Five tips for getting your child off to sleep in their own bed

One of the more common struggles reported by parents and caregivers is getting children off to sleep in their own bed.  What follows is a simple method to address this issue that I often recommend, and that I used with my own children.

Before I get to the method, I want to advise that there are many and varied reasons why children have difficulty getting off to sleep in their own bed. Time and space do not permit me to go into all possible reasons here. What I would say is that the method presented here is appropriate for many of the reasons why children have this difficulty. It is offered as general advice and is not a substitute for a full assessment and recommendation from an appropriately qualified paediatric sleep specialist.

Firstly, children’s sleep patterns are subject to a sleep-wake cycle, which is physiological in nature but strongly influenced by bed-time and wake-time routines. A stable and consistent bed-time and wake-time are important for establishing a stable sleep-wake cycle. That’s right, a stable wake-time is just as important as a stable bed-time. If your child is having difficulty getting off to sleep, don’t let them sleep in. Wake them up at a consistent time every day, regardless of how long it took them to go to sleep. Their wake-time should usually be approximately twelve hours after their bed-time (depending on their age).

The sleep-wake cycle is also affected by exposure to light and its impact on melatonin production. Melatonin production is implicated in the onset of sleep. Light is thought to suppress melatonin production. So, ensure that your child is in a light-reduced environment for at-least thirty minutes before their bed-time. If your child requires a night light, use an orange one as it has been suggested that orange light does not suppress melatonin production as much as other forms of light.

Now, I will explain a bedtime routine I used with my own children, and recommend in my practice. Before doing so, I would advise that this is a routine that I sustained across years. My children and I enjoyed this special time together, and in the context of the ongoing juggle of work and family commitments, it became a regular time for togetherness. Indeed, I maintained a consistent (though evolving over time) bedtime ritual with my youngest child until he reached his teens. This is not to say that the methodology described below takes years to work! In fact, I anticipate that it will assist with getting your child off to sleep in their own bed within days. However, in order for there to be a lasting effect I would suggest that you be prepared to implement this methodology for at-least three months before gradually weaning the child from it (more on this below).

To the methodology! Once it is bed-time, I suggest that you put your child to bed and sit or lay alongside them for approximately twenty minutes. In that time, and depending on the age of your child, you might read and sing lullabies to them. When my own children were pre-school aged, I read two or three books before singing to them. As with other aspects of parenting and caregiving, consistency is important here. Consistency is soothing. I suggest rotating through a small number of books and a small number of lullabies across consecutive nights. Children draw comfort from the predictability of the bed-time routine, thus preparing them for the separation involved in going to sleep. After a while, the books lullabies are likely to become associated with feelings of comfort and sleepiness, with the result that the child begins to feel sleepy when the same books are read and lullabies are sung.

When my children reached school-age, we transitioned to longer books, reading approximately a chapter each night. I read books that they were interested in but not able (yet) to read themselves. I remember reading the Magic Faraway Tree to my older children. The last books I read to my youngest son were the Harry Potter series of novels. I stopped singing to them when it seemed developmentally-appropriate (for them) to do so. This was when they were four or five years of age.

If your child falls asleep during the above, you are free to leave the room. If they are still awake after you have read (and sung) to them, you move to the next stage of the methodology. This is more likely to be the case when you are implementing this methodology for the first time with a school-aged child. In such instances, and depending on their age, your child may still be awake after twenty minutes of reading. The next stage involves providing the profound reassurance children require to cope with separation and go to sleep. If it works, it will circumvent your child’s effort to engage in proximity-seeking behaviour, such as calling out, getting out of bed, searching for you, complaining of having a tummy ache, asking to go to the toilet, and so on.

After you have read (and sung) to your child, say to them something like “I am just going to put the light on in the next room and I will be right back. You can stay awake until I come back”. Then, you literally walk out of the room and walk back in almost straight away. You acknowledge that your child is okay and then say “I am just going to put the kettle on and I will be straight back. You can stay awake until I come back”. You then do this and when you return to your child you say something like “I am just going to the toilet and I will be straight back. You can stay awake until I come back”. You then do this and when you return to your child you say something like “I am just going to have my cup of tea and I will be straight back. You can stay awake until I come back”. With each separation, you tell your child that you are doing an activity that takes longer and longer to complete. You keep doing this until, when you return to your child, you find them to be asleep.

Speaking of activities that have temporal (i.e.time) meaning is more easily understood by your child than saying “I’ll be back in a minute”. Choosing longer and longer activities involves exposing children gradually to separations, such that they do not become overly anxious, call out or get out of bed. It is important to return to your child before they call out or get out of bed, because parent-initiated proximity is more reassuring than child-initiated proximity. So adjust the separation as required to ensure that you get back to them before they leave their bed to find you! Telling your child to stay awake is an important way to circumvent potential conflict and associated parental frustration, with the result that your child is calmer and more likely to fall asleep. Put in a different way, this is a helpful way of making use of “reverse-psychology”.

If your child is an infant and, therefore, pre-verbal, I suggest leaving the room for longer and longer intervals, and returning, though you need not use the words I recommend. Rather, try to return before they start crying or otherwise become unsettled. This is a gentle alternative to controlled crying and one that I also used effectively with my own children.

If you are looking to wean your child off an extended bedtime ritual, I suggest gradually reducing the amount of time spent reading (and singing) to them, and implementing the second stage of temporary separations and reunions. Eventually, you might only being doing the separations and reunions, before finally being able to put them to bed to go of to sleep themselves.

Finally, playing relaxing classical music softly in your child’s bedroom is a useful adjunct to the above. Try starting the music when you first put your child to bed (i.e. while you are reading and singing). Set the volume so low that it can only just be heard in a quiet room. Set it to play all night. Relaxing classical music soothes the nervous system and can be expected to further assist your child to go to sleep, stay asleep, and sleep more deeply and restfully. It can also reduce the incidence of nightmares. Your child is likely to be happier during the day that follows as a benefit of a deeper and more peaceful sleep. I used the Dream Children Compilation by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. You can access this compilation via the links provided below. If you find that your (older) child is distracted by the device you are playing the music on, put the device in an adjacent room or in the hallway outside the child’s bedroom. If your child complains that the music is “keeping them awake” try putting it on after they are asleep. Remember, keep the music on all night, every night.

Finally, enjoy this special time spent with your child. I did, and  experienced sadness when my youngest said “dad, I don’t need you to stay with me anymore”.

In summary, my five tips to get your child off to sleep in their own bed are:

  1. Set a consistent bed-time and wake-time
  2. Reduce exposure to white light or thirty minutes before bed-time
  3. Have a bedtime ritual
  4. Play relaxing classical music while your child sleeps
  5. If difficulties persist, seek advice from a paediatric sleep specialist.

To purchase Dream Children via Amazon, please click on the links below:

Amazon UK

Or search for Dream Children by Ron Spigelman in the Google Play and iTunes stores.

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like me to write about related topics, please leave a comment.

Posted in early learning, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disaster Relief: Helping children during (and after) community traumatic events

An article for parents and caregivers by Colby Pearce, Clinical Psychologist, Secure Start®.

Traumatic events include any adverse event that challenges, or overwhelms, a child’s normal feelings of safety and everyday coping capacity. Traumatic events often occur suddenly and without warning.

Exposure to traumatic events is relatively common. Australian and international figures suggest two-thirds of children will experience at-least one traumatic event during childhood. Traumatic events can be experienced directly, such as being present during the traumatic event, or indirectly, such as through exposure to images and stories (and the reactions of others) about the traumatic event.

Exposure to traumatic events impacts individual children differently, but there are some common impacts. Exposure to traumatic events can impact how children think and feel. In turn, this can impact the way they behave.

Children who have or are experiencing a traumatic event, such as the current bushfire emergency in Australia, are more prone than usual to negative thinking about:

Themselves:
Others:
Their World:

I am helpless

They will not be there for me when I need them

Bad things happen
I am unsafe  They do not understand meMy world is unsafe
I am inadequateThey do not love me 

This kind of negative thinking increases their proneness to anxiety. Common effects of anxiety include:

Physical:
Psychological:

Sleep disturbance (wakefulness/nightmares)

Unsettled behaviour

Feeling unwell (headaches; tummy pains)

Reduced exploration or clinginess

Poor coordination (clumsy)  

‘Big’ emotional displays

Bladder and bowel disturbance

Excessive worrying  
 
Regression to ‘younger’ emotions and behaviours

Reducing children’s anxiety and helping them to cope with traumatic events involves providing extra attention to the CARE you provide, where CARE involves enriching the children’s experience of:

  • Consistency
  • Accessibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Emotional-Connectedness (Pearce, 2016)

Consistency:

Children need consistency. Consistency calms. Consistency supports experiences of order and predictability that buffer children against the experience of unpredictability and uncertainty that occurs during traumatic events. Consistency supports experiences of normality.

Recommendation: As far as possible, maintain normal routines, including in relation to mealtimes, bedtime, and daily activities.

Accessibility:

Traumatic events challenge children’s normal coping capacity and increase their need to experience caring adults as accessible to them. Parental accessibility is reassuring during times of duress. Parental accessibility is calming. Children are most reassured about parental accessibility when we attend to them whether proactively (i.e.  whether they are crying or quiet).

Recommendation: Check in with your child or children regularly throughout the day, without them having to do anything to get your attention. (Note: Only begin what you can keep up for at-least a week or two).

Responsiveness:

Traumatic events increase children’s need to experience that caring adults understand them and their needs and are here to help. Showing understanding of the child’s experience through our words and actions reassures the child that caring adults can be depended upon in difficult times, that they are deserving of care, and that they are safe.

Recommendation: Instead of asking children what they are thinking or how they are feeling, say what you think is the answer to the question. Say what you see. Similarly, if you can anticipate a need or reasonable request that a child in your care might express to you, address the need/request before the child asks or does anything else to satisfy the need/request. Be proactive!

Emotional Connectedness

Traumatic events upset children and adults alike. It is natural to be upset by traumatic events. Children need to know that their feelings are natural. Equally, they also need to be able to regulate to calm and even to happiness. They may need your help to do so.

Recommendation: Allow yourself to show/express your own distress/concern/worry about the traumatic event to the child, through briefly and in a measured way. A connection will be made with the child and their emotions. Return to calm. The child should follow.  

A Final Word

Children may be prone to exaggerating the magnitude and impact of the traumatic event. This may be especially true of traumatic events they hear about but are not directly involved in. In such instances it may be important to ensure that they have accurate/factual information, that is tailored to their age and maturity. Provide information clearly and concisely. Observe and acknowledge the child’s reaction in your words and expressions. Your words and actions should be reassuring.

Children do recover from traumatic events. Depending on the event, this can be within a few days. If they continue to show signs of anxiety for more than a week or two, they may benefit from some extra help from a mental health or counselling professional. In such circumstances, consult your General Medical Practitioner (GP) about mental health and counselling services in your area.  

Reference

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Therapeutic Parenting – The CARE Curriculum

Since I began updating A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder in early 2016, the CARE Therapeutic Framework is the name I have used when referring to content and strategies associated with the CARE Model (Consistency, Accessibility, Responsiveness, Emotional Connectedness – Pearce, 2016). Since this time the CARE Therapeutic Framework has been integrated into the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care, and has become the organising framework for my training endeavours in Kinship Care and Early Learning (Childcare). The CARE Therapeutic Framework supports knowledge about a therapeutic care environment around the child looks like. As such, it might be distinguished from the Triple-A Model (Attachment, Arousal, Accessibility, to needs provision), which supports knowledge of an optimal psychological environment within the child (Pearce, 2016, 2011, 2010). Both the CARE Therapeutic Framework and the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care support the implementation of practical caregiving strategies for promoting secure attachment, optimal arousal for wellbeing and mastery, and trust in accessibility to needs provision.

In the last four years the CARE Therapeutic Framework has become a comprehensive training package for the provision of therapeutic (re)parenting and caregiving in support of key psychological outcomes for children and young people; including those who are recovering from a tough start to life. It has also become a comprehensive training package for the provision of therapeutic supports to children, parents and other caregivers by support professionals. This is particularly reflected in the Kinship CARE Project, a state-wide training endeavour in South Australia for statutory kinship carers and professionals who support them.

In a number of respects, the CARE Therapeutic Framework has outgrown it’s name. It has developed into a training curriculum for individuals and organisations who are concerned about therapeutic parenting and caregiving, and organisational/professional practice that supports therapeutic parenting and caregiving endeavours.

The CARE Curriculum

This is why I have made the decision to refer to the CARE Therapeutic Framework hereafter as The CARE Curriculum. This name more accurately reflects the scope of the training package and its form, whereby it presents in an accessible way what people need to know about therapeutic (re)parenting and caregiving, and what parents, caregivers and professionals need to do to support optimal psychological outcomes for children and young people.

If you are interested in booking training for your group or organisation. please contact me using the form below.

References:

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

Pearce, C.M. (2011). A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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 AAA Caregiving, Adoption, Attachment, early learning, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, training, Training Programs, Trauma, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice, Trauma Informed Schools, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kinship CARE Curriculum

The Kinship CARE Curriculum represents an evidence-informed curriculum based in psychological science. The Kinship CARE Curriculum incorporates a strengths-based approach that draws participants’ a…

Source: Kinship CARE Curriculum

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Foster and Kinship Care Training Curricula at Secure Start

At Secure Start we offer training based on the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Curriculum. Both curricula were developed by Colby Pearce, are based in psychological science, but are delivered in an accessible way. Both curricula inform about what you need to know about the therapeutic care of children and young people who have experienced early adversity, and what you need to do to support their recovery and growth.

Each curricula includes complementary training for carers and professionals. It is important that carers and professionals are able to communicate with each other effectively, and having complementary training supports this. Communication supports connection, and supporting therapeutic connections is at the heart Triple-A and CARE.

Training for professionals incorporates a practice framework that supports fidelity. Professionals are trained in embodying and implementing the model in their practice.

There is a special focus on self-care, in order that participants feel able to realise their aspirations on behalf of children who have had a tough start to life.

Currently, Colby is delivering in Australia and Ireland:

  • Triple-A is in it’s fourth year of implementation with TUSLA (Child and Family Agency) staff and carers in Donegal, Ireland.
  • The CARE Curriculum is in its second year of implementation in the Department for Child Protection’s (DCP) Kinship Care Program in South Australia (The Kinship CARE Project).

For more information, refer below or click one of the related links on the “Curricula and Training” menu tab.

Additional Information

The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Curriculum represent evidence-informed conceptual frameworks based in psychological science. Both offer a strengths-based approach that focuses on conventional aspects of caregiving and relating that support optimal developmental outcomes and recovery for children who have experienced early adversity, and the evidence-base for them. The CARE Curriculum is also a practice-framework, whereby it offers a framework for the delivery of accountable support services that promote carer fidelity to the model and optimal outcomes for children. 

The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Curriculum do not seek to replace other approaches to trauma-informed, therapeutic re-parenting of children, and support for their carers. Rather, the each curricula offers a back-to-basics approach that forms a solid foundation to build on. As strengths-based approaches, the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Curriculum complement other strengths-based approaches.

Central to both curricula is the development of knowledge and understanding of the reasons why people behave in the manner that they do and competencies that support these reasons being addressed. This is central to addressing one of the main casualties of grossly-inadequate care – namely, the experience of having one’s needs met reliably and predictably that is the foundation for secure dependency and optimal developmental and interpersonal outcomes. Both curricula endeavour to promote addressing needs as a fundamental caregiving priority, as opposed to simply addressing behaviour(s) of concern in isolation of needs.

The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care and the CARE Curriculum promote human Connection as a primary task (Kahn, 2005), where the primary task is defined as the one task that we need to get right and upon which the success of all endeavour rests. There is a robust and ever-growing evidence base for the role of connection in supporting optimal emotional and behavioural outcomes for young people and adults alike (Dooley & Fitzgerald, 2015; Ottman et al, 2006; O’Rourke & Souraya, 2017).

The Kinship CARE Project

The Kinship CARE has been implemented successfully with statutory kinship carers in South Australia over the past two years. The Kinship CARE Project is a joint initiative of the Department for Child Protection (DCP) and Secure Start®. At the time of writing, and over the previous 18 months, Kinship CARE Project training has been delivered to 18 groups of kinship carers in 13 metropolitan and 5 regional locations of South Australia. More than 220 kinship carers have attended part or all of the training, with an overall retention rate for attending 4 or 5 sessions (including call-back) of 47%*. This compares favourably with international trends for retention in parenting training (Garvey et al, 2006; Nix et al, 2009).

In the Kinship CARE Project there is a focus on supporting carers to develop an understanding of how to implement a therapeutic re-parenting approach in their own individual circumstances. That is, there is a focus on assisting carers to know what to do, and to develop a tailored therapeutic re-parenting Plan. Psychological theory is presented sparingly and only in support of the rationale (and evidential basis) for recommended approaches. Accessibility of the content is supported through a multi-modal approach to delivery that includes practical activities, demonstrations and audio-visual content in support of verbal content. Regular individual and group reflections also support understanding of the program content. Kinship care support workers regularly attend sessions with carers on their caseload, further supporting caregiver accessibility to the content and shared experience of the Project.

In the Kinship CARE Project there is complementary training for kinship care support workers and psychology staff. The content and delivery is similar to that which is delivered to kinship carers, except that there is a focus on the implementation of the CARE Curriculum in kinship care support workers’ practice with kinship carers, and psychologists’ practice with kinship care support workers. That is, there is a layered approach to implementation, whereby kinship carers experience CARE from their support workers, and support workers experience CARE from psychologists trained in the curriculum. Implementation is layered in this way to support fidelity to the curriculum and embeddedness across the Department for Child Protection’s Kinship Care Program.

The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care

The Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care was developed for a foster care audience. It was initially implemented as the preferred Model of Care in the Centacare Intensive Family Preservation Foster Care Program in South Australia in 2014/15. Across the past four years the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care has been implemented as the preferred Model of Care in the TUSLA (Child and Family Agency) Fostering Service in Donegal, Ireland. In September 2018 twelve local trainers, including 6 members of the TUSLA Fostering Service and 6 local foster carers, were trained as local trainers in the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care.

The implementation of the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care in Donegal has been a great success, with successive reports  (2016, 2018) by the independent statutory inspection authority for health and social care services in Ireland (HIQA) reporting positively on the Triple-A implementation. A Training Needs Analysis by the TUSLA Fostering Service in early 2018  reflected that the Triple-A Model of Therapeutic Care was the most mentioned training when general and relative foster carers were asked about useful training they had received, including by a factor of 10:1 over the better-known international approach Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI).


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

Kahn, W. A. (2005). Holding Fast: The Struggle to Create Resilient Caregiving Organisations. Hove and New York: Brunner-Routledge

Dooley, B & Fitzgerald, A (2015). My World Survey: National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland. UCD School of Psychology, Headstrong

Ottman, G, Dickson, J, & Wright, P. (2006). Social Connectedness and Health: A Literature Review. Cornell University GLADNET Collection

O’Rourke, H. M., & Sidani, Souraya. (2017). Definition, Determinants, and Outcomes of Social Connectedness for Older Adults: A Scoping Review. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 439(7), pp 43-52.

Nix, R.L, Bierman, K.L, & McMahon, R.J. (2009). How attendance and quality of participation affect treatment response to parent management training. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(3): 429-438

Garvey, C, Julion, W, Fogg, L, Kratovil, A & Gross, D. (2006). Measuring participation in a prevention trial with parents of young children. Research in Nursing and Health, 29:212-222

* Nb Data for groups 1-12 only. Final retention data, including for groups 13-18, to be collated at the end of 2019)

Posted in AAA Caregiving, Fostering, kinship care, Training Programs, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kinship CARE Project Update

The Kinship CARE Project has been extended to 2020.

The Kinship CARE Project is a joint initiative of the Department for Child Protection (DCP) and Secure Start®. At the time of writing, and over the previous 18 months, Kinship CARE Project training has been delivered to 18 groups of kinship carers in 13 metropolitan and 5 regional locations of South Australia. More than 220 kinship carers have attended part or all of the training, with an overall retention rate for attending 4 or 5 sessions (including call-back) of 47%.

In the Kinship CARE Project (CARE Therapeutic Framework) there is a focus on relational connection (relationships) that:

  • repairs (relational) harm experienced by children and young people who are recovering from abuse and neglect;
  • regulates emotions and behaviour;
  • supports physical and mental health; and
  • supports a positive self-concept in children and young people, which is vital to their confident approach to life and relationships, and growth.

In the Kinship CARE Project, 75% of participant kinship carers who complete the training and a post-training survey (three months follow-up) agree or strongly agree with the statement that they are experiencing improved relationships with a child or children in their care. The remaining 25% neither agree nor disagree with this statement. It is possible that they were already satisfied with relationships in the home.

The perception that relationships are improving is likely influenced by, and influences, what carers notice about the home environment. This is a key outcome of the self-care methodology of The Project.  The self-care methodology is designed to achieve an outcome where carers see their successes in performing the role, including what they are already doing that supports recovery from relational trauma, and evidence that the child(ren) are benefitting from their caregiving endeavours. This supports carer wellbeing and optimal performance in the role. Indeed, 84% of respondents on the post-training survey report that they feel more confident in their role as a kinship carer.

Importantly, an anticipated outcome of the self-care methodology is that children experience themselves differently, based on the change in perception by their kinship carers. The self-concept of children is very much influenced by their experience of how adults in a caregiving role perceive and interact with them. Children who experience adults focusing on their problems will see themselves as a problem. Children who experience adults approaching them with positivity will internalise positive messages about themselves. This relates to the concept of the “looking-glass-self”, described by Cooley in 1902 and confirmed via empirical study since. I discuss this in both of my books.

Children’s thoughts about themselves influences their feelings, behaviours, and the reaction of others. Negative attachment representations (negative thoughts about self, other and world) are reinforced where adults respond to children’s behaviour only, as opposed to the needs being expressed via the behaviour and/or reasons for the behaviour. Acknowledging and addressing the reasons for children’s behaviour is a key aspect of this Project, and a key outcome. Responding with understanding circumvents unhelpful relational dynamics that perpetuate attachment insecurity/disorder, where attachment insecurity/disorder is over-represented among children in out-of-home care. This represents a vital step in supporting progress towards attachment security for children in kinship care, where attachment security is widely accepted as optimal for children’s growth and development and successful approach to life and relationships.

In our Project, participant kinship carers complete a brief questionnaire about the behaviour of a child in their care at the beginning of the first training session and at the end of the fourth training session. Pre- and post-responding to this questionnaire is evaluated via keyword analysis. What we have found for the first 12 (completed) groups is a more than two-fold increase in carers acknowledging that the child’s behaviour relates to a (contemporary or historically unmet) need, from being mentioned in 26% of carer responses to the pre-questionnaire, to being mentioned in 58% of the post-questionnaires. There is a corresponding reduction in mentions that the behaviour is occurring because the child ‘wants’ something. This outcome appears to reflect that carers get better at looking beyond the behaviour, which is also an important outcome of the Project and necessary to support kinship children’s progress towards secure attachment, optimal arousal for wellbeing and performance in life tasks, and new learning about the accessibility and sensitive responsiveness of adults in a caregiving role.

In helping kinship carers focus more on needs that drive the behaviours of children recovering from relational trauma, the Kinship CARE Project supports the imperative to nurture secure attachment, the importance of which is enshrined in the new child protection legislation in effect in South Australia.

For more information about the Kinship CARE Project, including forthcoming implementation sessions, follow the link to the Project page on the Secure Start site.

Artist: Rose Ward, Noongar Woman

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

Addressing Trauma in the Early Learning Setting: The CARE Approach

Following the success of the resources for trauma-informed practice in early learning centres, I am pleased to advise of my new training workshop: Addressing Trauma in the Early Learning Setting: The CARE approach.

The training workshop covers:

  • What is ‘trauma’?
  • The effect of trauma on the developing child
  • Signs that a child has or may have experienced trauma
  • What a therapeutic care environment looks like
  • Implementing a Therapeutic Care Plan
  • What recovery looks like for the child who has experienced trauma
  • Supporting our best endeavours – implementing a Self-Care Plan

The training was recently rolled out to a community early learning centre, with all staff who attended indicating that they would recommend the training to other early childhood educators.

The all-inclusive* cost of a one-day training workshop is AUD$2,000. This covers presenter costs and all handouts, including proformas for developing Therapeutic CARE Plans and Self-Care Plans.

Contact Secure Start to discuss an implementation:

Rebecca Pearce (Practice Manager):

* excluding travel to Centres outside of metropolitan Adelaide

Posted in early learning, trauma informed, trauma informed practice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kinship CARE Project Carer Handbook

The Kinship CARE Project is a dedicated endeavour to support kinship carers in South Australia who are looking after children for whom the Department for Child Protection has an authority to place. The Kinship CARE Project has been implementing for the past 18 months, to 18 carer groups in 13 metropolitan and five regional locations.

The Kinship CARE Project offers training in therapeutic care of children recovering from a tough start to life. It is specifically tailored to Kinship Carers. Interactive and informative, the training demonstrates how to enrich relational connection with children in kinship care and support their recovery from a tough start to life. Participants develop a therapeutic care plan for their home that fits with their circumstances and the individual characteristics of each child in their care. The Kinship CARE Project training is strengths based and offers a practical approach to self-care, in support of participant wellbeing and success in performing the caregiving role.

For a limited time, I am offering organisations that support kinship carers access to the Kinship CARE Project Carer Handbook via PDF download. It is anticipated that access to the Carer Handbook will support consideration and decision-making with respect to engaging me for an implementation project with kinship carers. The price of this inspection copy of the Kinship CARE Project handbook will be deducted from the price of an implementation project.

The Handbook can be purchased via the link below. For more information about the Kinship CARE Project, click here.

Kinship CARE Project Carer Handbook

Buy it now and I will email your personalised copy of the Carer Handbook (Please allow up to 2 business days for us to respond to your payment).

A$250.00

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to refuse a purchase and refund the purchase price in instances where I consider that the Handbook may be used without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship or otherwise used to the detriment of my capacity to carry out my usual professional activities.

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

Childhood Trauma Fact Sheets for Early Learning Educators

I am pleased to be able to make available three fact sheets for early learning educators, originally commissioned by Goodstart Early Learning.


The Childhood Trauma Fact Sheet is the principal document and includes information about childhood trauma and how to assist a child who is recovering from a tough start to life.

Separate fact sheets also cover neglect and physical abuse and extend the information and guidance offered in the Childhood Trauma Fact Sheet.

The fact sheets were written with early childhood educators in mind, though the information is relevant to adults caring for younger children.

The fact sheets can be downloaded below:

In addition, I offer training for early learning educators in the CARE Therapeutic Framework. This training can be offered in a series or as a whole day. For more information contact me at colby@securestart.com.au

Posted in AAA Caregiving, early learning, Schools, Training Programs, Trauma Informed Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foster and Kinship Care Week 2019 Part II

Yesterday I posted about the vital role that foster and kinship carers play in any child protection endeavour. You can view my post here. Foster and kinship carers play an essential role in providing a safe and loving home that supports children’s recovery from abuse and neglect.

Though it is a vital role that they play, and foster and kinship carers speak of the satisfaction they experience in performing the role, it is not always easy and plain sailing. When times get tough, foster and kinship carers rely on family and friends to help them through the tough times. They also rely on skilled and dedicated professionals whose vocation is to support foster and kinship carers and, in turn, the children in the care of foster and kinship carers.

So, in this follow-up to my post yesterday, I would like to acknowledge the care and support offered to foster and kinship carers by family, friends and professionals who work in the area. Your endeavours are also vital in supporting the recovery of children and young people from a tough start to life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment