11).

  • This involves keeping the vision in front view where it is kept ‘active’, rather than ‘on the shelf’. That is, rather than having the vision metaphorically and literally ‘put on the shelf’ – in a folder – forgotten among the daily routines, just a concept that was once referred to; the vision needs to be a lived vision – a lived passion, where plans are passionately envisioned and yearning to be accomplished.
    • This involves the need for all stakeholders, particularly ECPs, to be ‘stewards’ ensuring that the vision is lived in the everyday. ‘Stewards’ where everyone works together towards the common good – the vision.

Strategic planning and development, that is, ensuring that the VISION IS ABLE TO BE LIVED AND BREATHED, and to be ACCOMPLISHED at the end of a long journey where everyone is still committed (11).


To ensure that the plan – the vision – is kept alive and achievable in the hearts of all those who are heading towards it…

  • Recognise, ackowledge and celebrate the little accomplishments and milestones with all stakeholders – both individual and group celebrations. This is keeping the vision alive in the ‘present’, rather than wait for the final vision to be accomplished and then holding a big celebration (3, 16,17).
  • For example, celebrating one person’s achievements in a centre newsletter, going out for group dinners when certain milestones or achievements are made.


(1) Belmonte, K. (2007). William Wilberforce: A hero for humanity. Michigan, U.S.A.: Zondervan.
(2) Burnes, B. & By, R. (2012). Leadership and change: The case for greater ethical clarity. Journal of Business Ethics, 108(2), 239-252. doi: 10.1007/s10551-011-1088-2
(3) Carr, V., Johnson, L.J., & Corkwell, C. (2009). Principle-centred leadership in early childhood education. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 37(3), 25-32.
(4) Cook, J. (2012). Practicing ethical school leadership. International Journal of Arts and Sciences, 5(7), 161-173.
(5) Davies, B., & Brighouse, T. (2010). Passionate leadership. Management in Education, 24(1), 4-6. doi: 10.1177/0892020609354946
(6) Ebbeck, M., & Waniganayake, M. (2003). Early childhood professionals. Leading today and tomorrow. Eastgardens, NSW: MacLennan and Petty.
(7) Gilley, A., Dixon, P., & Gilley, J.W. (2008). Characterisitics of leadership effectiveness: Implementing change and driving innovation in organisations. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 19(2), 153-169. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.1232
(8) Gini, A., & Green, R.M. (2014). Three characteristics of leadership: Character, stewardship, experience. Business and Society Review, 119(4), 435-446. doi: 10.1111/basr.12040
(9) Goleman, D. (2017). Cognitive vs emotional empathy with Daniel Goleman. Retrieved June 13, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhVWlLEcshE&feature=youtu.be
(10) Michaelis, B., Stegmaier, R., &Sonntag, K. (2009). Affective commitment to change and innovation implementation behaviour: The role of charismatic leadership and employees’ trust in top management. Journal of Change Management, 9(4), 399-417. doi: 10.1080/14697010903360608
(11) Mosley, P. (2013). Engaging leadership: Administrative ethics. Library Leadership and Management, 28(1), 1-7.
(12) Nupponen, H. (2006). Leadership concepts and theories: Reflections for practice for early childhood directors. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 31(1), 43-50.
(13) Sharif, M., & Scandura, T. (2014). Do perceptions of ethical conduct matter during organisational change? Ethical leadership and employee involvement. Journal of Business Ethics, 124(2), 185-196. doi: 10.1007/s10551-013-1869-x
(14) Slater, L. (2008). Pathways to building leadership capacity. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 36(1), 55-69. doi:10.1177/1741143207084060
(15) Stamopoulos, E. (2012). Reframing early childhood leadership. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(2), 42-48.
(16) Stone-Johnson, C. (2014). Responsible leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(4), 645-674. doi: 10.1177/0013161X13510004
(17) Waniganayake, M., Cheeseman, S., Fenech, M., Hadley, F., & Shepherd W. (2012). Leadership: Contexts and complexities in early childhood education. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

© Tirzah Lim 2017

Partnering with Families and Children

‘Family Stories’ – Understanding These ‘Stories’ to Support Wellbeing

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The social-emotional wellbeing of children has a major impact on overall growth and development, including academic skills. Most importantly, children’s developing self-esteem and confidence influences the development of a positive and secure sense-of-self and identity, which contributes to their wellbeing (11,23).

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Framework (NQF) have both acknowledged the importance of a positive social-emotional wellbeing. They emphasise the role teachers have and in  developing a collaborative relationship between teachers, children and their family to support the wellbeing of all (7,23).

‘Family Stories’

To work with families effectively and build collaborative partnerships ‘FAMILY STORIES’ need to be acknowledged and respected – their voices need to be shared and heard.

‘Family stories’ include experiences in varying contexts (such as in the home, cultural/religious places) in interaction with various family members, friends and others. It also includes family experiences in professional intervention (such as speech therapy) or medical contexts.

Understanding these ‘family stories’ widens and informs teachers’ knowledge and understanding of contextual issues and factors that could be influencing the family and children (10). In turn, this informs teacher practices that can support children in developing a secure and positive emotional development. As a result, supporting both children’s and the family’s wellbeing and mental health.

The Effect of Labels and Stigma – Importance of Collaborative Partneships

Partnerships that focus on interpersonal relationships and the idea of interdependence creates more positive, trusting and effective relationships (24). This has been found to lead to families being more involved in their children’s education, which results in both the positive wellbeing of children and their family (7,23).

Unfortunately, experiencing mental health issues, whether by children or their family, can lead to labels being applied. This can then result in stigma being formed in various contexts and in different relationships including informally (among society, friends and family) and in more formal contexts (such as in early childhood services) (5,9).

Even more, labels and stigma have been found to hinder families from seeking help – one of the reasons for about a quarter of families not seeking professional intervention (1,5,9). A finding that impacts immediate and future development and wellbeing.

Teachers have an important role in assisting to reconstruct labels and stigmas as they become the bridge for families to connect them to professional or medical support, while also addressing these issues through play and discussion during the day with the children.

Reflecting on Professional Intervention Practices and How it Informs Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices

Taking research around oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a focus for reflection around social-emotional wellbeing, we can also reflect on how this research can inform teachers’ beliefs and practices.

Findings from various ODD intervention studies (17,19) have focused around access and utilisation of services, among other areas. It was found that there were multiple barriers to service access including the following,

  • Stressors and obstacles (e.g. illness and transportation to the service).
  • Treatment demands (e.g. the length and commitment of treatment at the service).
  • Perceived relevance.
  • Parental and contextual factors (e.g. being a single-parent family, neighbourhood, parenting style, maternal depression).

Bernal et al. (3) agree with these findings, and further supports the emphasis by Lavigne et al. (19)  on the importance of culture and ethnicity, pointing out the necessity to consider and develop culturally sensitive interventions.

  • The main points identified by Bernal was the call for a reflection on the differences in values that the mainstream culture has on already developed interventions.
        • That is, interventions that have been employed to assist families from diverse backgrounds who hold different, and sometimes opposite cultural values, such as interdependence and ‘familialism’ – values that are of high importance and a part of many cultures.
  • When interventions and relationships did not consider various elements, such as language-appropriateness, client-therapist relationship and the importance of the therapist in understanding the values, beliefs and customs families found the intervention ineffective and unsupportive to their needs and goals.

In the same way, when teachers’ relationships with children and families do not consider these cultural elements this has been found to affect the support that families receive and feel that they receive or need. This is because the attitudes that teachers hold will affect how they will engage with and respond to families, and thus the type of support and relationship they develop with families.

However, when teachers take the time to listen to families’ stories and acknowledge, embrace and respect these various cultural elements in their personal interactions, as well as in the program and setting approaches, relationships and collaborative partnerships can be built between families, teachers and early childhood (EC) service.

Implications for Teachers and EC Services

Based on various research of ODD intervention approaches, the following are recommendations for teaching practice and strategies to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

* Build relationships with children by getting to know the charisma and character of each child, as well as their strengths, areas of need, dis/likes –  that is, the uniqueness of each child.

        • Consider and include this knowledge of each child when setting up a structured, but flexible routine, which will provide for an environment that is predictable and supportive. This will build the foundation for a partnership that honours and respects the child and the family (2,4,14,18).

*Arrange the environment and provide a program that considers the various interests, skill levels and learning styles of each child.

        • This includes a varied level of challenge and different approaches to learning. In addition, activities that require the use of executive functioning skills (ie. cognitive self-regulation), such as problem-solving and working memory. In this way, children are given opportunities to practice skills that enable them to be aware of their own emotions and how to express them effectively (8,14,16).

*Create environments that positively encourage and acknowledge children for their efforts in relation to all areas, including their efforts in emotional situations.

        • Rather than reprimand or discipline, teachers can use these times as moments to collaboratively work together with children to solve problems they encounter.
        • Take advantage of the ‘teachable moments’. These are moments to develop skills, but also to build strong relationships with the children to contribute to the positive wellbeing (12,13,14,23).
        • Don’t react to behaviour. Instead, be proactive in identifying possible areas children need support in, and walk with children in their need.

*Reconstruct labels and stigma using  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (6,20).

        • This enables all children to learn about and respect the different ways they can communicate, and understand how others communicate differently and in various situations and contexts.
        • By learning alternate ways to communicate, such as using Key Word Sign, music and other art forms this creates a sense of community within the class, which is an important strategy that builds relationships and creates a sense of belonging and empowerment (4,7,18).

*Use of ‘bibliotherapy’ that uses literature as a strategy – that is, the story is used as a focal point for learning. In doing so, it allows children to be detached from reality and provides for more open discussion about their own feeling and emotions.

        • They can connect with characters in the story and then apply the  generated alternative responses to their own lives (15,21).
        • From the literature used, children can also use these scenarios for role-play and other imaginative play opportunities where the ‘what-if’ provides a place where they can escape reality and be whatever and whomever they want to be. That is, where they can be control (22). In this way, they extend on their skills, understand their own and others’ emotions, and in the process build their social and emotional wellbeing.

*Support and facilitate joint decision-making with families. This is an important part of supporting children’s social-emotional wellbeing.

        • Have families involved in developing the program. This will result in positive outcomes for the collaborative nature of the partnership and for their child in also being more involved in the decision-making process of the program (4).
        • Invite families to share their talents and interests, such as art, music and sports to create a sense of community where children and families are likely to feel more open and welcome to participate and engage in the EC service and in their child’s education. This in turn builds more collaborative relationships between families and teachers.



(1) Allday, R.A., Duhon, G.J., Blackburn-Ellis, S., & Van Dyke, J.L. (2011). The biasing effects of labels on direct observation by preservice teachers. Teacher Education & Special Education, 34(1), 52-58.

(2) Bagdi, A., & Vacca, J. (2005). Supporting early childhood social-emotional wellbeing: The building blocks for early learning and school success. Early Childhood Education Journal 33(3), 145-150.

(3) Bernal, G., & Saez-Santiago, E. (2006). Culturally centred psychosocial interventions. Journal of Community Psychology,34(2), 121-132.

(4) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012a). Kids matter early childhood component 1: Creating a sense of community. Literature view.

(5) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012b). Kids matter early childhood component 4: Helping children who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Literature view.

(6) Cress, C.J., & Marving, C.A. (2003). Common questions about AAC services in early intervention. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(4), 254-272.

(7) Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia.

(8) Dunsmore, J.C., Booker, J.A., & Ollendick, T.H. (2013). Parental emotion coaching and child emotion regulation as protective factors for children with oppositional defiant disorder. Social Development, 22(3), 444-466.

(9) Graham, A., Phelps, R., Maddison, C., & Fitzgerald, R. (2011). Supporting children’s mental health in schools: Teacher views. Teachers and Teaching: Theory & Practice, 17(4), 479-496.

(10) Grace, R. (2013). Developmental disability. In J. Bowes & R. Grace (Eds.), Children families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th ed., pp.39-57). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

(11) Green, B.L., Malsch, A.M., Kothari, B.H., Busse, J., & Brennan, E. (2012). An intervention to increase early childhood staff capacity for promoting children’s social-emotional development in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education, 40(2), 123-132.

(12) Greene, R.W., Ablon, J.S., & Goring, J.C. (2003). A transactional model of oppositional behaviour: Underpinnings of the collaborative problem solving approach. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 55(1), 67-75.

(13) Greene, R., Doyle, A. (1999). Toward a transactional conceptualisation of oppositional defiant disorder: Implications for assessment and treatment. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(3), 129-148.

(14) Hemmeter, M.L., Osttrosky, M., & Fox, L. (2006). Social and emotional foundations for early learning: A conceptual model for intervention. School Psychology Review, 35(4), 583-601.

(15) Iaquinta, A., & Hipsky, S. (2006). Practical bibliotherapy strategies for the inclusive elementary classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(3), 209-213.

(16) Katz, L., & Windecker-Nelson, B. (2004). Parental meta-emotion philosophy in families with conduct-problem children: Links with peer relations.

(17) Koerting, J., Smith, E., Knowles, M., Latter, S., McCann, D., Thompson, M., & Sonuga-Barke, E. (2013). Barriers to, and facilitators of, parenting programmes for childhood behaviour problems: A qualitative synthesis of sutides of parents’ and professionals’ perceptions. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(11), 653-670.

(18) Lanza, H.I., & Drabick, D.A.G. (2011). Family routine moderates the relation between child impulsivity and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(1), 83-94.

(19) Lavigne, J.V., Lebailly, S.A., Gouze, K.R., Binns, H.J., Keller, J., & Pate, L. (2010). Predictors and correlates of completing behavioural parental training for the treatment of oppositional defiant disorder in paediatric primary care. Behaviour Therapy, 41(2), 198-211.

(20) Orsati, F.T., & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2013). Challenging control: Inclusive teachers’ and teaching assistants’ discourse on students with challenging behaviour. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(5), 507-525.

(21) Santos, R.M., Fettig, A., & Shaffer, L. (2012). Helping families connect early literacy with social-emotional development. Young Children, 67(2), 88-93.

(22) Steeves, P. (2006). Sliding doors – Opening our world. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39, 105-114.

(23) Temple, E., & Emmett, S. (2013). Promoting the development of children’s emotional and social wellbeing in early childhood settings: How can we enhance the capability of educators to fulfil role expectations? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(1), 66-72.

(24) Williams, T.T., Sanchez, B., & Hunnell, J. (2011). Aligning theory and practice: Understanding school-family partnerships at an inner-city high school. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(5), 689-697.

© Tirzah Lim 2017

Are You In Lockdown or Close To It?

Connect and Reflect – Moving On From Fear

Nothing is wrong with the feelings you are experiencing, but you can be active in these paralysing times. One way is to act – connect and reflect, and you can get through it as you walk alongside others.

Are you worrying and feeling that you are losing control of what you use to be in control of? Do you want to gain back control, but one of the ways you have used that give you back some control is to shop – shop for groceries, toilet paper and anything online that catches your eye?

Do you then feel a short-term burst of control, and then felt like all you’ve done so far ended up bringing you back to how you felt in the beginning?

Or, do you then feel guilty for the money you’ve spent or the useless things that ended up wasting your money?

What strategies do you have to support you during these times?

– Netfix, your electronic devices, your pets.

– Relaxation techniques, yoga, exercise, mindfulness.

– Resilience, emotional intelligence.

Yes, the above are all great and important in helping you deal with present feelings of fear, anxiety and stress and being proactive and equipping you with skills for the future.

However, what is missing in most of the advice presented online is the importance of people – people supporting people – human interaction. Alright, we might not be able to meet each other because of social distancing, self-isolation, or even quarantine, but interaction in the sense of focusing on one another, looking and listening to each other, and sharing an experience or discussion together is vital during these times.

Talking and connecting is the best medicine during these times. Talking to someone allows you to share your heart and what’s going on for you – your fears, troubles, worries. Talking also allows you to regain perspective as you reflect on what is really going on underneath all your feelings and actions you’ve been going through.

Of course there are electronic ways to connect and interact with each other: phone or  video calling, email and social media.

But, these are times you can strengthen the relationships and interactions within your household:

– Games night – board games or the like and outdoor games with the kids or without the kids.

-Date nights between partners.

– Doing the chores together rather than assigning different chores or forcing different members of the house to do it. Yes, you have to get things done, but quality of the interaction during those times is more important than how much you get done. When you do things together and work as a team or community in your household it enriches your relationships and strengthens your bond with one another.

– Down-time from electronic devices and focussing on one another. Set aside time every day at routine times of the day to just engage and have a chat. In particular, during meal times and before day/night time sleep with your children.


If you don’t know or can’t find anyone who can be your system of support at this time, then please please contact me. I would love to be there for you.


© Tirzah Lim 2017

Why Talk? – How You Can Improve Self-Regulation Skills

Talking and the Link with Self-Regulation Skills… That Empowers Children’s Voice

Self-Regulation Skills….

Self-regulation skills are an important developmental skill that has an accumulating influence and effect on various areas of children’s development, including their self-esteem and self-worth, which builds their social-emotional wellbeing and self-identity.

By empowering children with their voice through facilitating intentional talk and conversational opportunities, this stimulates their growth of self-regulatory skills. It also supports their literacy and language development, among other developmental areas.

The Importance of Intentional Talk and Conversations


~ When children utilise expressive/verbal language skills, they learn about sentence structure, meaning of words in context, turn-taking in conversation and pragmatics (3).

      • These skills are the foundation of other language forms and development, including reading and writing.
      • The best way to learn these skills is through talking, particularly intentional and conversational talk.

~ When children have higher emotional self-regulatory skills, this allows them to understand societal rules and behaviour, which leads them to monitoring their own actions (1).

      • This takes children to the level of internalising their self-regulation, which is what we want for all children’s self-regulation skills to reach.
      • However, before reaching the point they can internalise their self-regulation, children are externally regulating their emotions (2).
      • This means they need adult support to help them to self-regulate (2).
          • Teachers can facilitate this area of development through various means such as the following strategies.


Engage WITH children in the following experiences:

~ Narrative and play literacy experiences, combined with drama elements for extension. Eg. improvisation, storytelling and puppetry.

~ Sociodramatic play with teachers and peers.

~ Process drama

      • Teachers use a teacher-in-role (TIR) technique to begin a drama/sociodramatic experience. They adopt a submissive role, then during the experience they work alongside the children – questioning, encouraging, developing and/or steering the drama while remaining in-role.
      • E.g. The teacher could be the new fire-fighter en-route to an emergency with the ‘expert’ children fire-fighters.

~ Ask open-ended, thought-provoking / inquiry-based questions, rather than close-ended questions.


INITIATE conversations and/or ENGAGE IN conversations with children.

~ At mealtimes – Have conversations about what they are eating and extend on it by talking about what they like to eat. Other topics to talk about that go beyond the present include, what they enjoyed doing during the day, what they did yesterday or what they will do over the weekend, and how’s their day going (reflecting on their feelings and thoughts of the day).

~ When children need a break, because they are getting a bit too energetic, break up the day with some ‘quiet time’.

      • ‘Quiet time’ is a time where children can get into small groups in a relaxed mood/setting, and have little conversations – recalling past events, predicting future events (such as what they will do tomorrow or on their planned holiday) and/or narrating imagined stories to each other.
So why all this talking? What’s really taking place?

When Children Talk Beyond Their Immediate Context They…

~ Develop ‘decontextualised language’. That is, they talk about and explain events in the past and future, which allows them to wonder and imagine about ideas.

~ Develop their verbal language skills and increase their vocabulary.

~ Develop skills that will contribute later to their writing, both for creative and more formal purposes.

~ When children narrate stories and love to have ‘chats’, they also develop more self-confidence as they learn more social skills and grow in their social-emotional skills and wellbeing (3).

~ Use higher-level thinking skills such as, suggestions and prediction as they answer open-ended questions posed to them. This sparks curiosity that contributes to their cognitive development (4).

When Teachers Have Conversations & Talk With Children… (3)

~ Teachers can model language, including grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary.

~ Teachers can model self-regulatory processing skills.

~ Children learn empathy as they see others have different thoughts, feelings and experiences than themselves.

~ Children develop a sense of belonging and being as they develop trusting relationships with adults and peers through the conversations they have with each other. This all contributes to more self-confidence and positive social-emotional wellbeing.

As a result, children are empowered with their voice! They use their voice/words to speak out, and in doing so, are empowered and realise that their voice can and has the right to be listened to and respected by both their peers and adults.


To read more about how to use language as a means to promote self-regulatory skills through other areas in the program, how it supports the growth in other areas of development, and to know more benefits beyond those listed here, refer to the reading by:

(3) Test J.E., Cunningham, D.D., & Lee, A.C. (2010). Talking with young children: How teachers encourage learning. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 38(3), 3-14. From: http://southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Talking_With_Young_Children.pdf



(1) Willis, E., & Dinehart, L.H. (2014). Contemplative practices in early childhood: Implications for self-regulation skills and school readiness. Early Child Development and Care, 184(4),487-499. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2013.804069

(2) Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Dawson & Guare, 2010, as cited in Willis & Dinehart (2014).

(4) A study by Weitzman & Greenberg, 2002, as cited in Test, Cunningham, & Lee (2010).

© Tirzah Lim 2017