Getting honest – when working with challenging children brings you to tears

Getting honest – when working with challenging children brings you to tears

We all know that being around challenging children is HARD. Being involved in their lives means that we have a significant role we are playing – and yet it can sometimes mean we think that to be doing a good job we have to keep it all together and not let others know how hard we are finding it. We can be honest – but only a bit…

honest

I wrote this several years ago, when Hinton was 9 months old. I wrote it for me and never intended to share it – but have decided I would, in case it resonates with anyone else out there doing significant work and finding it HARD right now.

HINTON DIARY – 9 Months

“So I cried today in a room of women and four-legged furry beauties.
Hinton - outside green
Why?
I was done.

‘My furry boy’ is a real challenge at the moment – in ways that no one knows if they just look at him.
In fact if you just look at him, you would say how gorgeous he is, and you would want to touch him (EVERYONE wants to touch him).

You would have no idea about what it is really like living with him at the moment. The stubbornness, the independence, the inescapable attraction for anything new, how unbelievably strong he is when he wants something, and then there is the sensitive tummy, sensitive temperament and unpredictable VERY mushy toileting.

My ‘boy’ is 9 months old and a real conundrum in so many ways.
I’m not just saying it. He has had his trainer scratching her head more than once.

We went to our regular socialisers puppy class today.

It was clear to the trainer as soon as we arrived, that I needed some extra support and I didn’t deny it.

The trainer took him and I sat there with tears pouring down my face. Exhausted.
It turns out that some dogs are like this when they hit teenage stage.
It turns out that they are not all this hard, but some are.
It turns out that in some ways he is very normal.
It turns out that in some ways he is very different, and not all the standard ‘normal’ approaches are helpful for him.

It was lovely for them all to notice and comment on the good bits they see in him (he can do rocking sits and downs when he has a mind to, waits and stays are there too, and I think the stories of how he now copes with being handled, poked and prodded which he totally HATED a few months ago, actually really impressed them).

And that is it, the conundrum. He is not all bad. Not by a long shot. I wouldn’t swap him for any of the other pups. He is ‘my boy’ [for now] and we are going to work this through together, we will both be changed by it, and come through wiser.

That is where we are going. But to get there I needed today.

  • I needed to be around the wisdom of others who ACTUALLY KNOW what it is like being a puppy socialiser.
  • I needed to hear encouragement from others who ACTUALLY KNOW what it takes to be a puppy socialiser.
  • I needed to hear and receive affirmation of the good job I am doing with him from people who know the investment of time, energy and life it takes to train a pup like this.
  • I needed time out – even just a few minutes – of not being on the end of the lead, to regroup and get myself into a calm state again. Time to look at him from a different perspective and realise there was no other puppy in the room I would want to take home instead.
  • I needed to hear from people who are more experienced than me, that being at the end of myself did not mean I was a poor socialiser in anyway.
  • I needed to hear stories of the depths that others (who seemed to have it all together and appeared to know what they are doing) have been to with puppies they have socialised in the past – and to see one of them sitting there with the very same puppy, now calm and in control of himself, happy, snoozing and ready for the next stage of training.

Hinton-puppy class 9mths
And he needed time away from me.
Right then, he needed time being handled by an expert.
He needed support from someone who was calm and grounded, who could help him move on through those minutes in a positive way.

It takes a village to raise a child apparently.
It surely takes a community to raise an assistance puppy.

So as I am writing, we are home now. He is asleep by my feet.
Still gorgeous. Still a teenager. Still so much toddler.

Socializing an assistance puppy has to be up there with some of the hardest things I have ever done.
But I’ve heard many parents say the same about parenting.
I’ve heard many teachers say the same thing about teaching.

I am SO grateful for the support and expert training I have around me. While everyone wants to throw their two pennies worth of opinion at me –  I know who I am choosing to listen to. I am learning so much about dogs, about people, about me, and I have chosen to change and grow through it all… Socialising my first assistance puppy IS an adventure and I’m not done yet.”

SO from one honest heart to another – let me ask you these 9 questions:-

  1. Are you doing something significant?
  2. From 1-10 how hard is it at the moment?
  3. What is hard about it that no one else would know from the outside?
  4. Do you compare yourself with others who appear to have it all together?
  5. Who would you need to hear positives from to really receive and believe what they are saying?
  6. When was the last time you had ‘time out’ away from those children?
  7. What are the specific positives or developments that you can see are still in your children, even in the midst of a challenging phase?
  8. What emotional support do you need?
  9. What specific expert support do you need?

 

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Stress and inevitable symptoms of working in a school…?

Stress and inevitable symptoms of working in a school…?

This just came in from one of the senior teachers I have been supporting. It is shared here with permission.
Everyone’s story is different of course – and if you are curious to change yours then please get in touch.

“Hi there
I just wanted to send you a few words that sum up what happened to me.
I could have gone on about my visits to the GP, photographing my swollen joints and rashes so the GP didn’t think I was making things up, it’s quite funny now I’m ‘fixed’  – although it wasn’t at all funny at the time ….. Especially as it was also suggested at one point that my symptoms were psychosomatic…
stress-symptoms
In 5 months I’ve forgotten how debilitating it can be to have:-

  • intermittent Vertigo,
  • swollen joints that were so painful I couldn’t move them,
  • tendons that pulled my fingers in to make a claw,
  • unexplained rashes
  • and the need to stop driving to have a sleep on the way home from work.

When you work in a school it’s easy to think feeling unwell is an inevitable symptom of stress and part of getting older! But the changes I have experienced since taking the USANA products you recommended have shown me it’s not stress or getting older, it’s nutrition. I just wasn’t getting enough of what my body needed.

I noticed a difference within 2 days of taking the nutritional supplements. Honestly, for me it was that instant.
I’m massively thankful.
It is just so incredible to be several months on now and pain free, sleeping better than I ever have, waking up more easily and not needing to spend 15 mins in the shower every morning trying to make my eyes open. I have more energy and mental clarity and I know I am more ‘on my game’ at work than I have been in years.
Thank you again.”
Inclusion Manager

If you want to explore what might help you thrive then get in touch.

Also check out
Nutrients Helping Children thrive testimony from adoptive parents
Nutritional deficiency and children’s behaviour how nutrients changed a pre-schooler and his family
Improving Immune strength what another teacher noticed

Making Reputations – how what we say about children behind their backs impacts their future

Making Reputations – how what we say about children behind their backs impacts their future

The staff room and the school gate are 2 places where reputations are made.
Here’s what I have noticed.
A child, (who for whatever reason – and there WILL be a reason) crosses a boundary and hurts someone. The adult feels shocked, surprised, hurt, angry and many other possible emotions, and seeonline-reputation-managementks comfort in regaling it to colleagues in the staff room, or peers at the gate.
The story that gets told though may or may not include the WHOLE story, and is often abbreviated to just the adults’ perspective and the fact they got hurt. “He hurt me.” “She hit me!” “He kicked me.” “She threw scissors at me…”

Question-mark-red-3D-glossyDo you know what it feels like when you just know that someone doesn’t like you?

Do you know that distinct feeling someone knows something about you that makes them want to keep their distance?
Do you know what it’s like when someone has heard a rumour…and it’s about you?

=>  Imagine being a child in a school, maybe one who struggles with being calm, maybe one who might hurt people now and again, or one who does a runner across the field when things get too much.
[There is ALWAYS a reason for behaviour we don’t like. There may not seem like one to the on-looker, the all-knowing adult, but there will be one. There will be a reason, a trigger, even if the child himself can’t articulate it yet.]

=>  Now imagine being the child’s new teacher. They only things you will have heard about this little one, is how far and how fast he can run away. Or how hard he can kick. Maybe how she doesn’t show any remorse when she hurts an adult.

It worries me how much a child’s story can be formed by staff in the staff room or by parents at the school gates. When we only speak out the things that are ‘out of the ordinary’, that we don’t like, or find hard, the things that actually show a child is struggling (although it is rarely acknowledged as that – more often just ‘bad behaviour’) then that is all others hear.
That is all they have to go on – the only picture that fills their head when they think about that child.

It is not fair.
It is not true.
It is damaging… more than we realize.
How so?
It changes things.

If the image of the behaviour we have heard about makes us feel at all uncomfortable, worried, fearful, unsafe or judgmental, those feelings (sometimes so quietly nestled in our subconscious that we don’t/wont consciously realize/admit they are playing hide n seek within us) change us. They change our neurology and that changes our physiology. We cannot help it. It just happens.
It means though that when we meet the actual child – on the playground, in the dinner hall or our new classroom, they meet our changed physiology – and they will notice. They will subconsciously notice we are defended, we are guarded, we are on alert. They won’t know why, but they will get a sense from us that our body and subconscious portrays.

Question-mark-red-3D-glossyWill it help them feel safe with us?
How might they behave in response to that?
It’s not rocket science, eh?
Would there be any children you know who don’t need understanding, need protecting, honoring, and to be respected enough not to have their worst moments broadcast across a network of professionals or parents?

Am I suggesting a ban on staff being able to talk about what has happened to them in their day?
Absolutely not.
Am I suggesting that staff don’t widely communicate the details of interactions with a child?
Maybe – just to the people who need to hear it.
I am just wondering if we could be aware of the power of our words in shaping children’s reputations?
I’m wondering if we could consider if we might be shaming a child in their absence by how we communicate about them?
I’m wondering if we can acknowledge that what we share as truth is rarely the WHOLE truth?
So help us…

Reputation-Management-Tacoma-WA

BODY GRATITUDE ~ FREE ~ Guided Meditation

BODY GRATITUDE ~ FREE ~ Guided Meditation

During our time here we have just one place to live – our earth suit – our body.
Sometimes we are so busy living, doing or surviving that we can forget or neglect our body, which may mean we are forgetting or neglecting ourselves.

Noticing can be the first step in becoming re-acquainted in the ongoing journey towards becoming truly grateful for our body, and yet even this can be a challenge.

I have worked with very special men and women who were doing brilliant things, yet struggled to notice themselves. For others traumatic experiences have led to years spent living in a state of disassociation from their body. Others have simply appreciated some help in carving out time to be still, refocus and improve noticing themselves.
I wrote and recorded this guided meditation with all these special people in mind – whilst being totally grateful for my own earth-suit : the part of me that I walk around in and be ‘me’ in.
I hope it is truly gift to you.

ChewMed- Body Gratitude -coverpic

  • GENTLE, yet POWERFUL
  • NOTICE you in a new way
  • Journey toward GRATITUDE
  • Use at the end of TRE or other bodywork sessions
  • START or END the day in gratitude

Get FREE MP3 Meditation

 

 

‘I am loving the meditation. I started using it daily, morning and evening – now I just do it every day when I get in from work. It has been a great introduction to my new healthy journey.
The meditation has helped me understand how important and amazing my body is and the correlation of mind, body and soul. It gives me a private, quiet, focused time to appreciate what I have and help me achieve what I want to do’

SCHOOL SUPPORT WORKER

 

“Love it!
Listened to it three times already…
Something really special about this.
Thanks for sending it.
Much needed.”

HEADTEACHER

 

“I listened to Body Gratitude last night (and this morning) and I found it lovely. The words were so well thought out and affirming.
I’ve listened to many meditations, usually as part of my end-of-day ritual and I really liked this one. I think it would be great at the end of a workout or before a creative project, but also a super way to start your day on a positive note. ”

THERAPEUTIC WORKER

 

I Don’t Have That Badge Anymore – a child free from PTSD

I Don’t Have That Badge Anymore – a child free from PTSD

I don’t think I have ever shared direct words from any of my clients before. I have thought long and hard about doing it now, and the reason I am sharing what this incredible boy wrote as part of our closing process, was because HE wanted it shared. The idea that his experience can inspire school staff to know that children can change, was really important to him. The idea that others – even adults – who still find themselves journeying through PTSD, could be encouraged by his words and his journey was equally important.

“Since working with Claire I have changed in many different ways. I have changed the way I act around people. I have changed the way I see things. Everyday I think about how much Claire has helped me come to be who I always tried to be, how I don’t try to be any body, I don’t even try to be myself – I just be the person I am.

I used to say the words PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) like I had to say it or like I had to make everybody know that I have PTSD, however now I have changed. I no longer wear a badge that says ‘I have PTSD’ because I don’t.  I am not ashamed of having had PTSD nor am I proud. I don’t think about PTSD and I havent even spoke about it in so long because I don’t need to anymore. I feel free from and unleashed from the horrible badge called PTSD.

My time with Claire has been an unforgettable experience and has been a roller coaster, not always easy and not always fun, but for sure it’s one of those one-time life-time changing experiences you just can’t say no to.”

Boy, aged 12,Shared with permission – as he hoped it might encourage others with PTSD that things can change.

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Bejewel-ling Communication – A Game to Play with Children

Bejewel-ling Communication – A Game to Play with Children

This summer (yes, I know it seems a long time ago now) a friend introduced me to the world of ‘Bejeweled’.
I am not a big fan of computer games, but I was stuck on a long haul flight to the U.S., and with another 9 hours to go, was happy to explore something new.
bejeweled-2-24So that was it, a few rounds on a plane…. a few more on the way home…. downloaded the app and I can reassure you that after the initial-incredibly-addictive-phase, it is now definitely firmly in its place as a well controlled go-to when I choose to play every now and again.
What struck me the most as I was getting better at playing, moving around the different shaped gems and going up through the stages of games, were the words. It is a game PACKED with positive re-inforcement.
So far my games have been interrupted while my screen has been plastered with one of the following

  • GOOD
  • NICE
  • COOL
  • SPLENDID
  • EXCELLENT
  • AWESOME
  • MAGNIFICENT
  • OUTSTANDING

bejeweled-2-18I like feedback – especially positive feedback! One simple word can convey so much.

And I am a grown up – I know it is just a computer game, but it has had me really reflecting on the frequency of positive words that I hear sprinkled into conversations with children by their parents and school staff.

It is not rocket science to know that children like hearing positive things, knowing they have done well, that you like them, that you notice the effort they are putting into something, that you are cheering for them.

If a computer game can pop out such a variety of positive encouragements…. I have to ask…

  • What is our frequency of positivity?
  • How often do we use these positive words in our interactions with children?
  • How wide is our vocabulary of encouragement or praise?
  • Is our bar a bit too high?
  • Do we expect miracles before we squeeze out an occasional ‘good job’ or ‘well done’?

I wonder what might happen to the children around us if we started to use more and more of these in our conversations with them – might they want to ‘play the game’ more and more?
Might they get a triple bonus –(1) the pride of their own action AND (2) being noticed by someone AND (3) hearing encouragement for something they have done?

CHALLENGE:
Have you ever played POSITIVES BINGO with your children or class?
Work out a grid of positive words like the ones above, and give the children a copy each.
Whenever they hear you (the adult) use one of those words in a day (or long journey, shopping trip, lesson etc), they get to cross it off. So often we get the children to change their behaviour and we may or may not notice…this way round their role-model adults show them how it is done. I’d love to hear how it goes if you dare … 😉

Bejeweled_3_Lightning_Gameplay

PS If you have also played Bejeweled and have had other positive encouragements I haven’t encountered yet, do let me know!