We are nearly done with the training – didn’t think I’d be so relieved to see the back of it! This was an evening one and for someone who’s usually in PJs by 9pm this is not a good idea. Especially when coupled with the fact I went to the gym before work (this bears no relevance to anything to be honest just felt the need to brag!)
This evening we were talking about therapeutic parenting and theraplay. Which is why, when we got in to the room, there was (council grade) playdoh on the tables. They have provided us with a make at home recipe that hilariously has an added footnote of ‘we’ve been made aware that this recipe is very harmful to pets please beware’ I’d love to know the backstory there!
Let the fun and games commence. Usual crowd were there – nearly got run over by CCTV guy. Mike’s parents had been to burger king for tea and the know it all club were all settled in for the evening.
The SW leading the session was the same one who a few sessions ago had done the baby drawing on a flipchart with the sick etc on it – think this was the neglect session. At the same session she did a role play and actually put on the voice of a baby – now when she speaks everything I hear is in this voice. I will now refer to her as baby voice social worker (BVSW for shorts)
The evening started with a group of adults having to make a scene out of playdoh to represent what they were looking forward to doing with their child husband took this surprisingly seriously and without discussion commenced his park replica complete with slide – I did whisper to him that if this were a graduate assessment centre he would have failed on his inability to engage the team. Anyway it just so happens the park was a good idea. I rolled green into a flat and we called that grass – my contribution done. husband then ditched his swing masterpiece and we made a roundabout. Everyone elses were fairly similar – baking, parks and a holiday (hold on! Holiday?! Apparently they travel a lot with work – I will investigate further!)*
Next task – coming up with definitions of therapeutic parenting and theraplay. The parenting one in a nutshell is all about not telling your child off, because of their background this could be really unhelpful to their development so its about trying to understand their behaviour, helping them understand it and giving them lots of love. An example would be that you don’t do time out as that will isolate them instead you do time in – which is effectively a big hug. I can imagine there are mixed views on that (see previous supernanny debate update!) Theraplay is all about using play to get the child to talk and open up to you through playing together. One of the know it all club waffled on about hidden emotions being like submarines … (insert potentially better explaining literature here http://fosteringandadoption.rip.org.uk/topics/early-childhood-trauma/)
Then we had to talk about all feelings and behaviours looked after children may have – in a nutshell there are about 25 bad behaviours and 25 bad feelings and surprise surprise they may have all of them. I did highlight that they wouldn’t have them all at the same time to which people in my group laughed in a ‘ha that’s what you think’ tone but this was then reinforced by the teacher/social worker – my smug face
Our next challenge was in table groups but sw wanted to mix the groups up. This was a step too far for her I’m afraid and after about 8 moves – most of us ended up sitting on the same table with the same people – thankfully someone saved the day and did it for her but there’s ten minutes we’ll never get back (I may have looked at my watch and said out loud oh look its 9.15pm already!) The actual activity was ok – we had a scenario then we had to write down how we’d feel, how the child would feel and how we might manage it. So for example
You go to the park and its time to go and the child doesn’t want to.
Or its bedtime and the child demands getting itself ready for bed and you can’t help.
We had to give examples of therapeutic parenting or play to help with the scenario. Someone came up with turning the running away child into a running race which I actually thought was ridiculous. Things to turn bedtime into therapeutic parenting were races to see who can get ready for bed first, toys in the bath, bedtime stories – all things we’ve done with nieces and friends children so either we’re like super awesome at therapeutic parenting or its actually just parenting (good debate topic there)?! I asked about whether or not turning things into fun (the running away one made me think this) reinforces bad behaviour but didn’t really get an answer. I’m not being flippant – I know if we get a child who has been neglected or abused then the simple things may be more challenging and we may need to try really different ways of parenting that seem a little odd to others. Its so hard though to think about this when you don’t know what child you’ll get. One of the ladies there who is a foster carer did say to me that some of it is quite instinctive and that you won’t always get it right. Its also so much information to take in.
Then it was on to theraplay – which is in the same camp as above – is it therapy or not? I expect the really problem children need a different level than what we covered in the session. This is where BVSW comes in to play (no pun intended) she comes and helps you when you have a child placed. She told a few random stories of children blowing crisps into her hair and how she turned that into a game that enabled the child to open up and talk to her (husband whispered – imagine your OCD dad having crisps blown in his hair!) There were 4 elements to tp (I’m sick of not being able to type therapy first time and spell checking it) and after each element the two social workers would demonstrate one of the activities. I am never going to be able to replicate this session in all its actual hilarity – you had to be there I expect (and obviously not many others got the hilarity) First activity – hand stack.
BVSW – we’re going to play a really fun game now called hand stack.
Other SW (in actual baby voice as well!!) – ooh yes that sounds like really good fun
BVSW – I’m going to put my hand here like this. And then lets put your hand on top of mine. Oh wow what a good girl you are for being able to do that. Well done. Now I’m going to out my hand here on top of yours can you see? Do you think you can put your hand on top of mine? Of you can well done you are ever so good at this.
Etc etc until we then had to practice in our couples. No comment.
The two other examples I won’t go into detail about were blowing a feather between two hands and putting a baby on a blanket and swinging it whilst singing about what gorgeous hair and eyes it had (when I say swinging I don’t mean to catapult levels – this is social services remember)
Finally it was punching through a sheet of newspaper. BVSW asked other SW what her favourite icecream flavour was (Pistachio apparently – quite advanced for the 3 year old she was pretending to be) Then BVSW called out all the different flavours and when other SW heard hers she had to punch through the newspaper. (around 18 years of age I have visions of newspaper being substituted for walls and cries of ‘you taught me it’)
Our attempt went a little wrong – husband’s was Neapolitan (roll eyes) I made my way through the icecream flavours, said strawberry and got a punch – turns out Neapolitan does have strawberry in it – hence the punch. However, I was expecting the punch on the actual word Neapolitan so wasn’t prepared. No one was harmed (or as bvsw likes to call it ‘no hurts’)
It was time to go home!
*holiday = butlins. They are dance teachers and travel to holiday camps to dance competitions. Envy over.