BBC Newcastle Radio Interview

Listen to Mikenda & Sara chatting with Gilly Hope from BBC Radio Newcastle, about our work in mental health & Sara’s vision to open accessible mental health centres across the UK for children & adults. The Moffles are supporting Sara Young’s Community Interest Company, Changing Minds with Pick Up a Penny, helping to raise the profile through advertising & donating some proceeds from the sale of Tippy Moffle’s Mirror.

Grandpa’s Gift

A little boy mourns the old home he has left behind & the world seems very grey. But grandpa walks beside him & holds his hand. They enter a charity shop, with boxes full of old things waiting to be seen with new eyes. Grandpa shows him a dull looking rock, but inside it are crystals that shine with a thousand stars. Together they continue to explore the city & all the while, the boy can feel the rock, safe in his pocket. A reminder that magic can be found in the most ordinary of places, & that life feels lighter when we have hope.

Moving house, feeling sadness for what is left behind & adapting to new places can be hard for any child. How much more so, for a child with developmental trauma, who has had multiple losses in the past? Repeated exposure to trauma in early life can lead to hypersensitivity in the nervous system & brain for signs of danger & this can continue even when a child is safe in a new home. Learning to trust & to be open to relationships & the outside world, is a frightening prospect for a child who has been let down in the past, & who may have had repeated moves in the care system.

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Mosaic Moffles

We found some patterned discs that we think are beautiful for creating mosaic Moffles & exploring emotions or feelings together. Here’s a Moffle stencil – if you don’t have mosaic tiles, fill it with anything shiny & bright – buttons, flowers, stones – or use colouring pens or paint. The invitation is to choose a colour for each emotion & think about where the Moffle might feel it in its body.

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.

Oh No, George!

George is a bouncy dog, full of good intentions but little self-control.  His owner, Harris, leaves him home alone & hopes for the best, with disastrous results! George encounters all the things that he loves – cake, dirt, & chasing the cat. Later, when George is full of remorse, Harris forgives him & suggests a nice walk together. The colours are bold & the illustrations are witty. Repeating phrases – ‘What will George do?’ & ‘Oh no, George!’ allow for discussion about motives & behaviour in a fun & safe way. A sweet story with themes of messing up, making amends & forgiveness. 

Babies & small children learn self-regulation & pro-social behaviours, through the nurturing & co-regulation provided by their parents & carers. The average toddler is corrected by their parent on average once every 7 minutes. The first socialisation emotion that children learn is guilt, by around 3 years old. We help toddlers with feelings of shame when they are disciplined by re-engaging with them quickly. A securely attached child is motivated to get back into good relationships & to think about how to make things better.

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Moffle Sun Catchers

We love the spring sunshine & the lighter days so much, we decided to celebrate & make some colourful Moffle Sun Catchers! 

You can draw your own Moffle template for your suncatcher, or copy the ones shown here.

We printed the template onto black card & then cut round the Moffle with scissors. Then we cut out & stuck different pieces of coloured acetate to the back of our Moffle with craft glue. If you don’t have acetate, coloured tissue paper works just as well. When the glue is dry, you can make a small hole in the top of your sun catcher, to thread with string.  Hang your lovely Moffle in your favourite window spot to brighten your day!

Send us some pictures – we would love to see your beautiful Moffles.

Moffles Noughts and Crosses

Why not play Moffle’s emotions noughts & crosses?

You can find a range of Moffle emotions & feelings cards to use on the website, free to download, or get the pens out & create some Moffles of your own!

  1. Markers: Use the traditional O’s & X’s, or any other small markers of your choice (for example, Lego bricks, coloured paper counters, shells or pebbles)
  2. Each time you have a go & place your marker on a square, choose to talk about the feeling in the square; name a time you had that feeling, or act it out.
  3. You can add your own rules to make the game feel as safe & comfortable as your child needs.

For example, you might make some ‘pass’ cards, & let your child know that if they just want to place their marker & not explore the feeling, that’s fine. Or if they want to see or hear you talk about it first, that’s fine too. Your child might need lots of pass cards to start with & then see if they need less over time, or on different days.

Choose different feelings cards for different rounds – if there are feelings you know your child really finds difficult, you might want to limit those or not use them early on in the game.Remember the most important part of the game is for your child to experience enjoying playing it with you. Only keep it up as long as your child is engaged in it with you & having fun. For some little ones who struggle with feelings, this might not be for very long! Let them know that this is ok & you can play again if they want to another time. Your relationship & connection with them is always more important than the game.

Love

Golden threads of love weave their way from the front cover, right to the end of this beautiful story.  Tess is a little girl held in the heart of a loving birth family, who experiences the anxiety of separation for the first time when she starts school. Her mum reassures her that even when apart, their love is like a string between them, stretching as far as it needs to. Tess learns how her new friends have strings too, linking them across time and space with those they love.  None of this is enough to prevent her from feeling very sad & lonely, & she unties the string & lets it fall. Only mum wrapping them back together at the end of school brings her comfort. This is a gentle exploration of what love & belonging means, & the emotions we experience when our sense of connection is shaken.

Any child naturally might feel anxious leaving their parents to start school, just like Tess. But how much harder separation can be for a child who has not always had a secure family base. Abuse, neglect & loss leading to developmental trauma, creates a deep fear for a child of whether they are loveable & whether they will be abandoned again. The child is terrified – when we are apart, will you remember me? How can I trust you are on the end of my string? This fear expresses itself in many ways for children with insecure attachment styles – some may become distressed & clingy & others may become avoidant & seem outwardly unaffected. Both strategies developed as self-protection, by little ones who do not believe others will comfort them, or find it too difficult to ask.

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Sophie Spikey has a Very Big Problem

Sophie Spikey learned very early in life that it was best to look after herself. She has a new family now, but it is hard for her to give up old ways, that used to keep her safe. Hard to hold in her heart that she is loveable & will be cared for. Sophie has lost her shoes & is determined to sort it out alone. It takes a kind & patient mum to help her understand why this is so tricky, & to get through the muddle that unfolds. This is a clever story that empathically captures the struggles of many children with developmental trauma, as well as conveying therapeutic parenting ideas in a useful & relatable way.

Adoptive parents & carers of traumatised children with attachment difficulties, face big challenges to helping their child recover from their experiences. A child who fears relationships & is hypervigilant for signs of danger, does not trust in adults’ good intentions. They feel full of shame & look for signs to confirm they are bad kids. They are controlling – to avoid the risk of painful rejection by others. Parents & carers can feel out of their depth & worry about making things worse. Support to make sense of what is going on underneath their child’s behaviour is important. Opportunities to see & practice therapeutic parenting responses can build confidence & resilience. Parents & carers can learn how to stay more open & engaged, in the face of their child’s defensiveness & resistance.

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I’m Sticking with You

This is a playful & bouncy story, that celebrates friendship & sends a ‘better together’ message, in rhyming text & witty illustrations. From the very opening lines, Bear loves Squirrel’s company, ‘Wherever you’re going. I’m going too. Whatever you’re doing. I’m sticking with you’.  It explores how friendships have their challenges, through Bear’s affectionate but clumsy enthusiasm & Squirrel’s more reserved approach to life. When Squirrel decides to take some time out, we learn that it’s fine to be alone, but sometimes being without a friend can become too lonely. As well as being an exploration of friendship, this is a story that has resonance for sibling relationships & for parent & child relationships, too.

It strikes me that there are many aspects of Bear’s personality & approach to the friendship with Squirrel, that fit with the PACE-ful attitude that we seek to hold, in caring for children who have developmental trauma. Playfulness, acceptance, curiosity & empathy. Bear is open & engaged & unwavering in his loyalty. He delights in Squirrel, even when Squirrel is more cautious about displaying affection. Bear models that it is ok to make mistakes & he is comfortable with this – mistakes don’t mean that they don’t like each other. He respects Squirrel’s boundaries & need for time by himself, even when he feels a bit hurt by it. & Bear is there to greet Squirrel with warmth & without reservation, when Squirrel seeks him out again.

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