Sunday, 29 August 2010

10 Tips for Parents

1. When your child wants to show you something, stop what you are doing and pay
attention to your child. It is important to spend frequent, small amounts of time
with your child doing things that you both enjoy.
2. Give your child lots of physical affection – children often like hugs, cuddles, and
holding hands.
3. Talk to your child about things he/she is interested in and share aspects of your
day with your child.
4. Give your child lots of descriptive praise when they do something that you would
like to see more of, e.g., “Thank you for doing what I asked straight away”.
5. Children are more likely to misbehave when they are bored so provide lots of
engaging indoor and outdoor activities for your child, e.g., playdough, colouring
in, cardboard boxes, dress ups, cubby houses, etc.
6. Teach your child new skills by first showing the skill yourself, then giving your
child opportunities to learn the new skill. For example, speak politely to each
other in the home. Then, prompt your child to speak politely (e.g., say “please”
or “thank you”), and praise your child for their efforts.
7. Set clear limits on your child’s behaviour. Sit down and have a family discussion
on the rules in the home. Let your child know what the consequences will be if
they break the rules.
8. If your child misbehaves, stay calm and give them a clear instruction to stop
misbehaving and tell them what you would like them to do instead (e.g., “Stop
fighting; play nicely with each other.” Praise your child if they stop. If they do not
stop, follow through with an appropriate consequence.
9. Have realistic expectations. All children misbehave at times and it is inevitable
that you will have some discipline hassles. Trying to be the perfect parent can set
you up for frustration and disappointment.
10. Look after yourself. It is difficult to be a calm, relaxed parent if you are stressed,
anxious, or depressed. Try to find time every week to let yourself unwind or do
something that you enjoy.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Kids Want Grandparents


It was six months ago that Pauline contacted me to tell me that she feared for her five year old granddaughter’s safety.

The story was very familiar to me. I’ve heard many similar ones over the years. The essence of this one was that this guy, in a previous relationship some years ago, had been investigated by the police and social services following allegations of child sexual abuse against his then partner’s little girl. The case was taken to Court and on the day, the child’s mother lied to cover up the abuse in an effort to ‘keep her man’! He walked free.

Now, he’s moved in with Pauline’s granddaughter. She’s tried to talk to her daughter about her concerns but has been told that she’s a ‘busy body’ and doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

During my initial investigation I spoke to the abused girl’s extended family. A maternal uncle confirmed the original alleged abuse, telling me that following the disclosure his niece moved to live with him and told him the full story. He was in no doubt that the abuse took place. He even confirmed that he knew his sister had lied but could do nothing about it at the time. He was still in touch with his, now twenty year old, niece but told me that she would not talk about her past to anyone. He was right: she would not engage with me or help in my investigation.

I felt I had enough evidence to get the police to look at the case again and contacted the local child protection team. A male officer contacted grandmother by telephone telling her that if she wanted to make a complaint then her granddaughter would be taken to the local hospital and have to be subjected to a physical examination of her ‘private parts’. Grandmother asked the officer to visit her at home so that she could talk about her concerns. The police officer refused to attend. The police did nothing more.

Originally grandma was enjoying weekly contact with her granddaughter. Now, contact has been stopped by her daughter and her partner. The child is desperate to see her grandma and is showing signs of genuine distress. Grandmother now wishes she had kept her concerns to herself. At least then she would be able to keep an eye on her granddaughter’s safety.

What I’ve put in place now is for grandmother to apply for a contact order through the court, thereby forcing a full investigation by way of a report!


Children who experience family breakdown have more positive outcomes when they can turn to grandparents for support according to the findings of a report commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The impact of Family Breakdown on Children’s Wellbeing Evidence Review stresses that the government fully support stable parental relationships but realise that many thousands of children are subject to the stresses of parental separation.

It comes as no surprise that the study’s findings show that there is a higher probability of children experiencing parental separation now than at any time in the history of families.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Drinking Mum's Harm Kids


Relationship break down doesn’t happen overnight it is usually the result of a long unhappy period that quite often includes the months of pregnancy.

Increasingly, especially in Western society, relief from life’s stress comes from drowning the sorrows with alcohol. It doesn’t work of course but that’s beside the point. People think it does and so the self abuse of copious amounts of wine, sprits and beers will continue.

Although many pregnant women give up drinking many more don’t. They try to cut down but then the need to ‘feel better’ about their lot in life drives them back to alcohol.

In many parts of the world authorities are tackling what they believe
Is one of the main reasons for the increase in children being born with learning difficulties, hyperactivity, poor memory and speech difficulties. These difficulties are collectively referred to as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). According to The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – UK, this is such a well recognised condition in the rest of the world that there are over 250,000 existing websites on the subject. (if you are searching you will need to use the international spelling of ‘Fetal’).



• Alcohol can cause more damage to an unborn baby than any other drug.
• FAS is one of the leading known causes of mental retardation.
• FAS can cause serious lifelong social and behavioural problems.
• FAS and alcohol related birth defects are 100% preventable if no alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.
• There is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.


If you have any specific concerns do get in touch with our experts
Email :
Helpline: Freephone 0800 0283163

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome –UK
Helpline: 0870 0333 700

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mum Riggi Kills Children


Luca, Austin and Cecilia Riggi have apparently been murdered by their 46 year old mother Theresa.

What state of mind must she have been in to have taken the precious lives of her birth children?

First reports indicate a marital and child custody dispute. Of course, unfortunately these tragic deaths are not the first. At the time of the Moat killings, in the village of Holbrook Derbyshire Dad Andrew Cairns stabbed to death his partner Rachel Slack and their 23 month old son Auden (see blogspot earlier report of 4th June 2010).

There are many similar reports and it seems as though violence is becoming the norm to solve child custody disputes.

All this comes at a time when the Government is responding to a Family Justice System under enormous strain by:

• Capping the fees Independent Social Workers thereby undermining the important role ISW’s have in ensuring that children and families can have a independent professional voice to challenge finance driven Local Authority Social Care workers
• And secondly, causing the loss of almost half of the Family Law firms because of the Legal Aid Commission’s decision not to award them new contracts, in an effort to cut costs.

Without doubt, these decisions will seriously affect the welfare and safety of vulnerable children and disadvantaged families.

At we are actively seeking the appointment of a Minister with sole responsibility for Child Contact, Access and Custody and challenging poor decision making. You can help in this by letting your MP know the serious consequences of the Government’s actions.

On our Spring Garden Consultancy web site and on our CEO’s own site we have a letter that you can down load and send to your MP.

MP’s Name Here
House of Commons


Reduction in Family Law Firms Offering Legal Aid And Reducing the Fees of Independent Social Workers.

Almost half of the firms currently offering Family Law work across the country have been refused legal aid contracts. This work involves some of the most vulnerable children and families in our society.

In defence of these decisions the Legal Services Commission say that they have awarded contracts on the basis of quality, however, in reality many experienced solicitors have not been awarded contracts and contracts have been awarded to firms with very little experience.

Cases most hit by the loss of so many Family Law Firms involve contested contact, access custody and residence issues, removal of children from their parents, adoptions, and incidents of domestic violence.

In many of these cases Children and Family, Judges and Magistrates need an independent professional social work assessment. Cutting the fees of Independent Social Workers force experienced and professional workers out of the vitally independent role.

I would ask that you raise these issues with the Minister and suggest an urgent review of the situation.

Yours faithfully,


Remember to include your address/contact details, to show that you live in the constituency

Monday, 2 August 2010


SARAH’S LAW can help with positive Child contact and access.

From today the Home Secretary Theresa May is extending the availability of Sarah’s Law Scheme to 24 police force areas across the Country. This is in response to a positive outcome from a recent pilot scheme and the continuing pressure from Sara Payne, the mother of year old Sarah who was murdered in July 2000 by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting.

Quite often in child contact and access cases a staying parent will take up with a new partner with very little knowledge of the new step-parent’s background.

Absent parents are usually the last to know and historically have not had the right to check on the suitability of anyone with regular contact to their children. Sarah’s Law changes this by giving the parent the right to check with police if anyone with regular, unsupervised contact / access to their child has a criminal conviction for child sex offences.

Even as a Court appointed CAFCASS worker I could not have these checks carried out without the written consent of the new partner and this led to delays in proceedings and undermined the possible positive working together of the family.

Another positive outcome is the ability for the police to warn parents if concerns are raised by neighbours or family members such as grandparents.

The pilot scheme was rolled out to police forces in Cambridge, Cleveland, Hampshire and Warwickshire in 2008. Today’s announcement will see this being expanded to the Cheshire, Dorset, Durham, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northumbria and Wiltshire force areas.

The Chief Constable of West Mercia Paul West endorsed the objective, in a recent statement…

”These new arrangements are a major development in safeguarding children. They empower members of the public to initiate action aimed at protecting children and will help to increase public confidence in the police and other responsible authorities as part of their role in monitoring sex offenders.”