How to achieve real progress in addressing childhood trauma

In the next few days I will be releasing a resource for supporting trauma-informed practice in schools. The resource complements the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Therapeutic Framework, which are currently being implemented in Australia and Ireland in the out-of-home care sector.

There are a number of motivations for releasing such a resource. Top of the list is that a resource for schools that complements endeavours in out-of-home care promotes:

  • Common knowledge
  • Common language
  • Common approach

These three outcomes support a child’s experience of consistency of care and management across settings. For children who have experienced the chaos and unpredictability of trauma at home, this is the very least we can do to support their recovery.

Just as important, these three outcomes facilitate effective cross-setting communication. When the adults involved with children who are recovering from trauma at home are able to better communicate with each other, effective relationships are fostered. There is much written about the importance of the relationship between caring adults and the child who is recovering from trauma at home. Equally important in any endeavours on behalf of the child is the relationship between the adults who are involved in the child’s life.

We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet!

In addition, practice frameworks, such as Triple-A and CARE, offer a basis for assessing performance and accountability in roles being performed with and on behalf of children who have experienced trauma at home.

I look forward to releasing this resource, and a follow-up resource for out-of-home care shortly thereafter.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me to discuss your interest in my work and potential collaboration.

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.




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

We All Need CARE to Thrive

Something different – a short video about the CARE Therapeutic Framework. Let me know what you think!

If you like this post, please subscribe to this blog to receive an email notification when other practical ideas and guidance is published.

Join 3,151 other followers

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

Posted in Training Programs, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why clinicians use play in therapy with children

This is based on my first blog article, written eight years ago. Though the content of that article is still relevant, it could do with a little updating. I hope you like it.

In response to the statement that he or she (the clinician) ‘just plays with the children’ I give you the following reasons why play is important.

Engagement

Therapy is more likely to be beneficial when children are willing participants. Many children are reluctant, at-least initially, to attend and be involved in therapy. Either they don’t know what to expect, which causes anxiety, or they think that they have to attend because they have been “bad”. However, almost all children enjoy playing and engaging in fun activities with a lively adult. So, incorporating fun activities into therapy is a good way to help children feel relaxed about attending therapy and, indeed, increases their motivation to attend.

connection

Making and maintaining a connection

Research has shown that the heart rates of mothers and infants parallel each other during play[1]. Heart rate is a sign of the level of activity of the nervous system, which is commonly referred to as arousal. Arousal is the physiological component of emotion. When we experience emotion, arousal changes. So, when the heart rates of mothers and infants mirror each other during play, it is possible to conclude that the adult and child are emotionally-connected to each other.

connection

Emotional-connection, as occurs during play, offers a safe environment for the exploration and expression of a range of emotions and, ultimately, a broad and rich emotional repertoire.

Perhaps, most important of all, emotional connection offers experiences of being heard and acknowledged at an emotional level. Feeling heard and acknowledged in this way offers a powerful form of validation that serves as a ‘psychological innoculation’ against mood disorders and other adverse psychological consequences of invalidation (i.e. the experience of not being heard and understood by others) in adulthood.

Emotional connection and, by extension, play, supports emotional health.

Encouraging self-regulation

Most children who are referred for therapy have trouble controlling their emotions, their behaviour, or both. Emotional-connection, as occurs during play, supports the development of emotional awareness (self and other), which is a precursor for empathy and socio-emotional reciprocity (that is, regulating ones own emotions and behaviours in order to achieve mutually desirable outcomes when interacting with another person). Further, emotional-connectedness, as occurs during play, supports opportunities for co-regulation, whereby the adult assists the child to regulate their emotions. Co-regulation is influential in the development of self-regulation.

In sum, play offers opportunities for supporting emotional awareness, emotional self-regulation, and empathy.

Affirmative Experiences

Children who are referred for therapy hold beliefs about themselves, about others and about the world in which they live. Often, one or more of these areas of belief is negative. That is, they might see themselves as bad and helpless, others as mean and uncaring, and/or the world as a harsh place. Simply telling children that they are good, that others are caring and understanding, and that the world is a safe place is rarely effective in changing children’s beliefs. Rather, they need to experience themselves, others and their social world differently. During therapeutic play, children experience themselves as likeable and capable, experience others as fun and “nice”, and their world as safe and a source of happy experiences. This facilitates trust in others and the perception that therapy is a safe place for conversation about the reasons for their emotional distress and/or behaviours of concern.                                                                                                

mum and child playing
connection
love

Play is an important and natural approach for promoting the emotional wellbeing and positive adjustment of children and young people.

If you like this article, please subscribe to this blog to receive an email notification when other practical ideas and guidance is published.

Join 3,151 other followers

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

If you wish to engage with me directly, please use the form below.

[1] Reite, M., & Field, T (1985). The psychobiology of attachment and separation. Orlando: Academic Press

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Tantrums: Eight management strategies to keep in mind

This short article is a follow-up to my previous articles:

Taming Tantrums; Managing Meltdowns: Part One

Taming Tantrums; Managing Meltdowns Part Two

I recommend that you read the above articles in conjunction with this one.

Hereafter, please find eight strategies to keep in mind when responding to a a tantrum exhibited by a child in your care. These are meant to be received as practical first steps. For readers who are very familiar with my work via my books or attending training I have delivered, you may be in a position to try managing tantrums through direct verbal communication with the overwhelmed child. In the meantime (or you are not as familiar with my work), what follows are a good place to start.

1. Keep (relatively) Calm (Hard to do, but models emotional control. I recommend holding in mind that the child is feeling overwhelmed and needs your help, as opposed to that they are being deliberately difficult. Also, keep in mind that showing a little of your own distress at the child’s distress, and then self-regulating to calm, facilitates a normal process whereby an emotional connection is established between you and the child and, as you self-regulate to calm, the child will be helped to regulate to calm via their emotional connection to you).

2. Be Present (Stay close by your child, but don’t interact with them – at this stage. Remaining close, but not too close, will reassure most children that you are available to help them).

3. Drape a heavy blanket across the child’s shoulders (it is soothing).

OR

4.Give the child something to suck or chew on (sucking and chewing are soothing).

OR

5. Put on some of the child’s favourite music (favoured music is calming).

OR

6. Put on a DVD the child likes (also calming).

7. Offer the child the opportunity to have a warm bath or shower.

8. Engage in interactive repair once the child is calm again (do a favoured activity together. This is important to reassure the child that they are still loved and that challenging behaviour and conflict does not mean the end of relationships).

I wish you well in giving these strategies a go. I am happy to receive constructive feedback in the comments for this article or via direct contact with me.

To access a PDF of the suggested strategies in this article, visit the resources page.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive an email notification when other practical ideas and guidance is published.

Join 3,151 other followers

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

Posted in AAA Caregiving, Adoption, Children's Behaviour, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A practical resource supporting trauma-informed practice at school

NB – It is here – see below – along with a further resource supporting trauma informed, therapeutic parenting in the home!

I am very pleased to announce that in association with the successful implementation of the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic CARE in TUSLA’s alternate care service in Donegal, Ireland, and the CARE Therapeutic Framework in the Kinship Care Program in South Australia, I have developed a complementary resource for trauma-informed practice in schools.

Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-Informed Practice
Therapeutic Models of Care

The resource incorporates both the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Therapeutic Framework in to an accessible and readily implemented approach to the care and management of children who have experienced trauma at home.

It is my intention that the resource will facilitate common knowledge, common language and a common approach between school, home and support services in relation to hurt and troubled children.

Children need consistency
Why consistency is important

By supporting consistency of approach, the impact of endeavours to promote recovery from trauma at home is enhanced, and the undermining effect of inconsistency of approach between home and school safeguarded against.

After reading this resource teachers and other professionals in schools can expect to have a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of trauma at home on the developing child and be able to develop and implement a plan to support their recovery based on familiar aspects of caregiving and relating. They will also be able to problem-solve in relation to ongoing challenging behaviour the child who has experienced trauma at home may be exhibiting and implement practical steps to address it. Further they will be able develop and implement and practical self-care plan that supports their best efforts on behalf of children who have experienced trauma at home, and positive outcomes for the children.

The resource will be available to purchase and download via this site and securestart.com.au very soon. I recommend that you check back regularly to ensure that you do not miss out on the special introductory price.

Please also subscribe to this blog to receive an email notification when the resource is available and other practical ideas and guidance.

Join 3,151 other followers

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

If you have any questions, or to register your interest, you can contact me using the form below:

Training
Project Implementation
Consultation
Trauma-Informed

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Tackling Childhood Neglect

I first met the author, Lynne Peyton, in Perth, Australia, in February 2016. Lynne initiated contact with me in follow-up to a speaking engagement I delivered at the Child Wellbeing Centre in Castleblayney, Ireland, the previous October. Since the connection was made Lynne has been a reliable source of support and encouragement as I have laboured to bring my therapeutic programmes to a broader audience. Lynne is well known and widely respected consultant and leadership coach in social care, child protection and social welfare. I was happy to review her book, and my review appears on Amazon.com.au. This is what I wrote:

Tackling Childhood NeglectThis instructive call to action is presented in a highly readable and accessible style. It is worthwhile as an orientation to this major aspect of child protection and social care practice for beginning professionals and as an accompaniment to strong reflective practice among those more experienced in this important social endeavour. The book offers clear and unequivocal guidance, based on the author’s extensive professional experience. Educators and other professionals who interact with children are also likely to find this to be a useful resource.

For more information about this resource, or to purchase, click on the link below for your closest Amazon store*.

US                                                                                                      

Tackling Childhood Neglect   

UK

Tackling Childhood Neglect   

AU

Tackling Childhood Neglect

*Please note that I may receive a small commission for sales made, which helps fund this site and access to articles and resources found here.

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A Gentle Method for Getting Children to Sleep Part Two

This is a follow-up to the very popular article A Gentle Method for Getting Children to Sleep in their Own Beds. In that article I referenced reading books, singing lullabies and playing relaxing classical music in the child’s sleeping environment. In this article I will expand on what books I read, what lullabies I sang, and what music I used.

Before we get too far in to the article, I want to mention that although I commonly see results from this method within a short period of time (e.g. days), I would recommend maintaining the method for at-least several months, or even years, depending on the age and needs of the child. Bedtime rituals are an opportunity to spend one-to-one, special time with the child and, implemented consistently, promote the child’s psychological readiness to accept separation and slide peacefully to sleep. I maintained bedtime rituals for each of my children for varying lengths of time. In the case of my youngest son, I used the above methodology until he was seven years of age, transitioning to more and more sophisticated books over time, and gradually phasing out lullabies and songs. Thereafter, I maintained some form of bedtime ritual until he reached his early teens. I might add that the rituals I followed were implemented every night, so I made sure that I only started what I could keep up over time. Consistency is calming, and inconsistency (such as starting and stopping something) is irritating, and hence, interferes with a child’s readiness to fall asleep.

As I mentioned in my earlier article, I tended to use a small number of lullabies and books across a given period, for consistency sake and because an association is built between the lullabies and books and feelings of readiness to fall sleep (i.e. sleepiness). Psychologists refer to this association as classical conditioning, and its effect is that the child can become sleepy when the same songs are sung or books are read, whatever time of the day. Over time, one or more new lullabies/songs would be introduced at a time, and one dropped off the ‘list’. I used to sing all the widely-familiar lullabies (I used a book of lullabies and we went through the book while I sang) and I also sang other songs, such as the Postman Pat theme (sometimes substituting in the name of my child for ‘Postman Pat”). I particularly liked to sing The Ants go Marching last and observed that my son would either fall asleep or be very close by the time I finished.

In terms of the books I read, over time there was a wide range, from simple nursery stories to, when my son was seven, children’s novels. I want to mention three here, that were particularly popular with us.

The first was a book called Just Like You, by Jan Fearnley, which is a story that follows Mumma Mouse and Little Mouse as they travel home and Little Mouse’s observation of the interactions of other animal parents and their young. It is a lovely book that reinforces knowledge of the care and protection parents afford their young, and associated bonds of love. This was my personal favorite and I cannot recommend it highly enough

The second book we used was the very popular Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney. This book tells the story of the interaction between Big Nutbrown Hare and his son, Little Nutbrown Hare, about how big is their love of each other. This is also a lovely book for preschool-aged children.

The third book we used was The Staircase Cat, by Colin Thompson. It tells the story of a cat that becomes separated from its caretakers during a war, and of their eventual reunion. Warning, it is an emotional read, but the theme of separations and reunions is particularly poignant at bedtime. This one is better-used with older, school-aged child.

Finally, I recommend playing relaxing classical music in the child’s sleeping environment, all night, every night. The reason being is that, apart from also introducing an element of consistency into the bedtime and sleeping routine, it is known, as the word suggests, that relaxing classical music induces relaxation and deepens sleep – even when the child is asleep already. The latter is supported by a study of patients undergoing surgery, where soothing music was played during some procedures and not others. The study showed that during those procedures where soothing music was played in the operating theatre the patients required less anaesthetic than those where soothing music was not played. That is, the soothing music helped to deepen sedation.

I recommend that the music is played very quietly, so that it is only just audible in a quiet room. I also recommend leaving it on all night, so the child sleeps restfully all night and wakens refreshed. Start the music playing while singing and reading (beware, you might also fall asleep!), and leave it on when you leave. If the child complains that the music keeps them awake, start it after they have gone to sleep and/or put it on in an adjacent room or hallway. The latter is also recommended if the device on which the music is being played is likely to be a distraction and temptation to the child.

I recommend using the Dream Children compilation, by Ron Spigelman and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. It is available for purchase on both the iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Please follow the links below to purchase the items referred to in this article. I may receive a small commission for your purchases. Such commissions help to fund the production of articles and resources on this site.

Via Amazon US (Click Image):

lullabiesjust like youGuess_How_Much_I_Love_You_Cover_Art dream children

Via Amazon in the UK:

lullabiesjust like youGuess_How_Much_I_Love_You_Cover_Artdream children

Via Amazon Australia:

lullabiesGuess_How_Much_I_Love_You_Cover_Art

If you wish to access a PDF of this article, please 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 3,151 other followers

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

If you have any questions about this method, you can contact me using the form below:

Posted in AAA Caregiving, Adoption, Attachment, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Pinnochio tells the truth because he prefers to remain on good terms with Jiminy Cricket.

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.

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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

Secure Start

To Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter click below:

LinkedIn

Twitter

You can contact me using this form:

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 3,151 other followers

Follow the links below to my two new resources supporting consistency of care and effective communication between home and school for children recovering from a tough start to life:

Click here for more information and to access our resource for carers who are supporting children who are recovering from a tough start to life.
Click here for more information and to access our new resource for teachers who are managing children who are recovering from a tough start to life.

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:

LinkedIn

Twitter

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 they are in your thoughts, even when you 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

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