Helping children to have a more positive body image

Body ImageChris Calland and Nicky Hutchinson, authors of Minnie and Max are OK!, talk about body confidence, how it can influence children’s self-esteem and what adults can do to help children have a more positive body image.

What does a positive body image mean to you?

If a person has a positive body image they are happy with the way they look and they accept and feel good about their body. Helping children to be positive about their bodies encourages them to be happy, healthy and confident. Having a positive body image makes children less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is a crucial part of mental health.

Do you feel that the number of children with body image issues has risen of late? What reasons do you feel are behind this?

Yes, unfortunately the number of children experiencing body image anxieties is growing rapidly and body dissatisfaction is being seen more in many really young children, even at pre-school stage. It is an issue which affects both boys and girls. Continue reading

How to make an effective special guardianship assessment

special guardianship

With the number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) on the sharp rise, the need for thorough analytical assessments has never been greater when deciding whether to place a child with a potential special guardian. Here Joanne Alper and colleagues draw on experts in the field to provide information and guidance in the promotion of improved analysis when undertaking these complex assessments.

Click here to read the extract

Joanne is the author of Assessing Adoptive Parents, Foster Carers and Kinship Carers, Second Edition. Now fully updated and expanded to cover the assessment of kinship carers and special guardians, the book enables professionals to establish a meaningful understanding of parenting capacity and what it takes to support a child with a history of trauma, loss or hurt.

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We’re delighted to announce that author Sally Donovan has been awarded an OBE for her service to children and families

Sally DonovanWe’re delighted to announce that Sally Donovan, author of No Matter What, The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting and Billy Bramble, was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours this weekend with an OBE for her dedicated service to children and families.  Here Sally recounts how her parenting journey began thirty years ago, and the ways in which it has both shaped and changed her.

Thirty years ago, as Jessica Kingsley Publishers was being formed, I was 18 and about to embark on my first experience of parenting. After finishing sixth form college I took the Eurolines coach to Paris and started work as an au-pair for an Anglo-French couple. He was a floppy-haired British banker who had something of a blonde Hugh Grant about him and she was a beautiful Parisian who spoke English like Princess Diana. I lived with them in their rented house just off Place Charles de Gaulle and cared for their 1 year-old son Pascal. It was kind of normal back then to go to a foreign country, move in with people you knew virtually nothing about and, with no experience, look after their precious child. Continue reading

Help children to understand adoption and the diversity of different families

diversityHelp children to understand adoption and the diversity of different families with this illustrated rhyming story by Shanni Collins.  The rhyme is taken from her new book, All You Need is Love, which celebrates families of all shapes and sizes and encourages inclusion and acceptance in a child’s relationships. Each page is dedicated to a different family, with stories exploring sexuality, adoption, fostering, disability, race, gender diversity and illness.

Download the rhyme

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Recommended reading for new and prospective foster carers

recommended reading foster carersAn extract from Welcome to Fostering, for foster agencies considering books for their recommended reading lists for new and prospective foster carers.

Download the extract 

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, or have recently become one, this book is the one companion you’ll need to understand the experience of fostering. Edited by Andy Elvin, CEO of the UK’s largest adoption and fostering charity TACT, and Martin Barrow, former news editor at The Times and a veteran foster carer himself, the book demystifies the process of fostering by combining invaluable advice from long-term foster carers, the expertise of the professionals who support them, and priceless experiences of foster children themselves; it answers all the questions you’ve had about how to become a foster carer, what the challenges and highlights are, and what it takes to thrive as one.
If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our Fostering books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Adoption, Fostering and Parenting Facebook page.

Strategies in Supporting Children with Special Needs around Death and Dying

“My grandma isn’t a dinosaur. Why are the dinosaurs in this book teaching about death?”

“My dad’s not a leaf. I don’t understand what falling leaves have to do with him dying.”

“My aunt died. Why is everyone saying she’s in a better place?”

Metaphors, symbolic language, euphemisms. These all present challenges for many children with special needs who process information in a concrete manner. The quotes above encapsulate some of the feedback we have heard during our work in hospice care and in special education, as parents describe their struggle with explaining death and dying to their children. We wrote I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs to address these challenges, and to create a book that parents and caregivers can read with all children.

Complicated subjects like death and dying can be particularly daunting to discuss with children, and even more so when those children have special learning needs; there is often no easy answer to difficult questions. The following strategies provide guidance on supporting a child with special needs around death and dying. Remember, every child processes information in a unique manner; consider which approach will work best for the children in your life based on strategies that have been successful in other scenarios. For instance, consider if the child learns best through visual cues, or through repetition. Do he/she process information best in short spurts? Does he/she have auditory processing or sensory-based challenges? Most of all, remember that special education is just good education! These strategies can work for all children.

  1. Straight Talk:

Though one might be tempted to “soften” the topic with “gentle” language, it can be more helpful to use the actual words, like “death” or “died” when talking with a child. Use concrete language and avoid euphemisms. Phrases like, “they are in a better place” or “they have passed” can lead to more confusion and anxiety.

  1. Preparation:

Consider using a short picture story, or checklist, to help provide a framework for next steps, especially if preparing them to attend a funeral or memorial service. Pictures, repetition, and perhaps even doing a “practice drive” to the funeral home, church or synagogue can help the child understand what to expect. Have a trusted adult on hand to be with the child if they need a break during the service.

  1. Emotions:

Many children with special needs have difficulty reading the emotional cues of other people. Preparing them for emotions they and others might experience can be helpful. Let them know some people may be sad and crying, and it’s ok if they feel the same way. Preparing for the emotional aspects of the experience with pictures or images, such as those provided by Symbol Stix (www.n2y.com), can be particularly useful.

  1. Sensory Processing:

After someone dies, disruptions in routines are common. Many more people may be in the child’s home, and there are likely new sounds, more hugs, and other changes that can challenge a child’s sense of order. Consider what sensory-based strategies have been helpful for the child in the past, and utilize those during this experience. Perhaps the child might need to take a break in a quiet room, hold a comforting toy, crash into a pile of pillows, or swing outside.

  1. Remembrance:

Support the child in remembering the person who died in meaningful and accessible ways. Ideas include creating a memory box filled with pictures or other mementos; helping to make connections for the child as to the impact of this person on their lives (i.e. if riding a train together, remembering a trip they took in the past with the person who died); or creating a short picture story about the person and their death, and ways they remember him/her.

  1. A New Normal:

When possible, try to maintain routines, as they are likely comforting to the child. However, do expect the possibility of regression, as the child may turn to self-soothing behaviors or show traits of an earlier developmental phase. Lean on your existing team of supporters, including teachers, school counselors, therapists, and friends.

  1. Communication:

If the child can communicate verbally, through assisted communication devices or in other ways, continue to encourage questions, even if the questions have no easy answer. We received much feedback about this issue when researching our book, as parents shared how difficult it had been to support a child around the questions that do not have a clear answer (“Why does someone die?” and “What happens to someone after they die?”). Continue to keep the lines of communication open, and acknowledge the frustration around not having a concrete answer to difficult questions.

Death and dying brings up myriad emotions for each of us, which certainly affects how we help our children cope. Keep in mind that you are already an expert when it comes to your child.  Relying on previously established strategies and support systems will go a long way in helping your child process this change in a healthy and developmentally appropriate way. This will lay the foundation for coping with other unexpected events and challenges throughout his/her life.

Arlen Grad Gaines, LCSW-C, ACHP-SW is a licensed clinical social worker with an advanced certification in hospice and palliative care based in Bethesda, Maryland. She is co-author of I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Meredith Englander Polsky, MSW, MS Special Education, founded Matan (www.matankids.org) in 2000, and has helped improve Jewish education for thousands of children with special needs. She co-authored  I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Please visit their website at www.ihaveaquestionbook.com for more information.

Read an exclusive extract from “Straight Expectations: The Story of a Family in Transition”

 

Read an exclusive extract from Straight Expectations

Chapter 13: The Transition (2004—2006)

“I did my own research to get clear about what we were dealing with. I wanted to understand the process of transitioning. I realized we needed professional help. There weren’t a lot of resources at that time. The only one who seemed perfectly clear was Julia herself. She was completely confident. She knew who she was now and insisted we had to figure out what to do so she could be the person she knew she was inside. It wasn’t about sexual preference. She was transgender and wanted her brain to be congruent with her body.”

Click here to read the full extract

 

Ever since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children’s gender expression did not correspond with society’s expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family’s journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.

Beginning with her own unconventional upbringing and personal relationships, the second half of the book follows her children from birth to adulthood and through their numerous experiences including coming out, depression, hate crime, relationships, school and various aspects to do with transitioning (legal, physical, medical, social) as well as their appearances in the media as a family. This book is insightful, charming and thought-provoking, and through levity and humor, offers a positive approach to parenting outside of convention.

 

To learn more about Straight Expectations or to purchase a copy, click here. You can also view the full range of JKP’s gender diversity books here, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.

The demand for new foster carers has never been greater

Foster carers

Andy Elvin, CEO of the UK’s largest adoption and fostering charity TACT, describes the immense contribution that foster carers make on a daily basis to the lives of vulnerable children, but explains how the demand for new foster carers has never been greater.

Monday 8th May saw the launch of Welcome to Fostering, a new JKP book co-edited by myself Andy Elvin, CEO of the UK’s largest Adoption and Fostering charity TACT, and Martin Barrow, former news editor at The Times and a veteran foster carer.  The purpose of the book is to explain how to become a foster carer, and what the experience of fostering is actually like, in the hope that more people take up the mantle. It is packed with case studies from actual foster carers detailing their experiences: their first placements, the challenges they have faced along the way and what it is has meant to them to be making a difference, day in day out, to the lives of these children who depend on them. It also includes case studies and quotes from children in foster care themselves.

Foster care is vital and our need for foster carers has never been greater.  In 2016 there were roughly 93,000 children in state care in the UK, and nearly 75% of these children were in foster care. In England alone, there are currently 70,440 children in care, and this number has been rising steadily for some years.  The demand for new foster carers is therefore ever increasing, especially for those who will care for older children and sibling groups.

Lord Laming recently described foster carers as ‘Heroes of the State’, and he is absolutely right about this. Every day, every week and every year, an army of altruistic, selfless and dedicated foster carers look after children who are amongst the most vulnerable in the UK, and through their daily interaction with them, they come to learn that these children are full of amazing and sometimes limitless potential.

Fostering isn’t easy, it is not for everyone and if you choose to become a foster carer you will learn a great deal about the lives that some families lead, and you will also learn a great deal about yourself. Fostering demands patience, empathy, creativity and above all compassion and desire to help children recover from trauma and neglect and to grow up to fulfil their true potential. To borrow the words of TACT ambassador Lorraine Pascale in the foreword to the book, “Foster families are not only important through childhood but remain important throughout life. It is important that the immense value and positive impact of foster care is recognised, and that more ordinary people consider doing something extraordinary for vulnerable children and young people, and that is to become foster carers. This book offers real-life accounts by foster carers and young people in care, as well as expert advice and case studies. What I am most pleased about is how positive it is, and how it reflects the hopes and aspirations of so many children in foster care and their foster carers. It also highlights what I know, from my own life, to be true, that good fostering can build brighter, happier futures for children and young people.”

We hope that reading this book will encourage you to seriously think about foster care. Deciding to become a foster carer is, in part, an emotional decision but it must also be a decision made with a clear minded understanding of what you are committing to. It is no less than the opportunity to transform a child’s life. Good foster care and good foster carers are one of the most valuable resources the UK has. Very few other roles allow you to make such a positive impact on the lives of others.  Fostering is transformative for both the child and adult.

If you would like to read more articles like Andy’s and hear the latest news and offers on our Fostering books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Adoption, Fostering and Parenting Facebook page.

Unorthodox Beginnings – A Poem About a foster family

A poem by TACT Ambassador and 2016 National Poetry Slam Champion, Solomon OB, about what his foster family means to him – as featured in Welcome To Fostering.

 

 

She graces stages

West End bound, best friend found in a sibling who

chauffeured her halfway to crazy when we were younger

My sister

 

She called me baby

As soon as I arrived through those airport doors, she

came charging, screaming, she hugged me with a force

you would expect from a lady who had not seen me

since 10 years before

My mother

 

He held down swaying relationships at home, light

anchors gripped to sea beds

He sped from Brighton to Bristol and back via London

Picked me up when I was man down behind the enemy

lines of my mind

Before I self-destructed

My brother

 

He sits across Christmas dinner tables from me and I

wear his family name with pride

And with rose red eyes he told me:

‘I love your mother now more than the day we got

married’

50 years together a testament to the strength they’re both

possessing

My foster mother

My foster father

 

And yes, he calls my foster mother my mother but with

no intent to disrespect my mother

I mean what else would you call your lover?

The woman who raised these kids, bathed these kids,

takes them in like her own

Told them everything will be OK, told them they could be

anything they wanted to be one day

 

What would you call her?

Saint? angel? magician for making ends meet when others

may not have been able?

Many names from which to choose but I guess on this

occasion mother will do

So yes we are fostered

And when I say this the lines on people’s faces crumble up

like discarded pages of paper laden with mistakes

But we are not mistakes on pages

We are simply awesome novels

With unorthodox beginnings

 

We are not mistakes on pages

We are simply a crooked introduction straightened out by

proofreaders Pat and Vic

Whose love and guidance set the foundations for straight

lines for us to write the rest of our story on

No we are not mistakes on pages

So this Christmas past I took your last name as a present

to you to show you now that I can give and take

 

Victor Roy, Patricia Anne Brooker

I love you.

 

If you would like to read more articles like Solomon OB’s and hear the latest news and offers on our Fostering books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Adoption, Fostering and Parenting Facebook page.

Sign up for the latest Social Work Adults Catalogue and Children and Families Catalogue

catalogue

Sign up to our mailing list to receive a free copy of our latest Social Work Catalogue for Children and Families and our Social Work Catalogue for Adults.

To request a free print copy of JKP’s complete catalogue of books on Social Work, sign up to our mailing list below. Be sure to click any additional areas of interest so we can notify you about exciting new titles you might like.

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