Why is art therapeutic?

I am  delighted to post this guest blog from Chloe Billington, founder and director of Child in Time, a company offering a counselling service for children within schools. You can find out more about Child in time here 


Having worked as an arts based child/adolescent counsellor for the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the multiple ways in which art can be therapeutic.  It can be a way of self-regulating (calming), a form of self-expression and perhaps most exciting of all, a place for self-discovery.  It’s not just children who struggle to find the words for deeply felt emotions; so often at times of deep distress, we are ‘lost for words’ but we know when an image resonates.  The popularity of Instagram, Pinterest and other visual platforms is a reminder that we don’t have to make art or go to art galleries to connect to images on a personal level.

In the context of therapy, art work is like a kind of emotional investigation, a creative encounter within a safe space but there’s no reason why we can’t get huge therapeutic rewards from art without going to therapy.  Once example of this democratisation is the explosion of ‘therapeutic colouring books’ for adults in the last few years.  Whether you love or deride the concept, they clearly tap into a genuine thirst for the simple pleasure of making colours and shapes on paper, whilst avoiding any risk of an ‘inner critic’ judging your artistic endeavours.

The therapeutic aspect of this tactile activity is clear – the cognitive mind can switch off as we allow ourselves to inhabit what is commonly referred to as ‘the right brain.’ When the right side of the brain is dominant, sensation and image are everything and our tired left brain where decisions are made and language is formed can be at rest for a while.  The idea that you need to regard yourself as an artist to take pleasure from art making has long gone.

Art making can be a more concrete way of practising mindfulness if the more meditative aspects of mindfulness don’t work for you.  Noticing the smooth brush slipping paint across the surface of paper or the damp smell and give of clay is one way of being in ‘the moment’.  Mixing watercolours, scribbling wax crayons, the snap and mess of charcoal – all these different textures and sounds have a sensory pleasure we knew instinctively as young children.  As adults we might re-discover these kinds of joys when cooking or gardening or playing with children, but we often lose the simplicity of art making for ourselves.

Even young children who come to my counselling room have already decided they ‘don’t like’ art and mess is bad. Many have absorbed messages that lead them to believe they are ‘no good’ at it too so the first step is to lose the ‘inner critic’ and re-discover how to re-connect with the sensory experience.  If we allow a kinder inner voice to speak and focus on the experience rather than worry about the end product, it’s a small step to move from colouring to a more experimental pleasure of creativity.  Without the rules of the colouring book, anxiety can creep in but that’s also where the opportunity for self-discovery lies for adults as much as for children.  It takes courage to be creative just as it takes courage to undergo personal therapy.  In fact it’s often been said that creativity and therapy are connected at a fundamental level, they both reveal our capacity to transform and change, creating new life after a period of intense reflection.

Sometimes there just aren’t the words deep enough or wide enough to represent our inner life.  Yet an expanse of just the right colour swept across paper, a pile of leaves collected in our arms or a flattened roll of dough might get close. As we find a new language for unspoken feelings, the process of making art can unravel internal conflicts and relieve pressure. Whether through photography, making play-dough with a child, collecting favourite images or making our own art diary, finding a way to represent unspoken aspects ourselves can really sharpen experience so that we live more fully.




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5 Must Do’s after Attending a Live Event, Training or Conference

I decided to write this blog after attending the 2 day content live event with Janet Murray  (and a host of other  fab presenters) for two reasons: firstly I thought it would help me be clear about what I needed to do to make sure I got the most from the event and secondly as someone who runs courses and training events myself, I thought I could use it in my business to add value for my clients and make sure they know how to get the most from the events they attend. So, I hope you find it helpful and if there is anything you feel I have missed out please let me know and I can add it at a later stage.



This might sound counter intuitive – surely the time for planning is before the event – and yes that is true, but it is also wise to plan what you will do afterwards. I knew I was going to be pretty busy in the days immediately following the event so in my diary I allocated 2 ‘sessions’ (I wrote this on the first) when I could do what I needed to do, to ensure I was extracting as much benefit as possible from the event. After all, attending events requires an investment in terms of time and money so it is simply good sense to make sure that the days/weeks don’t slip away without acting and applying what is learned. I’d like to add here that this also involved checking out the goody bag – I must confess to being to events before bringing home the goody bag and then somehow not getting around to investigating it until some of the ‘goodies’ were out of date. This hasn’t been the case this year!


At most events, and definitely at Janet’s, there is so much information that you simply can’t take it all in, so one of the reasons I diary in a session afterwards is to give me time to review the material. We will all be different but for me that involves looking through my session notes with a highlighter and reminding myself of the parts that had the greatest application to my own situation and business. These will be my ‘takeaways’.

Once I have done that I usually then identify a few things that might be relevant and I will maybe implement-  but not right now (for me setting up Pinterest, I will definitely do it but probably not till next year) and ones that will form my post event  ‘to do’ list. For me there are some things I want to look up, or read more about, some podcasts to listen to, or videos to watch, and when I review and prioritise I will diary in time to do at least some of those.


Having identified my most important takeaways it’s time for action, or at least action planning! Let’s be honest if it all stays as notes in a book the impact will be minimal. I have now got a note page in my phone where I write ‘content’ ideas whenever I see or think of them and I am dairying in 2 days in Dec to create my content for January, for me that is actually a re-purposing as I am using some of my old blog posts to create podcasts, videos or info-graphics. I am also putting regular planning time in my diary, something that I have often found hard to do but recognise increasingly that getting those things on a sure footing will add to my bottom line AND reduce the stress that comes from running around in a not always productive tizz!


An important part of any business is the ability to reflect. Following an event is a great time to  ask yourself ‘what is working?’ and ‘what is not working ?’ I have reflected on the rather haphazard way I produce content and I am going to take a more structured approach, As a ‘creator’ or ‘Star’ profile  (you can find out more and take the test here ) I have no problem creating content but doing it in a strategic way that achieves the results I want is more of a challenge. Reflection on the live events itself is also important. So, I am asking myself was it worth the investment. For me it is a resounding yes, one of the reasons I decided to attend this year is that the content diary I bought last year remained largely blank! Thankfully that isn’t the case with my already less than pristine one – couldn’t say 2019 is sorted but there are at least some plans. As the investment seems worth it, I will probably attend Janet’s next event. One of the things I enjoyed most was the ‘doing’ – the video for twitter, the Instagram story the podcast and of course the content planning where we actually put pen (or pencil in my case) to paper and started on our plans.


At almost every event you will meet others who are in business and so, in part at least, it can be a networking event. This was the case with Content live. But if you don’t follow up those connections (which might mean connecting on linked in or Instagram or getting in touch directly with someone you‘ve met)  in the first week or so after the event you are probably unlikely to do it or even remember why you wanted to in the first place.. One of the things I love about Janet’s events is that the workbook contains the contact details of delegates and presenters. I noticed in the book one delegate who was only there on day one and I didn’t get to meet her but I think she would be someone I could collaborate with as our businesses are closely aligned. Not only does Janet put the presenter details in the workbook but as delegates we get to meet most of them personally which is great and in fact I have already connected with a number and plan to reach out to the rest.

If you attended the event and haven’t ‘done’ anything with it then it’s not too late and hopefully this will have helped, there is still time to extract even more value from the brilliant content of ‘content live, by taking action yourself.

And of course the principles are true of any event or training you attend so whether it’s a one day course or a residential weekend, if you have invested your time effort and money into it you owe it to yourself and your business to extract as much ‘learning ‘ as you can and then put it into practice.

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Practicing Self-Care in Your New Life After Baby

Self care is important in maintaining physical and mental well being – and when you have just had anew baby that is especially important.

thanks to Ashley for he second guest blog!

Bringing a new baby into the world is a magical event. Your life becomes infinitely more fulfilling, your love is abundant and your schedule is now filled to the brim as a caretaker. But being a caretaker means taking care of you, too.


It’s not selfish to practice self-care. Even as a provider and nurturer of others, you still need to look out for yourself. If you’re not at your best, then how are you supposed to be there for your baby? Between the diaper changing and feedings throughout the day, make some time for self-care, too.


Me time


Take care of yourself by taking a day off, especially if you’re the primary caretaker. The first few months will be hard for moms because you’re feeding constantly, but pumping breast milk into a bottle will reduce the amount of time your baby needs to be attached to your body. Just because a new life depends on you for survival doesn’t mean that you can’t take an occasional breather for yourself. Some moms say that they barely have time for a shower or a workout when they’re caring for a newborn. Well, you should make time while your baby is napping, or take a few hours off each week to do things for you. Being a great parent doesn’t mean that you have to be glued to your child 24/7.


Us time


Many parents stop being lovers and resort to being co-parents, which eats away at the fabric of the relationship. The whole point of your relationship wasn’t to build up into something great, only to end at this point. A baby is supposed to enhance your bond, not replace it. Your relationship doesn’t need to take a backseat to parenting if you can find simple ways to keep the romance alive and care for the love that you have. Go on a date night so that your relationship doesn’t suffer, or cuddle on the couch after the baby is put to rest. You’re not bad parents if you’re not always putting baby first.


Let Someone Else Take Over


Since Dad can’t breastfeed, it would be fair if he handles the diaper changes, bathing, burping and bottle-feeding more than Mom does. As a new mom, let your partner share some of the duties of childrearing. As a new dad, pick up responsibilities whenever you can to alleviate your partner’s burden of 24/7 parenting. Both parents: Don’t hesitate to hire a sitter to watch the baby even when you’re both at home. You don’t need a night out in order to hire help. Sometimes you just need someone to babysit while you’re organizing the house or taking a night off from parenting duties.


Reduce Stress at Home


When your place is overwhelmed and cluttered, you’ll feel overwhelmed. There’s enough stress that comes with raising a baby, so why add more stress by living amongst chaos? A decluttered home and a peaceful bedroom will lead to a relaxed living space and a soothing environment for a good night’s sleep. They say that once you become a parent, you never get a full night of sleep again. That doesn’t have to be the case. To get the elusive sleep that new parents always lose, you can train your baby to sleep so that you can sleep. It may be hard to get a full night’s rest with a newborn baby at home, but there are ways to catch those Zzz’s whenever possible.


Chances are that you’re not only a good parent, but you’re also trying to be a good spouse. The baby is getting the best part of you, and your partner is getting the leftovers that aren’t exhausted. It’s tempting to always make sacrifices for your child because that’s the instinct of a parent. You want to feed them first because you don’t want them to feel hungry. But if you don’t care for yourself, then who will be around to care for the baby? A happy parent leads to a happy baby, and a person who runs out of steam can’t take care of others.



Photo Credit: Pexels


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10 Tips to Maintain your Mental Wellbeing

As it is mental health day on 10th October I have uploaded a video about mainlining our mental well being.

You can view the video here

In addition you can download the PDF mental wellbeing

And for those of you who are serious about maintaining your mental well being there is an action plan you can complete mental wellbeing action plan

Hope you find it helpful and if you’ve any tips pr comments please add them below.


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Parenting with a disability: Tips will help to overcome challenges

Delighted to publish the first guest blog!!

Having a baby presents a whole range of challenges for any new parent but if you are a  parent with a disability then these challenges can be even greater. In this blog Ashley shares some really practical advice about ways of overcoming some of these challenges. 

Courtesy Pixabay

People with disabilities can adapt creatively to the demands of raising children as they do to their own specific needs. In turn, their little ones naturally adapt to their unique parenting styles.

According to your accessibility challenges, follow the tips below to find strategies for transforming your home into a functional, safe environment for raising a baby as a disabled parent.




Parents with mobility limitations need step-free entrances to their homes in order to provide extra stability and support for transporting their child and other supplies, such as baby accessories or groceries. Replacing steps with a ramp is simple and affordable. Pre-made ramps are available for purchase, and DIY ramp instructions can be found online. If building, pay close attention to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines for ramp width and slope: both indoor and outdoor ramps should have a slope no greater than 1 inch of height for every 12 inches of length. Additionally, the surface of the ramp should be coated with either non-skid deck paint or adhesive strips to prevent slipping.


For ease of mobility throughout your home, install an inexpensive skid-resistant flooring option such as linoleum or vinyl. This change will benefit your baby as well, preventing slips and falls as they learn to crawl and, eventually, to walk. To avoid tripping on uneven textures, secure heavy-duty plastic mats or runners beneath movable carpets or rugs to keep them in place.


If requiring a wheelchair, walker or transfer chair, your doorways must stretch at least 32 inches wide for safe and easy clearance. Installing offset or expandable hinges will provide up to 2 inches of extra space without the expense and headache of making structural changes to the door frame itself. Plus, this adjustment is reversible–return the door to normal by simply replacing the original hardware and carry the spacious hinges with you to your next home.


When mobility is limited, moving from room to room to accomplish different tasks can cost time and energy. Prior to the arrival of your baby, take note of your current habits. You might have a few favorite spots in your home where you spend most of your time and that are set up for comfort and easy access. These spaces can also serve as play and care areas for your baby, with a few adjustments. Purchase or build your own small, rolling workstation with a tabletop for changing and storage beneath for bottles, cloths, toys and other supplies, bringing the nursery and the kitchen to you.




Vision difficulty can be especially dangerous when caring for a baby. The sensitivity of their new skin, nasal passages and digestive tracts makes it important to use the correct products. When distinguishing between formula, snacks, soap and lotion, label items with tactile strips. Such products come in a variety of forms, such as Bumpons, self-adhesive raised plastic markers; Tacti-mark, a liquid that sets hard; color-indicating buttons; and self-adhesive locator dots. Alternatively, try wrapping different products in a specific number of rubber bands or rounds of yarn for tactile identification.




You may feel overwhelmed by hearing limitations, believing such challenges will prevent you from ever leaving your baby’s side. However, the Summer Infant Babble Band, a wearable monitor with two pieces–one for your arm and one for placement close to your baby–provides freedom with peace of mind for parents who are hearing impaired. You can set the monitor that lasts eight hours between charges. It features ‘vibrate’, ‘light up’ or both options to notify you when your child makes a sound. You will always be aware when your baby is in need of a diaper change, a snack or a nap.


Parents with disabilities are compassionate parents who adapt in order to overcome barriers and provide happy, healthy homes for their children. By making these small changes to your nest, you, too, can successfully care for yourself and your baby.


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Learning about Choices

First Published in Affinity Magazine

I’ve heard a few times recently people saying things like ‘I couldn’t help it’ ‘they made me do it’ or ‘well it wasn’t my fault it was because …….’. Well let’s just set one thing straight. Unless someone literally has a gun to your head or is putting you under threat – you have a choice.

But I also understand that it doesn’t always feel like we have much of choice. So let’s look at some strategies we can use to ensure that we are always aware that we are in control of our own actions and so can always exercise a choice about those, even if we can’t choose some of the things that are happening to us or around us. In fact lot of things can happen that we have no control or choice over  – but even then we can exercise control of our response, we can make a choice.

The steps below will help everyone be able to be more aware that we can always make a choice and that actually those choices will have an impact on our future.



Take time to react

It happens to all of us, people upset, or hurt us, stuff happens that makes us angry or unhappy and of course it is a very human response to react. However when we have lots of emotions our reaction may not be measured and sometimes we might actually make a situation worse by reacting when we are ‘emotional’. It might not be easy but just giving yourself a moment, even just a few seconds can mean that we are better able to choose to react in a different way. Yes it might make us feel instantly better in the short term to throw something or yell at someone, or make a rude gesture when driving but usually it doesn’t really help the situation, in fact sometimes it can make it a whole lot worse. So give yourself a minute take a deep breath and then choose how you will react.



Don’t be influenced by others

I was talking with someone recently who was embroiled in a long and difficult legal battle. During the course of the conversation I asked why she had initially decided to take this route when it seemed  there would have been other options. She suggested that a couple of friends had persuaded her as it wasn’t right to let her adversary ‘get away with it’. I don’t think her friends meant to be unhelpful or give bad advice but of course they weren’t having to live through the consequences of the action. So be cautious about accepting advice from people who won’t have to accept the consequences of YOUR action.


Think about the consequences

The advantage of taking even just a minute before you react means you can consider the consequences of what you feel like doing and sometimes that will be enough to help you to make a different choice. I’m fairly confident that there won’t be anyone reading this who doesn’t regret some consequence for a choice they made or an action they took. Of course some consequences may be unforeseen BUT if we stop for a moment many could be anticipated and often a different reaction can avoid some unfortunate consequences.


Choices are Cumulative

Sometimes the impact of choices won’t be seen immediately but over time they can have a big impact. Think about a person who makes a choice to overeat, we’ve all done it and the consequences if it is an occasional choice may not be great but if this is a repeated choice then this will impact your weight and potentially health. Similarly if we always make the ‘safe’ choice and refuse to take a risk or never stray out of our comfort zone the long term impact may be that we restrict our personal growth in some way.


Feelings are NOT choices

People, if I ask them about a choice they have made, will often refer to feelings. But feelings, while they are real and can have a great influence upon us, are not choices or actions. We have feelings but we can still choose how we act or react. Imagine someone who is feeling very sad, maybe they have suffered a disappointment or loss. The feelings might be awful but the feelings don’t make you stay in bed all day, or snap at everyone, they are choices we make, yes they may stem for the feelings but feelings never ‘make’ us do things. We can still choose how we act even when we are experiencing extreme emotions.

The Good News

So the good news is that whatever life is throwing at us and at times it might be pretty grim and we might feel battered by what is happening we always have a choice, which means that we are not victims but actually we can be empowered to choose the life we want in all sorts of ways.

Are you happy with your life? There may be some aspects that could be improved but the first step is to acknowledge that as humans we need not be passive but we can every day in every situation, even those situations we wish we hadn’t found ourselves in, make some positive choices.



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Keep Calm and Pass your Exams

For my blog post this week I have gathered together a nmber of earlier posts about revision and exams into a downloadable ebook Keep Calm and Pass your Exams.

You candownload it by clicking here AND I’ve done summary video that I’ve put on the facebook page, you can watch it here


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Learning about the Happy Hormones

This was first published in Affintity Magazine but I think its helpfulfor evry one to know a bit about the hormones that impact our happiness.

Our state of happiness depends on a whole range of factors, some would say genetic predisposition plays a part as well as our current situation, but it’s probably fair to say that most of us want to be happy and if there were steps we could take to be happier we’d at least consider them.

I acknowledge that of course there are some people who struggle with specific mental or physical illnesses which may have an impact on the biochemistry of the brain but for the rest of us understanding our happy hormones and what we can do to boost these will almost certainly have a positive impact on our mood and sense of well-being.

What are our Happy Hormones?

Strictly speaking happy hormones aren’t all hormones. One of the chemicals you will have probably heard of as being responsible for happiness is Seratonin which is a mood boosting neurotransmitter and dopamine, another neuro transmitter which drives our brains rewards system.

Then there is Oestrogen and progesterone, you’ll all have heard of those hormones and know that an imbalance of these can cause irritability. Specifically Oestrogen is responsible in part for the formation of serotonin and it helps to keep our mood steady. Good levels of oestrogen protect us from irritability and anxiety. Progesterone too protects us from irritability and is also thought to have a role in helping us sleep well. Then there is something called oxytocin which is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter and seems to have an impact on our levels of satisfaction, this particular one seems to have more of an impact on women than men.  In addition there are endorphins which can dull pain and increase our feelings of pleasure.

But it is also worth knowing about Cortisol – often called the stress hormone – it is released in response to fear and stress and prolonged high levels of this can have numerous negative effects on the body, such as lowering the immune system, increasing weight gain, interfering with learning and memory and also increasing the risk of depression and mental health problems.

But before you start feeling gloomy because your state of happiness is at the mercy of chemicals – let’s stop with the science and see what we can do to give ourselves the best possible chance of happiness.

The Food we eat

There is a growing body of evidence that shows that what we eat has a powerful impact on almost every aspect of our bodies functioning. I know that sometimes the advice can seem contradictory but actually there are only a couple of very simple guidelines to follow. Try to avoid processed food – basically it will be full of heaven knows what and introduce lots of negative toxins to the body. Eat fresh food whenever you can and include at the very least five portions (new research indicates seven or even tem portions a day may be better) of fruit and vegetables each day and try to include an array of colours – that way you can make sure you’ll be getting all the vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, probiotics etc that you need.

Specifically carbohydrates boost serotonin but it’s best to use high fibre sources which are more long lasting – but it also explains why crave sweet starchy comfort food when we feel low. To boost progesterone and oestrogen levels include spinach, asparagus eggs, salmon – oh and don’t forget dark chocolate in your diet. Eating spicy foods can also help as they can trigger endorphin production. You can read more about mood boosting foods here


It will come as no surprise that exercise is good for us. Exercise is one of the few things that can release serotonin and unless we have driven ourselves into the ground we nearly always feel better after we have exercised. For some simple exercise you can start today have a read of this article 

Enjoy a good laugh

Actually enjoying a good laugh will also help with endorphin production – so if you are feeling down watch a comedy not a weepy, read a funny book or spend time with that friend who you always have a laugh with.

Feel Good Activities

Oxytocin production is increased when you are doing pleasurable things – so enjoy time with friends or family, indulge yourself in some way perhaps with massage – or even a spot of retail therapy. We all know we enjoy a hug and actually physical contact like that is good for us so give you partner or family members a hug and enjoy the boost that will give to your happy hormones.

Keep Stress in Check

Learning how to manage our stress is important for each and every one of us not least because it can keep our cortisol levels in check, so a long walk or a relaxing bath will help and try adding some aromatherapy, a scented candle or bath oil as these can help to stimulate endorphins. As can listening to music and singing which will also give a release of Dopamine. There is also evidence to suggest that being outdoors in the sun is beneficial for boosting our mood – we might not get as many chances as we’d like but a bit of sun will definitely be a mood boost.

Get something done

Anything that we achieve can give us a sense of satisfaction, especially when it is something we have worked towards. So completing a task, whether it’s a craft project you started months ago or a work related task you’ve been putting off, will definitely boost your mood.

There are lots of things that we are not able to control in life but when it comes to being happy there is in fact a lot we can do to help ourselves and boost our happy hormones.

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Helping Teenagers Revise

As the exam season is fast approaching once again here are a few tips for parents who are faced with supporting their teens to revise for exams I published this first on hubpages and you can read the whole article by following this link 

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Encourage but don’t nag
  • Stay positive even if they aren’t
  • Don’t promise the earth if they pass – an incentive can be good but setting a huge reward may increase pressure in an unhelpful way
  • Don’t get caught up in their stress – it’s normal to be a bit worried but you need to stay calm as parents to support them
  • Encourage them to ease up a little on other pastimes just for the period of the exams (though they do still need some relaxation)
  • Teach them some strategies to cope with their stress – its an essential lesson in life these days
  • If they get into a rut with one kind of technique suggest an alternative – trying an online site when they are sick of mind maps for example
  • Remind them that it will pass and life does go on

Try To Remember 

  • It is a tough line to tread as a parent. Try to avoid nagging too much as often this has the effect of putting them off rather than encouraging them.
  • Encourage them to do short bursts of very focussed work.
  • Get involved ask what subject they are revising and offer help.
  • Make sure they have the equipment they need – a set of felt pens, plenty of paper of a few notebooks, a calculator and any subject specific tools like set texts for English.
  • A few little incentives can be good too – “Why not do another half hour then I’ll make you a hot chocolate” or something like that which will work for your own teenager.
  • As adults we sometimes realise that there is greater stress in life than exams but remember that for a lot of young people exams are terribly stressful.
  • Reassure them that you will love them whatever the results but that it is good to try our best as a general principle in life.

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Questions to ask when Managing Behaviour


It is easy when faced with difficult behaviour to let it become a battle. As the adult we imply intent which simply may not be there – the child probably isn’t behaving that way just to make our lives difficult.

One of the ways to prevent a battle mentality is to approach with curiosty and ask yourself some questions. I’ve put a few below but I’m sure you ‘ll be able ot think of many more.


Did the child know what they were supposed to do?

Its easy to issue lots of instructions, and sometimes use language that isn’t especially clear or accessible. What does being ‘good’ mean? Being quiet may mean something very different at home from at school or even in one lesson as opposed to another. It is estimated that a number of children have undiagnosed speech language and communictaion needs which may include problems with  short term memory 

Do they have the skills and emotional capacity to comply?

Children vary in development and some children may lack particular skills, for example social and emotional skills that their chronological peers have mastered. This is especially true for children who have experienced attachment or trauma issues, adverse childhood experiences, or toxic stress. Put simply their brains maynot have developed in the same way and until healing takes place they may not br able to regulate their emotions. The good news is that healing is possible but does need to happen in the right order – you can learn more in this video.

What could have caused their Stress?

Think for a moment about how you respond if you feel stressed. I expect there have been times when you have responded to situations with an outof character angry response because youare feeling stressed or worried about something else. That’s you the adult! If children feel stressed or afraid they may behave in ways that are challenging. Imagine if you werevery  afriad of spiders and  someone placed one on you. You may well behave in a way that was outof character, even as a rationals emotiaonally well functioning adult. Children may feel anxiety about all sorts of things, and chldren who are vulnerable or who have had adverse childhood experiences may have their ‘stress’ response turned on fairly constantly. So this is a useful question to ask.



What else could be happening in their life?

Not all children come to school having all of their needs met – families are under a lot of pressure and even children who may not be described as vulnerable can have times when they experience difficulties at home, which may cause them to feel anxious. For vulnerable children this anxiety can be a constant state. But it is always worth asking what might be happening to cause particualr behaviours.


Have they behaved like this before?

Working with children many professionals know the situations that particular children find difficult. Yet sometimes, almost without realising it we keep putting childreninto difficult situations repeatedly. The child who also has problems on the playground for example. If that is the case then as adults we need to change the situation for the child or support them to gain the skills they need to cope in such situations.

What might have motivated their behaviour?

As adults we can sometimes attach i ntent to childrens behaviour that simply isn’t there. They may have times when they test boundaries, as all children do but often they behaviour is driven by more complex emotional ‘drivers’, like anxiety, stress, fear of failure or humiliation to mention just a few. Effectively children may not be choosing to behave they are responding to emotions they can’t handle. Additionally some children will be in a  state of constant high alert and may not be able to ‘manage’ or regulate their emotions.

Do they feel safe in the environment and is their a person they can trust?

We all need to feel safe that is one reason why unfamiliar enviroments may cause stress. Children with attachment issues or who have experienced trauma need to have a place witihin the environment where they feel safe and a person they feel safe with- remember these children will have had experiences where they have not felt safe and they may not have been able to trust the adults caring for them.  You can read a bit about it here

It is good practice to plan in advance and create a safe space for children and allow time for them to develop relationships with adults who can helpthem feel safe.

What can adults do to help restore calm?

When children are feeling overwhelmed they need adults to be calm and to have a plan. Their greatest need is to feel safe. So its helpful to allow space and time to allow them to calm, with a calm adult they trust.  Establishing a range of strategies to use can help so can gradually supporting them to understand what happens when they feel these various emotions BUT the most important feature is developing meaningful relationships with adults they can trust. That is what will ultimately help them to self regulate as the brain essentially heals and they are  able to develop the necessary  brain  ‘pathways’.



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