Understanding the Mind of a Grieving Child

By Elke Barber, young widow and author of ‘Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?’ and ‘What Happened to Daddy’s Body?’ offers her thoughts on the mind of a grieving child, and how best to reach them.

Grieving childWhat picture pops into your head when you hear the word ‘death’?

Chances are, a pretty uncomfortable one. But crucially, one that you understand. You understand immediately what death means, and all the sadness, grief and emotion that is associated with it.

Do you know what a three-year old thinks of when he hears the word ‘death’?

Nothing. Because, chances are, he has never heard of it before. He doesn’t know what it means! He doesn’t even know that such a thing exists…

In April 2009, I was faced with having to explain to my three-year old just that: death. My husband had suffered a totally unexpected fatal heart attack; no family history, no previous symptoms, aged only 34. And our son Alex was the only person with him at the time. He managed to raise the alarm and get an ambulance there, but sadly Martin died at the scene. All of a sudden I found myself a young widow and a single Mum to two grieving children: Alex, aged three, and Olivia, aged only 11 months…

“He’s still so young – he won’t remember.”, and “He won’t understand.” were the well-meaning phrases I heard most often at the time. But I quickly learnt that these preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. I remember Alex lying in bed one night, not too long after his daddy’s death, and innocently asking “How many more sleeps until Christmas?” – I tried to work it out in my head, only for him to follow this with “And how many more sleeps until I have to die Mummy?” – I was completely taken aback… Continue reading

Eating Disorder Recovery – The Benefits of a Holistic Approach

Eating DisorderDr. Nicola Davies, co-author of Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook, discusses the benefits of a holistic approach to recovery and what questions you need to answer before beginning your journey.

Many people suffer from eating disorders and often they do so in secret. Living with an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder can be an extremely isolating experience, which can deplete your self-esteem and confidence, distort your concept of health and body image, and make you forget what is truly important in life.

Recognising that you have a problem with an eating disorder is an important first step, followed closely by the acknowledgement that you need help and you need to open up about the problem to someone you trust. In recovering from an eating disorder, you will need to go through several stages, which can take a lot of time and energy. Rates of recovery will be different for everyone and there may be times you will return to unhealthy eating and dieting behaviours. It’s easy to perceive this as a sign of failure and lose confidence in moving forward, but it’s important to keep focused on positive change.

So, what does it take to achieve recovery from an eating disorder? Although eating disorders are linked with unhealthy eating, dieting and exercise practices, overcoming them takes a whole lot more than changing what you eat and normalising your weight. Eating disorders often spring from a very deep emotional pain and are associated with other conditions such as depression, personality disorders, and obsessive behaviours. This means that long lasting recovery from an eating disorder involves the strict re-alignment of your entire life – dealing with the past, living in the present, and navigating the future.

Continue reading

I tend to lie low during National Adoption Week – Sally Donovan

National Adoption WeekSally Donovan, author of No Matter What, Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, reflects upon her decision to adopt all those years ago, and what National Adoption Week means to her.

Last weekend I went to a reunion at the historic garden I used to work in. I left fourteen years ago. Amongst the staff who had worked there some had lost partners, some had married and had children, several were suffering ill health and one had moved into a nursing home. We all had stories to tell over lunch. Mine was that I had adopted two children, now in their teenage years.

I went through all the highs and lows of the adoption process while I was working there. After the reunion lunch and the group photo on the steps I walked around the garden. Every familiar wall, doorway, tree and view took me back. It was a pivotal time for me. I was happy there in that pseudo-Edwardian world, amongst a warm and slightly dysfunctional family of gardeners, historians, teashop staff and office workers and yet I wanted so much to be a parent. I’d planned at some point to do both; to return to historic gardening as a working parent. It wasn’t to be. Adoptive parenting, or at least the kind that was demanded of me, was not going to share me with anything else. Continue reading

We Need to Talk about Pornography – Vanessa Rogers

pornographyIn this extract from We Need to Talk about Pornography, Vanessa Rogers discusses the impact of pornography on young people. At a time when it has never been more accessible and the likes of revenge porn and sexting are on the rise, there is a growing need for more dynamic education around what pornography is, how sex is portrayed in the media versus reality and how pornography can affect sexual relationships, self-esteem and body image.

Click here to download the extract

Vanessa Rogers addresses this gap in sexual education by providing a comprehensive resource to support anyone who might be involved in sex education for young people. Through open conversations around sex and pornography, parents and educators can encourage healthy and respectful relationships in future generations. Packed with ready-to-use lesson plans and activities, and outlines for staff CPD sessions and parent workshops, this book is an essential resource for PSHE teachers, senior leadership teams, pastoral care teams, school counsellors, youth workers, school nurses and others. Click here to find out more about We Need to Talk about Pornography.

New toys and expensive parties aren’t the best way to show a child love – Jane Evans

loveIn this article, Jane Evans reflects upon her new book Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love to discuss how we can help children aged 2-6 learn about the ways that love, friendships and kindness can look, sound or feel in this increasingly complicated world.

It may seem strange to think about teaching children about love and kindness. Surely that’s what they grow up knowing. They feel it every time they are picked up, rocked, fed, and sung to. They see it in the eyes of those around them. They are taught the difference between a kind act and an unkind one once they begin to be around other children. Lessons on sharing and ‘not pushing and snatching’ can become regular and repetitive!

What prompted me to write about Cyril Squirrel going on an adventure to find out about love and kindness was a sense that these simple concepts are getting lost and confused in modern day life. Children can easily come to equate love and kindness with things. We live in a consumer driven world in which parents and carers can feel a real pressure to show children how much they matter by providing material comforts, fabulous toys, equipment and experiences.  But is that a great example of love? Continue reading

Ten Things I Have Learnt as a Sex and Relationship Therapist – by Juliet Grayson

Grayson_Landscapes-of-t_978-1-78592-186-5_colourjpg-print

We spoke to the author of ‘Landscapes of the Heart‘, Juliet Grayson, about what she has learnt in her years as a couples therapist. She shares ten fascinating insights below.

For more information on the book, or to buy your own copy, just follow this link!

Here are ten things that I have learnt as a sex and relationship therapist.  I’m in the very privileged position, as a couples therapist, to get a real insight into the lives of other people.  I probably know some aspects of my clients better than anyone else.  I also get an amazing view of how people think about sex and relationships.  When I see people for a session on their own, there is no point in them lying.  They share how they really think about intimacy, lovemaking and their partner.

Continue reading

Download a therapeutic resource from Pooky Knightsmith’s new book ‘Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing’

Knightsmith_Using-Poetry-to_978-1-78592-053-0_colourjpg-printThere are five poems in this extract from Pooky Knightsmith’s new book Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing. Each poem, written by Pooky, is the subject of a common mental health issue borne of her own experiences in the field of mental health.  They address panic attacks, anxiety, depression and anorexia and are accompanied by supporting questions and activities to help open up difficult discussions.  They are an ideal resource for therapeutic, classroom and family settings.

“Unlike so many stereotypes about poetry, this book is practical, unpretentious and heartfelt, with applications for helping people- young and old- way beyond mental health settings.”                                                                                                              -Nick Luxmoore, school counsellor and author of Horny and Hormonal

>>Click here to download the extract<<

Read an extract from The Autism Spectrum Guide to Sexuality and Relationships by Dr Emma Goodall

9781849057059

Dr Emma Goodall’s excellent new book The Autism Spectrum Guide to Sexuality and Relationships: Understand Yourself and Make Choices that are Right for You is a candid guide to sexuality, relationships and gender identity that will help adults on the autism spectrum to understand their preferences and identity in the pursuit of platonic, romantic or sexual relationships. In this extract Dr Goodall introduces the idea of what sexuality might look and feel like for someone with autism.

Click on this link to read the extract >>>  Understanding Your Own Sexuality – Goodall

The Autism Spectrum Guide to Sexuality and Relationships by Dr Emma Goodall is available now from Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Supporting children with attachment difficulties in school – Nicola Marshall

Marshall_Teachers-Introd_978-1-84905-550-5_colourjpg-printIn this article, Nicola Marshall, author of The Teacher’s Introduction to Attachment, reflects upon the role schools play in supporting children with attachment issues, and how they can improve their education experience.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week at the moment with a focus on relationships, so I thought I’d use this theme as an opportunity to talk about children with attachment issues, and how schools can improve the level of emotional support they receive.

As an adoptive parent who runs a practice training teachers on attachment and why it matters, I have gained many years of insight into the highly pressured, results-driven environment that our education system increasingly imposes upon our schools today.

I’m very aware that for ‘typical’ children who have the love and support of at least one of their parents, school and the pressures of grades and exams can be overwhelming too.  But for children with attachment difficulties, the expectancy to perform well in school only compounds the numerous emotional problems that they are already facing.

Continue reading