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Any Webster-Stratton Incredible Years experience to share?

(5 Posts)
Piffyonarock Fri 07-Nov-14 23:28:40

Hello there, hope you're all keeping well. Have any of you got any experience that you could share with me about attending Webster-Stratton Incredible years programmes with a group of adopters?

DS(6) has had issues with anger and aggression since being around 18 months old, came to us aged 10 months. I have attended two rounds of the Webster-Stratton Incredible years 12-week parenting programme with my local Childrens Centre, the first at my request when he was about 2, after all my efforts to discourage his aggressive behaviour had not worked, and the second after we had adopted his sister, DD(5) and they were both behaving aggressively.

Whilst DD seems to have settled down in the main and does well in school, DS has not moved on and has regular meltdowns. These have worsened now that he is in year 1, and sadly he was excluded for four days this week as a result of a particularly bad episode.

School have been supporting us after we e-mailed the SENCO in the summer term as we were becoming very anxious about how things were at school and at home, and we are receiving support from the Educational Psychologist, a Post-Adoption support worker, a Post-Adoption Social Worker/co-ordinator and a Post Adoption Clinical Psychologist (I know! I was very surprised at the level of support that has been forthcoming, our LA are very good I think).

The two psychologists agree that DS probably has an Insecure Ambivalent Attachment style. The Clinical Psychologist has been doing home visits every two or three weeks for a couple of months, but now wants me to undertake a 14-week Webster-Stratton training programme. I feel frustrated because we already parent to those guidelines to the best of our abilities and it seems like going round in circles. They say it will be more specifically aimed at attachment and that the peer support from the group, which will all be adopters, will be useful.

Have any of you been on an adopters Webster Stratton course, and did you think it addressed attachment specifically? I can't help thinking that 14 weeks is a long time, most of the content I'll already of covered twice before, and that it would be more efficient to do a short training about our specific issues. I'm particularly worried that DS could end up permanently excluded the way things are, and I want to get things improved faster than I think the course will allow.

Piffyonarock Fri 07-Nov-14 23:53:48

Also, does anyone know of a course specifically around parenting a child with insecure ambivalent attachment style? Or a book to recommend? Thank you in advance.

Threesocksnohairbrush Sat 08-Nov-14 08:39:35


I'm so sorry you are having trouble, but glad support is forthcoming. My DS also has a lot of this type of behaviour and is now 8. It's very hard work especially when you have a sibling to consider.

I'd probably do the course - the peer support may be invaluable even if the content isn't. Also to keep the support on side you need to do what they suggest as far as possible!

Has anyone suggested theraplay if they feel DS has insecure attachment? We had this with DS and while I was sceptical at the time it's transformed his relationship with me in particular.

School - I hope if exclusions are in the picture they are looking at applying for an education, health and care plan and/or providing 1:1 support. If not, why not? DS has a statement for 20 hours and it's made such a difference. Have you considered if he's in the right school - a school with experience of attachment can be invaluable.
Louise Bombers book, What About Me? is a fab, practical (often missing from attachment literature) guide to supporting kids with attachment difficulties in school. Written by a teacher. Read it and then provide to your DS school!

Confession time. I have found the attachment/ adoption based literature monumentally unhelpful when it comes to the practicalities of parenting a child who is prone to aggressive meltdowns. My nadir was when CAMHS sent a leaflet informing me I should tell DS he was falling into a time hole smile There is lots about empathy and talking to the child about past trauma and very little about how to actually change the behaviour, build skills in alternTive ways of dealing with problems, and keep everyone (especially younger sibs) safe.

My recommendation would be a book by Ross Greene called The Explosive Child - this has made the most difference to how I work with DS. He also has a website called Lives in the Balance. He has a transformative way of thinking about kids that are struggling - that they lack the social and emotional skills to solve difficult situations in any other way. His problem solving model then focuses on building those skills by solving problems collaboratively with the child, one problem at a time.

It works better than anything else with DS, which isn't to say perfectly by any means. But with insecure attachment, two things kick in - the need to control us and the fear of losing us. So confronting behaviour works terribly badly because however much forceful control we try and exert, he will always go that step further - has to. But at the same time, he will panic that we are cross with him! Ross Greenes alternative model provides a way of addressing behaviour without that confrontation.

We have also started some mindfulness and yoga with him which sounds a bt hippy dippy but helps with general anxiety levels. He has omega 3 supplements which are of dubious effect but maybe worth a try.

I also find hanging out on the SN boards here v helpful - attachment and ASD have so many traits in common, and I've learnt a lot from parents of kids with ASD re handling meltdowns.

Shall I write a book for you, I expect a few other posters could join in ... The Mumsnet Book of Extreme Parenting ... grin

Piffyonarock Sat 08-Nov-14 13:53:06

Wow, thank you so much for such a comprehensive reply Threesocks! You have really put our minds at rest, and given us some good places to look for information, am so grateful.

I will do the course, I've arranged my hours at a new job I'll be starting soon to allow for it - the psychologist who has referred us and who will be running it is coming out next week, so I'll talk through my concerns with her, hopefully I'll be able to start it in a better frame of mind. I can see that she can't be expected to keep coming out to us individually for the long term and I think we've been really fortunate to receive the support we have so far, so I don't want to get off side with anyone. She mentioned theraplay, but I think this would only come in after the course is complete, I have a friend who did and recommends it though.

Fortunately school have applied for temporary funding this week for a fulltime one-to-one worker for DS and are working on an Education and Health Care Plan for him, hopefully will be in place in the spring term. The staff have had attachment training, and also the Ed Psych got them onto a Louise Bomber book, think it was a different title to the one you mentioned but was in a similar vein, we had it too.

I've been on an attachment training too, but it was about identifying different attachment styles with no info on how to parent a child with any of the styles talked about.

I think DSs mega meltdown and exclusion have brought things to a head - he had psychological testing recently around empathy and ability to inhibit his own behaviours, but the results were not shared until this week - until then there were a few different theories about what the issue was, so now we have a clearer pathway. I think me and DH are accepting that we have DS with SEN now, rather than a boisterous little boy, so that feels a bit strange at the moment, but at least we've got a clearer way ahead now. Feel sad for DS, DD misses out on attention because of how he can be, but we'll find ways of managing things better now hopefully.

Funnily enough, I've seen lots of mentions of the Ross Greene book, but have steered clear and stuck to Webster-Stratton, but having just had a look at the website his approach makes a lot more sense for us, so I shall be getting a copy.

I did yoga for several years and I do use it in little ways with him - sometimes my mummy instincts are right after all. And I'll get back onto the Omega 3, I was giving it to them both for a while, but haven't lately.

My big problem is dealing with feelings of guilt that my parenting has been the cause of all this, although I can honestly say I have done my best. I feel so very guilty that I've turned my lovely baby into a troubled child. The stuff about attachment often sites inconsistent parenting and neglect as causes and I feel awful, but I can't really see that I got it so wrong.

I would LOVE a Mumsnet book of Extreme Parenting, I could add lots of amusing tales of what eccentric things my LOs have got upto grin

Thank you very, very much.

Threesocksnohairbrush Sat 08-Nov-14 17:42:46

Been there done that re thinking you broke them. But if you did so did a lot of the rest of us - in fact we adoptive parents are an extraordinarily incompetent bunch!

I think the truth for those of us who have delightful babies/toddlers who grow up to struggle, is that the early experience of relationships and attachments builds the brain wiring for later social and emotional development. It's only really in the pre school and school years that the demands for social and emotional skills escalate and the cracks start to show. A lot of parents of kids with high functioning ASD will say the same.

Which is not to say that you can't do a lot to build those skills. I'm just remembering, typing, that DS rock bottom (so far ...) was in Y2 when he was just turned 6. He's now 8 and while progress is two steps forwards and an unspecified number backwards (I just interrupted my first reply to deal with him hitting DD and subsequent remorseful meltdown!), we really have come such a long way.

You're doing all the right things - fingers crossed for us both! Keep posting on here, people are very supportive.

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