Susan was referred to Venus for counselling. Through her counselling sessions, it became apparent that Susan could benefit from some parenting support and so she was referred onto the Venus Family Support programme. Susan asked for support with parenting as she feels she often struggles when the children are displaying challenging behaviour. She currently home schools her children and does not access local services so has very limited support.
Susan told us that because of the way she was parented as a child, she prefers not to discipline the children, instead she talks to them about incidents when they occur. She was feeling quite distressed as she has recently been sending her eldest child to upstairs to bed when incidents have escalated with younger siblings. Susan also said that her eldest child has a lot of pent up anger towards younger siblings and snaps easily at them, causing lots of emotional upset and she often finds this difficult to cope with. Susan said she used to ‘let her oldest child off’ with a lot of bad behaviour because she felt left out as an older child when she was younger.
Working with the family
As we were doing an activity and having a discussion with the children it became apparent to me that the eldest has a lot of aggression towards the middle sibling. There were a lot of recriminations about who can touch who's toys and other belongings, although the eldest likes to play with their siblings toys. We also recognised through one to one sessions that each sibling would like to have some space to themselves to play alone with their own toys.
Suggestions I gave to Susan were to:
- Give the children their own space - This could be as little as 10 minutes a day for the children to have a break from each other. Especially as they are home schooled they spend a lot of time together. This could also be time built around Susan for example when she needs make lunch etc.
- Children need to have consequences – When children are fighting time out could be used as away to calm the situation down. Although Susan has a good way of communicating with the children when situations arise it may just be that they need some space.
- Reward chart – Children are really interested in Harry Potter so suggested to Susan about using this as the theme for the reward charts. Explained to mum that this would be a positive way of promoting good behaviour and establishing clear ground rules.
- I suggested making a visual timetable so that the children were aware of the day ahead as Susan had also said that the children don’t like change in their routine. I printed off various activities that the children may do throughout the day. I also incorporated mum time and my time. Susan loved this idea and really embraced it. The timetable is displayed in various locations around the home so the children are aware of what everyone in the family is up to. Susan has incorporated my time around times of the day that enable her to make dinner or to complete everyday tasks.
Making the changes
Susan was happy to follow this plan but felt she would continue to need support to implement the changes as she is lacking in confidence. The first action we worked on giving the children their own space.
The next action we worked on was to make a reward chart. Alongside the children, Susan made a chart to promote positive behaviour. We discussed positive behaviour with the children and made a list of house rules. I asked Susan to focus on spending quality time with the children, talking and listening to each other, showing affection and praising the children for positive behaviour. The following week when I visited Susan said the house rules had worked well as the children had an incentive to behave in a positive way. We continued this focus for another week to make sure that the children continued to adjust to the house rules.
The following week Susan said although the children are behaving better she was unsure of what to do when faced with challenging behaviour. Therefore the final action we worked on was that children needed to have consequences if challenging behaviour occurred. Susan was unsure about consequences. I explained to Susan that all children need to learn to accept limits and to control their disappointment when they do not get what they want promoting self control. I also explained that children learn to self-control when their parents use consequences for misbehaviour. Susan agreed to give it a try. I asked mum to ensure that the house rules were adhered to, to use direct discussions to deal with rule breaking, use quiet time for misbehaviour and time out for serious misbehaviour. Susan was really pleased with the results that were achieved over the following weeks and was noticing that she was growing in confidence.
I suggested referring Susan for the Triple P training, she was really enthusiastic about this and is due to start soon at Hudson Children’s Centre following my referral to them. This will also allow for the family to become involved with other services at Venus and build some support. The Triple P facilitator has offered to work with the family on a one to one basis until the course begins, this will allow me to reduce my intervention and move the family into universal services.
In conclusion, Susan feels confident in dealing with any type of behaviour and on consultation with Susan she feels this has really helped to calm and settle the children. Being able to reach families in their home has allowed Venus to identify the problems that the family are currently facing and refer them onto the necessary service.