Use Every Tool You Have

I had a small ‘win’ this week, I am wary of blowing my own trumpet, but I see it as a useful situation to learn from and hopefully it helps others.

Some of you that already know me or have followed my blog, Facebook pages etc will know as well as being a counsellor and events organiser that I campaign from a personal stand on attachment and trauma. I firmly believe that if large institutions and organisations had an understanding of attachment and trauma, many, many people’s lives would be a lot easier.

My particular campaign has been a personal one, insisting that schools have understanding and training in these areas and in particular my own children’s schools.

I set off at the beginning of year 7, noticing that things weren’t going as well as they might. It was instinctive for me to start talking to the school, the SENCo, the form tutor, subject teachers and the head of year, try and create understanding, get them to think differently about behaviour and punishment, get them to realise what they were doing was counter-productive, punitive and possibly unkind. Those I spoke to did, on the whole, listen, accommodated my requests for meetings, took the books I offered to lend them. I did ruffle feathers and cause upset, I was asked to stop doing things. The staff were wary of me, but I figured I wasn’t going to change anyone’s thinking by charm alone!

So I used every tool I had at my disposal (I didn’t know that at the time) I used every aspect of my personality, got advice and help, laughed, cried, shouted, blogged, stayed calm, got mad, but most of all I kept on going, every time I was put off or knocked back I took stock, sat back and re-fueled my engine. It felt like a fight, a fight for understanding, a fight for my children and others like them. I wasn’t going to let them down, or let us down.

I got to the end of the year and I still felt misunderstood, not entirely listened to, felt like nothing had changed and had to use the final tool I had available and it felt risky and possibly ill-advised, was this really time to play my ace? (I did take advice from a number of professionals). I threatened to remove my child from the school (and meant it), this could have back-fired, we could have fallen flat on our faces.

The opposite happened, a few chinks of light appeared, some understanding appeared, some care and love appeared, some from unexpected quarters.

I was asked if I wanted to go in to the school on the training day and speak to a room full of teaching assistants about attachment and trauma. I was extremely pleased to do so and extremely thankful to the member of staff who invited me in (I gather it is pretty unusual for this to happen).

However, the fight is not over, but hopefully progress is being made.

My tip to you, if you are going through something similar is to be tenacious, have a goal in mind, get help and advice from wherever you can and most all do what you do with love and understanding.

I am an experienced counsellor. I work with parents on issues related to attachment, loss and anxiety. I also work generally with anxiety using a combined therapeutic approach with all adults. Please contact me for chat.

Have a great week.

Juliet x

How does it feel?

Consider this, the school you go to already knows that you have issues around anxiety, low self-esteem, trauma and loss. You already have an education health care plan (what used to be called a statement) and receive a lot of support in school, you have outside long-term therapeutic help. Your psychological and mental health issues are widely known. In short you have difficulties maybe even disabilities.
and you are punished for them

How does that feel?!

Makes me feel a bit sick inside, turns my stomach, makes me feel upset, close to tears.

My Point

If you have a physical or external disability of difficulty, it is visible, hopefully, you make allowances, allow that person extra time to move around, allow that person extra time with accessing work, allow extra time with activities that require physical movement. That is the kind, sensible thing to do.

What happens if you have an ‘invisible’ or internal difficulty or disability (diagnosed or not)?

If you don’t understand it, you may think the person is strange, lazy, weird, naughty, attention seeking or weak……… and needs disciplining.

How does that feel?

Disciplining you, for your mental or psychological health difficulties, that somehow you can discipline difficulties out of people.

That makes me feel angry.

Imagine this, you are very fidgety, a new person has come into the classroom you do not know, you are on edge, frightened even. You begin to rock on your chair, you can’t stop, who are they, what are they going to do? You receive a detention for not sitting still…….for being annoying.

You are anxious, worried, scared – the answer – discipline!

Trauma, attachment, loss, depression, mental health difficulties are not understood in schools (or not enough).

That makes me feel at a loss, powerless and out of control – the answer– tell people, I am angry, and if you are going through the same, I get it and you.

I channel my anger by campaigning (when I can).

Imagine you look at your school planner, it is littered with negative notes. I wonder how that feels to look at it.

For many children they would ‘say’ you are:

  • Bad
  • Naughty
  • Not worthwhile
  • Confirms your already very negative self view
  • Your self esteem takes another knock
  • You self confidence is ‘shot at’

School and society needs to have a clearer understanding of the impact of difficult starts, attachment and the impact of multiple losses.

I understand schools need behavioural policies, need to help children understand the consequences of their actions, need to help them be valuable members of society and I support teachers and schools (having worked in one for 10 years). It’s hard.

Schools (and society) need to know that you CANNOT discipline psychological and mental health problems out of children. Kindness, understanding and forethought about handling anxiety, trauma and loss are needed.

Detention, Isolation, On-Report – think carefully about those words what do they remind you of?

They remind me of Prison!

Kindness and Understanding are the key.

If any of this resonates with you from any angle you can come along to my new support group in Acomb, York, there are links below.

Have a peaceful weekend
Juliet x

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Facebook Event

What if?!

With just one to week until the brand new Parent Support group in Acomb, York, I am really looking forward to meeting you.

There are quite a few parent support groups out there but many of them are for a specific reason such as parents with a child with a disability or particular need etc.

What if you just want some support with parenting?

What if you just want to talk to other parents because you find parenting bloomin’ hard?

What if you are unsure about what support you need?

What if your child or children are in secondary school and you have lost touch a bit?

(and many other ‘what if’ questions!!)

Come along to a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, where you will get a smile, a cuppa and asked what do you need or want from a support group.

Details:
Thursday 30th March
1pm – 3pm
Friends Meeting House, The Green, Acomb, York, YO26 5LR
£5 per person

Click the buttons below to find out more and reserve your place.

Passionate parent!
Juliet

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Reserve Your Place (£5 per person)