Children’s Services referred mum Charlotte* to us when she was struggling with her son Alfie’s challenging behaviour. This included extreme tantrums which would last for hours until Charlotte gave in to what he wanted. Alfie was frustrated and did not understand how to express his feelings in a healthy way, and this cycle further continued the feeling of manipulation that mum had experienced in her last relationship.
Welcare intervened with a five week 1:1 Parenting Puzzle course**, working in partnership with the refuge where the two were staying, to build Charlotte’s confidence and self-esteem. Parenting Puzzle helps service users to learn parenting skills to feel more confident in their own abilities and allow children to feel supported and confident to express their emotions in a positive way. Charlotte told us about her experience.
I had recently left an abusive relationship, so we were in a refuge in a new location, and I had no friends or family in the area. Alfie was having tantrums which would last for hours until I gave in, leaving us both drained and unhappy.
Welcare worked with the refuge and planned for the in-house Therapeutic Play Practitioner to care for Alfie during our sessions so that we could start as soon as possible. Welcare also made sure we could work together safely during Covid. The refuge let us use their large meeting room so that we could socially distance.
The Family Support Worker from Welcare started by discussing different parenting styles, and this became quite emotional for me as I thought back on my experiences. We talked about how my childhood affected me as an adult, and about how an abusive relationship had resulted in me having low self esteem. The Family Support Worker then moved on to talk about Alfie’s behaviours. She encouraged me to look at things differently and try to understand the feelings Alfie was experiencing.
I learnt different techniques for coping with the outbursts. Instead of getting upset and frustrated with him, I now use lots of praise when he does what I want him to do – like telling him how handsome he looks when he puts his school uniform on without a fuss. We worked on things like giving him choices so he feels in control, and we now have ‘calm down’ techniques to give us both space and negotiate a compromise together.
The Family Support Worker helped me work out a clear set of boundaries and expectations for Alfie. We installed a reward chart to take note of all the kind things we do and good behaviours. We now have a scheduled ‘mum and son hour’ each day where we can do fun things together and enjoy being in each other’s company. We are staying positive and just hope for the best. I have also started wrapping presents every Wednesday to surprise him which he enjoys just to show him that I think of him and miss him when he is not around. His reaction is so nice.
Alfie’s behaviour has improved so much and there aren’t really any tantrums anymore. The course was useful and fun, and it just made it easier to understand how my son feels. Welcare provided very good leaflets, brochures and teacher – she made it fun and easy to understand – I would definitely recommend to other parents.
Since attending Welcare’s Parenting Puzzle group Charlotte has learnt techniques to stay calm and feels she is more consistent and confident in her responses. Alfie has learnt new ways to express his feelings and is much happier, with fewer tantrums.
*names have been changed
**Usually, Parenting Puzzle is run as a group in one of our centres, but working between lockdowns, Welcare Family Support Workers have had to adapt services to be delivered one to one. Whilst this means the parents have not been able to benefit from sharing experience with other parents they have gained from the individual customised approach.
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