Friday, 28 December 2012

One Day

Soon it will be the day
The one when I no longer stay
I'll leave I'll walk away
Years of dark looks cruel eyes
Days filled with my pleading & cries
Please stop I will do better sorry sorry

Today is not the day
You're so sad begging me to stay
You'll change do anger management
Stop buying vodka & pay the rent
No more punches your anger's spent
So very very very sad & sorry

Egg shells scattered once more upon the floor
Tiptoe around gently close each door
Second guess each wish & whim 
Avoid eye contact just agree give in
Breathe & feel the tension real & raw
Keep you happy or be sorry

Tomorrow next week month year may be the day
The word or blow will come which will make me walk away
But will it all end once I am out the door
Will you find me make me suffer some more
Am I to become the hunted quarry
Forced to be forever sorry

Have patience with me I hear what you say
I deserve better to be happy one day
Try to hide your frustration
I fear your turned back the inevitable shun
I know you want me to leave there
Don't give up on me my freedoms so near

For all the family, friends and workers who tirelessly support someone who is trapped in an abusive relationship.  It can be painful and frustrating to maintain the support but being there in the background is so important as when the day comes they will need your acceptance to move on.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Is this all I deserve?

They tell me you are wild trouble

But my huge love will tame you

I will search in your heart

Set free your goodness and a love for me

Others misunderstand you

Are too quick to condemn

I will be true

I’ll work to make you lover and friend

When touch becomes shove

My excuses flow freely

I can defend you to all

I tripped no push led to my fall

You watch me out of worry

When I’m late you just fret

No need for friends now

That’s what I’m too stupid to get

I am lucky you want me

No one else would

You would not have to hit me

If I could learn to be good

Tomorrow will be different

I will get more things right

You will smile and hold me

But not so hard and so tight

You chose me so this has to work out

But at times I am so full of doubt

Is this all I deserve?

Or is it time to get out?


Leaving is never easy but it is possible to do and with the right support you can go on to survive and thrive.  It can take a while but every day and every step can be a move away from what you did not deserve to what you truly do.

From one survivor and thriver to a soon to be one, or an already on the way one/there one, with love.


Jane Evans
Trauma Parenting & Behaviour Skills Specialist
Mobile: 07946318404 Landline: 01249 721104
Twitter: @janeparenting Website:


Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas carols & the odd crisis thrown in!

Christmas is coming that’s all I hear

Expectation is building

That’s so hard to bear

‘Cos I might not like Christmas when it gets here

Routines are ruptured raggedy

Lines to learn and to read

All pressures I don’t really need

My melt down is brewing

Will Father Christmas come into our house?                                                                     

Am I good enough for a present or two?                                                                                        

What if I wake up to nothing?

Being good is so hard to do

Time to put up the tree

Cards to colour create

Carols to learn and sing

Chaos I can feel myself crashing

I need to look happy

What if I fail

I need to seem thankful

It’s all too much am ready to wail

Home at last to be wrapped in sameness

You know what I need

Small glimpses of Christmas on a drip feed

No expectations just balm-like acceptance

A Very Happy Christmas to all those caring for and raising precious children who find change alarming and uncomfortable but still want a bit of Christmas in their lives.  This is a real juggling act so on behalf of us all a huge THANK YOU.

Jane Evans
Trauma Parenting & Behaviour Skills Specialist
Mobile: 07946318404 Landline: 01249 721104
Twitter: @janeparenting Website: Blog:


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Raising children who have experienced trauma and abuse

Raising children who have experienced trauma and abuse is like opening Pandora's box to find a jewel encrusted onion in it.  It's the most beautiful thing you have ever seen but with layers and layers of complex needs and emotions which will reveal themselves over the years when you least expect it.

So why is this, I am not a neuroscientist or a psychologist or any kind of 'ist' so can only share what I have seen and read.  A baby may be removed and placed with a loving family within days of its birth or even on the day so surely they will then go on to respond to the love and care they receive with few issues in life?  It is logical to assume this but I have met children and heard and read about them for whom this is not entirely the case.

As babies they have been quite hard to care for, crying a great deal, being hard to settle and soothe and sensitive to changes in routine, atmosphere and carers.  Often they have complex eating habits, either being fussy and picky or always hungry and rarely satisfied for long.  As children and young people it has been a roller coaster with carers left to try and work out what is going on and why, unless they access the right professional and/or book!

This is what I know, a baby's brain starts to form at around 7 weeks so anything which the mother is experiencing the baby's brain will be too.  It is fair to say the children who are removed early from birth mothers will be because they are at extreme risk of harm so during pregnancy the woman is unlikely to be able to rest up and with low levels of stress.  In fact, the opposite is most likely to be the case where the pregnant woman is being repeatedly exposed to stress and trauma which releases chemicals into her system which then pass to the foetus's developing brain. 

"If the mother's state of mind is highly anxious then stress hormones cross the placenta and affect the unborn baby.  Genetic inheritances combined with prenatal influences might lead some babies to  be very fragile and hard to soothe at birth" (Music, G, 2011)

Kate Cairns (2002) tells us, "Stress is toxic to the brain, causing profound changes in brain structure and function..." 

The main hormone which has been indentified as causing the most ongoing issues is cortisol.  There is plenty of research to tell us that the foetus responds to sound so imagine an environment where they are repeatedly exposed to shouting, loudness and frequent chaos.  There is also research which shows how the foetus is affected by maternal depression being generally in a more highly aroused, anxious state and being more responsive to external stimuli. (Music, 2011)

So back to cortisol, there is now evidence that if  the pregnant mother's state of mind is known then it is possible to predict the child's behaviours "a year or more after birth" (Music, 2011).  This may seem astounding but I am including it to illustrate why you may be struggling so much as this is what you are contending with rather than that you are getting it wrong!  Cortisol is one of the stress/threat hormones which gets us ready for action if we feel we are in danger.  Along with adrenalin and others it gets our body ready to run or fight or be very still.  Our heart rate increases, our thinking brain switches off, breathing becomes shallow we feel anxious and wired and so it is hard to concentrate and leads to over, or sometimes, under-reaction.

Cortisol is good in small doses as it may keep us alive if a truck is heading for us or a very angry person it may encourage us to run or fight for our lives. If a foetus or young child is repeatedly exposed to it then it will become increasingly likely that it will take a long time for the levels to drop back down to a state of relaxation and comfort and so a repetitive cycle begins to form leading to childhood anxiety and over, or under reaction.  For some, being flooded by cortisol gets to levels where the brain switches everything off as a defence mechanism so a person may become very still and not react at all, in a child this can antagonise others as they don't respond to requests or interact but it is a survival tactic triggered by the brain.

There is so much more I could say on this subject but I don't want to overload you and Kate Cairns and Graham Music's books are good ones to dip in and out of, or you can always contact me and if I don't know the answer I will find it out for you.

In summary, a foetus exposed to stress and trauma can be deeply affected as this is when the brain is forming and in particular the cortisol hormone which freely crosses the placenta has a great impact on how they will function in terms of anxiety and hyper sensitivity.  They may have a more reactive brain as the more basic survival functions will have been triggered more in the womb so as as child they will often have huge reactions to simple things and this will bring the cortisol flooding in and then they will stay in that state for much longer than is healthy or helpful to them and others.

What those caring for children affected in this way need is plenty of the right kind of support.  Not everyone may be able or willing to understand that this is what you are all coping with but they can offer practical support or just listen to you off load without interrupting or offering advice, hugs are good too. 

As a carer you need huge patience, the ability to accept that this is the way you child is wired so that you need to teach them how to manage what their brain and body does to them.  So, any self calming exercises will be a great gift to them, not  making them feel bad about what they have done but pointing out that we try not to hurt others by using our teeth to bite as teeth are for biting apples.  Talking about how they felt when it happened and how the injured party might be feeling, plenty of hugs and reassurance are vital. 

All of this needs to happen when your cortisol levels have come down and your child's or it will go wrong!  You are under repeated stress too so it may take a while and that is fine, the best way to  bring cortisol down is by hard exercise so a danceathon, star jumps, running hard round the garden, stomping, pummelling cushions are all great for this.  Then you can chat through the feelings in a kindly way as they are more likely to be in the thinking part of their brain.

Many of us struggle with reactive brains and high cortisol levels which can be a curse but learning to manage them is possible and that is great to know, I am living proof of that!!

Remember, taking care of yourself is top of the pile as you are on an amazing journey and are steering the ship so if you go down so will the ship and everyone on it!

Cairns, K 2002, Attachment, trauma and resilience, British Association for Adoption & Fostering, London
Music, G 2011 Nurturing Natures, Psychology Press, Hove & New York

Jane EvansTrauma Parenting & Behaviour Skills Specialist
Mobile: 07946318404 Landline: 01249 721104
Twitter: @janeparenting Website:  

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Be addicted to me

Mind and memory absent
Giving only an outer shell
Emptiness on offer
And glimpses into hell

Your mind mostly numbed
Senses addled addicted
Next fix the only thing predicted
Cheerless child a boring burden

Your eyes had only one prize
Sought savoured devoured
My childhood sacrificed at the altar of oblivion
Sit watch wait my only options

Every day a sickening cycle
Come to lay low keep quiet
Don't provoke the fixless one 
Fix found life limps on

Fast frantic fearful I know
Close comforting concerned I don't
See me hear me hold me
I am your child be addicted to me

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I am broken

I am broken
I look to others to fix me
Searching in the wrong places wrong people
Battling between having brokenness confirmed
Having brokenness confounded comforted

I am broken
Cracked snapped fractured by life
Too many horrors too much rejection
Not balanced or offset with kindness affection
Brokenness is my badge worn on the inside

I am broken
A look a word a sight a sound sets free
Dark demons my daily companions
They cut me consume me crush and caress me
Dance with my brokenness to a familiar tune

I am broken
You are kind to me you are cruel too
I know what you are I am no fool
You fit with my brokenness
A match made in hell I know you so well

I am broken
Where how when will it end
I am keeper of neither family or friend
Too broken to bond to belong
Berated beaten bowed betrayed

I am broken
Half seeking respite and repair
Half safe with the dereliction of despair
No lost cause I know what I want
Escape from your poison and pain

I am broken
Not to the point of extinction annihilation
Broken can become whole can mend
Kindness of workers strangers a friend
Strengthens replenishes restores.

 By Jane Evans

I have worked with many amazing women to whom this poem is dedicated, so 'broken' by growing up with abuse and violence that every day was a battle to manage their self harming, eating disorders and violent relationships.  I was repeatedly floored and humbled by their courage and determination to find a way out to have the life they deserved for themselves and their children and to be able to heal.
Image -     ©2010-2012 ~Katzentatze   

Saturday, 17 November 2012

I am here because I dare to care

Here I sit beside you your pain your shame

I flounder blunder wonder

I am without notion or magic potion

I am here because I dare to care

Here I stand to offer my time my attention 

Eyes which will not stare or glare

Hands waiting to hold to help

I am here because I dare to care

Rejection is your rifle of protection

Fired often full in my face

I pull back regroup return

I am here because I dare to care

Together we chase threads of despair

Calm contentment comes but is rare

Your need to be as nothing is strong

I am here because I dare to care

I witness you timidly emerge then retreat

For you the risk in connecting is real

There’s much for others to abuse to steal

I am here because I dare to care

There are times of despair

When I stumble tumble crumble

Friends are there to revive to repair

I am here because I dare to care
It takes such courage to care for our children who have known only dark and difficult times in their short lives so I dedicate this to our kinship carers, foster carers, care workers and adoptive parents,
Thank you.
Jane EvansTrauma Parenting and Behaviour Skills Consultant
Twitter: @janeparenting          Email:

Monday, 12 November 2012

This is my childhood there will be no other

This is my childhood there will be no other
When I'm grown how will it serve me
Will I be glad or sad when its gone

This is my childhood there will be no other
Will it be mostly grey then gone
Or will it be brightness and linger on

This is my childhood there will be no other
What will it show me how will it shape me
Will I deny it be ashamed to share it

This is my childhood there will be no other
Will it set me up for life or just trip me up
Firm foundation or false bottomed floor to fall through

This is my childhood there will be no other
When I become lover father mother
Will it cause me to flounder or succeed

This is my childhood there will be no other
Precious and fragile beyond compare
To be carried in my head and heart for evermore

Jane EvansSpecialist Parenting and Behaviour Skills Consultant
Twitter: @janeparenting  Website:


Sunday, 11 November 2012

I am not what you see.....

I am not what you see
I am fake
It’s my protection
My shield against rejection

It’s how I look for affection

I am not what you see
I live a lie
It’s to keep you away
It’s about surviving today
It’s to keep strong feelings at bay

If I told you what I’ve seen
If I told you what I’ve been
If I told you what I’ve heard
If I told about the touches I’ve felt
If I told about the ugly odours I’ve smelt

You would be shocked if you really knew me
You could judge me
You would think me weak
You could avoid me
You would think me too dramatic

I have weighed up all up
I have done pros and cons
I have been back & forth
It’s too big a risk to be real
Much better to smile hide and not feel
Life often encourages us to hide our pain and suffering, especially if the risk is that we will be judged on it and not on the amazing person we are, despite what we have endured.
We all need to be ready to notice others pain and have the courage to acknowledge it and accept it is a part of the person we know.


 Jane EvansSpecialist Parenting and Behaviour Skills Consultant
Twitter: @janeparenting




Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Chrysalis

Because of you I am a breath-taking butterfly

Even though I arrived a closed up chrysalis

Encased in my cocoon shut off shut up

caterpillar pictures, butterfly pictures, butterflies pictureYou saw beyond the shell to what lay within

Finding, nurturing the butterfly I hid so well


Breaking out from my cocoon was hard won

Turning tussling trapped, then free

Wings were unexpected overwhelming weak

Your acceptance encouraged their first flutter

Your devotion saw flutter become flight


I am a bold beautiful butterfly

Fragile wings yet fearsome heart

My cocoon was both a comfort and a curse

It has kept me safe and got me this far

It’s your belief which set me free to fly and fly and fly
Those who have had a difficult and painful start in life often just need that one person who accepts them and believes in them and over time that can change so much. 
For children this is crucial as finding someone who sees beyond difficult behaviour to their true beauty and potential will make all the difference in the end.  All of us could be that one special adult so be open to this and always interpret what children say and do through a lens of trying to understand and be supportive.
Jane EvansSpecialist Parenting and Behaviour Skills Consultant
Twitter: @janeparenting



Saturday, 3 November 2012

Looks can be deceptive


Looks can be deceptive protective

Looks can be both friend and foe

Make up the mask of protection

Laughter the sound of a lie


Perfect nails and hair get glances not stares

Slim trim hides the starving & straining

Too fat too ugly too real too raw

Hide it conceal it smile ignore


Looking good is the lie

It cons & confuses

It deceives & defuses

It comes at a price


I plan for you never to know what it costs me

I plan to keep you arm’s length from the truth

I plan to present as personable perfect

I plan to survive because of my lie
For all who struggle on a daily basis with eating disorders, anxiety, depression and fear that the real them will not be good enough.  Keep on going and make peace with yourself, find your passion and follow it the rest will fall into place because that is what you deserve.
Jane Evans






Thursday, 1 November 2012

I Know

I know you want to care for me

I know you have a warm house

I know I have a clean bed here

I know you always have food in the cupboards

I know you speak up for me

I know you offer me kindness

I know you want to love me


I feel I am unlovable as no one has loved me before

I feel I can never get warm the coldness is in my heart

I feel I will wet the bed over and over till the bedding runs out

I feel any second that someone might forget to feed me

I feel alone misunderstood invisible unlikeable

I feel frightened by kindness it is not what I know


I fear if you knew the real me you would be shocked

I fear if you knew the real me you could not love me

I fear if you knew the real me I would be too exposed

I fear if you knew the real me it would be scary for you

I fear letting you in you may bring me only pain

I fear that my fear may overwhelm us both


Before we met


Before we met you saw too many bad things

Before we met you had felt gnawing hunger

Before we met you were too often afraid and alone

Before we met you had been rebuffed rejected

Before we met you could only survive


From this you learnt to be wary

From this you learnt to hoard food

From this you learnt to exist not to live

From this you learnt grown-ups are useless

From this you learnt to trust only yourself


Now I offer you kindness

Now I offer you respect

Now I offer you safety

Now I offer you attention acceptance

Now I offer you time to earn you trust


I hope it’s enough for you

I hope you can learn you deserve only this

I hope you can know trust one day

I hope you can let me in one day

I hope I have strength enough for us both



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Behind These Eyes

Behind these eyes there is so much going on

Behind these eyes lies the truth

Oh I have learnt to look blank

I have learnt to look at you & through you

I know not to blink look away or show emotion


Behind these eyes you would fall into a chasm

Swirling  boiling  black and bubbling

Full of anger hatred fear frustration desire

I want to hit kick slap shove bite bash you

I want to spit in your face pull out your hair

I want to push you hard down each of the stairs


You hurt the one I love most

You made me not love you

You stole my childhood

You gave me nightmares

You made me see danger and fear everywhere


I could not show you how I felt

I could not tell you to stop

I could not save her

I could only stare keep still show nothing

I could only wish you were gone for good


 It did not stop me planning my revenge

I t did not stop me wanting to really hurt you

I t did not stop me raging inside at you at what you did

It did not stop me wanting you to love me

When I see you now that is what lies behind these eyes
This is a Poem from a child to the perpetrator of domestic violence and abuse.  So often we underestimate what is going on for children who lives through this repeated trauma as they show us very little but we should never underestimate the strong feelings they learn to suppress.
The work I do is about supporting an approach to parenting and children which enables strong feelings and pain to be explored and expressed other than through challenging behaviour and by hurting others. 
Very often living with violence and abuse means that children grow up with little or no understanding of feelings and this makes life incredibly difficult for them and those who care for them post the abuse.  The right kind of support can help build in emotional intelligence which will offer a child much better outcomes and will help create a better parent-child relationship with the non-abusive parent/carer.
For more information:

Monday, 29 October 2012

I am already hurting

I am already hurting

 So you can not hurt me more

I already hate myself

So you cannot hate me more

I don’t value myself

So you cannot value me less


Shout at me

I’ll get that

Shove me

I’ll get that

Hit me

 I’ll get that

Hold me

I don’t get that


If I scowl and shrug

That’s what I’ve seen

If I shout and cuss

That’s what I’ve heard

If I punch and kick

That’s what I’ve felt


How can I hope for anything else?

How can I ask for something else?

How can I expect anything else?

How will I get anything else?

Unless I can dare to let you in

I am nothing

My head is down my hood is up my heart is racing
I am nothing don't look at me
My head is down my hood is up my heart is sinking
I am nothing don't look at me

Hiding in my hood feels safe, no where else does
If you look at me I may disappoint you
If you look at me you might see my fear
If I look at you I might see your disapproval

If I can blend in it will be OK
If I can get past you with out a look it will be OK
If you see nothing when you look my way
I can get through the day

I have come from a place where I've been nothing
I come from a place now where I'm less than nothing
All my life has been about nothingness
Few loving words, looks have ever come my way

I need a gentle smile to grow out of being nothing
I need a kind word to believe I am something
I need you to see me, not just my hood
I need to you to reach out so nothing can move towards something.

Sad teenage boy with hood sitting on stairs Stock Photo - 12040740

By Jane EvansSpecialist Parenting and Behaviour Skills Consultant

Twitter: @janeparenting

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Journey to the planet called Shame

When you shout at me I’m already gone

So you’re shouting at no one, at an empty shell

I’ve jumped in my space rocket & I’m shooting into Space

Can’t see you can’t hear you can only get away fast

Your anger, frustration, disappointment a meteor shower spraying, pitting, burning my rocket

I land on a planet, the planet is called Shame

 I know this planet well I come here often

I leave my Space hardened rocket to walk on the planet of shame

I lay in the crater of unacceptability

I swim in the pool of toxic shame

I kick and stumble over rocks of badness & unlike-ability

It’s cold here on the planet called Shame                                      

It’s lonely here on the planet called Shame                    

It’s scary here on the planet called Shame

I’m tired here on the planet called Shame

It’s a long way back from the planet called Shame

My rocket is damaged so I wait to be rescued

A journey full of  meteor showers will do that to a rocket

I want to come back but my signals can' be read from this faraway place 

I wait, I wait, I wait to be rescued from the planet called Shame

I can fly rockets but I can’t fix them I need your help

Once I get here it takes too long to get back

The journey coming is fast and furious

The journey back is long, dark, difficult, uncomfortable

Shouting, criticism, disappointment, being sent away fuels my rocket

Kindness, acceptability, patience, being held fixes my rocket

I’ve had enough of visiting a planet called Shame

My website                                     Email

Saturday, 20 October 2012

I am sorry......

I am sorry I did not know abuse when it was in our home
I am sorry I did not understand how words & looks can wound so deeply
I am sorry I did not know that atmospheres can seep into a forming child
I am sorry I did not know what I know now

I am sorry your first few years were soaked in stress
I am sorry no-one shone a light on the abuse we lived with
I am sorry I did not know that wasn't a normal way to live
I am sorry things were so unpredictable for you

I am sorry you did not have two parents focused only on you
I am sorry abuse was the fourth member of our family
I am sorry I was so in it I did not look for help
I am sorry I did not know it was not OK for you

I am glad we got out
I am glad we were rescued
I am glad for a brother & sister in law who took us in
I am glad for an end to the oppression

I am glad for the new start we had
I am glad for the life we then had
I am glad we faced all the new challenges
I am glad to find kindness and love

I am glad to know that what we lived with has as name
I am glad to use what I know for others now
I am glad to see you so kind and calm
I am glad I finally understood it was not my fault

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I am the child......

I am the child who lived with chaos, unpredictability and a hunger to be held, to feel love
I am the child who cried and noone came, who smiled and received a frown, who did not learn to laugh
I am the child who felt so many things sadness, excitement, anxiety, fear, curiosity, confusion
I am the child who without help to fathom my feelings so they sat in me then as they sit in me now

I am the adult who wants to be held, caressed, embraced but can not ask for it
I am the adult who shows too many, too few emotions to loved ones, to strangers, to you
I am the adult with no words to set free feelings so I unleash them with cold cuts into my skin
I am the adult who drinks and dopes my brain to suffocate and sedate a fountain of feelings

I am the child who lived with chaos, unpredictability and a hunger to be held, to feel love
I am the child who learnt to connect with you when you accepted all of me
I am the child who found words for my feelings when you did too
I am the child who knows, feels, and bathes in love from you
I am the child who will be the parent with love to give, feelings to share, acceptance to offer.

Dedicated to all the incredible families I have had the privilege to work alongside of, who have shown so much courage when working hard to recover, rebuild and move on together from the trauma and abuse they lived through.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What we say and the way we say it....

Having worked with and cared for children who have lived through a range of trauma for many years, one thing I am clear about is how sensitive they are to the words they hear and the tone of voice used.  Living in a home where there is chaos, unpredictability, or a regime which has to be followed by everyone all the time or there are dire and dangerous consequences, will make a child develop the necessary reactions and skills to keep them alive so they can survive.  This is not a conscious process but is one the brain is designed to prioritise from before birth to keep us alive and unharmed otherwise the brain will be of little use beyond that! 

Children who have lived with trauma have brains which need to develop the ability to heighten their senses to hear, see, feel and/or smell threat or danger and this is not something the brain will easily allow them to 'switch off'.  The whiff of alcohol on an adults breath, the sign of agitated fiddling with a belt buckle, hearing "I can't find my keys, where are my damn keys, what have you done with my keys......." increasing in intensity, or even just the word "keys" can be enough to trigger a child's brain to think 'get out of here' or 'cause a distraction as its all going to kick off soon'.  The way an adult tousles their hair or touches their arm can mean don't step out of line or I'll get you, or you know what's coming tonight when you're lying in your bed.

We use words everyday, all day with children so it puts a great deal of pressure on us to get them right!  The best rule for me is, WOULD I TALK TO AN ADULT THAT WAY?????  I always give these examples:
  • on leaving the house you friend forgets her bag - "would you like me to grab your bag for you?/your bags still here, would you like it?"
  • on leaving the house your child forgets their bag - "get your bag, your always forgetting it, how are you going to cope in life if you never remember anything/how many times do I have to say, "get your bag", I've got enough to think about/you don't see me forgetting things all the time, get organised"
If you put me in front of a car engine to change the spark plugs and my instructions every time I try are:
  • no
  • don't
  • leave that
  •  stop it
  • don't keep doing that
  • how many times do I have to tell you, "no"
  • leave it alone
  • look what you've done
  • you need to learn
  • don't touch that
I will hear your disapproval, irritation and clear instructions to stop what I'm doing and I will hear that what I am doing is wrong so I am learning that I can't do this so I must be a useless. 

For a child who has grown up around this it will trigger a spiralling sense of failure and worthlessness with the relating behaviours - 'you think I'm rubbish/stupid/incapable/thick', well I'll show you!  Cue a huge emotional overload for the child which will have to come out in their behaviour as they will not have an emotional system to put how they feel into words.

It is easy when we are caring for children to only give them part of the picture so they know what we don't want them to do but not what we do want them to do!!  How then will they learn as they do not come out with a full set of social skills or the ability to understand how to operate in the World generally!

A note of negativity in our voice is hard to avoid but a skill we can all learn, first calm yourself down, so long as everyone is safe then the behaviour can be dealt with in a bit when you have thought through that  there may have been many reasons whey they filled the washing machine with jam, painted the dog, bit their class mate, smeared pooh everywhere, tipped their dinner on the floor.  Then when you are talking about this together, you can be more genuinely curious which will work best of all and will feel more able to explore the feelings behind it all and a plan for next time.

Going back to my previous blogs, children do not learn best when feeling shame or fear, they are in the wrong part of their brain and this is so easily triggered in a traumatised child by what they hear in our voices and find in the words we say to them and can cause a dramatic response.  Luckily, practising saying things differently in our heads and to children can greatly improve things over time, but it needs to be as consistent as possible so get everyone on board at home, pre-school, school and in the wider family, why would you not??

Even a simple, "you need to pop your coat on the peg when you come in" rather than, "don't drop your coat on the floor" can start the process well as you have told them what you would like them to do (works well with adults too) but ensure the tone of voice is casual without irritation - practise on the dog or cat when no one is around!!

For more information on what I do!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

What and When Should We TellThem?

For many parents and carers it is not unusual to have to ponder how to speak to children about difficult and complex issues.  It can build up in our minds as a real  problem, what if we get it wrong, what if we upset, confuse, scare or shock them?  I have had to discuss some incredibly difficult things with my child in their 21 years on this planet and he has taught me a great deal, as have many of the children I have worked with.

There are a few key questions to ask ourselves before speaking with your child, and it is fine to say to your child when faced with a difficult subject, "well that's a really interesting question, I need to give that some serious thinking time, can we talk about it later?"  Then ask yourself:

1. what are they really curious about?
2. what do they need to know and what don't they
3. what will have the least impact on their right to have a childhood as free as possible from adult worries and issues
4. how can I put it into language and at their level of understanding
5. is this all about their needs or am I partly doing it to make things easier for myself and/or others?

One thing I have learnt from children is that we often under estimate their ability to cope and over estimate their reactions.  It is also worth remembering that they take a great deal of information about how to react from us.  If we appear to be OK about what we are telling them, not too upbeat, not too sad then the is a good chance they will take it on board and get on with their life.

What often happens is we put too much adult emphasis on the wrong things and adult thoughts and feelings too and are often wide of the mark.  "I'm sure she will be devastated when I say....., he's not going to react well when I say..........., I think she will be worried by....."  The most important things are:

1. chose your time carefully, so not when you are about to go somewhere, or when you/they are very tired/have had a bad day
2. try not to make it into a huge event, part of our brain embeds memories according to the emotion we felt at the time.  Turn it into a huge drama and it may be something which haunts them.
3. offer to do some research with them later on if they want to know more
4. keep it simple as children often don't want all of the facts right then, or ever
5. get support from some one you really trust beforehand and after but don't let it become something you tell everyone as your child may well find out and will be hurt and may not trust you again
6. use gentle humour when and only if it feels appropriate, " oh my goodness, aren't we serious today, I think I need a big hug, to run round the garden with my pants on my head, to tickle your teddy now" etc.
7. be aware that if you tell young children very adult things about sex, reproduction, intimate relationships they may repeat them and that will not always go down well and may get them unwanted attention.

I do not believe in lying to children as often they know what is going on does not feel right and may have seen and heard things.  For example, living with domestic abuse and violence often no one talks with the child about it, or minimises or denies what is going, on thinking they are protecting them, they are not.  When there is a serious illness, a potential relationship break up, a house move, a change of foster carer, children will often have an idea and will be fretting and writing their own script which most often involves them as the villain.  "It's all my fault Mum gets hurt as I didn't tidy my toys away properly, I think they are going to split up so where will I live or maybe they won't want me now, another foster carer why does no-one want me aren't I good enough?"

It rarely seems easy to discuss these things with our children but taking your time, not building it up, keeping it simple and most importantly LISTEN TO THEM.  It may be that you have misunderstood what they wanted to know and start to tell them about the 'birds and the bees' when this was the last thing on their minds so tread carefully, pause to listen frequently and check how they might be feeling.  "I wonder how you feel about it?" rather than "you must be" or, if they don't seem to know how they feel gentle suggestions, "well I think I might feel a bit.........what do you think?"

Be prepared for it to be a bit of an anti-climax as children will often take a speck of information and ponder it and may come back to you on it or want to be gently asked about it later, next day etc.  Or, sometimes that's enough, you can always check and they will soon let you know.

Good luck, you are their best resource and the person who loves them most so you will be able to work it out together so long as you are fully tuned in to them.  There is a wealth of knowledge out in the big wide world on most subjects now and organisations for most things, so do your research or find a lovely story book if that helps too.