Category Archives: Media

Local Parenting Charity say it’s time to STOP Physical Punishment of Children

Parenting NI has launched the STOP campaign this week to encourage parents to stop and think again when it comes to physically punishing children. The campaign aims to highlight a positive parenting approach and to provide parents with support and information on options when it comes to discipline.

Muriel Bailey, Director for Family Support Services at Parenting NI said,

“Parents have a hugely important but at times a difficult job. Every day we support parents who are dealing with complex family issues and when children’s behaviour becomes challenging, parents stress levels can rise and at times this means that the situation may not always be managed in the best way. Reactive action can lead to physical punishment being used instead of a measured and thought out positive parenting style and techniques which would result in a more positive outcome.

STOP is an acronym for Stop, Think, Options, and Positive Parenting; we want to encourage parents to stop and think of other ways to deal with the stressful situation before they act. Parenting NI will provide support and information on Positive Parenting strategies and alternatives to physical punishment to empower parents to make different choices.”

Alongside information and support for parents, Parenting NI will also be holding training workshops for professionals in Enniskillen, Omagh and Derry~Londonderry. Muriel explained,

“Professionals working with children can be a prime influence on the attitude of parents in managing their children’s behaviour. Therefore, it’s imperative that these practitioners have the skills and resources to support and challenge parents with their approach.

The aim is to stop children from being hit by adults as a form of discipline by providing training to professionals with an understanding and awareness of children’s rights, guidance and knowledge of best practice methods in dealing with children’s behaviour, and enhance their ability and confidence in sharing that information with parents.”

The project has been made possible through funding from Western Area Outcomes Group under the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership.

Kieran Downey, Director of Women & Children’s Services in the Western Health and Social Care Trust said,

“The Western Trust fully endorses and supports the STOP campaign to encourage parents to stop and think again when it comes to physically punishing children.  The focus should be on positive parenting and this programme does provide an insight into how any given situation or challenge can be managed in a different way”.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, congratulated Parenting NI and WHSCT for launching this initiative.  NICCY recently released research about attitudes to ‘Physical Punishment’ in Northern Ireland, she said,

“It’s vitally important that professionals working with families have clarity when they advise parents how to teach their children boundaries.

“Our survey shows that the majority of adults in Northern Ireland think physical punishment is unacceptable, it is not as effective as positive parenting and that the law should be changed to protect children in the same way it protects adults from all forms of assault, hitting and smacking.

“But more than this, we know from international evidence that it can cause real harm to children’s health and development and does not help parents to manage difficult behaviour.

“Updating our laws and providing parents with practical support would help them to deal with challenging situations more effectively.”

Speaking on how Parenting NI helps support parents who may be struggling to deal with discipline Muriel Bailey added, “Positive Parenting is an approach which emphasises that children should be treated with respect and guided by those around them to find a sense of self worth, respect for themselves and others. In order to promote this style of parenting we would be encouraging parents to communicate and listen to their child, use positive reinforcement, praise and to set clear, consistent rules and boundaries.

Parenting NI offer a freephone Helpline which parents can call for confidential support with any issue. Throughout the coming week we will be running a social media campaign which parents will find tips on ‘Positive Parenting’ each day.”

Parenting NI support reforming the law in Northern Ireland to remove the defense of reasonable punishment and ensure children are fully protected from all forms of violence, including physical punishment. It is hoped that the STOP campaign will further influence public opinion that discipline doesn’t mean physical punishment and highlight the need for equal protection against assault for children and adults.

Challenge Parents Face Protecting Children from Terror Fear

The devastating news of the terror attack in Manchester last night is spreading throughout the media today.

With so many young people affected and the attack being at a pop concert attended by lots of families and young people, parents will be finding it difficult this morning to explain this tragedy to their children.

In this digital era, graphic details and images of tragic events can spread fast, making it hard for parents to protect their children from distressing content.

Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive of Parenting NI said, “No parent wants their child to be upset or frightened by tragic events like what has happened in Manchester. Parents want to know how to reassure their children in these circumstances but it can be difficult to find the words.”

Parenting NI are encouraging parents to be interested in what media their children are accessing, to try and take an age appropriate response in terms of how much information to allow their children to have access to and how they talk to their child about what happened.

Charlene Brooks explained “It is better for children to hear about distressing news from a trusted adult, in an age appropriate way. A conversation with your young person will allow them to talk about their feelings and give you the opportunity to give reassurance and support.

Children will often link these kinds of events to their own lives and worry that something similar might happen to them or one of their family members, so it’s important for parents to reassure children that they are safe. You might want to tell them that these events are very rare and most people will never experience it. Highlight the reasons why it is unlikely to happen with positives like emergency services working to prevent it.”

Parenting NI are encouraging parents who are concerned about the impact that the attack in Manchester has had on their child or would like support on how to have difficult conversations to contact the charities freephone helpline on 0808 8010 722.


Top Tips for Talking to your Children about Frightening World News

Finding a balance
Going out of your way to shield children from the news can be unhelpful. Changing the channel or closing your news app when they are in the room can sometimes peak their interest and they may try and find out more or read about it themselves.

At the same time you don’t want to over expose your child to the news so they don’t become fixated on a particular news story. Encourage them to talk to you about any news they see or read about that worries them.

Give children the facts
Children like reassurance from their parents, if you provide the with a clear, unbiased explanation of what is happening they will feel more confident in approaching scary subjects with you. Try reading or watching a reputable news source together to allow time for any questions they may have. 

Let them know they are safe
All children want to know that their parents can keep them safe. Try not to dismiss their feelings by saying everything is fine, but instead go through all of the reasons that mean they are in a safe place such as these being very rare events and that there are people working to prevent them or help if they do happen, like the emergency services.

Let them know it’s okay to be worried
Let children know that is normal to be concerned about these type of things. Again you can reassure them that you don’t need to be worried all the time because although bad things do happen, they don’t happen very often.

Have age appropriate conversations
Children’s ability to understand the news and how they react to it will depend on their age. Tailor what you say to your child about world events depending on their age, needs and level of understanding.

Allow them to ask questions
It is common for children to misunderstand traumatic events, as they can imagine something which is worse than the reality. Encourage them to ask you questions about any news they are worried about and this will allow you the space to explain and reassure them.

Parenting NI Welcome New Legislation Protecting Breastfeeding Mums

breastfeedingHealth Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced she intends to bring forward new legislation which will provide extra protection for breastfeeding women.

The new law would make it an offence to deliberately prevent a woman from breastfeeding a child aged under two in a public place or licensed premises.

Parenting NI have welcomed the move, the organisations Director of Family Support Services said, “As a society, we need to support all mothers equally to be able to either breast or bottle feed their babies in public places.

Breast feeding is the most natural act of feeding and comforting your baby and it should be encouraged and promoted.

breastfeedingwelcome

 

Women need to be given support to nurture their babies wherever and whenever possible and if possible all workplaces, public places, business and other amenities should encourage mums to make a choice that will not cause them to feel uncomfortable or shunned by society.

Northern Ireland would have the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the UK according to statistics from Dept of Health and particularly among young mums and this needs to change.”

Take Part in New Local Documentary

Take Part (1)

Are you facing the increasing clash between work and childcare? The stress of financial pressures having a big impact on your family relationships? Do you have a big family and despite working hard are still struggling with money? You have a story worth telling and could take part in a new local documentary.

Belfast based documentary makers Erica Starling Productions are researching for a new BBC documentary series. The documentary will be about life choices, how money problems can affect these choices and the knock on consequences.

The team at Erica Starling are interested in meeting with groups or individuals and have a chat with them to better understand the issues they are facing, particularly where finances are placing extra pressure on you or your family. They would like to meet just for a chat as part of their research initially, but would hope to be able to film with those who would be interested in sharing their story. The aim of the documentary is for it to be a warm piece to help audiences understand the challenges families are facing.

If you would be interested in taking part or would like to find out more about the project please drop Sharon an email or give her a call on 07547 535119.

Home Alone

The BBC has found that more than 500 people in England and Wales were arrested for leaving their child home alone.

What age should children be left home alone?

This is a question parents/carers will ask us from time to time as it is often a difficult decision and there are lots of factors to consider. There are no rules or laws around what age a child can be left home alone from because every child is different depending on how mature and adaptable they are.

What is the law?

There is no law for the minimum age a child can be left alone, but the law does say that you shouldn’t leave a child alone if they will be at risk. The choice is left up to the parent or carer to use their judgement on whether the child could be left alone.

We would strongly encourage parents and carers to consider the advice of the NSPCC and the Children’s Law Centre:

  • Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone
  • Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time
  • Children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight
  • Parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it is judged that they placed a child at risk by leaving them at home alone
  • A child should never be left at home alone if they do not feel comfortable with this, regardless of their age
  • If a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling
  • When leaving a younger child with an older sibling think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out – would they both be safe?
Questions to ask yourself before you decide if your child can be left alone or not:
  • Does your child seem to be responsible and mature for their age and always do what you tell him or her?
  • Would they be able to fix themselves something to eat and drink and would you be happy with them using the cooker or microwave?
  • Can you imagine how they’d cope in an emergency like a power cut or a flooded bathroom?
  • Would they know what to do if the phone rang or someone came to the door?
  • Would they know how to contact you or another family member or friend if they needed to? Do they have these contact numbers to hand?
  • How would they feel about being left alone – pleased to be given the responsibility or scared by the thought of it?

Our Director of Parenting Education and Participation was on Downtown Radio this morning talking about this topic. Click the button below to listen again.

Listen again