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Archive for the ‘child development’ Category


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holding handsThe title of this post didn’t mean much to me until last week when I listened to a presentation from Laura Steckley at a Scottish Attachment in Action conference. Laura talked about the concept of containment and how it relates to the regulation of emotions from early infancy and beyond…

Containment in this context describes the process where an infant seeks out emotional regulation from their carer by projecting their unmanageable feelings to their carer to manage. The carer absorbs the feelings and reflects them back in a more manageable form. It is an important part of the infant, caregiver relationship and links closely with the attachment process.

I really liked this way of thinking about emotional regulation, especially in adoption and fostering where children might not have had much emotional containtment in their early years and could still be projecting what’s unmanageable for them and chucking it your way to process. It helps make sense of those situations where ’emotions run high’...

Another important point that was made is that carers can become ‘uncontained’ in trying to contain the emotions  of children in their care…

All of this got me thinking about ‘containment for containers’. For practitioners that can be in the form of professional supervision, for parents and carers it might be one-to-one support, a chat with a social worker, support groups, online forums, friends and family, or a book and a cup of tea. Whatever works for you, it’s important to recognise that you’ll need to find ways to help you feel supported and ready to deal with whatever emotions might be thrown at you.

On a professional level, I have regular supervision, and on a personal level I rely on my network of friends and family, and lots and lots of tea… What works for you?

Written by adoptresources

September 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Making faces

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We learn about emotions from our earliest interactions as babies with our parents and carers. For lots of children who have experienced early trauma or neglect, understanding and expressing their own emotions and reading others’ facial expressions can be difficult.

Not knowing how you feel, how to say how you feel or how to work out how others feel leads to misunderstandings in lots of areas including at home, with friends and at school.

cartoon emotions We used to play a game when the kids were younger to help with naming and understanding emotions and facial expressions. It’s really easy – you just need a mirror, you and your child…
Step 1 name an emotion – happy/excited/sad/angry etc
Step 2 both look into the mirror and make the face!
Step 3 back to step 1, taking it in turns to name the emotion…

Dead easy and lots of fun. I still do it with the kids now that they are older – we don’t need the mirror, we just make faces at each other!

Other things that can help are naming emotions for your child… ‘it seems to me like you’re angry about that…’, it helps them name what they are feeling and build their vocabulary of emotions.

What things have you found help make sense of emotions?

This post was inspired by Misreading Facial Expressions written by my friend, Naomi Richards aka The Kids’ Coach

Related posts:

Written by adoptresources

July 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

Bruised before birth

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The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) are running a series of conferences in the UK for professionals, parents and carers about the complexities faced by a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and strategies and supports that can help.

FASD affects a number of children who are fostered or adopted and it can affect things like speech and language processing, cause and effect thinking and ability to concentrate. Awareness of different strategies and supports will help both children and families to deal with the impact of FASD.

There are still places left for the conference in Edinburgh this week (Thursday 10th March) and there’s another conference in London on 30th March if that’s closer for you.

I’m going to the Edinburgh conference – let me know if you’re going too…

Written by adoptresources

March 7, 2011 at 7:33 am

Support for learning

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LearningThe summary of a recent  report  concluded that children were being “wrongly labelled as having special educational needs”. This sparked a debate about the pros and cons of diagnoses and labels of special educational needs. Some parents felt that the right diagnosis meant that children received additional support, others that it limited expectations of children or that additional support was not always provided.

My own experience is that some children would do better with additional support in school but, without a formal recognition of need, the provision of additional support is dependent on individual teachers and resources.

In adoption, early trauma and neglect impact on a child’s development and can lead to the need for additional support with learning. Areas like language processing affect how well children understand instruction and can cause problems in all subject areas, even in games and P.E. Poor concentration, low self esteem and problems with social relationships all have a knock on effect on learning

What are your views… has your child had support for learning, has it helped? Do you think labels are helpful?

Written by adoptresources

September 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Back to school…

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It doesn’t seem that long since my summer holiday post and now we’re into our second week back at school with the novelty of getting organised for school fast wearing off…

School requires a whole host of skills – social skills, the ability to listen and concentrate, language processing, talking and communicating. Then there’s taking care of yourself physically, eating the right things at the right time and being able to organise yourself for different classes/lessons.

Even writing, which can seem like second nature to most of us, requires so many individual skills for someone in the early learning stages…

  • the ability to hold a pen or a pencil
  • how to form the shape of the letter
  • what the letter represents
  • how it fits with other letters to spell a word
  • how words fit together to make up a sentence

So it’s not surprising that going to school can send some children’s stress levels sky high, in turn affecting relationships at home. The tasks involved in the  journey from bed to breakfast to school and from school to home/activity, mealtime and bed can provide various opportunities for stand-offs throughout the day for children who find school difficult.

Top tips for helping ease back into the school term…

  • the all important routine, keeping things predictable and following the same format to get ready for school and for afterschool activities and homework
  • pay attention to basic physical needs like sleep and diet – it’s amazing the impact of being tired and low energy levels
  • time healthy snacks for the return from school so that energy dips don’t affect homework/activity time
  • ask your child about school, notice things and offer help if you think it’s needed. It’s  important to be aware of any specific things that might be troubling your child – bullying, learning difficulties etc and act to find solutions or support early on
  • use calenders and planners to map out the week so that kids know where they are going and when – visual cues are helpful especially if things can change from week to week – I like the Organised Mum weekly planner (you can win one by entering the prize draw below).

None of these tips are rocket science but they can make the transition from holidays to school a bit easier. I’d love to hear your tips for making term time easier…

To win a fab weekly planner leave a comment or email

Written by adoptresources

August 24, 2010 at 10:42 pm

When the going gets tough…

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Being a parent through adoption brings it’s ups and downs…. some are part and parcel of being a parent and some are unique to adoption. When you’re in the middle of a down, it can be difficult to pick yourself up and keep going. The hard thing is that this is often when your child needs you the most.

To be emotionally available at a time when your energy levels are low is not easy. So what can you do…

  • tune into your own feelings (difficult when you’re tuning in and trying to respond to those around you!!) and recognise when you’re getting stressed
  • take some time out – even if it’s just to go into another room/sit down for a cup of tea/read a magazine
  • don’t try to tackle difficult issues when you don’t have the energy or resources
  • explain how you feel in easy to understand, non-blaming ways… “I’m not going to… right now because I’m feeling tired/sad/need a rest…”
  • and give an opportunity to reconnect… “we can try that again when…”
  • take a step back and think about possible triggers for whatever is going on right now… are there any recent changes that might explain changes in behaviour… sometimes things that have been dealt with a long time ago can resurface as children reach a new developmental stage
  • is there anything you can bring into your family routine that can help
  • talk to someone who understands… your health visitor, social worker, friend, fellow adoptive parent, foster carer, adoption coach
  • explain to your partner/family how you are feeling – can they help take the pressure off you/are they ok?
  • ask for help from your support network…
  • if you can , book in some babysitting or extra childcare to give you a chance to recharge your batteries ***you need to balance this with the fact that your child needs you and will need to see more of you but they do not need you stressed and approaching burn out***
  • think about your diet, sleep, exercise etc – often at times of stress we don’t pay enough attention to our physical needs.

Part of the secret is in recognising your stress levels and acting on them and remembering that to be able to care for your child and respond to them emotionally, you might need to give yourself a little TLC first.

Do you have any other tips to share? I’d love to hear your comments.

Written by adoptresources

July 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

The Importance of the Early Years

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Children’s early experiences give them an understanding of their world, the people in it and themselves. From this they build their sense of self, trust in others and start on the building blocks that will help them learn. Language skills develop, along with the ability to form relationships and interact with others. Physical and motor skills develop, along with sensory awareness. A huge number of seemingly small steps occur equipping the child with key skills to function and thrive in our society.

There has been a lot in the news recently about parenting, from the three main parties in the UK competing for the family friendly vote, to the debate surrounding a horrific crime committed by two young boys who have been on the receiving end of some spectacularily poor parenting.

‘Good enough’ parenting provides children with the right environment to grow and develop emotionally and physically. There will always be the odd bad day where some of our parenting choices might not be the best, but on the whole, most parents are motivated to do the right thing for their children and this can only be a good thing. The parenting section of any bookshop is a testament to the efforts we go to to get it right for our children. But neglectful parenting, where even a child’s most basic needs go unmet, can have a deep and lasting negative impact on children.

The importance of the early years is universally accepted, but our response to poor care in the early years is not just about improving the current situation for the children involved (through parenting support or finding alternative care – whatever response is appropriate in the individual situation). Our response also needs to accept that the effects of neglect will not necessarily be wiped away with committed parents, a good routine and a few sticker charts. We need to look at different strategies and approaches that might help fill in some of the gaps, and at ways of helping children to make sense of their story and build a true and positive sense of themselves. With appropriately targeted information and support, there are things that can be done to repair some of the damage caused by neglect.

So some of the current media focus needs to stretch a bit further to reach those who have suffered neglect, recapture some of the magic of the early years and improve outcomes for their future.

Written by adoptresources

February 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm