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Shona lifts the lid on the Secret Life of 4 Year Olds

Shona Goodall on the Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds
10 November 2017

Our children’s clinical psychologist Dr Shona Goodall appears on the current series of Channel 4’s Secret Life of 4 Year Olds.

The award winning documentary series offers viewers a fascinating insight into what goes on when you drop your little ones at the nursery gates.

As before, the team of experts watch all the action unfold from behind the scenes, and Shona was hand-picked to provide insight on the development of emotions and relationships in young children.

Shona said: “It was really exciting to be part of a show that I had only previously watched as an interested viewer. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes between four year olds when they are playing and encountering new situations and opportunities gave me a real insight that doing observations in my usual job doesn’t – often sitting in the room can have the effect of changing the very dynamic I’m hoping to observe. So I felt very privileged to get a whole week’s worth of this kind of an opportunity.

“I always knew children at four years old could be funny but it surprised me just how much they seemed to enjoy making each other laugh and how much some of them seemed to enjoy each other’s company.

“It was fascinating to see their development over the course of the week. Some of the children who started off quieter came out of their shell while others who started off louder showed their softer, quieter side.

“There was something in each child I could identify with and I think what’s lovely about the show is that most people watching can find one of the children that they can relate to more, seeing aspects of themselves that they recognise. But what’s wonderful is that it’s different for everyone, some love the cheekiness of Vinnie, while others love the sensitive empathy Tomas showed Aida in the task with the rabbit.

“The film production company were very keen to make sure everyone had fun and that the children would enjoy themselves. In my line of work building emotional resilience starts with fun, because without the ability to relax and enjoy yourself it’s very hard to learn the self-regulation skills to manage stress!

“Stress in and of itself in the short term isn’t particularly harmful as the human body is designed to cope but if left long term it can be particularly problematic.

“In my job we see the negative effects in children when they feel stressed out for long periods, so the take home message I try to convey to families is have fun as a family with your children and be playful as often as you can. This means as a teenager they are more likely to come to you when they need to, as you will have built a connection with them that can be called upon when things get tough.

“This usually starts with making sure parents look after themselves sufficiently and don’t over-criticise themselves, as no matter how adorable young children are, they often have much more energy than the average adult and so can be extremely tiring!”

You can catch up on episodes of the show using All4.

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