Bringing up children
Bringing up children is one of life’s most precious and challenging tasks.
You, your family and the school are very important in helping your child to build up the confidence to talk about their feelings.
Lotte Bredt, our experienced Childhood Support Worker, is available on Thursday mornings from 8.30 am to 8.55 am in the Early Years building. Lotte will help with any questions or worries you might have about your child’s feelings and development.
You may want to talk about behaviours and moods, like fears or tantrums that might upset your daily routines e.g. eating, toileting, sleeping, making friends, listening etc.
Talking informally with Lotte might help you to understand your child’s behaviours and find ways of helping him/her grow up happier and more assured.
1. What is it?
Confidential School or Pupil Counselling is a therapeutic method of working with vulnerable and troubled children who struggle to learn and/or get on with others at school. It combines psychoanalytic understanding with a non- directive yet interactive style of play and conversation which helps to explore individual thinking and underlying reasons for a child’s behaviours. Every one of these is understood as a communication or a symptom of a child in internal difficulties.
2. Who is it for?
School Counselling is for children whose learning and social skills are clearly affected by emotional aspects. They may have experienced separations, bereavements, neglect or over-protectiveness, sibling rivalry or other difficulties in their family without a thoughtful parent/adult at hand who could help them process things and are often unable to concentrate and learn in school.
Counselling will benefit children who experience:
- Emotional difficulties (i.e. regulating excitement, disappointment, self worth etc.)
- Poor social behaviour (i.e. forming and sustaining helpful and pleasurable relationships)
- Learning and communication difficulties (i.e. taking in ideas and communicating thoughts)
- The threat of school exclusion (where unsafe behaviours need to be urgently addressed)
3. How does it work?
In weekly individual sessions (40-50 mins.) the child will get the opportunity for free expression through talking, drawings, stories, and many other creative or play activities. These allow the counsellor to observe and understand the child’s inner world, his/her relationships and responses to learning challenges, to peers and to figures of authority.
Sharing this understanding with the child promotes self-knowledge and self-esteem. The child is helped to process past experiences, build a narrative of their lives, find words/images to represent their feelings and try new approaches to educational and developmental tasks. Counselling methods are adapted to fit the child’s age and needs.
Even without directly discussing every behaviour issue, but through developing a trusting relationship with the counsellor the child is enabled to explore and resolve emotional difficulties, become more settled and interested in learning again.
4. How does School Counselling fit into the school’s pastoral care system?
School Counselling is a new part of Kingsbury Green’s Inclusion Provision. Some children – for their own reasons- cannot yet respond to the usual strategies available to teaching/support staff and continue to under-perform, remain unhappy or unduly oppositional. Teaching and Support Staff identify these children and bring them to the attention of the SENCO/Inclusion Manager so they can be referred to individual counselling or to a more systemic approach in school (with family members or peer group) or to a CAMHS setting. Parents’ active consent will always be sought prior to counselling, and will contribute to positive outcomes.
Challenging behaviour can be one of the triggers for children starting counselling. While the behaviour strategies employed by class teachers and TAs help the child to learn well within the class community, they do not generally form part of the non- directive approach used in the counselling sessions. Unduly worried or withdrawn children can also be helped through counselling to lessen anxiety and develop self confidence and resilience.
The content of the counselling sessions is confidential which is essential to safeguard boundaries and to build trust. However confidentiality is in the service of ‘the child’s best interest’ and information can be shared with staff on a ‘need to know’ basis. This should happen preferably with the child’s consent, but never within earshot of others nor in front of the child.
Working together with the staff team and parents is an absolute essential in the belief that ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’. Therefore please let’s find time to sit together and think about a child that causes you concern and bring your observations from the classroom or playground.
5. Other aspects to School Counselling
By pre arrangement I can meet with parents, to discuss any particular problem or issue concerning their child, where I might assess how a family operates and offer a limited number of consultation sessions or discuss a referral on to a local Parent Counselling Service or other CAMHS teams.
KS2 children are invited to come to the ‘Pupil Drop-In’, if they want to discuss any issue or problem. They do not need to pre-book, can bring a friend or a person they have the problem with or just come with their question. At the beginning of every academic year an assembly is held and leaflets distributed in KS2 classes to explain to children how ‘drop-in’ works and how it might help.
Since September 2013 I spend one hour a week in the Early Years Setting interacting directly with children, advising staff, consulting to parents, giving occasional brief training on the emotional aspects of teaching and learning.
The counsellor is also available on request to support any staff team through modeling a number of short and practical conflict resolution scripts and/or introducing a peer support intervention called ‘Circle of friends’. These can contribute to specific behaviour support plans for children with social emotional difficulties.