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Newsletter 2009

Welcome to the first edition of the Solihull Approach newsletter. This is a publication designed to help you think about putting the approach into practise, keep you up-to-date on how the approach is developing and give you some food for thought.

Back to basics

Containment

If child has a containing response from a parent they begin to develop their own ability to contain themselves. This is like an internal message that says "I'm going to be okay" - the ability to hold and contain your own feelings is a great start for building self-esteem. To offer a containing experience, adults need to help children understand what they are feeling and why. Regular, positive experiences are built up as a store of experiences that they can then draw upon to contain their own feelings.

Reciprocity

Can you pronounce it yet? It has 5 syllables.

The rhythm that we have to regulate ourselves – the build up, peak and calm down pattern which we can associate with all our interactions. It's recognising that we all have our unique rhythm and that helping parents get in-tune with their child will aid to better interactions between them. It helps parents understand that interactions can break down (rupture) but positive experiences of making things better again (repair) are really important for the child's learning.

Brain Facts

By the end of the third year the brain has made 1000 trillion working connections. This is twice as many as adults have with the toddler brain working double the speed of a University student's. A toddler's brain can organise & absorb new information much faster than an adult. Two year olds brain are making language connections every minute. Sensitive and appropriate care triggers the release of endorphins allowing the infant to gain pleasure from these social interactions and switches on the sympathetic nervous system allowing for self-regulation. The Teenage brain is experiencing the second most rapid period of growth, the brain is in chaos while it reorganises itself. This affects sleep, decision making and language control until the end of puberty.

Time to think or a punishment?

Whether it is called a naughty step, time to think chair or a more containing phrase, the use of places to send children who are experiencing difficulties needs to be thought about. Can you imagine you are experiencing overwhelming anger, fear or sadness and you are sent to a place to sit alone? Would you be able to process how you are feeling or would your emotions get the better of you? Children need to feel that they can express their emotions in a safe way. Try sitting with a child who needs time to calm down. Ensure that the child knows you understand how they feel. Explain that right now they are feeling really cross, sad or upset and you think it is a good idea to give them a chance to feel calmer and then you can talk about it.

Until the child is calmer, their ability to think is compromised. Talking to them before this is often ineffective however; they still need to feel contained and safe.

It is always important to remember:

  • What is the exact age and stage of development for this child?
  • How able is the child to communicate their needs to you?
  • Have there been any recent changes for the child?
  • What is the child attempting to communicate with their behaviour?

My Naughty-Step hell

Tyler, aged 3 gave his first interview today following a harrowing three minutes on the naughty step. No-one listened to me, explained Tyler who was removed to the step following several warnings from his mother. All I wanted was a few more minutes - it was my favourite programme after all. Tyler's mother was unavailable for comment, but the family are said to be trying to listen to each other.

Reciprocity - thinking about both child and parent perspective

Focus on – Antenatal Solihull Approach

The team are currently developing a pack for midwives, doctors and other antenatal staff to access. This will be a great resource for supporting parents to develop positive relationships with their infant from the earliest stage. It will also help us identify parents where there are already concerns about how they are thinking about their future child.

CAMHS in Solihull are currently developing an Antenatal service to support families whose difficulties are interfering with their ability to build a relationship with their unborn child.

Conference News

2nd National Child Health Conference, 19-20th April 2012, Telford International Centre.

Please see the flyer here for more information.