About Children Living in the Red Zone

Children of all ages are suffering from burnout and it’s starting as early as preschool. What are we doing? Are our children living in the red zone called overload? If your child has no time for play dates with friends and you no longer have time to play games with each other, then you are living in the red zone. Get out, as quickly as you can!

Nikki Bush, creative parenting expert and author of Future-proof Your Child (Penguin), will discuss the current epidemic being witnessed by parents, educators and healthcare practitioners alike. She will put the following factors into perspective:

  • extra-mural activities
  • play dates
  • downtime / potter time
  • supervised & structured activities vs free play
  • marketing to children
  • choices
  • on-screen activities & overexposure
  • creativity
  • sleep
  • inappropriate information
  • resourcefulness, resilience and creativity
  • cellular disturbances / inflammation
  • parental stress
  • a warp-speed world

This interactive presentation is filled with anecdotes and personal insights. Nikki looks at 10 common parenting traps and their solutions. It is designed to help parents and educators to understand the forces at play and the demands on young children today, and to encourage them to reclaim childhood and their sanity by resetting to zero.


I have been the principal of a community pre-school for the past 32 years. I have also presented the S.T.E.P. parenting course for 12 years, and I am passionate about young children, parenting and family life. Your new talk, Living in the Red Zone really ticks all the boxes and is so very relevant in our lives today.We have such a wide variety of choices these days so our focus is often scattered, and many of us feel we are on a treadmill and don’t do anything wholeheartedly. I do believe in a “value based life” and I really like your terminology of re-setting to zero. We must remember that “zero” is just a choice away and always available to us right now.

Thank you for sharing your time, talents and wisdom with us. It was wonderful to have so many teachers from the local schools surrounding us and to know that these ideas will have such a ripple effect on our wider community.

Anne Hean, Assumption Preschool, KZN (September 2011)

It was a privilege to have Nikki Bush present the above-mentioned talk to our teachers in the Pre Preparatory. We found her presentation to be informative, well researched and relevant to how we are all caught up in the demands of society. Red Zone, we are all faced with this phenomenon, but she shared some invaluable tools on how to deal with this effectively.

Glynis Courtney, HeronBridge Pre Preparatory JHB (August 2011)

I found the Red Zone talk by Nikki Bush to be very enlightening. It highlighted for me the fact that we live in a society that places so many demands on us, and the fact that this will not change. We need to learn ways to deal with this. Nikki’s talk equipped me with the tools to take that “Time Out”, so as to ensure we don’t get caught up in this Red Zone.

Kirsty James, HeronBridge Pre Preparatory JHB (August 2011)

We were delighted that you agreed to present your keynote, Children Living in the Red Zone at our 2014 SAMA annual conference (South African Montessori Association).The feedback from our members has been so positive. Delegates were highly complementary about your energy and enthusiasm and most importantly the practical solutions you provided for effectively managing the range of debilitating symptoms which manifest when children and their parents find themselves Living in the Red Zone. In particular the following key learnings from your presentation were mentioned by a number of our members:

  • That parents and teachers are empowered when they acknowledge that the world is so very fast paced and that children internalise the constant rush of daily life and suffer as a result.
  • That it is so crucial not to over schedule children and to take time to connect with children in little moments in any given day. For example bending to their level and greeting them warmly as a teacher when they arrive at school, knowing that they have been rushed out of bed and into the car and probably not been really spoken to yet.

In summary, the overwhelming feedback has pointed to your practical, easy to implement advice on “tuning out” from a fast paced world and how you connected closely with each one of your audience. All this in a practical, no-nonsense, yet “ loving mom” way.

The success of our conference was underpinned by careful planning and sound execution. However it goes without saying that the quality of the presenters is of paramount importance. In that regard, we are indebted to you for accepting our invitation and for your excellent presentation to our members.

Thank you and best wishes for a successful year ahead.

Nicky Rodseth, SA Montessori Association EXCO member
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