Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tips on How to Help a Child Cope With Parental Separation

The specific example situation here is where there are two children in a family and the parents have separated. The kids are Jack a boy of 8 and Kate a girl of 5. Jack is acting up and Kate is copying Jack's behaviours. This advice is for the mother who is raising the kids. In particular it is geared towards helping Jack. The suggestions are generic and must be adapted depending on his personality and the particular issues that arise.


The overall aim is for the mother to help Jack manage his emotional turmoil.

This is best achieved by the following:

  • Giving him the language to express what is going on for him.
  • Allowing him to express it, in a constructive way.
  • Managing the spill over onto the other child.
  • Nurturing the continued development of his self esteem.

One of the first things to do is to  inform the school that the parents have separated. Ask his teacher to send a note home if he behaves in an inappropriate way. (This means that the mother can deal with it in a timely manner). However, it is not unusual for children at this stage to be well behaved in school and not at home.

Strategies to achieve the above aims:


Giving him the language to express what is going on for him:


Talk to him when the “iron is cold” when he is not acting out. He is more likely to take in what you say then, than in the middle of a row.

Use these types of statements:

“Jack I know you are angry that Mum and Dad are no longer together, however, we still love you and are always here for you”.

“Jack, I have the feeling that you are unhappy, is that true? How can I help you? “I want to make it better for you”.

“If you can tell me what is going on inside your head, then I can do my best to help you, however I can’t read your mind”.

“Just because Mum and Dad are not together it does not mean that we love you less”.

Friday, October 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?

Friday, August 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.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

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).