Talking Early Years with June O’Sullivan: In conversation with Kate Silverton

June 30th 2021

Mum to two young children, journalist and children’s mental health advocate, Kate Silverton shares her ground-breaking new approach to parenting under-fives that helps to make family life so much easier with her best-selling book: There’s No Such Thing as ‘Naughty’.


Much of the content of the book is recognisable to many of us working in the Early Years.

Beginning with the view that parenting is a tough job, Kate explains her rationale for writing her Number 1 Sunday Times Bestseller parenting book in what can appear to be a crowded marketplace. There is a raft of information available on the internet, in bookshops and blogs from celebrities and influencers but in some ways this has overwhelmed parents and it is often not clear enough.

Recently, we asked parents at LEYF where they accessed relevant information. Friends and families were the dominant place followed by their nurseries, especially where they had positive relationships with the staff.

In her book, Kate looks at parenting from inside their child’s heads. She is very clear that helping a child learn to emotionally regulate is one of the most important jobs a parent can do.

Dear Kids, Love From Your Brain.' What All Kids Need to Know About the Brain - Hey Sigmund

In the Early Years sector, we also recognise this and the research from Nobel Prize winning American economist, Professor James Heckman demonstrates the long-term benefits of a child managing their emotions themselves and being able to defer gratification. This includes knowing how to soothe and calm our children while also ensuring they have boundaries that sets out the rules of the relationships.  Remember, we are not our children’s friends but their parents and that is what they expect from us.  They want us to be in charge, calm, kind and empathetic and able to help them emotionally, regulate their huge emotions – the sorts of emotions that are sometime just too big for them.

Kate helps explain the reasoning for getting inside your child’s head by translating the science of the brain with the help of three animals: the lizard, the baboon and the wise owl and the baobab tree.  While the book is designed to support parents, the storying-telling about brain development and her ability to make these visible is engaging for all Early Years apprentices, students and staff new to the subject.

The concept of inside the child’s head should be central to PSED courses attended by every Early Years staff member as well as her reminder of the ways that we, as adults, need can use to manage our own amygdala hijack as we hit the fight-or-flight response! Kate’s suggestion from her days on Strictly Come Dancing that we all learn to Salsa Shimmy is perfect for staff and children .

Listen to the podcast and enjoy a conversation which also asks if we know so much about supporting children to become emotionally literate, why are so many Government policies rejecting all this research?