Have you ever felt that no-one was looking out for you?
Have you ever felt upset or resentful about that?
Or have you just given up asking for your child and others to take you into account?
Of course you matter! And because you matter, it is important not to just hope that your children and others will one day take you into account.
SOMEONE needs to be determined to look out for YOU, and though it would be nice if this was your child or someone else, you mustn't leave it to chance or wishful thinking. Here is why not:
1. Attachment relationships are important for you and for any child's well-being. It is easier for a child to attach to and take a lead from someone who seems strong and confident and with good well-being themselves. Would you feel safe and reassured around someone who seemed stressed out and anxious?Probably not.
2. As an adult figure - you are a role model. Through your actions, and not just what you say, you are sending out messages to your child and others about your own value in the world. Your child will learn how to treat you and others by watching and copying how you treat you. So if you let yourself be trampled on, then it is much more likely that your child and others will just come to see this is normal and carry on with these same patterns towards you without taking you into account.
3. Your ability to think clearly and sensitively is vital to your long-term well-being and that of your child and others. If you or your child or others has additional complex needs or challenging behaviour, what is needed most is an adult who is willing to watch and wait and wonder about challenging behaviour and why it is happening - with a view to helping that child find a way to come through and overcome their challenges. You will quickly find yourself unable to do this if you do not invest time in caring for and developing yourself and your own skills
4. The time you spend with your child is important - you have a challenging but key role to play. Few other people will spend as much time with your child or have the longer relationship with your child that you will have. This relationship is not going to go away. So it is important to take a long view - investing in working for a good relationship right now will be an investment in your own future well-being as well as your child's.
5. In order for your child's brain to mature and develop healthily, your child needs experiences of learning good relationship skills with you. Brains develop - they are not fixed and it is never too later to make important changes. To develop improved social skills so that they can learn to manage relationships more easily, your child needs to have good experiences in relationships with adult figures who are caring and thoughtful. It would be nice sometimes to pass that responsibility onto someone else but when you invest in good relationships with yourself and with your child and your team this will translate into more healthy relationship experiences for your child. This will help improve behaviour and reduce challenges.
And that is what you want!
So what can you do?
1. Decide 'I Matter'
2. Put some time aside for caring actions towards yourself that help you refuel
3. Insist that your child and others treat you and others with respect and consideration
4. Ask determinedly for what you want and put effective limits on what you don't want
5. Invest time in your team and in your community - you cannot help a complex child on your own
6. Decide to include something new in your life that is important to you.
Or look into one of our courses
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Parent-Child Coaching is something that many parents do without thinking about it. It involves guiding the child towards undersatnding and skills that you know will be useful and helpful to them in their lives.
I Matter Parent-Child Coaching has many similiarites. There are also 5 key differences:
i) In comparison to everyday parent-child coaching I Matter Parent-Child Coaches start out with a much clearer map or guide to help you decide what to coach and why. Parenting can be very challenging with so many decisons to make. It really helps to have a map that explains how lots of ideas fit together.
ii) Parents who are learning about I Matter Coaching are provided with some easy to understand assessment tools. These easy to understand developmentally informed tools are designed to make it very clear what key skills are important and why. They are also designed to highlight when further assessment is needed.
iii) Due to the advanced training involved, I Matter Parent Coaches find that they are much more aware of what is happening and have much greater understanding of what they are seeing during the everyday challenging incidents of life with their child. This helps them to have clarity and focus.
iv) I Matter Coaching places a very high emphasis on the role, skills and well-being of the adult coach themselves. The special thing about this approach is that it is very clear from the outset that in order to be effective and appealing you have to do the work that supports your own well-being first! Blaming others doesn't take you where you want to go.
v) I Matter Parent-Child Coaching provides parents with a framework for a longer-term approach founded on strengthening the security and effectiveness of the adult-child attachment relationship that can join together other learning that parents access in other places.
vi) I Matter Parent Child Coaching is suitable for all children where there is a concern to support social-emotional development. Children may be very typical, or they may present with some complex challenges. They may have a formal diagnosis of ASD or ADHD or ODD or something else, or they may have no clear diagnosis. This is a framework that focusses on primarily on the adults undesstanding and skiills.
If you would like to learn more take a look at our courses
Jekyll and Hyde Behaviour? 5 Reasons you must use developmental thinking if you have a challenging child?
Just because your child is 10 years old, does not mean that your child is functioning like a 10 year old
In my work I meet a lot of families of children who have developmental delays. Some of these developmental delays are VERY easy for an uninformed observer to miss and it is these more subtle delays that often lead to the greatest confusions for families and for teachers. Developmental immaturity is one of the key reasons for that common experience of feeling that your child is like 'Jekyll and Hyde' - wonderful and loving one minute and then in aggressve meltdowns the next. Does that sound familiar?
Here are some key ideas:
i) Child development is hierarchical - what this means is that you have to develop key skills first for other skills to develop. Therefore mature graded flexible thinking replaces black and white thinking only if a child has enough support to master the foundations of self-awareness. Failure to master early reflective thinking steps is like building a very shaky wall with very poor foundations. It can be considered a hidden disability.
ii) Child development is comprised of several different key strands. These strands include physical development including gross motor and fine motor skills, language and communication development, social-emotional development, play skills and thinking skills development. These can develop at different rates. So your child may be physically and even verbally quite skilled but still have key social-emotional delays/
iii) One absolutely fundamental requirement for healthy social-emotional and the emergence of more mature thinking skills development is a strong, supportive and effective adult-child relationship. So if you want to see mature behaviour and thinking emerging, you have a very key role to play as the adult figure.
iv) Children can have gaps and subtle delays in their development which make it difficult for them to manage the age-typical situations that they find themselves, in leading to much more rapid and easily triggered states of overwhelm and challenging behaviour. If you see your child as just 'naughty' or 'difficult' you will exacerbate their difficulites. They need your support to learn new thinking skills.
v) The age at which a child is functioning can vary over time. Under stress children and adults will regress developmentally, displaying the needs of a younger child. Children who have experienced early disrupption or trauma are much more sensitive and much more likely to be functioning like a younger child and therefore need the care and pace that a younger child needs.
If you have a child who is displaying challenging behaviour it is vitally important to learn more about child development and the impact of trauma and about your own role. It is vital to think about whether your child may be finding some things much more difficult than you are realising.
If you over-estimate what your child can manage you may find that you are living with a child who feels impossibly difficult. Slow things down - start watching carefully - make time for reflection and for connection. This is what will deliver long-term results.
Developmental thinking is really interesting and really helpful!
Click here for more information about the i Matter Project
Coptyright CBetoin 2016 All rights reserved
As a clinical psychologist, I get to meet with a lot of families who are feeling stressed and confused, wondering about their child's behaviour.
I get to hear a lot of questions that take the form:
"Well has he got.... ASD or ADHD or OCD... or ODD?'
Sometimes when further investigations are pursued it turns out that the child in question might meet the criteria set out by one of these diagnostic labels. Then families are usually hoping that someone is going to 'do something' about it. This is when the next stage of confusion often sets in.
In a system in where long waiting lists are a common feature of children's services, I get to hear a lot of parents speaking about their bewilderment that 'nothing, or not enough has been done'. The child has sometimes been prescribed with some medication and sometimes this has appeared to help for a while, and sometimes it hasn't. Sometimes the family are able to find a supportive group of parents who seem to share some similar challenges, and sometimes they haven't.
Often however there is or has been a lot less help available than the parents were hoping. Sometimes the pursuit of the right label takes families away from some of the key issues that urgently require more attention. Let's look at some of the similarities between children who are given these sorts of diagnostic labels
1. Presence of challenging behaviour and confusion Most often the parent is reporting some level of challenging or unusual behaviour that is difficult to understand.
2. Presence of parental stress Most often the parent is feeling pretty stressed themselves and bewildered by the sense that their efforts don't seem to be making a difference. In the confusion they have often found themselves becoming more isolated
3. The adult-child relationship is under strain Most often as a result of the above the adult-child relationships is under significant strain and may have been so for a considerable time. There are few opportunities for enjoying time together.
4. The child has some delays in their social-emotional development and needs the care of a younger child Most often when we look closely the child is demonstrating delays in their social-emotional skills - in understanding others and in the area of managing frustration
5. The adults in question are going to need to acquire advanced parenting-caring skills. The challenging truth about caring for a child who is displaying challenging behaviour is that to make a difference, the adults are going to need stamina and advanced skills.
6. Adults need to take a long view around the needs of the child and themselves The other challenging truth is that in order to make a difference the adult is going to need the strength and persistence to support the child in making progress in building confidence over long periods of time - the child is going to require higher levels of active input from adults than the child who is developing more typically.
The good news is that child development and brain development provide a very solid foundation to build an intervention and support process upon. The fact that there are so many similarities in what makes a difference means that we can get started fairly quickly on the basis of the above and can observe what happens as do. We also know that to make a difference, there are no short cuts to putting healthy adult-child relationships at the centre of any actions.
If you are interested in finding out more click here to find out about our courses
The First and Most Important Step in Addressing Child Mental Health Difficulties and Challenging Behaviour
The I Can Control and Calm Myself Checklist is a simple 14 item tool that we use to assess the starting points when a parent or professional is observing mental health concerns or challenging behaviour.
if you are wanting to see improvements in your child's mental health and behaviour at home or at school then most of the rest of your efforts will come to very little unless you get this key step working well first.
You are the adult and a key part of this role involves creating the conditions in which your child can feel relaxed around you. A child cannot bond easily and relax with an adult who is constantly stressed out or permanently busy or not effective in taking charge of the atmosphere. A child cannot feel safe with an adult who is not willing to really take the lead in creating space for good times together.
So your child needs quality time from key adults that care - and they sometimes also need quantity time.
This can be challenging stuff - you sometimes have to really slow things down - you often have to experiment - what is it that your child enjoys doing with you and that you enjoy doing with them? Start with the twinkle in your eye when you greet your child and then when you need to set a limit, or support them in learning a new skill it will be in the context of them feeling connected with you and sensing that you are on their side.
If you want to learn about the other skills look out for the next post! If you want support in learning how to get this working in your relationship with your child, then click here to take a look at the courses we run
Most parents dread the meltdowns - whether it is a toddler or a teen - but what if you had a better understanding of what was happening and why? What if you knew that meltdowns could be used to help build a better relationship with your child?
First things first: Let's be clear, it is not just children and young people who have meltdowns. Adults have them too. Sometimes a lot.
And if this is happening in your home or school setting this is absolutely the place to start. It is interesting how stress makes us blind to what may seem, in hindsight, to be embarrassingly obvious, but the truth is that many children who are displaying challenging inflexible behaviour also have parents or teachers who are displaying challenging inflexible behaviour too. :(
So why do adults have meltdowns? Usually because it is all feeling too much - usually because we are getting frustrated that our child or someone else won't do things the way we want. Usually because we feel we have tried everything we knew to get our point across and it doesn't feel as if anyone is listening to us. Sometimes just because we feel a lot better when we have had a good rant or a good cry.
And children then? Why do they have meltdowns? Because it is feeling too much, because they are frustrated that others won't do what they want. Maybe they feel they have tried to express their feelings and views and no one seems to be listening? And sometimes it just feels a relief to have an explosion - whether with words, actions or tears.
So we find that there is a lot in common between children and adults. The only difference is that adults have more responsibility than children. Consequently, if we want to make a difference to the meltdowns, we have to look at our own behaviour and struggles first. We have to move away from thinking that 'he or she made me lose my cool or behave that way ' to 'what could I tell myself or do that would help me stay calmer even if the situation here is challenging?'
The good news is that if you just take this one step of taking personal responsibility (whether you are an adult or a young person), you will be well on the way to handling many situations with a great deal more success. It will feel a lot nicer and your children and others will find you easier to manage. You will be showing through your behaviour rather than with your words that big feelings can be managed, and that the whole situation around you is safer and more under control.
Now of course learning to do this usually takes a lot of practice, and once you have mastered this first step of self-care and self-regulation when under pressure, you may well want to learn some more. How for example do you help your child learn these skills? In fact, what skills are actually involved and how will you know if you are making progress?
In the I Matter Project we have an exciting set of resources to help you learn a lot about child development, brain development and the adult role. We believe that even if you are finding your parenting or caring role very challenging right now, anyone who is determined to learn can learn, and it is never too late. Furthermore when you begin to learn these skills, you will find that you can be much more effective in your role and much more able to help your child and others learn the skills that will help them become happier more confident young people and subsequent adults. Win-win.
Getting there however is going to involve a personal journey. We offer absolutely no quick fixes. You will have to try things out and practice. You may want to learn what to do straight away but the painful truth is you are probably going to have times when it all seems to be falling apart again. That is why in this project we have a direction of travel, but this goal does not require perfection of you or your child. You are allowed to be human and have struggles and so does your child. It will be through role modelling how to put things right and apologise when you realise you perhaps could have handled something differently that you will grow fastest.
Click here to find out about our courses
You can make a difference!
Copyright CBetoin2015 All Rights Reserved.
Did you know that infant brain development is not only very important it can also be very, very interesting!
If you are pregnant for the first time and are wondering what to do with while waiting for the birth, why not use your time wisely and learn about how your attachment relationship with your new born infant will influence the way that their brain actually develops? Here are a five reasons that this will be time well-invested!
1. Your baby's brain will not be fully developed when he or she is born - there are really important things that your baby will only learn to do well if you provide the right sorts of opportunities. In fact the well-being of your baby across their whole life will be influenced by what happens in these important early infant years of life.
2. Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging role changes ever. The greater your understanding of infant brain development, the more you can enjoy the early years of their life because you are more likely to understand what you are seeing - you will understand why your child is behaving in certain ways.
3. There is lots of evidence that if a child is having difficulties it is best to get help as early as possible. If you understand about infant brain development and how it is affected by your relationship with your child, you will be more confident about knowing what to do to get your baby off to a good start and also about when to ask for help and more confident about knowing what actions you can take that will help.
4. If you really understand what your child is needing for you and why, it is easier to plan your time and approach in order to be helpful to your child. A lot of difficulties can arise when a baby does not get what is needed in their relationship with parents at the right times.
5. There is a very close relationship between adult well-being and child well-being. The good news about this is that from day one, anything you can do to improve your own confidence as a parent will help your child become more confident - AND - it is NEVER too late to make a positive difference. Learning about what your child needs from you and why, earlier rather than later, can pay life long benefits for both of you.
If you would like to learn more click here
So you arrived home and your Mum met you at the door. You felt she was grumpy, angry, impatient. And you thought, 'here we go again'?
Have you seen this behaviour before? Do you wonder why she behaves this way? Do you wonder why she is always on at you and why it seems you can never do anything right?
What's the reason? Is it your fault? Is it because she is deliberately trying to make your life miserable? Is it your someone else's fault?
We all make up reasons to explain other people's behaviour. But how would it be if there were some deeper levels of explanations that could help you understand your Mum better and help her understand you better? How would it be if this could help you on a journey towards a better relationship? Not a perfect conflict free one, but one in which you were more able to give each other the benefit of the doubt?
So there might be a few different reasons for your Mum's behaviour: In I Matter they are each are illustrated by a poster, and each of these posters uses the colours red and green to illustrate how different ideas can be connected together.
So in I Matter when people are feeling stressed out or fed up we say they are in a state of RED. If it has been going of for a long time, we we describe as 'The Fog'. Have you noticed that when you or others are very stressed out that it is much easier to be clear on what you don't want!!
So you want your Mum to stop shouting at you! You want to stop feeling so angry and you would like to be looking forward to coming home. She probably wants you to be more thoughtful or considerate about something. You want her to stop this RED, and she wants you to stop, but what do you both want INSTEAD?
Likely is you want to be feeling happy to be coming home! Your Mum would like to look forward to you coming home too. Or you want your Mum to handle the pressures she is under with more confidence and skills? Think for a moment about what would be happening if your Mum and you both handled the situation with greater well-being? What would GREEN look like in your Mum? And in You?
In I Matter we refer over and over to the direction of travel. And the direction which is quite easy to remember, is a journey from RED to GREEN. It is really worth learning more about what these states look like in you or others because if you know what they look like it is much easier to know where you are, whether you are heading in the right direction and whether you have got to where you want to go yet.
If you would like to learn more, click here and ask an adult to look at some of the I Matter Project posters so that you can study them and discuss it. Or look out for coming blogs written for young people on other key I Matter ideas.
Or, start watching out for RED and for GREEN - there is lots of very interesting stuff to learn but you are likely to catch on quickly!
Dr Cathy Betoin
Clinical Psychologist, Teacher and Parent
I Matter Parent Blog
There is nothing more powerful than a parent who takes the trouble to care