Around the world, families are discovering just how stressful it can be to live in close quarters 24 hours a day, with no end in sight. Sharp words, spoken in haste, throw fuel on to anxiety, anger and frustration, often with no other room to separate people off. And there is only so much screen-time you can allow! Most families will hopefully come through this relatively unscathed; changed perhaps but still ok, still safe. But there has rightly been a lot of concern by government – and in the media – about supporting and monitoring the most vulnerable children now that schools are closed, those for whom school is their safe space or where they get their main meal of the day. There’s been lots of encouraging noise for parents about not having to recreate school, but to focus at this time on keeping kids feeling safe and secure, since these are things that are needed before any learning can take place. But what about the parents whose anxiety is about having the children at home for the next foreseeable because THEY don’t feel safe? What about the families experiencing child to parent violence, now quarantined or social distancing WITH their child? What advice and support do they need? The things we suggest for other families feeling tired and emotional start to sound rather trite and patronising. Continue reading
Tag Archives: NVR
12th November 2019
In different parts of Ireland, parents/ carers are living in fear of a son or daughter who lives with them and who is under the age of 18 years of age.
Parents are feeling powerless
As a social worker, psychotherapist and researcher, I have heard parents describe their feelings of walking on eggshells around their child and of living in fear of the next explosive outburst leading to threats and acts of harm and/ or violence against parents who feel powerless and alone. Social workers and other health and social care practitioners in voluntary and statutory services talk about the feelings we face when parents and carers tell us about living in fear of their child under the age of 18 years old. We are faced with difficult dilemmas: how can we resist the impulse towards a quick and easy solution that probably will not work…
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A huge thank you to Eddie Nestor, of BBC Radio London Drivetime, who devoted more than half his programme yesterday to the topic of “children who hit their Mum.” You can catch the programme by following this link. The show is available till the end of May. Eddie starts off by interviewing Yvonne Newbold from about 1:21.00 and then takes calls from around 1:48:00.
Another cracking podcast from the Adoption and Fostering Podcast team!
Episode 26 features an interview with Delyth Evans, Service Manager at the Centre for Adoption and Support. Delyth and Al Coates talk about the experience of child to parent violence within adoptive families. I have been asked a lot recently about safety plans and so of particular interest to me were discussions about family safety planning and safe holding, and all within a context of safeguarding the whole family.
The Centre for Adoption Support offer a three stage support programme for families,
- A 1 day workshop on child to parent violence
- An introduction to the principles of NVR
- A workshop on how to manage challenging behaviour at a practical level
and family safety plans are described as fundamental to the whole offer. The emphasis is very much on understanding the violence in context, rather than as a specific incident; and in supporting parents to find strategies to manage their child’s behaviour while keeping the whole family safe.
Well worth a listen!
I spent last Friday at the NVR UK 2017 conference in London, where it was great to catch up with colleagues and people I had previously only known through twitter, to make new friends, and to learn how the practice of Non Violent Resistance (NVR) can be applied to all areas of life.
There were two keynote speeches, followed by a series of workshops; and one I was particularly interested in was about the establishment of parent groups connected with de Wiekslag, an organisation in Belgium working with high risk young people and their families. These groups are for parents of young people exhibiting very serious challenging behaviour (including violence to parents), or engaging in school refusal, self harm or running away, and they are described as “slow open groups”, with no course beginning or end, and parents can attend for as long as they like, or need – typically 9 to 12 months. When they leave, a place becomes available for another family. Continue reading
I was approached recently by a journalist covering the issue of child to parent violence and abuse in France – where the term “tyrannical child” is being used to describe the issue, for the International Business Times. You can read the article here.
It is always encouraging to hear about new work starting around the world. In France the specialist help that is being developed is located within health services. At the moment the only service is in Montpellier but after an initial trial, using a combination of CBT and NVR techniques and a support group for parents, this to be rolled out across the rest of the country soon.
“Helping parents to be the parents they want to be.” Non-violent Resistance as a response to Child to Parent Violence
Two particular things stuck with me after my recent visit to listen to the Birmingham CAMHS team on the adoption of Non-violent Resistance (NVR) in their work with families:
- A pervading sense of thoughtful, calm, enquiring support of each other, with plenty of space built in to reflect on the work as it progresses – or not. It is not unusual for a sense of helplessness and hopelessness to transfer from families to workers, and supervision is vital to work through the pain.
- And a degree of realism that celebrates the successes of NVR as an approach, but also acknowledges that not everyone can be helped, not every act of violence prevented, not always a happy ending. When continued funding is dependent on “evidence” of something working, it is more usual to hear practitioners trumpeting their success rates, and so this honesty was refreshing.
As I was reminded recently while reading a report about the use of residential care for adolescents on the edge of care, we have a rather different model of residential provision in Britain to that in other European countries, where a placement in a therapeutic establishment with highly trained and qualified staff may be the norm rather than the exception for a young person unable to stay at home. Lesser professional qualifications required, residential care as last resort – the sector in Britain has suffered from a period of neglect itself, despite the fact that some of the most troubled young people will be placed in such homes, whether for lack of alternative or as a positive choice. It is sadly to be expected that staff in residential homes will experience levels of abuse and violence from children and teenagers struggling to come to terms with trauma in similar ways to families coping in the community, perhaps to an even greater extent, yet this receives less coverage still. Continue reading