We know that . . .
We do that . . .
These are all-too-familiar responses to endeavours to promote conventional aspects of caregiving and relating as part of a therapeutic approach to the care of children who are experiencing, or who have experienced, adverse life events and adversity.
So why recommend conventional approaches to caregiving and relating as part of a therapeutic approach to care?
In my opinion, recommending conventional approaches to caregiving and relating represents our best chance of promoting a common language and understanding among adults in a care and management role across environments (eg home and school) and consistency in their implementation across time.
Consistency is vital to the care of children recovering from adverse life events and adversity*. Consistency of care experiences represents the optimal condition for new learning; including learning that they are good, capable and deserving, that adults are reliable and dependable, and that the world is predictable and safe place. Inconsistency mimics the circumstances under which adverse life events and adversity occurs, thus perpetuating their negative impacts on the developing child.
Recommending conventional approaches to caregiving and relating that are therapeutic reassures caregivers that they are a person of worth and that their efforts on behalf of the child are worthwhile. Not only is it intended to be validating, but a process is facilitated whereby the caregiver becomes more aware of those occasions when they exhibit the therapeutic caregiving or relational behaviour and, in turn the response of the child. Therapeutic caregiving and relational behaviours are anticipated to promote a positive response in the child, which is rewarding and reinforcing of the behaviour. Rewarded behaviour remains in the caregivers repertoire, thus promoting consistency in the child’s experience of care, and facilitating conscious adherence to a therapeutic care approach.
Recommending conventional approaches to caregiving and relating that are therapeutic for children promotes feelings of self-efficacy and wellbeing for caregivers, which are vital to the longevity of their endeavours. As these therapeutic aspects of caregiving and relating are rewarded both intrinsically (the caregivers experience) and extrinsically (the child’s reaction), they become consistent and predictable aspects of the child’s experience of care.
Recommending conventional approaches to caregiving and relating that are therapeutic for children enriches their lives, and those of their caregivers.
*Pearce, C. (2016), A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition), London & New York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers