Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Child Behaviour 5 Top Tips


It has been said that children are born with a brain that is nothing more than a ball of confusion, and that what the child experiences, especially in their early years, shapes and organises there thoughts, beliefs and behaviour.

Children are not born with behaviour they learn it! From you!!!

Basically, behaviour can be put into two categories, acceptable and un-acceptable. Parents need to know how to respond to and deal with both in equal measure. Showing children how happy they make you feel when they are operating in an acceptable way helps to build their self-esteem and lets them know what is expected of them. Responding to their un-acceptable behaviour should be done in a way that shows them that what they are doing will not get them what they want, which is, a happy you. What you must not do, is to become angry and upset with them when they are learning life’s lessons. You need to be understanding of them and guide them.

Smacking and shouting means that you have gone past the stage of positive child development. You have ‘lost it’.

Being consistent is the key. From the very beginning of their life with you, you should continually spend time with them. The more the better. It is easy to miss the need to constantly show them how happy you are when they are acting in an acceptable way.

Because they are not causing you any problems there is a tendency to leave them alone. Wrong! You need to show them even more attention. If you don’t, they will quickly learn that the best way to get your attention is to act in an un-acceptable way.

“Children’s behaviour sometimes requires more serious attention. But, that doesn’t have to include actions that are hurtful, such as hitting, humiliating or yelling. Effective discipline only has to give children the message that their behaviour was a problem. If a negative consequence is used, it should be so light that it can be used several times a day without causing harm.” (Off Road Parenting, Pacifici Chamberlain and White)


· Be consistent with your approach
· Keep talking to your child especially when they are being good
· Don’t wait until the behaviour deteriorates to the point that you become angry
· Use your body language to show approval. Smile, show them you are happy
· Spend lots of time with them and enjoy them

Sunday, 21 March 2010


The difficulty with life’s problems is that they tend to occupy massive parts of your mind. When you are ‘troubled’ the more you try to put the problem out of your mind the more it seems to be in your thoughts. If you have lots of life problems, as many of us do, they take over and our mind keeps throwing them at us one after the other. This state in meditation terms is often referred to as the ‘monkey brain’. I think it’s a really good description of the overwhelming way our minds function. The difficulty with the monkey brain syndrome is that it bombards us with negative thoughts and takes up so much of our mind that we can not access our logic and positive thoughts to make good quality decisions.

The answer is to learn to relax the mind especially when we are stressed. Easier said than done I know. But remember this:


By this I mean that we are capable of changing the way we deal with our self! We have the ability to cognitively change the responses we use in any situation. For example, if your response to a naughty child is to become angry and shout, which is clearly not a rational response as it does neither them nor you any real good, you can develop another way of dealing with the situation by the use of a positive reaction that allows you to turn your anger into a positive thought process that lets you deal with the child in a much more constructive and less threatening way.

No one can effectively deal with every problem to their satisfaction. There will always be times when you wish you had reacted differently. Accept this and you will avoid one of the most destructive unresolved problem responses… The ‘volcano effect’ as I call it. This is the effect that can happen when you do not deal with any of your problems. The effect is a build up of volcanic, emotional, energy. The stuff that makes your stomach tighten. Allowing this to build in you without airing it causes a build up of pressure that sooner or later will erupt. The problem is, the final straw will probably be something very simple. Those around you will wonder why on earth you have reacted so violently. What they won’t know is the enormity of the pressure you have built up over a period of time that they have not been aware of.

The way to avoid this is to reduce the pressure regularly and in a controlled way. Opening up and letting people know how you feel can help. Doing this gives you the opportunity to relax the stress. If you can’t, then try exercising. You don’t have to take on a marathon or spend hours in the gym. A short walk can do the trick.

Every day take a little time out to think about the things that have caused you anxiety. It may help if you make a list. What you are aiming to do is to release some of the pressure. Meditation can do this. Meditating is a simple process. You don’t have to sit cross legged on the side of a mountain. Sitting on a chair, keeping an upright posture with a straight back and slowly breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth will do. The idea is to allow your mind to relax. To think of nothing in particular and allow your mind to move from the monkey brain state to a more relaxed state. Thoughts will come into your head. Don’t tell yourself to relax, it rarely works. Better if you allow the thoughts to drift in and drift back out again, as a wave on a beach. Try not to focus on any one thought. Listening to soothing music, or just the sound of your breath entering and leaving your body helps you to lose the drifting thoughts and puts you back into a meditative state. At first you may only manage a few minutes of ‘no thought’, but in time you will have longer spells. Regular meditation, even for five minutes a day will soon become something that you will look forward to and benefit from.



Sunday, 14 March 2010

Deal With Unresolved Issues

by Kenn Griffiths.

All of us at some time or other have had times in our lives when we have not dealt with some difficulty that has arisen. By dealing with it I mean that we have not addressed it emotionally. It has been left unresolved and every now and then it comes to the forefront and evokes a negative emotional response, a inner hurt. For some people there are many of these unresolved issues that sap emotional energy and have the effect of stopping them moving on, effectively keeping them a prisoner with them as the gaoler.

The starting point to change is this: YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE PAST, what’s gone is gone, you now have to live with the effects. What you can change is the perception you have about the past and it’s effects. If you only view it as a negative it will cause a negative in you. But if you can use the experience, no matter how bad, in a positive way then you move yourself from negative to positive. Using life’s difficulties positively means using the experience to make you a better person. A person that you can live with, a person that you like! No matter what the problem you will not be able to move forward effectively without ridding yourself of your self imposed gaol. That place that you keep yourself in, the place that stops you from enjoying your future.

Try this, imagine that you have a magic wand, and when you wave it your unresolved problem is now resolved. Ask yourself, “what would my life look like if I resolved this problem”. Well, what does it look like? How do you think you would feel? What would you do now you have rid yourself of the burden? Would other people know something was different about you? How would they know? What would you do that signalled to them that you were different?

In reality you can not remove the past but you can resolve your issues about it by dealing with you!

Now try this.

Let’s say that your issue is absolutely unresolved, it has never been viewed in any form of positive light and you can not live with it. On a scale of 0 to 10 this is ZERO. Now at the other end of the scale you have dealt with it in a positive way. This doesn’t mean that it never happened. It has, and you can’t remove the past. However, 10 is ‘resolved’, you can live with it and you have changed the experience from a negative to positive, you’ve used it to help you grow.

Now decide where on the scale you are. Let’s say you are living with the effects, but you do reflect on the issue regularly and it depresses you. The fact that you can think about it moves you from Zero. So you are not there. You have not moved through it so you are not at 10. You are however, wanting to resolve it and work through it. Sometimes you feel a little positive but not for long. You’re probably at 4. Moving forward, what would you have to do to get to 4.5 or even 5? It could be something very simple like telling yourself that you are going to deal with it eventually or simply accepting in yourself that you can not change the past. Whatever it is, is entirely up to you. You know what is needed. No one else has your experience and no one understands you better than you. So when you look to resolve issues you resolve them for you not someone else. Only you know what your preferred outcome should be.

Don’t become a prisoner of your past
Unresolved issues are your gaol
Turn your negatives to positives
Let go of your past, you can’t change it
Don’t suppress problems, deal with them
Dealing with problems gives you experience so that future problems are dealt with more easily


Clarifying Preferred Outcomes.

If you are playing a tune on a trumpet that no one knows how can they join in?
This exercise is to help you to define what is realistic and can be resolved, bringing your from a no tune to a tune everyone knows and can join you in.

Let us say that your problem is that you become angry when you are trying to sort out the children’s contact with their other parent. You would like to be able to handle your anger better and talk about the contact without it becoming a volatile situation. Now make a list briefly describing the problem as you see it and what needs to change.

Next ask yourself how you will know when the problem you are facing is no longer a problem. Then write down your preferred outcome. Be specific using positive language in your writing.

Example: I will know that I am handling my anger better when I am able to talk to the other parent without anger driving my responses.

Use your notes to help you define what your preferred outcome looks like and to give you the direction to move forward.

If you are struggling with any issues and need to talk about them why not take advantage of the expert’s page:



Friday, 12 March 2010

Separated Dads on Mother's Day

What to do when you have contact arranged on Mother’s day is, frankly, to step aside. As I would expect Mum to do on father’s day!

If not then make sure you recognise the day with the kids. Don’t let your hurt get in the way of their need to be involved with the hype surrounding Mother’s day.

As a way of using the day in a positive way why not devote some of the time to making Mum a gift or simply a card. You can buy card blanks from any reputable stationers or from one of the many craft shops. No matter what the age or ability of your children they can be encouraged to put their own thoughts and feelings into the activity. You should be the vehicle for their thoughts not yours.

Doing this type of activity will show the children that you and Mum can be talked about in a safe and positive way.

What you should not do is make the kids choose between their birth Mum and your new partner/wife. She is, at best, their step-mother. Don’t make her out as something other than this. If the kids themselves decide to ‘do something’ for her so be it, but don’t make too much of it and resist throwing it in Mum’s face if they do want to involve the step-parent element.

Likewise if you are Mum, don’t take the kid’s kindness to step-mum as a rebuke of you. You are Mum and no one can take that away from you. However, you can make it difficult for the children to treat you as such if you make it difficult for them to be honest with you. Even though it feels that you are being undermined you won’t be if you keep your own council and talk to your children about their step-mother or Dad’s partner in a positive, light hearted way. Children are innocent for the most part and want to please everyone. As they get older they will decide what is right and what is not. Don’t put them under pressure to make a decision that you want. They need to make an informed decision and to do this in their own time and with unbiased information.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Monday is Life-style day at with our in residence expert Kenn Griffiths.

Life’s lessons come at a cost and believe me mine have proved to be very expensive over the years. It’s because of this life long learning and my work as a child contact and access consultant that I am now in a position to use my experience and knowledge to offer support to anyone experiencing emotional difficulties.

Losing contact with your children, or the thought of it, can have the effect of bringing you down and testing your confidence and self-esteem. But it does not have to be a negative…

View change as a start, not an ending.
Use the experience to learn from.
Use it to build confidence, not destroy it!

What’s gone on in the past can’t be changed. You may feel regret or disappointment and given the same situation again you would probably do it all differently. But, accept that you are not going to be given the same set of circumstances again. You may be given some similar experiences, but what’s gone, is gone and can’t be re-lived. Accept this now! Don’t keep torturing yourself. Going over the past events in your mind will not change the outcome so learn from it and move yourself forward. By all means use it to enhance you, to develop a ‘better’ you if that’s what you want but don’t dwell in the hurt.

In my work I am often instructed to carry out a parenting assessment and report my findings to the Court. This is usual in child contact disputes. One parent brings allegations against the other in an effort to demonstrate that the accused is an unfit parent and should not be trusted with the care of children. A person’s self-esteem is often a window into the current ability of a parent to offer unconditional love and support to their children. Low self-esteem is an indicator to a parent’s low opinion of themselves. If a parent does not believe that they have any worth they can internalise this and view themselves as a failure. Add to this the trauma of separation, divorce and the possible loss of their children and you can see how they could struggle with the day to day difficulties of being a parent.

Positive parenting is not easy even when everything is going well. Children need a lot of care, love and understanding. They quickly pick up on adult’s moods, and even when very young, they learn how to alter their position to ‘accommodate’ their parent’s difficulties.

Keeping yourself positive and ‘up-beat’ has a settling effect on the children. You owe it to yourself and them to take care of yourself and to have a positive outlook.

Take the time now to gauge your level of self-esteem. The following check list is one that I use in my assessment process.

If you are feeling low why not get in touch with our team of experts at they are there to help and will not be judgemental.

Checklist for self-esteem

Yes No Don’t
Do you feel you can do things as well as most other people?
2 0 1
Are there things you are proud of?
2 0 1
Do you think you are a failure?
2 0 1
Do you feel you are not as good as other people?
2 0 1
In general are you pretty sure of yourself?
2 0 1
Do you often wish you were someone else?
2 0 1
Would you find it difficult to make a speech?
2 0 1
Are there a lot of things about you that you would change if you could?
2 0 1
Do you think you are quite popular with people in general?
2 0 1
Do you have a great deal of confidence in your decisions?
2 0 1
Do you have a good opinion of yourself?
2 0 1
Do you often feel ashamed of things you have done?
2 0 1
Do you feel photographs do not do you justice?
2 0 1
Do you think there are family members who make you feel you are not good enough?
2 0 1
Do you get upset if someone criticises you?
2 0 1
Do you think other people regard you as being useless?
2 0 1
Do you sometimes question your worth/value as a person?
2 0 1
When people say nice things about you do you find it difficult to believe/accept?
2 0 1
Do you sometimes remain silent because you feel people will laugh at what you say?
2 0 1
Are you shy in social situations?
2 0 1
Do you feel you are as good as other people?
2 0 1
Do you feel you can succeed in doing the things you want to?
2 0 1
Are you happy with the way you look
2 0 1
Are you often shy with other people because you think you will be rejected?
2 0 1
Do you find it difficult to do things in a way which other people think is good?
2 0 1
Do you often pretend to be better at things than you really are?
2 0 1
Do you sometimes feel you can never do anything right?
2 0 1
Do you think you are physically attractive?
2 0 1
Do you feel you have a normal amount of respect for yourself?
2 0 1
Do you think your personality is attractive?
2 0 1
(A Practitioner’s Tool for Child Protection and the Assessment of Parents – Jeff Fowler)

If you’ve scored 40 plus you’re ok. Below this and you should start work on building your confidence. If you have a shed load of the neutral indicator 1, and you haven’t read the test wrong, then you either have a lack of co-operation or you just don’t understand yourself. If that’s the case how can anyone else understand you?



Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My Child Contact Child Ripped in Half by Parents


During and following separation and divorce kids need a great deal of love understanding and reassurance from both of their parents. Evidence shows that the majority of children want to continue to see people that matter to them. Pressure from the adults often stops them from feeling comfortable enough to express their true feelings. The best way of ensuring that you are doing everything possible to keep your children safe, well and happy is to make sure that they enjoy good quality contact and that means putting their needs before your own and making sure that they are encouraged to go to contact with their non-resident parent. Encouraged means just that! Simply agreeing to contact taking place is not enough. Children have to be continually reassured and actively helped to attend contact with their absent parent. Contact should be seen as a joyous occasion and not an anxiety filled adult led continuation of the parent’s dispute. All too often children are used as pawns… Contact can happen only if Dad pays his maintenance or Mum jumps through some emotional hoop etc etc. Unbelievable I know, but it happens all the time. One of the most effective ways of ensuring that you get contact right for your sons and daughters is to ask them what they want and to listen to them and then actively alter arrangements to suit their changing needs. This can only be done when both parents cooperate and that includes respecting each others views and opinions. (Something that was probably lacking in the marriage/relationship). Where possible avoid any sudden changes in the contact arrangements. Children need structure and stability. “A survey of 2,000 children aged six to eleven on contact with their fathers’ showed that they saw good contact as being:
· Dads showing interest in their schooling
· Preparing meals
· Watching TV with them
· Playing football
· Reading them stories
· Going shopping together and
· Helping them through bad times
One child called it ‘messing about with dad, another ‘being loved’ by her dad. They did not see contact in terms of getting expensive toys, bikes, computers and holidays, but about having a relationship with and being ‘looked after’ by their parent” Time for Children CAFCASS.
This is exactly what children need and what good contact is really about. Don’t get drawn into the media stereo typical portrayal that parents don’t get contact right. Statistics show that “Only a small minority of parents use the law to sort out contact arrangements. A survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that around 1 in 10 parents had court orders. Between half and 60% agreed contact between themselves and between a fifth and a third had no agreed arrangements (resident and non-resident parent reports differ)” Child Contact With Non-resident Parents University of Oxford Department of Social Policy and Social Work.

Contact doesn’t just happen it has to be planned. Probably the most difficult contact to properly plan is staying contact, be it for one night or longer. Staying contact puts extra pressure on children. They have to adapt to a different household usually with different rules. Parents need to have agreement about routines. It helps if parents can be flexible and have an overall understanding of the difficulties.

Contact goes wrong:
· When children are put at risk
· When members of the family are not committed to contact
· When contact is made a negative arrangement
· When a parent has unreasonable opposition to contact or wants to significantly change the contact arrangements, but not for the child’s good…END

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