25th, Jan 2022
Dr Kerry Sweeney is a Consultant Child Clinical Psychologist at Kingsbridge Private Hospital who has worked for 20 years with children, adolescents and families delivering therapeutic services including her work with adopted children who have experienced developmental trauma and neglect. Dr Sweeney recently spoke with us and kindly offered her specialist advice on how we can continually support our children emotionally.
Undoubtedly the last 21 months of coping with the pandemic have impacted widely on our society. Many families have struggled, many parents have worried and continue to worry about their children. However, we know that what really makes a difference for children and teenager’s emotional wellbeing lies within close caregiving parental relationships.
A useful way of thinking about the impact of the stress is the analogy of a ‘stress bucket’. Any adversities we have experienced, from even before birth to the current day can be dumped in the bucket. Having a difficult day can result in the bucket spilling over if the bucket is pretty full. Therefore, over eighteen months of additional stress and uncertainty for children, teenagers and families has filled our stress buckets more so than pre pandemic for most!
Talking to your children and communicating as a family is so important but before that you need to focus how to regulate your child’s feelings through day-to-day regulatory activity.
Sensory regulation within home and school settings are core to a child’s emotional well-being. Children can concentrate better, form friendships and show more settled behaviour at home and school if they are emotionally regulated.
Enhancing emotional regulation doesn’t need to be difficult. Getting outdoors with your child to explore, play and reconnect can reduce anxiety and improve emotional well-being and social interaction. Here are some simple ideas.
Ensuring you plan plenty of family time is important. Those meals around the kitchen table allow for connection, which is particularly important during times of stress. Planning the days to be as consistent as possible; routines and consistency help us all feel better regulated. Consistent routines around nurture such as bath-time, warm towels, rub on lotion, cuddle and read books are essential for younger children. This will help with all aspects of their development and well-being. Older children could be encouraged to enjoy pampering and movie nights by the fire; perhaps a comedy to have a good laugh!
Most children and teenagers are very well nurtured and supported by their families, teachers and friends. However even despite this, some children can continue to struggle with their emotions, which can impact on how they behave, socialise, manage school and day to day life. There may be a need to access professional support; sometimes a parent support session might suffice. At other times children/teenagers would benefit from psychological support. However, parents should remain part of this support as supporting and empowering parents to care for their children is important.
Dr Kerry Sweeney also encourages PACE Parenting, a therapuetic model which promotes a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to help make your child or teenager feel safe. To find out more about PACE Parenting, please click here.
Dr Kerry Sweeney offers a range of therapeutic models for children, teenagers and families. Her clinics are held within the Maypole Clinic in Holywood on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12pm - 2/3pm. Appointments and enquiries can be made by contacting Kingsbridge Private Hospital directly via email - firstname.lastname@example.org or by texting Book Now to 66777
For further information on our Child Psychology Services, please click here
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