When Punishment is Problematic

People do not act for no reason.

They may act in response to an idea.

They may act in response to an emotion.

They may act in response to a need that requires satisfaction.

They may act because the way their brain developed impairs their capacity to think before they act in the presence of a trigger (stimulus).

If we accept the truth that people do not act for no reason, then we must similarly accept that when we punish a child for their actions without any effort to try to understand why they did what they did, we are essentially communicating to them that their thoughts, feelings, needs and biological characteristics are unimportant or invalid. Repeated often enough, the child develops the belief that they are unimportant and invalid.

The consequences of invalidation include behavioural problems, emotional problems, preoccupations with needs and a lack of regard for the impact of one’s behaviour on others and one’s relationships.

We can avoid perpetuating maladaptive behaviour in children by responding with understanding to the reason for their behaviour and, in doing so, nourish connections that support their self-regulation and adherence to behaviour conventions.

Pinocchio tells the truth, lest his nose grow and he experience disapproval

For more information about what therapeutic (re)parenting looks like, I recommend my books about attachment and resilience.

Colby Pearce Resilience

To access a PDF of this article, click here.

If you found the information in this article useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive further ideas and guidance when it becomes available.

Join 2,978 other followers

For more information about my work visit securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my therapeutic parenting programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

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Posted in AAA Caregiving, Attachment, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, Training Programs, trauma informed practice, Trauma Informed Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trauma-Informed: Adopting a Balanced View

I was born in January, which is the height of summer in Adelaide, South Australia. As such, I have always thought of myself as a “summer baby” and considered that this is why I enjoy the warmer months as opposed to the cooler months. I have a lifelong aversion to feeling cold and for many, many years I felt below my best during winter. I have questioned many people about this and have discovered that most people prefer either the warmer months or the cooler months. Many of them are just not happy until their preferred season returns.

A number of years ago, and with the emergence of joint aches and pains during the colder months, I had the thought that it was a bit of nonsense really to consider myself a “summer baby” and defer happiness until it was warm again. I have always been a keen gardener and have a large hills garden. Looking after my garden is an act of self-care. Water is an issue as it is scarce and expensive, my garden is large, and summer is hot (As I write this it is the fifth consecutive day of over 40C). So, I bought some rainwater tanks and now I ‘pray’ for as much ‘bad’ weather as possible during the cooler months. I check the weather radar each day and feel let down if forecast wet and wintry weather blows south or north. I still have my aches and pains and look forward to the warmer months when they trouble me less, but I also look forward to cooler, wetter months now as it is a boon for my efforts to maintain a magnificent garden. And the garden? Well, with the additional water supply it has never looked better.

What has all this got to do with looking after children and young people; particularly those who experienced significant adversity in the first days, weeks, months and years of their precious lives? Well, it has to do with how we perceive them and the effects of this; both in terms of our own experience of caring for them and their experience of being cared for by us.

I am particularly interested in the idea of “self-fulfilling-prophecies”. In Psychology, these take the following form. I have a thought. My thought induces an emotion. My emotion activates a behavioural response. My behavioural response precipitates a reaction in others. The reaction of others often confirms my original thought.

Let’s try one. Thought: nobody loves me. A common feeling associated with this thought: sadness. A common behavioural response to feeling sad: withdrawal. An all-to-common reaction from others to my withdrawal: admonishment. An (almost) inevitable result: confirmation of the original – thought nobody loves me.

Lets try another. He is damaged by his early experiences. I feel badly for him. I try to heal him. He keeps pushing me away*. He is obviously damaged.

And, another: He is such a good artist. I am so proud of him. I support and encourage his interest in art. His skills develop and he is often affirmed for his artistic achievements. He is such a good artist!

Children and young people who have experienced significant adversity at the beginning of their life are commonly referred to as “traumatised”. There is much literature about how early trauma impacts the developing child, including their acquisition of skills and abilities, their emotions, their relationships with others and even their brain. This literature focuses on the damage early trauma does and there is a risk that we, their caregivers, see these children as damaged.

One of my favourite allegories is the one that the author Paulo Coelho tells in his book, The Zahir. Coelho tells the story of two fire-fighters who take a break from fire fighting. One has a clean face and the other has a dirty, sooty face. As they are resting beside a stream, one of the fire-fighters washes his face. The question is posed as to which of the fire-fighters washes his face. The answer is the one whose face was clean, because he looked at the other and thought he was dirty.

The idea of the looking-glass-self (Cooley, 1902), whereby a person’s self-concept is tied to their experience of how others view them, has pervaded my life and my practice since I stumbled across the concept as a university student. Empirical studies have shown that the self-concept of children and young people, in particular, is shaped by their experience of how others view them. In my work, this has created a tension between acknowledging the ill-effects of early trauma and encouraging a more helpful focus among those who interact with so-called ‘traumatised children’ in a caregiving role.

I am just as fallible as the next person, and I do not have all the answers. But as a professional who interacts with these children and their caregivers on a daily basis I strive to find a balance between acknowledging and addressing the ill-effects of early trauma and promoting a more helpful perception of these children. I strive to present opportunities to these children for them to experience themselves as good, lovable and capable; to experience me and other adults in their lives as interested in them, as caring towards them and as delighting in their company; as well as experiences that the world is a safe place where their needs are satisfied. I strive to enhance their experience of living and relating, rather than dwelling on repairing the damage that was done to them. Most of all, I see precious little humans whose potential is still yet to be discovered.

Eyes are mirrors for a child’s soul. What do children see in your eyes?

*Children who have had a tough start to life are often defensive about a fuss being made about them. Conversely, they can soak up such a fuss and present as so ‘needy’ that they never seem to get better; notwithstanding our best efforts.

For more information about what therapeutic (re)parenting looks like, I recommend my books about attachment and resilience.

Colby Pearce Resilience

To access a PDF of this article, click here.

If you found the information in this article useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive further ideas and guidance when it becomes available.

Join 2,978 other followers

For more information about my work visit securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

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References

Coelho, P (2005), The Zahir. London. Harper Collins

Cooley, C.H. (1902). Human Nature and the Social Order. New York. NY: Scribner Publishers                                                       

Posted in Adoption, Attachment, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, Training Programs, trauma informed, trauma informed care, Trauma Informed Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Therapeutic Parenting : What it Looks Like

Recently, I posted about what I consider to be therapeutic (re)parenting for children who are recovering from a tough start to life. You can read that post by clicking here. In this post I will provide a description of what therapeutic parenting might look like when viewed as enrichment of conventional aspects of parenting that support recovery from inconsistent and inadequate care and early attachment trauma.

It is not an exhaustive list, but may provide some useful ideas about where to start. I would encourage you to subscribe or otherwise connect with me (see below for options) as I will be releasing more specific guidance shortly.

  1. Provide routines and boundaries: These support experience of order and consistency, where once there was chaos and inconsistency. Simple things like a consistent mealtimes, bedtimes and one-to-one activities (including bedtime rituals).
  2. Check in: Initiating interaction with the child without them having to do anything to gain your attention offers experiences that you are thinking of them and that you are there for them without them having to control and regulate your proximity to reassure themselves of your availability and responsiveness. Simple things like greeting them when you return to the house before they seek you out, or checking in with them to let them know where you are, what you will be doing, and when you will be back. A simple note in their lunch box can also reassure the child that their are in your thoughts, even when your are parted.
  3. Tune in: Observing their emotions and allowing yourself to show your own echo of their emotions (also called instinctive empathy) before self-regulating back to calm supports connection on an emotional level. Emotional connection and regulation back to calm supports many aspects of children’s socio-emotional development, including emotional awareness, emotional expression, empathy and socio-emotional reciprocity (regulating our own behaviours and expressed emotion to positively influence the experience of others). One of the most common ways to facilitate shared emotional experiences is to do activities with a child (eg art and craft, play, watching/playing sport, card/board games). Other ways are to show pride in their achievements and concern when they are distressed.
  4. Address their needs proactively: Addressing needs before the child has a chance to express them supports their experience that their needs are understood and important and that they do not have to control and regulate their environment (including you) to reassure themselves that their needs will be met. You already ensure that they have shelter, clothing, physical sustenance, and access to education. You might also offer that snack they regularly ask for at school pick-up before they ask, or offer to help them with their homework, or take them to the playground. If you can anticipate the request or gesture made by the child to secure a response to a need or reasonable wish, get in first.
  5. Speak their mind: If you have a pre-verbal child or a pet you know what I mean. Most people will say they do this with their pets and small children. Say what you think is in their head (thoughts) and in their heart (feelings). If you know the answer (even if the child will not give it) to the question, don’t ask it: say the answer. Speaking their mind assists children who have a tough start to life to feel understood and that their experience matters; that they matter. It also assists them to develop language to use to articulate their experience. If you can see what sort of a day the child has had as they approach you at school pick-up, don’t ask them how their day was. Say what you see. Make it a statement that communicates understanding Of their experience of the day. You can do the same at mealtimes (you really like that) and when you are doing activities together (this is fun).

For more information about what therapeutic (re)parenting looks like, I recommend my books about attachment and resilience.

Colby Pearce Resilience

To access a PDF of this article, click here.

If you found the information in this article useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive further ideas and guidance when it becomes available.

Join 2,978 other followers

For more information about my work visit securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

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Party Hats On Monsters

I find this to be a very useful activity for assisting younger children to manage their fears and nightmares. It should be a fun activity, so if the child is showing distress or resistance at participating, then it is not the time or place or activity for them. It is not a substitute for formal professional assistance and if fears or nightmares persist I would encourage parents and caregivers to consult their Doctor or a mental health professional.

Party Hats on Monsters is a technique that assists children with their fears in an enjoyable and non-threatening way. It can also be used to assist children who experience distressing nightmares. A lot of children often don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings verbally so this strategy uses drawing to help children to still be able manage their feelings and work though things that might be troubling them.

Step 1.        

Ask your child to draw a picture of something that makes them feel happy and safe.

Step 2.        

Talk with your child about the picture they drew in a relaxed manner.

Step 3.        

Encourage your child to draw a picture of the nightmare/feared object that has been troubling them.

Step 4.        

Now encourage your child to change the picture in funny ways to make it seem less scary. For example, they can draw it wearing a party hat, they could draw a super hero or magic fairy to change the scary characters from mean to nice. The more changes, and the sillier the picture is, the better.

Step 5.        

While the child is changing their picture you can tell them that changing the picture makes the nightmare or feared object less scary. Let them know that they can also change the picture they have in their head to help them feel less frightened.

Practice this task with your child when they have nightmares or until they get the hang of it and are able to change the pictures in their head.

To access a PDF of this activity click here.

Source: Hall, T.M., Kaduson, H.G., & Schaefer, C.E. (2001), Fifteen Effective Play Therapy Techniques. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6), 515-522

Important:

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For more information about the thinking behind these enrichment activities visit securestart.com.au or email me at colby@securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

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How to train : Some reflections

The training of carers of children in out-of-home-care (OOHC) and the social care professionals who support them is closely aligned. There is an emphasis on imparting what carers and professionals need to know (theory/ideas), and relatively less emphasis on what they need to do (that is, how to put theory in to practice). This might be seen as the logical outcome of how trainers, themselves, were trained, in that formal education of those who train is likely to have itself emphasised the acquisition of knowledge of the subject(s) about which they train.

In my opinion, training ideally pays equal attention to what participants need to know and what they need to do to put this knowledge in to practice. Theoretical content must enable problem-solving (what is going on here?) and the ability to identify what strategies are most likely to address problems (what do I do to address this?). That is, in a context of finite access to additional supports, training ideally supports independent thinking, problem-solving, and self-reliance.

Whether I am writing a book or training package or conducting an implementation project, these ideas are at the forefront of my endeavours. The aim is to not only support an understanding of the subject that promotes effective individual problem-solving and self-reliance, but also to impart knowledge of strategies that address difficulties that are likely to be encountered and how to put these strategies in to practice.

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A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition) represents a practical resources written to facilitate both an understanding of the impact of parenting and adverse relational experiences on the developing child, as well as providing a toolkit of practical strategies to facilitate children’s recovery and growth.

My two programs – The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Therapeutic Framework – also target the promotion of knowledge of the issues affecting children in out-of-home-care and their caregivers and emphasise training in practical strategies for addressing these issues and the knowledge of when and how to employ them (and anticipated outcomes).

For more information about A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition), including how to access a copy, visit here.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place way to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

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Posted in Training Programs, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trauma-informed in South Australia: the Kinship CARE Project

As at September 2018 there were 1717 children in kinship care placements in South Australia, representing 46% of all children in out-of-home care with an authority for placement (Department for Child Protection Reporting and Statistics). Year-by-year statistics for the period 30 June 2014 to 30 September 2018 show that, across a four-year period, the number of children in kinship care placements grew by 523. By comparison, the number of children in foster care placements as at September 2018 was 1,442, which represents 39% of children in out-of-home care with an authority for placement. Across the period June 2014 to September 2018 the number of children in foster care grew by 338.

These statistics show that kinship care is the largest form of family-based care for children in out-of-home care with an authority for placement in South Australia. They also show that the number of children entering kinship care placements over the last four years has grown almost fifty percent faster than the number entering foster care.

The Kinship CARE Project

The Kinship CARE Project is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional implementation program that supports common language, common knowledge and a common approach to the therapeutic re-parenting of children in out-of-home-care who have experienced early trauma.  Participants include kinship carers, kinship care support staff and psychology professionals. The Kinship CARE Project draws on the CARE Therapeutic Framework, which is both a model of therapeutic care and a practice framework for the promotion of trauma-informed care and trauma-informed practice. Additional information about the CARE Therapeutic Framework and the Kinship CARE Project can be found here.

The Kinship CARE Project incorporates continuous quality assurance and evaluation measures in support of fidelity to the ‘model’ and classification of the CARE Therapeutic Framework as ‘evidence based practice’ for:

  • Establishing a common knowledge, language and approach among kinship carers, kinship care support workers, and psychologists who support both;
  • Developing competencies related to trauma-informed, therapeutic re-parenting of children in kinship care, and competencies in the implementation of a practice framework that supports fidelity to the therapeutic re-parenting approach;
  • Developing competencies in self-care;
  • Supporting empowerment and self-efficacy in the respective roles of participants of the program; and
  • Improving connections between kinship children and their carers (reduce placement breakdowns and support attachment security), and connections between kinship carers and Agency staff who work in the kinship care space.

The opportunity exists to further support trauma-informed care and practice in your organisation by undertaking an implementation project for the CARE Therapeutic Framework. If you represent an organisation that might be interested, do get in touch with me via my email at colby@securestart.com.au.

Important:

If you found the content of this article interesting and/or useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive further articles when they become available.

Join 2,978 other followers

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place way to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

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Reactive Attachment Disorder and the Looking-Glass-Self

Epilogue

In his 1902 publication, Human Nature and the Social Order, Charles Horton Cooley introduced the concept of the Looking Glass Self to portray his idea that an individual’s perception of themselves develops in association with how they experience others to see them. Using naturalistic observation as his primary research methodology, including observation of his own children, Cooley proposed that ideas of self  incorporate (1) our thoughts about how we must appear to others; (2) our thoughts about the judgement of others of this appearance; and (3) our feelings associated with the imagined judgements of others. Empirical research has shown that how adolescents and young adults think of themselves is correlated with how they think they are perceived by their parents (Cook and Douglas, 1998). Though there is an emerging acknowledgement that, as they get older, individuals actively seek to influence the judgements of others, contemporary sociological research (Yeung and Martin, 2003) lends support to the idea that “ . . . self-conceptions are instilled through interaction with high-status alters” (p.843). It follows that an individual’s thoughts of how they must appear to others, their thoughts about the judgements of others of this appearance and the resultant feelings associated with the imagined judgements of others are likely to stem from the individual’s experience of relatedness to others. Though not the sole determinant of self-concept, it is conceivable that if a child predominantly experiences significant others to be friendly and interested in them, understanding of them and accepting of who they are from an early age, the child will think of themself as interesting, competent and approved of. In contrast, if a child predominantly experiences significant others to be inaccessible, frightening, rejecting or disinterested, they will think of themselves as bad, undeserving and unsafe. When one considers the historical experiences of children who have an attachment disorder, their maladjusted behaviour and the associated rejecting and punitive responses of adults in a caregiving role, it should be of no surprise that negative attachment representations are maintained and strengthened (Pearce, 2010).

Children who have an attachment disorder perceive themselves to be bad. As long as they perceive themselves to be bad, they will act bad. Acting bad produces a predictable response in others and confirms their belief system, which in an unhealthy sense is reassuring to the child who has an attachment disorder. It provides an element of stability and predictability to counter-balance their perception that their world is unpredictable and chaotic, this latter being anxiety-evoking. Negative conduct also draws more attention than positive conduct. Consider the fact that newborn babies draw attention to their needs through affective displays that would later be considered to be antisocial. This behaviour, along with a gregarious smile, has emerged through evolution as an effective means by which the young child communicates with others and secures needs provision. It follows that children who are preoccupied with accessibility to needs provision are likely to use these infant strategies (i.e., charming smiles and screaming tantrums). We should not be surprised that these strategies are consistent with the two types of disorder of attachment referred to in this book.

In caring for children who have an attachment disorder it is important to maintain a positive attitude and disposition towards the child as a person and to not be drawn into a perception of them as fundamentally bad because their behaviour is bad. Spending special time together and exclaiming over their positive qualities and abilities are useful starting points in this process, as is holding and maintaining positive thoughts about the child. Nevertheless, it is important to be mindful that in doing so you are acting unpredictably from the child’s point of view. This will take some getting used to at first for the child and they may even actively resist (e.g. “So you think I am good; well I’ll show you just how bad I can be”). Nevertheless, in the longer term they will come to accept that you see them in a positive light and this will be the beginning of them seeing themselves the same way.

Eyes are mirrors for a child’s soul. What do children see in your eyes?

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Source: Pearce, C (2016). A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

To learn more, access a copy of the book.

If you found the content of this article interesting and/or useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please subscribe to this blog to receive further articles when they become available.

Join 2,978 other followers

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place way to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

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References

Cooley, CH (1902). Human Nature and The Social Order. USA: Charles Scribner’s Sons

Cook, W.C., & Douglas, E.M. (1998), The looking glass self in family context: A social relations analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(3), 299-309

Yeung, K.T. & Martin, J.L. (2003). The looking glass self: An empirical test and elaboration. Social Forces, 81(3), 843-879

Pearce, C.M. (2010). An Integration of Theory, Science and Reflective Clinical Practice in the Care and Management of Attachment-Disordered Children – A Triple A Approach. Educational and Child Psychology (Special Issue on Attachment), 27 (3): 73-86

Posted in Attachment, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice, Trauma Informed Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Four Mice: An Attachment Story

Consistency

Following the popularity of the allegory, A Tale of Three Mice, which formed the prologue to the first edition of A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder, when I was asked by my publisher to prepare a Second Edition I extended the story to a fourth mouse.

Let me know what you think.

Once upon a time there were four mice.

The first mouse lived in a house that contained, along with furniture and other household goods and possessions, a button and a hole in the wall from which food was delivered. Each time the mouse pressed the button he would receive a tasty morsel of his favourite food. The mouse understood that, when he was hungry, all he had to do was press the button and food would arrive via the hole. The mouse took great comfort in the predictability of his access to food and only pressed the button when he was hungry.

The second mouse lived in a similar house, also containing a button and a hole in the wall from which food was delivered. Unfortunately, the button in his house was faulty and delivered food on an inconsistent basis when he pressed it, such that he might receive food via the hole on the first, fifth, seventh, or even the eleventh time he pressed the button. This mouse learnt that he could not always rely on the button and that he had to press the button many times, even when he was not actually hungry, in order to ensure that he would have food. Even after his button was fixed he found it difficult to stop pressing it frequently and displayed a habit of storing up food.

The third mouse also lived in a similar house, containing a button and a hole in the wall from which food was to be delivered. However, the button in his house did not work at all. He soon learnt that he could not rely on the button and would have to develop other ways of gaining access to food. This belief, and his associated lack of trust in the button, persisted when he moved to a new home with a fully functioning button. He developed unconventional strategies to access food, such as stealing from his neighbour’s house.

A fourth mouse was most unfortunate of all. In addition to presses of his button failing to result in the delivery of food, there was a malfunction with his underfloor heating, such that suddenly and without warning the floor would become electrified and he would receive a painful electric shock. In a further twist, the button that was supposed to result in the delivery of food when pressed became the means by which the electrification of the floor could be switched off. This mouse never strayed far from the button and focused intently on it, even when moved to another home where presses of the button consistently resulted in the delivery of food and the floor never became electrified.

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Source: Pearce, C (2016). A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

To learn more about the meaning of this allegory, access a copy of the book.

If you found the content of this article interesting and/or useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please subscribe to this blog to receive further articles when they become available.

Join 2,978 other followers

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place way to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

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Posted in Adoption, Attachment, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice, Trauma Informed Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Therapeutic Parenting : What is it?

Across a career spanning almost 25 years I have spent much of my time engaging with caregivers of deeply hurt and troubled children.

Caregivers of these children often ask: What can I do to help this child?

This is an interesting question.

Which of the following statements best reflects the first answer caregivers would like to receive to this question?

  1. This is what you are doing wrong.
  2. This is what you should be doing.
  3. This is what you are doing right!

Which are caregivers more likely to keep doing over time:

  1. What they already know and do that is helpful for the child in their care?
  2. A completely new regime of care and management strategies?

I believe that therapeutic parenting must start with conventional care and relational strategies; that is, what caregivers already know and already do that supports recovery from a tough start to life.

Why? Two reasons, really:

  1. Because change is stressful, and children who have had a tough start to life are particularly sensitive to change (consistency and predictability, on the other hand, are reassuring and actually reduce stress).
  2. Because it is difficult to make significant changes to how we approach caregiving and sustain them over time (we all are susceptible to falling back in to old habits and ways in which we have always done things. This is a big problem for children who have had a tough start to life as to change the way one approaches caregiving, only to revert to old ways, is experienced by the child as inconsistency, which is stressful and can have the effect of further unsettling the child’s emotions and behaviours).

My recommended approach to therapeutic (re) parenting is to identify particular aspects of conventional caregiving and relating (that is, we all do them, at least some of the time) that we know from science provide strong foundations for children’s development and the achievement of their potential.  I then ask that they be implemented intentionally and in an organised and ordered (that is predictable) way.

Neglectful CARE

Why? Because children who have had a tough start to life have generally missed out on important experiences of caregiving and relating that support optimal development and wellbeing.

Good CARE

So, from my perspective, therapeutic parenting is an enrichment process, at least to begin with. It enriches conventional aspects of caregiving and relating that support what we know about how to raise healthy and happy children who achieve their developmental potential. For those children who are recovering from a tough start to life, it fills in the gaps in their experience of caregiving.

Though it is trauma informed, therapeutic parenting need not necessarily focus too much on the impact of trauma. Rather, therapeutic parenting must be strengths based. Children see themselves as they experience others to see them, so they need their caregivers to see their strengths and evidence of recovery. Similarly, there is nothing more demoralizing than being sensitized to see the impacts of abuse and neglect and associated challenges to the caregiving role, as opposed to evidence that the hurt child is recovering and growing in your care. A strengths focus, both in terms of what caregivers are doing right and signs of recovery and growth, is supportive of self-care. Good self-care enriches caregivers’ capacity to provide the sensitive and responsive care needed by children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

The CARE Therapeutic Framework and the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care are strengths-based, trauma informed approaches to supporting the recovery of children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences. I would love to hear from you about conducting an implementation project in your organisation, or in the organisation that supports you in the caregiving role.

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For more information about my work visit securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAA

Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

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Posted in AAA Caregiving, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

School Holidays : A brief survival guide

Dear subscribers and visitors. It is Christmas holiday time here in Australia, and I thought that I would update this older post, which was very much buried in this site. Again, it contains some practical advice that many parents, grandparents, foster parents, kinship carers and adoptive parents might appreciate receiving at this time. The information is drawn from what is known about how people respond in, and react to, change and inconsistency. I hope you find it useful personally or, if you know of others who would appreciate having this information, do share it via the share buttons at the bottom of the post.

Do leave a comment if you feel inclined to. I appreciate receiving constructive feedback.

For a PDF of this article and other resources, click here.

Best Wishes. Colby

SStress arises when there is change and inconsistency.  Change is frequently described as being stressful. Humans function better, psychologically, in consistent environments, where we know what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and why.  Inconsistency and uncertainty are irritants to our nervous system, resulting in higher-than-usual arousal levels, intense emotions, and unsettled behaviours.

 

U

Under stress, the brains of children are hard-wired to set off behaviours associated with the fight-flight-freeze response:

  • Fight:     Controlling, aggressive, destructive and demanding behaviour, hyperactivity
  • Flight:    Running off, hiding, hyperactivity
  • Freeze:  Reduced responsiveness to the environment (e.g. not listening, daydreaming)

 

R

Routines provide structure and order to people’s lives, which relieves stress and helps to maintain lower arousal levels. The absence of routines is stressful.

 

 

 

VVariety is the spice of life. But too much variety and too many choices can be overwhelming for children. Limit the number of choices of activity a child is given at any one time.

 

 

IIf your child is consistently misbehaving day after day, it is probably because they are used to following routines and being occupied throughout the day, as occurs during school term. Planning activities for your children across each day and the week ahead and making these plans known and visible to the child via a calendar or other visual assists with structuring their day and week and will help with avoiding boredom and unsettled behaviour.

 

V 2

Vigorous physical activity is a useful way to reduce stress and alleviate boredom. Incorporate at-least 30 minutes of physical activity into your child’s daily routine (e.g. visiting a playground; riding a bike; walking the dog; trampoline time).

 

EEndeavour to maintain routines, just as occurs during school times (e.g. bedtime, wake-time, mealtimes, activity time).

A Final Word

Parents also need consistency. Maintain some routines of your own.

For a PDF of this article and other resources, click here.

Important:

If you found the information in this article useful, please share it using the sharing buttons below.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive further ideas and guidance when it becomes available. Click “follow” or “subscribe” below.

For more information about my work visit securestart.com.au.

You can access more information about my programs by clicking the links below:

CARE embedded in AAATriple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The CARE Therapeutic Framework

Helping Children and Young People Realise their Potential

Another place to connect with my work is to follow one or more of my pages on Facebook:

Secure Start Therapeutic Care

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

Join 2,978 other followers

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