Love Beam

Children with relational trauma find it very hard to trust that we will care for them, nurture them & guide them. They’ve been hurt deeply in the past by adults who should have protected them. They close their hearts to relationships, to avoid the risk of more pain.

Unresolved trauma creates a sense of loneliness & isolation. Imagine never experiencing the warmth of social connection, or the confidence that someone is holding you in mind & truly accepts you just as you are.

These are the children who need us the most. Who need us to look beyond their fear & all their strategies to push us away & make us mad at them. Who need to hear we know they are hurting & understand why it’s hard for them to allow us to get close.

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The Way Home for Wolf

Wilf is a wolf cub who wants to be fierce & to try everything all on his own. When his elders set out to look for a new home, Wilf finds it hard to accept that he is too small to lead. He struggles to keep up & won’t howl for help. All alone, he falls through the ice but as he spins downwards, a narwhal comes to his rescue. What feels like the end for Wilf becomes just the beginning, as he is assisted by a series of arctic animal friends to re-join his pack. The wolves cuddle him close again & Wilf has learnt he can accept support. A pacy, rhyming story that carries us safely out of the cold & darkness of solitude, into the warmth of friendship, kindness & love.

A young child can naturally show stubbornness, as they begin to explore their identity. They learn first about who they are in close relationships with their primary carers. If they experience their parent as delighting in them, celebrating their strengths & guiding them with their struggles, they develop a rounded sense of self. They feel accepted & have confidence that their vulnerability is valued as much as their independence; that all parts of themself will be honoured. A securely attached child may be wilful sometimes, but they learn that its ok to rely on others, too.

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Behaviour Support – a relational approach

A dilemma many parents & carers of children with developmental trauma have is how to deal effectively with challenging behaviour. A relational approach to answering this, emphasises the importance of behaviour support, rather than behaviour management.

A traumatised child may struggle to accept boundaries, as they perceive them as being an evaluation of their core self, rather than of their behaviour. This is very anxiety provoking for a child with deep fears of being bad & who anticipates abandonment. Discipline becomes evidence of their badness & that the adults will get rid of them. Anxiety quickly leads to dysregulation, feelings of shame, & triggering of more challenging behaviour.

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We’re spotlighting the amazing work done by Touchbase, advocating for the wellbeing & education of children & young people who have experienced relational trauma.

Over the past 2 ½ years, I have had the honour of working with the great team at Touchbase in my capacity as a DDP Consultant, providing clinical supervision for their therapists & teachers. I’m also very happy that The Moffles are proving to be a good resource for them & you can read some of their reviews here on our website.

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Relationship Repair

Every parent & carer gets angry sometimes & arguments are natural in families. What’s important is how we make up again, or ‘repair’. This is especially so for a child with an insecure attachment, for whom any conflict immediately becomes about the relationship & their fear of losing you.

Try to see conflict as an opportunity for repair, rather than as a failure. Seeing it this way means no-one needs to be blamed. If we can accept the expression of all emotions as being normal, rather than seeing anger as a sign of disrespect, then it becomes easier to stay in connection with our child. Repair is all about re-connection.

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International FASD Awareness Day

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of effects resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) & which have life-long impact. These can include physical, emotional & developmental delays and learning disabilities. Because the child’s presentation may meet the diagnostic criteria for a variety of physical and mental health disorders, a multi-disciplinary approach is recommended to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

FASD is thought to affect 3 to 5% the general population which makes it 4-5 times more prevalent than autism. Care experienced children seem disproportionately affected by FASD & concerns for their child, in relation to the impact on them of PAE, is a significant issue in the lives of many adoptive parents & carers.

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International Literacy Day

Since 1967, International Literacy Day has existed to promote the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity & human right. Great challenges have long existed in equalising access to literacy learning opportunities for all our children, in the UK & around the world. The pandemic has only added to these challenges & served as a reminder of how precious opportunities for literacy & learning truly are.  

We think one of the nicest ways to celebrate & develop literacy skills is to read a story together, as well as being a lovely chance to promote connection & togetherness. We’ve created a Moffle bookmark, that can be personalised with a child’s name & a book review template. We’ve also made a Moffle Acrostic Poem activity sheet & written an example poem for you! A few fun ways to encourage interest in reading & sharing thoughts & feelings about favourite books.

Moffle Tops

We’ve made some Moffle Tops, using toilet roll tubes & coloured paper.  Having a range of different colours & drawing different expressions for your child to choose from can be a fun activity to use to explore thoughts & feelings as well. The Moffle Tops can be a simple visual aid for talking about these things in a safe & engaging way.

Children who have lived with neglect & trauma in their early lives have often missed out on good enough support to make sense of their thoughts & feelings; to learn the words for how they are feeling & to have the opportunity to talk about them. Emotional articulacy is not innate, it is a skill that needs to be practiced, within caring relationships.

Remember the most important thing is for your child to experience enjoying making the Moffle Tops with you & the talking about thoughts & feelings part might not last very long! Your relationship & connection with them is always the most important part of doing any art & crafts together.

The Moffle books help traumatised children to identify & talk about their feelings.  The Moffles’ fur changes colours to reflect their emotions & this is a simple visual aid to exploring them through the colourful characters.

Tokyo Paralympics 2020 & Disability Sport

Who else loved the Paralympics & the fantastic achievements of all our athletes?! The pool action is close to our hearts in the Moffle family, as we’ve been part of Bingham Penguins disability swimming club for over 20 years.

My daughter, Cambell has cerebral palsy & joined Penguins at 8 years old. She was always a water baby & it was good physiotherapy. For the first time, we were surrounded by people with a range of disabilities & abilities, joined by a shared love of the water. We learned about the broad spectrum of physical & learning ability & the power of interdependence – we had found our tribe.

At Penguins, everyone can access swimming – from individual support with helpers in the water, through to training plans for swimmers competing at national & international level. Cambell swam internationally & as a teenager volunteered with the younger swimmers. Claims to fame include training alongside Paralympians, Sam & Ollie Hynd & having raced with Ellie Simmons!

My swimming credentials are more modest – I started out collecting session fees on poolside & progressed to becoming a coach & poolside co-ordinator. To make it a full family affair, we recruited my partner as club chairperson (or King Penguin as he preferred to be known). Long after Cambell left the club & went off to university, we stayed actively involved & I still help poolside sometimes. The smell of the chlorine & the camaraderie pulls me back.

Watching the elite para-swimmers in Tokyo was thrilling – a celebration of hard work & dreams realised. A wonderful reminder of what can be achieved when we support all our children to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. When we recognise one size does not fit all & remove barriers to participation, it’s amazing what can be accomplished. Penguins may be slow & struggle on land but put them in the water & see them glide.

Riley the Brave Makes it to School

Riley is finding it hard to go to school. He’s a little bear cub who has made it through some very difficult times in the past & is learning ways to feel more confident & settled in his fur. He does not look like the adults who are raising him & this creates an inclusivity to the story for all children who do not live with their birth parents, for whatever reason. Sometimes Riley feels cheerful & brave but other times he wobbles & falls back on old coping strategies.

This day starts with a grumpy porcupine moment & Riley feels prickly towards everyone. His ‘safe big critters’, the elephants, turn potential confrontation & conflict into opportunities for playfulness & connection. They ride the bumps of the morning routine together, using therapeutic parenting ideas, clearly presented & cleverly woven into an engaging tale. This is a picture book for any child who struggles with transitions & the adults who support them.

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