Category

Relationships

Encouraging play

By | dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, play, Relationships, Sport, Theatre, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
founder of PlayHOORAY!

Have you ever thought about how you can better encourage your child to play more effectively? Now, we don’t all live in an ideal world, our homes have to work for many different things, as well as look nice, but there are a few simple tricks we can apply to create a more playful home.

• Turn off the TV and keep distractions to a minimum when your child is playing.

• Keep resources to hand and ensure your child knows where they are, helping them to become independent and not rely on you to find the answers.

• Teach your child how to do an activity first. Don’t assume they know how to take on the role of a shopkeeper despite the numerous times they’ve been to the supermarket with you!

• Go with the flow. If you set up an activity for your little one, but they do something totally different to what you’d intended, that is absolutely fine. Support them and encourage them to follow
their own initiative!

• If they have enjoyed playing with a particular activity try leaving it out for them to access when they want for at least a week. If you don’t like the mess, perhaps you can throw a tea towel over it?

• Praise your child for their play, the way they play and what they are doing, reassuring your child and showing them how much you value their play. After all, it is supporting their development!

• Try not to interrupt your child when they are focusing, if it can wait then let it. Young children can only concentrate for small amounts of time, so you’ll probably only be waiting for a few minutes anyway!

But what exactly should you be doing when your child is playing?
In reality, there are some days when you want your little one to play to occupy themselves so that you can take a breather because, let’s face it, it’s exhausting being a parent and its important to prioritise looking after yourself! And there are those days when you have a list as long as your arm and you just need five minutes to get jobs done or make dinner. And that’s fine too, honestly it is. We all do it! But then there are days when you do have time, you do have a flicker of energy and you have the headspace to support your child as they play – great! When that occurs, there are many things you can do that will support their development:

• Sit by your child, giving them a sense of security, reassuring them that you’re in sight while showing them that you value their play.

• If they invite you to play with them, copy them. Don’t take charge, just do what they do and let them take the lead.They will love it!

• When you feel you can, talk about what you are doing. You might feel a bit silly doing it but you are teaching your child how to play. Use words they may recognise but introduce new vocabulary too. Tell them what you like, dislike, your favourites and give reasons. Your child may offer their opinion or they may not. There’s no pressure!

• As your child plays, as long as you don’t think it will break their concentration, comment on what they’re doing. Suggest a few things you like about their playing, for example: “I like the way you are stacking the bricks to make a tall tower. I like the way you are trying to get that to stick. I can see you are persevering.”

These show your child that you value what they are doing. Your child may choose to tell you about their play and may begin running their own commentary.

These are just a few ideas you can implement to encourage play. You don’t have to do them all, try a few and see if it makes a difference.

Happy playing!

Mum to one and Early Years Specialist, Claire Russell is founder of playHOORAY! and the designer of playPROMPTS activity cards designed to equip parents with realistic, fuss-free play ideas. For further information please visit www.playhooray.co.uk

No fault divorce

By | Education, family, Finance, Legal, Relationships
by Carrie Crown
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors

Under the current law, if you and your spouse have separated within the last two (or sometimes even five) years you must provide evidence that your spouse has either committed adultery or otherwise behaved in a way that you cannot tolerate to live with before the Court will grant permission for you to get a divorce.

These ‘fault-based’ divorces were thrust into the public eye last year when the case of Owens vs Owens, came before the Supreme Court to consider whether Mrs Owens could divorce her husband on the basis of his unreasonable behaviour towards her. Mr Owens defended the divorce.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court reluctantly agreed with Mr Owens that his behaviour during the marriage had not been unreasonable and therefore Mrs Owens is forced, for the time being, to remain married to him.

As a result, neither Mr or Mrs Owens can ask the Court to make a decision regarding the division of the assets of the marriage, as a financial application in divorce can usually only be dealt with once the Court has declared that the divorce can proceed and decree nisi, often called the ‘first stage’ of the divorce has taken place.

Although Mr and Mrs Owens had no dependent children, the law as it currently stands can be particularly onerous for parents of young children who find themselves unable to divorce and therefore unable to sort out the matrimonial finances for several years after separation has taken place. This can result in significant delay in being able to provide a stable home for children and suitable arrangements for their ongoing care. All of this will inevitably impact upon the emotional wellbeing of the children.

People are often therefore forced to petition for divorce for one of the ‘fault-based’ reasons, submitting evidence to the Court as to why the behaviour of their spouse has led to the breakdown of the marriage. This often results in hurt feelings, anger and increased tensions between the parties.

Over the years, the Government have been reluctant to reform the UK’s divorce law, believing that making it easier for couples to divorce would somehow undermine the sanctity of marriage and increase the rates of divorce.

In 2017, a national survey carried out by the Nuffield Foundation found that 62% of petitioners and 78% of respondents in a divorce said that using fault had made the process more bitter, 21% of fault-respondents said fault had made it harder to sort out arrangements for children, and 31% of fault-respondents thought fault made sorting out finances harder.

In 2018, Resolution, an organisation which consists of 6,500 family lawyers (myself included), declared that there was a ‘divorce crisis’ in the UK and in November launched it’s ‘Good Divorce week’ seeking to highlight the impact upon children in particular of a system of divorce which attaches blame to one party.

Finally, following a 12 week public consultation, on 9th April 2019, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that divorce law in the UK would be reformed and that, in future, the only ground for divorce would be that the marriage had ‘irretrievably broken down’ commenting that ‘hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances.’

The proposals will also dispense with the requirement to provide evidence of the ‘fact’ of adultery or unreasonable behaviour and substitute it for a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown.’ The current two-stage process, Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, will remain and a minimum timeframe of six months will be set from the date of the petition to decree absolute. The option will also be made available for parties to issue a joint-divorce petition.

Currently there is no set timetable for the legislative reforms to take place. Let’s face it, the Government have been somewhat busy of late! David Gauke has said, however, that
he intends the reforms to take place as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The changes do not, in my professional opinion, make the process of divorce any ‘easier’ and certainly no quicker than the current system. It will, however, make the process far less adversarial and emotionally damaging for all those involved.

Carrie Crown, Family Associate Solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett, Surrey, is a resolution-accredited specialist and is therefore committed to resolving family disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive manner wherever possible.

Email: Carrie.Crown@mtg.uk.net
Telephone: 01483 755609
www.mackrellsurrey.com

Encourage learning at home talk to your child!

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
Early Years Specialist

Research released by the Department of Education suggests that 100,000 under fives are not learning at home but according to Early Years Specialist and mum to one, Claire Russell, who is a huge advocate of learning via play, it’s all about talking to your child and spotting opportunities for them to learn as you go about your everyday routine.

Claire told us: “Talking and singing to your child is the best thing you could do. From day one provide a running commentary telling them about what you’re doing. Even though they may not be responding or talking back, the words will be going in. It will provide children with a wide range of vocabulary! And don’t be scared to use big words either!”

She continues: “Learning doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with a pen on paper, particularly when it comes to pre-schoolers. It can be counting steps as you climb, spotting letters in road signs or taking turns in a game.”

In particular, the survey found that over half of parents do not spend time teaching children their alphabet but Claire believes learning through play is important in so many other ways.

“Learning is not just the ABCs and 123s, it’s about so much more. We need to teach our children life skills such as social skills, kindness and empathy, how to share, take turns how to look after ourselves and our bodies, how to think of others and the world around us. And who better to teach them? Us! Their parents and carers are their first teachers. We all know children watch, observe and copy. So it’s important we model the skills and characteristics we hope to see in our children.”

Here Claire provides her tips for encouraging play at home:
• Turn off the TV and keep distractions to a minimum when your child is playing.

• Keep resources to hand and ensure your child knows where they are, helping them to become independent and not rely on you to find the answers.

• Teach your child how to do an activity first. Don’t assume they know how to take on the role of a shopkeeper despite the numerous times they’ve been to the supermarket with you!

• Go with the flow. If you set up an activity for your little one, but they do something totally different to what you’d intended, that is absolutely
fine. Support them and encourage them to follow their own initiative!

• If they have enjoyed playing with a particular activity try leaving it out for them to access when they want for at least a week. If you don’t like the mess, perhaps you can throw a tea towel over it?

• Praise your child for their play, the way they play and what they are doing, reassuring your child and showing them how much you value their play, after all, it is supporting their development!

• Try not to interrupt your child when they are focusing, if it can wait then let it. Young children can only concentrate for small amounts of time, so you’ll probably only be waiting for a few minutes anyway!

• Sit by your child, giving them a sense of security, reassuring them that you’re in sight while showing them that you value their play.

• If they invite you to play with them, copy them. Don’t take charge, just do what they do and let them take the lead. They will love it!

• When you feel you can, talk about what you are doing. You might feel a bit silly doing it but you are teaching your child how to play. Use words they may recognise but introduce new vocabulary too. Tell them what you like, dislike, your favourites and give reasons. Your child may offer their opinion or they may not. There’s no pressure!

• As your child plays, as long as you don’t think it will break their concentration, comment on what they’re doing. Suggest
a few things you like about their playing, for example, “I like the way you are stacking the bricks to make a tall tower.” ” I like the way you are trying to get that to stick.” or “I can see you are persevering.” These show your child that you value what they are doing. Your child may choose to tell you about their play and may begin running their own commentary.

Claire Russsell is currently working with the Department of Education on their Chat, Play and Read campaign. Claire is founder of playHOORAY! and designer of the playPROMPT activity cards providing realistic play ideas for preschoolers.

For further information about playHOORAY! and to download the please visit www.playhooray.co.uk.

Getting ready for a successful start at school

By | children's health, Education, fun for children, Playing, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Naomi Bartholomew
Headmistress, St Catherine’s Prep School

As you look forward with a mixture of excitement and nerves to your child starting school in September, here are some practical tips to help ensure that your child has a happy and successful start.

Forming links
Most schools now offer settling in days or part days for their youngest pupils. These can be very helpful and a good chance for you to put names to faces. As well as the all-important class teacher, I recommend getting to know the teaching assistant, Head, school secretary, and parents who are a part of the PTA. All of these will be key in helping both you and your child settle into new routines. It can also be handy to work out which other parents live near to you and who might be moving from the same nursery or preschool. Also involve anyone else who might be involved in your weekly routines – grandparents or child-minders so that they too have made some connections ahead of the start of term. I know of one friend who held a name labelling party in order to meet some other friendly looking parents – this is certainly one way to get to know each other and get the dreaded name labels sewn into as many items as you possibly can. Name everything!

Understanding expectations and routines
It seems obvious but make sure you have all of the essential information early on. Some schools have phased starts which begin with mornings only or alternate full days. This is certainly important to plan ahead particularly if your child starting school coincides with you returning to full-time work. Arrangements for drop off and pick up and what to look out for in terms of communication from the school whether that be weekly memos or newsletter or via the school’s website are also key. Getting dates into your diary for parents’ evenings, nativity plays and other things you won’t want to miss is also important.

Encouraging independence and self-help skills over the summer holidays is far more important than trying to teach your child letters and numbers. Can they dress themselves? If not, start to practise that as soon as possible.

Family logistics
Whether this is your first child to start school or a younger sibling, there will be an impact on all of your family. Consider the school run and daily family routines carefully in order to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible.

Extra-curricular activities and playdates
Even for those who have been used to a full day at nursery and a number of extra-curricular activities each week beware of signing up to any additional activities in your child’s first term. They will be learning in a whole new way at school and need time to rest each day when they get home, as will you! Similarly play dates and sleep overs can be very tempting but less is most definitely more in term one.

Younger pupils
Parents with younger aged children, those with summer birthdays in particular, can be anxious about their child being school ready. Trust the school to make the necessary adjustments and remember that age and stage of development can be different for each child.

The first day of term
Stay calm, allow additional time for the school run and cherish the moment – enjoy the photo on the front doorstep marking the occasion and don’t linger too long over the goodbyes. There is a very small window in which to see your child settled and interested in their new surroundings. If you linger and need further reassurance it is likely your child will pick up on that in a split second of doubt and have a wobble. So make a dash for the door as soon as you are able. Many children will have already been used to nursery school and playgroups so remember that you have left them before and all was well. You will have chosen a school you have confidence in and the staff will be able to reassure your child and make sure that the first day is a positive one. If you are the one whose child clings or cries, do not be embarrassed. They will settle once you have gone and the school will contact you to let you know that is the case. Have a plan for what you are then going to do next whether it be return to work or head for a strong coffee with a friend. The day will be one full of excitement for your child.

As your child settles
Remember that day one might feel like Christmas day, full of excitement but that as the weeks go on your child will become tired. The calmer and more prepared you feel as a parent, the more likely your child will also feel ready and willing to skip into school.

Hence, I recommend:
• Talking positively about going to school.
• Helping your child into the routine of managing their own clothing, school book bag and so on.
• Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
• Getting into good habits of arriving in good time for the start of school.
• Listening to your child tell you about the school day but avoiding 20 questions.
• Trusting the school and their experience – they will allow your child space to grow and develop and it is important that you support them in that.
• Talking to your child’s teacher if you feel uncertain or unsure – communication with the school is vital and building relationships with school staff (admin, teachers and teaching assistants) is really important.

Good luck!

St Catherine’s Prep School, Bramley extends a warm welcome to parents who would like to visit the school.
Open Mornings: Wednesday 25th September and Thursday 17th October.
Please contact Sally Manhire, Prep School Registrar, on 01483 899665. www.stcatherines.info

How to help your child manage failure

By | Education, family, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized

Does your child fear ‘failure’? It’s a frightening word isn’t it and one that puts a sinking feeling in our stomachs.

Today’s young people have to navigate their way through a long list of potential failures: What if I fail my GCSEs? What if I don’t pass my next swimming level? What if I come last in a race? What if I don’t pass my piano grade?

We can’t protect our children from the risk of failure and we shouldn’t try to. As parents, all we can do is help them to cope with and learn from all these situations.

Children’s charity, ChildLine, reports that one of the things children worry about the most when it comes to failing is disappointing their parents. So, reassuring them that you don’t expect them to excel at everything can go a long way.

It’s worth just taking time to think about whether you are passing on some of your own anxieties or expectations onto them. You can talk to them about possible solutions/courses of action if things don’t go as well as they would have liked.

Children’s health and well-being practitioner, osteopath Sheree McGregor, says the word ‘failure’ comes from seeing learning as a two-dimensional scale with success (good) at one end and failure (bad) at the other. A much more positive approach is to look at learning as more multi-dimensional.

Sheree believes we can help our children a great deal by teaching them to look at their results not as ‘success’ or ‘failure’, but as opportunities to explore. Exploration means a chance to discover.

In practice, this means encouraging your child to be curious of a result and ask questions such as:
• What have I learned about what doesn’t work?
• Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?
• What can I do with these results?
• What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?

The same approach should be applied to successful results, which can often be a missed learning opportunity – we rarely ask the child holding the trophy what they have learnt from their experience!

She also warns that ‘failing’ should never be swept under the carpet. Avoiding failure merely heightens the dread of it, so when it does happen it will be felt more strongly and deeply.

Sheree adds: “Helping a child to focus on learning in which there are choices and opportunities allows them to try different pathways so that learning remains a positive experience.

“We, as parents, are often tempted to step in when things become challenging but learning to deal with setbacks helps children develop important life skills such as creative thinking, and resilience.”

Sheree is a practitioner for the Sunflower Programme, which uses a pioneering approach to children’s health and well-being. The programme focuses on integrating the brain with the body to help children become the best that they can be. Sunflower has helped hundreds of children – many with diagnosed health, behavioural or learning difficulties, others who are underachieving at school and some, who for no obvious reason, need a little extra help to achieve their potential.

Sheree explains: “Resilience is a term that is used a lot at Sunflower. Sunflower believes that building resilience within children that extends to their body, brain and emotional state will enable them to cope better with life challenges and reach their potential.

“Often using the analogy of learning to ride a bike can be useful – when you fall off, you get back on until eventually you can ride without thinking about it. However, the absolute best way to deal with a child during challenging times is to make them feel supported and loved as much as possible.”

Mette Theilmann, from Parenting Success Coaching, says listening without saying anything can go a long way towards helping children cope with failure. She explains: “We want the sad feeling to go away so they can go back and be happy again, so we go into over drive to fix. But because of these feelings, we often find it hard to listen and accept what we hear or see.

“It is listening that gives them the greatest comfort to cope with the situation, their feelings and problems.

“Being listened to helps our children accept the situation better and allows them to problem solve themselves – since it’s our acceptance of their unhappy feelings/behaviours that can make it easier for them to cope with the situation.”

For more information about the Sunflower Programme: www.sunflowertrust.com

To read more Parenting Success tips:
www.parentingsuccesscoaching.com

Sion School advice

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

By | Education, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized

Anne-Marie Coe has been a teacher for over 20 years at Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing and is a mother with grown up children. Now in the role of Assistant Head, Pastoral, she has been instrumental in developing the Wellbeing Programme at Sion which has recently been recognised with an ISA (Independent Schools Association) award for Excellence and Innovation in Mental Health and Wellbeing. This programme successfully supports pupils and helps raise awareness about issues surrounding mental health with a whole school approach. Taking the stigma out of mental health is at the core of the programme so that students feel comfortable and confident in understanding and talking about their feelings.

Our mental health and emotional wellbeing is all about how we think, feel, and behave. It can affect daily life, relationships, and even physical health. It is our ability to enjoy life – to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

The emotional wellbeing ofour children is just as important as t heir physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. This can be attributed to changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.

The sad reality is that mental health problems affect about one in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Sadder still is that 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age (as cited by The Mental Health Foundation).

In our roles as parent, carer or teacher we are very keen to fix things, so what can we do to keep the children and young people in our care mentally well?

Technological advances mean there is the biggest gap in cultural understanding between adults (parents and teachers) and children since the 1960s. The challenge is to bridge the divide because communication is key to good mental health. In order to have an open and honest dialogue with our children, we need to understand their world and what is important to them.

Empathy versus sympathy
The ability to understand and share the feelings of children and young people is a way in to meaningful conversations about their lives and what may be troubling them. With younger children, empathic listening will help their previously unmanageable feelings become more manageable. Take, for example, the toddler who doesn’t want to leave the play park and starts screaming – by saying that you understand that they love that play park and that they don’t want to go home, they will experience the relief of being understood and no longer being alone with their feelings of loss.

Play is a great way for children to express themselves as well as through words. You can learn a lot about how they’re feeling by simply spending time with them and watching them play. Stressed and upset children often play fighting games with their toys. Commenting that there are a lot of fights going on, or that it seems pretty frightening, can pave the way for them to open up to you about what is bothering them.

Dealing with change can be as difficult for us as it is for the children and young people. Changes such as moving home or school can often act as triggers for anxiety. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but others may feel anxious about entering a new environment. One of the most important ways parents, carers and teachers can help is to listen to them and take their feelings seriously.

Starting school, or a new school, can lead to separation anxiety in some children – excessive and persistent worrying at being separated from those the child is attached to or worry that harm will come to them. Following the ABC plan is a great way to prevent the anxiety from becoming overwhelming or unmanageable.

Step A – acknowledge and validate how they are feeling with empathic listening.
Reassure them that anxiety is normal and that the aim is not to have zero anxiety but to prevent it becoming overpowering.

Step B – build self-esteem.
What I am good at and my achievements; what I like about myself; nice things that people say about me; my happiest memories, people I am grateful for.

Step C – challenge and plan.
Where is the evidence? How likely is it to come true? What if it does come true? What is a suitable alternative thought? Choose a goal and break it down into small steps.

It is also a difficult time when your child is grieving as you may also be in a state of grief and coping with overwhelming emotional pain that this brings. If they seem tearful or withdrawn, encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling by talking about the person who’s died.

Young children have an awareness of death, but can see it as reversible. It helps to explain it by saying, “… has died … is not going to be with us any more”. They may also blame themselves and can become angry or have difficulty with changes in routine. They may even have psychosomatic symptoms. Older children (around eight years old) start to understand the finality of death so their anger and distress levels can be higher. They can also display younger behaviour or may try to be the perfect child and be brave. Their grief will make them feel different from their peers and it is important that they feel supported by their school community.

We need to remember that children and young people’s negative feelings usually pass. However, it’s important to get professional help if your child is distressed for a long time, if their negative feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives, if their distress is disrupting family life or if they are repeatedly behaving in ways you would not expect at their age.

If your child is having problems at school, a teacher, school nurse, school counsellor or educational psychologist may be able to help. Otherwise, go to your GP or speak to a health visitor. These professionals are able to refer a child to further help. Different professionals often work together in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

To end on a happy note here are the top tips for keeping our mental health and that of our children in top shape.

Smile – pass on a smile to someone.
Optimism – self-fulfilling prophecy – thoughts and behaviours will follow.
Creativity – everyone needs a creative outlet, something which lets us exorcise difficult feelings, perhaps through sport, art, music or drama.
Kindness – a random act of kindness each day.
Mindfulness – meditation – focus on your breathing – think of nothing!
Gratitude – think of three things that you are grateful for each day.
Have fun! – make time to do things that you enjoy. Happiness is contagious!

Our Lady of Sion is an independent interdenominational school based in Worthing for girls and boys, ages 3 to 18. www.sionschool.org.uk

Inspiring our girls

By | children's health, Education, Relationships

In 2013, Miriam Gonzalez, the wife of Nick Clegg former Deputy PM, set up a charity called inspiring girls.com. The aim of the organisation was simple, to make young women aware of the range of opportunities that are potentially available to them and to support that by gathering potential mentors to help them find and follow these pathways. Gonzalez’s organisation operates globally and in the UK has strong links with inspiring women.co.uk which has already established itself as an organisation that uses role models, motivational speakers and events to showcase equality in the workplace, on the sports field and beyond.

The subjects of defining the role of women, equality, gender pay gaps and harassment of women have rarely been out of the headlines in 2018. For young women of the next generation it potentially feels like a step forward towards greater equality. Making sure it is meaningful and sustained is the next challenge.

Change in societies’ outlook does have implications on education and many would argue that development of positive attitudes and values are one of the key elements of the education system. Extensive research suggests that girls from an early age have distinct attitudes to equality. A project in 2017 in the US looked at children as young as five and six and how they absorbed gender stereotypes. Andrei Cimpian, one of the co-authors at New York University, found that girls as young as six believed that ‘brilliance’ was a male trait and that unlike boys, girls did not believe that achieving good grades was related to innate abilities. Some of the outcomes from this research link with other work that found that parents and teachers attribute good grades in maths to hard work for girls, but to natural ability for boys.

In the Primary and Prep sector we have a huge responsibility
to try and open up opportunities to redress some of the stereotyping and possibly to work with parents to help them not to reinforce these attitudes at home. Most of us would be shocked and disappointed to think that our young girls don’t see themselves equally capable and yet it is evident that sometimes it is our attitudes that are compounding the problem.

The challenge then is to create a culture whether at home or at school, where girls feel that all subjects can potentially play to their strengths and that they can become natural risk takers and not fall into the ‘slipstream’ of boys who will often take this role with confidence. We all recognise that the work place of the future will be about people’s response to change, innovation and problem solving. If girls are to become more risk takers, we need to firstly create a culture of security from which they can take risks with confidence. Schools talk about creating resilience but this actively requires schools to allow children to manage disappointment, respond to unfamiliar situations and initiate problem solving and not rely on adults.

Role models play a particularly strong role in inspiring all of us and schools are recognising the importance of opening up opportunities for pupils to see the breadth of career options as well as examples of determination, resilience, performance and overcoming adversity. Inspiration is a rather overused word but there is no doubt that there are so many examples of ‘a spark being lit’ that inspires people to achieve more than they could imagine. Even at Primary and Prep level we are using parents and people in the community to give pupils an insight into their motivation, how they developed their skill set and the rewards their tenacity and hard work have given them.

In our experience, girls in particular respond to personal journeys and insights. Many of these women, rather like the suffragettes of the past, have been trailblazers, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations. Many have been real inspirations to others and while examples of people like Cressida Dick, Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police or the UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies are exceptional examples we also need to consolidate that with more women at all levels. The workplace can be challenging enough so it really should be everyone’s responsibility to ensure that people at least join on an ‘even playing field’.

Girls’ natural strengths in negotiation, collaboration and empathy enable them to be great team players, inclusive and keen to work alongside others. Research shows that girls also respond well to establishing strong relationships with mentors, therefore projects that enable girls to access the full range of courses, training, apprenticeships and employment through mentors have to be encouraged and possibly funded. It is clear that stronger collaboration between education and the workplace will be of benefit in developing the right skills and qualities in all candidates, which employers often suggest is lacking.

We believe that if more young girls can link with or be exposed to mentors and role models, either in person or through social media, it could become the inspiration that they need to pursue their dreams.

Sian Cattaneo is the Head of Brighton and Hove Prep, the only girls Prep in the heart of Brighton & Hove.
For any enquiries please contact 01273 280200
www.bhhs.gdst.net
prepenquiries@bhhs.gdst.net

Tips to get your children listening

By | family, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Camilla Miller
Keeping Your Cool Parenting

It’s easy to feel guilty, stressed out and overwhelmed when you know there’s a way to lead to a happier family life, but you just can’t find it.

As a parenting coach, I get to work with many families and the one thing all the parents tell me is that they want to have a better relationship with their children.

Here’s how Emma describes her situation: “When I first met Camilla, I was at my wits end. My relationship with my children had hit rock bottom. They were constantly fighting and I was losing my cool and shouting too much. The kids weren’t listening unless I lost it. I went to bed most days feeling guilty and overwhelmed. I didn’t think there was any way out of the power struggles and negative cycle of anger and frustration. The relationship with my husband was becoming strained as we were arguing about how best to deal with raising our children.”

Sound familiar?

Within just a few hours of learning the techniques and skills I teach on my parenting course, Emma started to see results, and you can too.
Here’s what Emma said after taking the course: “Camilla’s ‘Chaos to Calm’ course transformed family life. Our family went from stressed out and overwhelmed to calm and connected. Our relationship is now based on love and respect. Camilla taught me techniques that improved our communication skills and we learnt how to best deal with misbehaviour in a positive way.”

“How do I get my children to listen?” is one of the questions parents ask me most often. If you’re having the same problem, here are some tips that will help you rapidly improve your relationship with your children:

1 When your child is defiant, what he or she needs is more love and attention, not less. Our children first need to feel heard by us before they can listen to us. So, spend time talking and listening to your child each day.

2 No one likes being bossed around all the time – it only leads to resentment and push back. Notice how many demands and commands you give your child daily and aim to lower it.

3 Before losing your patience with your child, think: “Would I speak to my best friend that way?”

4 Ask for what you want and not for what you don’t want. For example, ask your child to walk, rather than telling them not to run.

Camilla Miller is a qualified parenting coach at Keeping Your Cool Parenting.
She supports mums and dads whose kids are starting to rule the roost, and communication has broken down, often leaving parents feeling guilty, stressed and overwhelmed. She supports parents to gain skills that create willing cooperation without coercion so that the whole family can go from chaos to calm.

On becoming a mother…

By | baby health, family, prenancy, Relationships
by Sam McCarthy
UMEUS Foundation

For many women there is a decision made, usually in conjunction with a significant other, to ‘have a baby’ or ‘start a family’. It might be discussed, perhaps somewhat romantically, and framed from our own lived experience of childhood, what we will never do as parents. How many are reading this and remembering the phrases, “it’s not going to change us, we will still travel/go dancing/work…” and “we won’t be talking about our child all the time like (fill-in any parents name you knew before you had a baby)…” Or perhaps you were seduced by the idea of being blissfully radiant in pregnancy, ‘natural childbirth’, ergo slings and shared responsibility?

Even for those who chose to walk the path without a partner, and the many women who have no choice in the matter at all, the decision to bring a new life into the world is one we have no experience in making first time around, even if we’ve been surrounded by babies and children; just ask any midwife, nursery carer or teacher. Within all this thought and talk of pregnancy and the delights we will call our children, how many of us have asked ourselves, how do I become
a mother?

We’ve all had one at some point, some maybe two or more, in the forms of in-law, step or adoptive/biological. But how many of those in the hood have really shared their experience with us BEFORE we were staring into the abyss of broken sleep, emotional weightlifting and relationship upheaval? The monumental shifts that accompany the transition from woman to mother are rarely spoken of outside of this shadowy fraternity.

Perhaps the elemental nature of motherhood can’t quite be understood until we are ‘in’ our experience, or maybe we wouldn’t head on this collision course with life if we knew what was ahead? If this were the case, why do so many of us go on to do it time and again? Creating life can be addictive, because although oxytocin is understood by endocrinologists as an antidote to craving, the positive feedback mechanism that controls its release actually helps anaesthetise us a little, or diminish the sensations of discomfort, and feelings of turmoil that are intrinsically linked with pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.

When we are deep in the throes of becoming a mother, we often forget ourselves, and without intending to, so do others around us. Whilst pregnancy isn’t necessarily a glowing period for all, many women experience being regarded, honoured even (unless you’re on the 17:59 from London), and taken care of whilst carrying our precious load. What to expect when you’re expecting, pregnancy and birth; the industry around these very specific periods of time are festooned with ideas, methods and opinions, and many are eager to inform. As the excitement mounts, children’s clothes are cooed over, yoga sessions are chanted in and birth plans are written. Whatever happens at birth, statistically, becoming pregnant is the most dangerous thing a woman does in her lifetime. But now there’s a baby and attention shifts from you to your newborn.

We all respond differently to the awakening of motherhood. It’s a realisation that comes quickly for some, and as a quest through a submerged haze for others. The magnitude of decisions that arise as we begin to meet our new responsibility can be weighty and unwieldy. Breastfeeding (or not), back to work (or not), childcare (or not), intimacy with partner (or not), have another child (or not), this list is barely begun.

So, what happens if we meet the responsibility of our new state or experience of having or raising a child and everything that comes with it, not just with gratitude, which helps lessen the sense of heaviness, but also with conviction, so as to empower us?

Wholly embracing that we are the life givers, more often the primary carers, the chefs, the emotional weight bearers, the cleaners, the educators, the travel agents, the event organisers, and so much more, can elevate us, rather than drag us down, and help us to assert ourselves so that we can regard ourselves positively for what we achieve every day. Once we hold ourselves in this regard, it is easier for others to value us and for us to get our needs met.

Researchers at Washington University studied new mothers with varying degrees of stress. They wanted to know if support from community affected the way a parent relates to their children and their ability to raise them. The results were clear. Mothers without strong support from community had higher levels of stress, and mothers with higher levels of stress were more worn down and pessimistic about parenting. They also found the opposite true: mothers with strong support from their communities had lower levels of stress and were optimistic.

UMEUS Foundation was created to support women who happen to be mothers, because as much as not all women carry and birth, most women find themselves being mothers, sometimes as carers, sometimes as partners, often to their own parents, but mostly to humanity.

We believe in cultivating community through compassion and creativity. At UMEUS our central tenets are to trust mindful, yogic and humanistic, person centred approaches to supporting development. That applies to all stages of development, but most importantly our own.

Sam McCarthy, UMEUS co-founder, psychotherapeutic counsellor, mother, creative producer, wrangler of words.
www.umeusfoundation.org

Could you provide Supported Lodgings?

By | family, Fostering and adoption, Relationships

Brighton & Hove City Council is continually seeking people from all walks of life to provide safe and supportive homes for vulnerable children and young people. From short-term and respite care, to long-term foster care and Supported Lodgings, all you need is a spare room and a genuine desire to make a difference.

Brighton & Hove City Council welcomes applications from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds and encourages families,
couples and single people to apply. Similarly, the young people they seek placements for come from a wide range of diverse backgrounds.

Graeme has been providing Supported Lodgings care for almost a year. He says “I have a full-time career, my own hobbies, my own pastimes, my own friends. Being a Supported Lodgings Carer hasn’t interrupted my life. In fact it’s augmented my life.”

One of the main differences between Supported Lodgings and foster care is that the young person is considered a member of your household rather than a member of your family. It is also easier to combine full-time work and Supported Lodgings compared to fostering.

Graeme’s parents took his cousin in from a broken home when Graeme was a teenager, so he’s had some experience of helping a younger person in need and setting them on the right path. Since then he has always wanted to foster, but felt he needed to be within a ‘couple scenario’. However, as he found out more, he realised he could do it on his own. “I’m able to hold down a full-time job and still be there to give a young person some direction in life.”

Michelle has also been providing Supported Lodgings care for almost a year. She feels rewarded because she is making a difference to a young person’s life. “They enjoy staying in my home, and they thrive in different areas. I wanted to make a difference.”

Graeme and Michelle provide an opportunity for young people (18+ care leavers and 16/17 year olds at risk of homelessness)
to live in the home of someone who will help them develop the practical skills and emotional maturity needed for independent living. For example, the young people they care for may need help with getting into education, training or work, managing money, shopping, learning to cook and do housework, attending appointments, building confidence or managing relationships.

Graeme says being a Supported Lodgings carer is like “being a sounding board for young people, giving them direction and teaching them about budgeting. It’s helping them to make the correct life choices.” He doesn’t tell his placement what to do; instead they talk through the options. “It’s his life and his decisions. It’s about giving direction not instruction.”

Both Graeme and Michelle like and respect young people and have an understanding of some of the issues they may face. They have the time and flexibility to offer advice in a safe and supportive environment.

Becoming a Supported Lodgings carer will take approximately three to four months. The assessment will look at your lifestyle, finances and experience, and it will include a visit your home and statutory checks on you and members of your household.

Graeme recalls “The assessment for Supported Lodgings is a lot easier, it’s a lot simpler and a lot shorter than you might think. You’ve got to prove you’ve got the right experience but it’s nothing to be scared of, it was really easy and I quite enjoyed it!”

Michelle says “It was absolutely fine. Someone will assess you at your home, but they are very friendly; we’re all human at the end of the day! Obviously you have to have the right skills, so it’s good to understand what you’re going into.”

As a Supported Lodgings carer, you will be part of a team that also includes the young person’s key worker and other professionals – you will not be on your own.

Michelle says “there is a lot of support and a lot of regular meetings. There’s always someone at the end of the phone and there is very good training.”

Graeme approaches his role as a Supported Lodgings carer with an open mind. “I didn’t have a fixed concept of what I thought it was going to be like as I’m the kind of person that deals with situations as they come up. Some aspects of it have been a lot easier than I thought they might have been – and some other bits are harder. I’m a few months in and at no point have I thought ‘what have I done?”

Graeme’s advice is to “find out more. Go to one of the open evenings, speak to people, talk to them about how it would fit in with your life. Supported Lodgings is not 24/7 parenting, it’s being there in the background as the safety net and being a gentle guide through life.”

Michelle says “if you’ve got a spare room, if you’ve got the skills, if you’re patient and if you’re passionate about supporting young people for a brighter outlook, I would recommend it very highly, it’s very rewarding.”

If you are interested in becoming a Supported Lodgings carer or foster carer for Brighton & Hove City Council, you can find out about upcoming information events by visiting www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk.
Please call 01273 295444 to speak directly with a member of the team.