It’s another drizzly day and I’m sat here pondering what to write for my blog this month. I often return to wanting to remind parents to listen to their children and to spend time with them, two of the most understated elements any parent can do with a child, but, I can’t keep saying the same thing over and over!
It has made me think about my business, though, and how it’s been 3 years since I started up and how very privileged I feel, to have worked, and am still working with, some amazing children and their families. I often remind parents to self-reflect when they are struggling with their child, and highlight the highs and the lows. Celebrate the successes of the day and keep working on the lows, reminding yourself that no one is perfect and tomorrow is always a new day to try again.
I have been fortunate to learn how to self-reflect from an early age, from the age of 16 when I was studying my BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies. This progressed through my teacher training and then my play therapy training too. It is crucial to be able to identify and learn from yourself. In creating my own business, I wanted to use everything I have learnt over the years working with children and their families, and help others that needed a guiding hand. Since working independently, I am pleased to say I have a 100% success rate in bringing a positive change to all of my play therapy clients, and I love the autonomy it has also given me! I understand that every child I work with is different and I can tailor my work to suit that child. I reflect each week on what the child brings and listen to the child. I am fortunate not to have targets to meet, so I can take my time working with each child, meeting their needs at their pace. My self-reflection ensures that I analyse my work to strengthen it and also pick up where something may need changing.
Many of the children I work with are 'hard to reach' children. These children are not always happy at school, so do not engage with professionals as well in that environment. This is not through a lack of trying from the school, sometimes it just doesn’t work. If negative experiences have built up, it will take a long time for the wall to be knocked down, or for the child to believe that school is a positive place to be. Sometimes there need to be reflection over how and why this has happened, but also the courage to look for help outside of the school environment. Building positive relationships and positive experiences are fundamental in helping a child to grow in trust and in confidence. Once these begin to build, the school may be viewed in a different way and the child is ready to access the support and help that is available there too. Self-reflection is about looking at the here and now, reassessing what can be done to help right now. It’s also not always about big changes. It’s the small things that count too. As a teacher I was always reassessing the groups I had children in, and where they were sat on the carpet. What could I do to help each child progress? It is not a failure to admit a change needs to be made. A failure is recognising something needs to change, but not doing it.
It’s never too late to start self-reflecting on your life and making changes. It is not always easy but ask for help, and please trust that there are many people out there who will not judge you if you feel you have made mistakes, or want to make a change. Ask for help from family, friends or even professionals that you feel can make a difference to your life. Children need their parents and loved ones to help them self-reflect but they can do it too. For example, if a child doesn’t enjoy reading their book from school, rather than give up or it become a source of frustration for the child and parent, turn the reading into a game. Find certain words or letters within the story, get the child to read one sentence, then you read one. Make lots of mistakes as the adult supporting and see if the child can help you read the words you are getting wrong. You can then reflect with the child at the end of the reading how well they did that day, and how much fun you had with them. Did they enjoy reading tonight? Maybe we could do that tomorrow night too? If they didn’t like it or have fun, try something else the next night. It’s okay to have a ‘work in progress’ and to feel that things are ‘not quite right’. It is more important that you are recognising this, rather than not. You can only bring a positive change by trying out new ideas.