Children do best when they are in close, connected relationships with us. When we offer connection through our attuned presence & the communication of our empathy & our acceptance of them, children feel safe. When they feel safe, it frees them up to have the confidence to explore & to learn. They learn about themselves and others through the connected relationship.The way that they experience things when guided by an adult who they feel understands & appreciates them, determines how they learn to see themselves and the world.

Connection before correction really is essential. You cannot successfully have one without the other. Young minds are most receptive when we have first reached out to their hearts.

Anti Bullying Week

Let us model for our children through our words & actions what it is to live with acceptance, empathy & kindness, both for ourselves and for others around us. Remember that they learn to see themselves and the world around them in relationship with us & through our eyes. There is no room for bullying when our hearts & minds are filled with love.

Something Else

For Anti Bullying Week we are re-sharing the review of one of our favourite books!

In therapeutic parenting sessions, many adoptive parents and carers over the years have told me about how difficult it is for their child to make or keep friends. They speak of their sadness for their child never being invited for play dates or to birthday parties.

I often work with schools as part of the therapy plan, to help them think about how to support friendships for their looked after and adopted children. This regularly involves a lot of structuring of playtimes and lunchtimes and building up the circle of friends for the child slowly. Play skills can easily be taken for granted but are often so hard to grasp for children who have been traumatised. Putting in the work to help these children develop even one caring friendship can be life changing for them.

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At the heart of all secure relationships is intersubjectivity. This concept is all about being open to each other – being open to influence.  I’m looking at you & I’m influencing you, & when you look back at me, you’re influencing me. Intersubjectivity has three main elements – matched affect (having the same energy & rhythm); shared attention & complementary intention.

Intersubjectivity is important in all relationships. For children, it’s critical in helping them become safely engaged & socially connected with their parents & care givers. The child is learning about themselves and their surroundings through the relationship.The way that they experience things when guided by their loving adult, determines how they learn to see themselves and the world.

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Improv Wisdom Part 3

Part 3 of Moffled Improv Wisdom. The maxims are a call to lightening up & living an unscripted life.

These are techniques used by generations of musicians & actors that Dan Hughes recognised could be equally helpful to therapists, parents, teachers & other professionals in their relationships & work with traumatised children.

Gratitude, kindness & a willingness to try. All things that can be so easily lost when we work or live with trauma, in traumatised systems or families. Trauma increases our vigilance for danger & impacts on our ability to think creatively & flexibly. It reduces our capacity to stay open & engaged with each other & can lead to us becoming risk averse.

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Barbara Throws a Wobbler

Barbara is a little black cat with a very expressive face & yellow boots. It’s one of those days when nothing goes right & she has the biggest tantrum. In the build-up to the Wobbler, Barbara doesn’t see her bad mood growing but the worse it gets, the less she wants to play. The Wobbler appears, red & jelly-like, & it gets in the way of any of her friends’ kind attempts to soothe her. At first, Barbara struggles against the Wobbler, then they giggle together, & when they talk, she realises the Wobbler can be unmade & that she can be in charge of her feelings. A feline frolic through a range of emotions & a playful reminder of the power of embracing them all.

All of us, even as adults, can feel overwhelmed by our feelings at times. For children who have experienced relational trauma, the size & strength of the overwhelm can feel very big & frightening indeed. When you have lived with high levels of stress at a young age, it can lead to sensory integration difficulties, hypersensitivity & dysregulated responses. We all have a ‘window of tolerance’ – where our stress levels are manageable & we can stay calm & think properly. Children with relational trauma have a much narrower window & so more easily tip into Wobbles. The double whammy for such children, is that they fear connection with others & find it so hard to make use of support & strategies to regulate & feel better again.

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