Sunday, February 7, 2016

Guidelines for Parents to Ensure their Child’s Online Safety

What should my child do to remain safe on line?

  1. Sit down with your child and go through the privacy settings for the App or Website they wish to use. Prior to this, do some research such as Googling “Privacy Concerns with Instagram”.
    • This will help you discover information such as Instagram reveals the location (Geo Tag) of every photo taken by all Instagram users. So any photograph taken at home can reveal the user’s address.
  2. Advise your child not to give out their online passwords to anyone and to change it periodically.
  3. At night keep devices in your bedroom, not in a central place downstairs. (Children have been known to go down stairs at night and to retrieve them).

Who Should your child friend online?

  1. Remind your child only to be friends with children that they would be friendly with offline.
  2. Go through your child’s account with them and filter friends to be only those with whom they spend time offline. Have a ‘delete day’. Inform your child that you expect them to do this also. 
  3. Inform your child that it is okay not to accept friendship requests from people they do not know. Tell them you expect them to do this and that you will be monitoring to ensure that that is what happens.

What Information is okay to share?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Social Media Guidelines for Children and Teenagers

Here are some guidelines for students, which can help them stay safe when using social media.

  • When taking, texting or typing apply T.H.I.N.K. This stands for the following:

T. Is it true
H. Is it helpful
I. Is it interesting
N. Is it nice
K. Is it kind

If what you want to talk, text or type is all of the above, then go for it. If it is not what you would say when face to face with your friend then think twice. Pause. Take a moment.

  • Keep a healthy/ life balance. Your online activity should enhance your offline life not replace it.
  • Everyone is entitled to their view both online and offline. Seek to understand not to be understood.
  • Bullying online often has its roots offline. Bullying can move easily from the classroom or the football pit to a smart phone. If it happens to you, talk to an adult you trust like a family member or a teacher who can help you handle the situation.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A 10 Step Approach to Create an Attachment Toolkit for Parents Dealing with a Sub-Optimal Relationship With Their Child

Over the past few years I have worked with a number of families where the relationship between the parent(s) and their child had been sub-optimal. Often the underlying reason for this was due to attachment issues. Typically what I have done in these cases is worked with the clients to understand the issues and eventually develop what I have been calling an Attachment Toolkit.

Based on feedback from clients, I have now developed an easily understood 10 step approach aimed at creating and implementing this Toolkit.

The Attachment Toolkit outlines a number of approaches and ideas for how the parent(s) can better manage their relationship with their child. These are focussed on either reinforcing a secure attachment relationship, or repairing an insecure one.

The Toolkit is developed based on client specific examples of interactions between parent(s) and child that will have been identified in my intake form and discussed with the Parents. It will outline suggestions for how to handle these differently in the future.

The 10 step approach is outlined below.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What to Do When You Have A Row With Your Child

Fostering a good parent-child relationship is as important, if not more important, than tending to the practicalities of parenting. Attachment Theory has taught us that this relationship is the cornerstone of the child’s personality. The originators of the theory hypothesised that a child would develop the following three core skills in a secure attachment relationship with its primary carer. The first of these is the ability for a child to be in control of their own feelings. They termed this emotional regulation. The second is self-reliance or a sense of independence. The third is social competence or an ability to manage relationships and in particular, peer relationships. (I will return to these in a future blog post).

It is therefore important that the relationship between a carer and a child fosters development of these skills. We also know from the theory that personality formed in infanthood, typically endures into adulthood. Another significant feature of this relationship is that patterns of parent-child communication developed in the early years of one generation tend to be passed down unchanged to the next generation. (This is another subject I will return to in another blog post). 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ghosts In the Nursery 1: Primary Carer Behaviours And Subsequent Infant Responses

One of the questions that is often asked with regard to Attachment Theory is - what are the Behaviours in a Primary Carer that Contribute to fostering a Secure Attachment in a Child. The question is also often asked in reverse also, i.e. what are the behaviours that contribute to an Insecure Attachment. A related question is what are the corresponding behaviours in the child that are triggered by the various behaviours of the primary carer.

This article attempts to answer these questions.

As with much of Attachment Theory, The Strange Situation is one of the best tools there is to understand the dynamics of attachment and to answer the questions posed above. The Strange Situation experiment begins with a Primary Carer sitting near a child in an unfamiliar room filled with toys. It looks at a child's responses when a) a stranger joins the primary carer in a room and attempts to interact with the child b) when the primary carer leaves the room with the stranger staying and c) when the primary carer returns. This experiment has taught us that it is a child’s response to its primary carer at reunion, rather than separation, that reveals the most about attachment security and insecurity.  Let us begin by analysing the responses of the child in the Strange Situation.

In the experiment, secure children are immediately reassured by reconnecting with their primary carer no matter how distressed they had been by their original separation and are rapidly able to resume play.

Avoidant children do not seek the primary carer out when she returns. The avoidant child appears more interested in the toys and does not appear to miss her.

Ambivalent /resistant children are not comforted by the primary carer’s return at all and remain distressed. 

Disorganised/disorientated children appear afraid of the primary carer upon her return.

So with a basic understanding of the child’s responses, let us look at the carer’s behaviours that contribute to triggering these.

In essence, it is the quality of communication in the relationship between the primary carer and child, that determines the difference between a secure and an insecure attachment relationship. Below are some of the things that contribute to these relationships.

Children who are securely attached are picked up quickly by their primary carers when they cry and they are held with tenderness and care. They are only held for as long as they want to be held. Their primary carers tend to blend their rhythms’ with those of their child. According to Ainsworth(1978), “these mothers’ behaviours reflected sensitivity rather than misattunement, acceptance rather than rejection, cooperation rather than control and emotional availability rather than remoteness”.

These primary carers read the child’s nonverbal cues and respond. Secure infants communicate their feelings and needs directly, safe in the knowledge that their communication will evoke an attuned response.

The primary carers of avoidant children are generally uncomfortable with physical contact rand tend to be emotionally unavailable. These children, as a result react with anger to their mother’s rejection and their own attachment needs tend to be sidestepped. 

The primary carers of ambivalent infants tend to be inconsistently responsive to their infants attachment signals. This is due to the primary carer’s own state of mind intruding on her ability to tune into her children. Consequently, these children learn to communicate their attachment needs in a persistent way in the hope that keeping up the pressure would keep up the care. 

The primary carers of disorganised infants tend to be frightened, disassociated or to frighten their children. These children as a result are fearful of the parent but have no coherent strategy on how to manage their attachment behaviours.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Attendance at a Course On Mentalisation at the Anna Freud Centre in London

I was fortunate enough to attend a course on Mentalisation Based Theory (MBT) at the Anna Freud center in London.

The course was given by Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman, the two originators of Mentalisation Theory. MBT is one of the more recent developments in the overall Attachment Theory area. Fonagy and Bateman are the authors of the seminal text on the subject. Handbook of Mentalizing in Mental Health Practice.

I will return to what I learned on the course at a later date.

However, this post is just to share some of the photos I took at centre. The center is a few doors away from where Anna, and indeed Sigmund himself, lived.

It was nice to be in a place with these kind of historical links

See the photos below.

The Home of Sigmund and Anna Freud

The photos below are from the walls inside

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How To Improve a Child's Self Esteem

Self esteem, Self worth, Self concept. These words mean the same thing. Essentially, they all mean, how a child feels about herself. A child develops her self esteem through early messages about herself from her parents, her environment and latterly through the development of a particular talent or skill.

A child will then select messages from her
environment (such as her school or sports club), which will further reinforce these messages.

If a child has poor self esteem, it will take a while to change her negative self concept This is a process that will take time.

It is not always easy to find the source of a child’s negative self esteem. Sometimes she may have got vague message about herself and her fantasy has filled in the rest.

Examples of low self esteem are: blaming others, unable to say ‘no’, whining, unable to lose a game, attention seeking behaviours such as playing the class joker, excessive shyness or withdrawn behaviours.

Practical Ways to Improve a Child’s self esteem

Below are some ideas about how to improve a child’s self esteem:-
1.       Listen and acknowledge a child’s feelings.
2.       Accept the child as she is, treat her with respect.
3.       Give specific and to the point praise, e.g. you played well in the match today.
4.       Be honest, if she did not play well then that is fine, she did her best given how she was feeling.
5.       Use ‘I’ statements rather that ‘you’ e.g. I get really annoyed when you throw your clothes on the floor and not, ‘you are always doing the same thing – throwing your clothes on the floor’.
6.       Give the child age appropriate responsibilities and levels of independence and decision making responsibilities. This helps the child to develop their sense of self, while all the time checking back with the parent.
7.       While the child need boundaries rules and consistency, don’t be too annoyed with her when she gets things wrong. She is learning.
8.       Also think well of yourself and your partner, make sure she hears you compliment each other.
9.       It is good for her when she hears you, as a parent, take pride in a job that you have well done.
10.   Avoid ‘shoulds’ or ‘could haves’.
11.   Accept her judgement. E.g.,  if she feels bad because someone is mean to her, that is how she feels. Better to explore this with her, such as by asking why she feels this way, than to dispute how she feels.
12.   Explore her negative sense of self with her. See below for an example of how to this :-

I am useless at swimming.
What makes you say that?
I can’t breathe properly when I am doing the breast stroke.
Ok not yet, but you can do the leg movement and the arm movement and given your body weight, you are doing very well
I suppose that is true, the other children in the class are bigger than me.

Generally in the process of teasing this out with the child, the child will realise where her potential is and as a result that she is not so bad after all. It may be that she realises that she is better at some other activity rather than swimming and that is okay.

Optimum emotional and cognitive development of a child occurs in a family environment. The family is best placed to create support  and love, promote hope, tolerate pain and generate positive thinking.

Remember change will happen when a child becomes what she is and not when she tries to become what she is not.