Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

MNHQ have commented on this thread

AMA with the authors of "How to Cope When Your Child Can't: Comfort, Help and Hope for Parents” - open now!
19

RhiannonEMumsnet · 16/09/2022 16:21

Hi all,

We’re really pleased to announce an AMA with Roz Shafran, Ursula Saunders and Alice Welham, authors of “How to Cope When Your Child Can't: Comfort, Help and Hope for Parents”.

Roz Shafran is a clinical psychologist and professor of translational psychology at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. She has written several self-help books and met Ursula Saunders at University. Eight years ago, when her then 11-year old refused to go to school, Ursula found there was little out there to support parents in these situations: "You are only as happy as your unhappiest child" rang horribly true for her at this time. They invited their friend Alice Welham, another clinical psychologist with a special interest in intellectual disability and complex needs, to join them in writing this book to help parents who desperately want to help their children but find they are struggling themselves. Between them they have seven children.

Practical advice, tested techniques and real stories.

Parenting and caring for a child who is finding it hard to cope can be painful and stressful. Many of us will be experiencing such stresses as our children struggle to return to school (or refuse to return). Our children's distress can make it very hard to enjoy life ourselves. Feelings of blame, guilt, sorrow, despair, fear and frustration may be swirling around alongside a desperate desire to cure their pain.

Although parenting a child who is experiencing difficulties is a common problem we can feel desperately alone when it is happening to us. When someone we love is struggling - for whatever reason - we may become unhappy too. For countless parents and children there are problems with no easy solutions. That is where the book "How to Cope When Your Child Can't: Comfort, Help and Hope for Parents” comes in. It aims to help understand for ourselves what we can and cannot do; to help us to accept any distress, worry, anxiety, sadness or loss of control in our situations; to see that we can tolerate these things; and to know that there are ways to move forward.

Please post questions for Roz, Ursula and Alice on this thread - we’ll keep it open until they’ve had the chance to answer.

As always, please remember our guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil.

Thanks,
MNHQ

Please
or
to access all these features

Doingprettywellthanks · 16/09/2022 16:28

Not clear what we are meant to be asking questions about

Please
or
to access all these features

Doingprettywellthanks · 16/09/2022 16:29

Just seems like a long sales pitch to me. Interesting subject but not clear what questions?

Please
or
to access all these features

ZombieKettle · 16/09/2022 16:45

My pre-teen daughter has disabilities and struggles to regulate her emotions. Her meltdowns are increasing. Do you have any advice on how I can help her when she starts to spiral? Threatening to discipline her doesn't work i.e removal of iPad. Ignoring her doesn't work. It's so hard to know what to do. She's started to become violent and her distress is awful to see.

Please
or
to access all these features

RhiannonEMumsnet · 16/09/2022 17:01

Doingprettywellthanks · 16/09/2022 16:28

Not clear what we are meant to be asking questions about

Hi @Doingprettywellthanks - you can ask anything about the authors, the topic or the book that you'd like to know (within reason!). It could be about the authors' personal experiences, or something you're going through that you'd like advice on, or a theoretical questions about their areas of expertise.

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

MuggleMe · 16/09/2022 17:36

My DD is 8 and is struggling with typical friendship struggles, where the friends bicker, disagree and make up quickly. She is trying and failing to 'fix' these disagreements.

She's under investigation for autism with low social awareness/EQ. What advice would you give me to help her navigate school friendships especially hitting tweenage.

Please
or
to access all these features

Bubblemilk · 16/09/2022 17:39

Is it strange that my daughter doesn't want to invite anyone to play after school? She is 8 and mainly friends with boys.

Please
or
to access all these features

Mitsouko67 · 16/09/2022 17:49

Hi,
I saw this book in a bookshop last weekend.
My 22 year old DD has just experienced a mental health crisis and has gone off books from college. She is aggressive and unhappy and spending a
lot of time in grandparent's home atm.
I'm finding it really tough and I'm disappointed her college progress has been derailed especially after months helping her to arrange Erasmus year etc.

DS 19 has failed college exams.

All 3 DC have ADHD.

Feeling very dispirited by where the older
two are all at despite years of intensive input.

Should I just give up?

Exhausted and Despondent

Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 16/09/2022 21:55

ZombieKettle · 16/09/2022 16:45

My pre-teen daughter has disabilities and struggles to regulate her emotions. Her meltdowns are increasing. Do you have any advice on how I can help her when she starts to spiral? Threatening to discipline her doesn't work i.e removal of iPad. Ignoring her doesn't work. It's so hard to know what to do. She's started to become violent and her distress is awful to see.

@ZombieKettle It is incredibly distressing to see your child upset, and it’s a big taboo to talk about your children being violent so it’s great you have been so open. I have two bits of advice. The first is about getting help for your daughter. You are already ahead of the game by realising you need to get in early, and thinking situations that can lead to a meltdown before they happen can be helpful. However, this is not something you should be expected to manage alone. There are some really good methods out there to help – for example Triple P has an online parenting programme that has scientific support. www.triplep-parenting.uk.net/uk/triple-p/. They have a specific programme for parents of children with disabilities. www.triplep-parenting.uk.net/uk/triple-p/?cdsid=cdcnsn86v1lf0g60kh0fea1ctn.

The second is about making sure you have enough support for yourself to be able to cope in these highly emotional, intense situations that have such a tremendous impact. Different people cope in different ways, but making sure you take time for yourself (even a little is better than none) doing activities you enjoy will help you be a bit more resilient in the face of such intense emotional distress. You may not be able to change the meltdowns, but can you change your reaction to them and the impact they have on you? Cognitive behavioural strategies can help with these (see www.getselfhelp.co.uk/stopp.htm#:~:text=Stop%21%20Say%20it%20to%20yourself%2C%20in%20your%20head%2C,down%20and%20reduce%20the%20physical%20reaction%20of%20emotion%2Fadrenaline). This is not an easy situation but hopefully some of the links will be helpful.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 16/09/2022 22:00

MuggleMe · 16/09/2022 17:36

My DD is 8 and is struggling with typical friendship struggles, where the friends bicker, disagree and make up quickly. She is trying and failing to 'fix' these disagreements.

She's under investigation for autism with low social awareness/EQ. What advice would you give me to help her navigate school friendships especially hitting tweenage.

@MuggleMe This is a very difficult situation. If your DD lacks the social skills, social awareness/EQ, then she will need some help with navigating them. You can help but you are her mum and not a social skills therapist. We suggest by starting by asking the team who she’s under for any information on social skills training. You may also want to get some information on what social skills training involves by having a look at ‘social skills training’ on YouTube and see which videos you think might be most useful for your daughter. While you can support her with her social skills and model some of the techniques you see in the videos, it is worth thinking about who else is responsible for helping in this situation – it isn’t just you. School, her autism team, other family members can all help too.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 16/09/2022 22:01

Bubblemilk · 16/09/2022 17:39

Is it strange that my daughter doesn't want to invite anyone to play after school? She is 8 and mainly friends with boys.

@Bubblemilk One of the things that came out very clearly when writing the book is that no two people are the same. What each person enjoys is different. How people handle situations is different. An activity that one person finds pleasurable and relaxing, can be like torture to another. We all have ‘shoulds’ in our minds about what we should do, what our children should do and it may be the case that your daughter not wanting to invite anyone to play after school and mainly friends with boys seems strange to you because you think she should want to do those things. I don’t think it is ‘strange’ – I think that everyone is different and if she is happy without inviting others to play after school and if she prefers to be friends with boys, then that’s fine.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 16/09/2022 22:03

Mitsouko67 · 16/09/2022 17:49

Hi,
I saw this book in a bookshop last weekend.
My 22 year old DD has just experienced a mental health crisis and has gone off books from college. She is aggressive and unhappy and spending a
lot of time in grandparent's home atm.
I'm finding it really tough and I'm disappointed her college progress has been derailed especially after months helping her to arrange Erasmus year etc.

DS 19 has failed college exams.

All 3 DC have ADHD.

Feeling very dispirited by where the older
two are all at despite years of intensive input.

Should I just give up?

Exhausted and Despondent

@Mitsouko67 It is no wonder you are finding it tough with three DC having ADHD. You have had years of intensive input, and it sounds as if you are truly feeling hopeless and burnt out. I think most of us would be feeling similarly if we were in your shoes. Your specific question is ‘Should I just give up?’. It sounds to me as if you are asking whether you should give up trying to help them. I doubt that you can or you will although you certainly must feel like it on many occasions. You will have heard the expression ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, and it sounds as though you are running on empty. Right now, you may want to think about about what you can do to refill your cup so that you can think more clearly about the multiple challenges in your life and what to do about them. It may be helpful to have some degree of separation as they get older and remember 'you are not your child'. It might be you feel you don’t have any time to spend on yourself to replenish your energy, in which case it may be useful to do some problem-solving about activities that you can fit in. Problem-solving is an evidence-based strategy that is used to help people with depression and anxiety as well as other difficulties and is well worth trying. It can help you think through your options when you feel that you have run out of them. www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/ProblemSolvingWorksheet.pdf#:~:text=Step%201%20Identify%20the%20Problem%20Break%20it%20down,possible%20solution%2C%20using%20a%20separate%20piece%20of%20paper.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

ZombieKettle · 16/09/2022 22:41

Thank you @rozshafran for your quick response. I shall take a look at those resources. Thanks for your help.

Please
or
to access all these features

Mitsouko67 · 17/09/2022 09:19

Dear Roz,

Thank you and yes, I know I need to do some things for me now and I do have some time.

Thank you for your message, it was very helpful. I will use the worksheet and have shared with my DD.

Good luck with the work.

Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 17/09/2022 11:52

ZombieKettle · 16/09/2022 22:41

Thank you @rozshafran for your quick response. I shall take a look at those resources. Thanks for your help.

@ZombieKettle You are very welcome.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

RozShafran · 17/09/2022 11:55

Mitsouko67 · 17/09/2022 09:19

Dear Roz,

Thank you and yes, I know I need to do some things for me now and I do have some time.

Thank you for your message, it was very helpful. I will use the worksheet and have shared with my DD.

Good luck with the work.

@Mitsouko67 You are very welcome and thank you for wishing us luck with this work. It seems really important to us. A lot of attention is rightly being paid to helping children and young people who are struggling but as we all know, their struggles impact on us too.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

sospansara · 17/09/2022 19:03

Hi, thank you for doing a webchat. My Q is for Ursula specifically - I hope that’s ok! I just wondered if you could say a bit about how things are for you now, 8 yrs down the line? My sis is struggling with some issues with her daughter at the moment and I think maybe that knowing what it looks like on the other side (if indeed thats where you feel you are!) might be helpful, thank you.

Please
or
to access all these features

UrsulaSaunders · 17/09/2022 20:53

sospansara · 17/09/2022 19:03

Hi, thank you for doing a webchat. My Q is for Ursula specifically - I hope that’s ok! I just wondered if you could say a bit about how things are for you now, 8 yrs down the line? My sis is struggling with some issues with her daughter at the moment and I think maybe that knowing what it looks like on the other side (if indeed thats where you feel you are!) might be helpful, thank you.

Of course - we were very adamant that "Hope" should feature largely in what we wrote, and the conversations I had with other parents researching the book were really helpful for me for this exact reason - I wanted reassurance that things can change and when things felt impossible and desperate that it might not be for ever. And they do - change that is. Even when it feels they never will.
I am a great one for "catastrophising", and this is probably the piece I have worked on most for myself. Using techniques that Roz and Alice have helped me with (I am very lucky to have them at the end of a phone line or what's app chat), I am now much better at not reeling ahead desperately and always thinking the worst.
And things have changed and we are all in very different places now, better places on the whole. My "expectations" have been challenged, and changed and I prioritise my (now adult) children's mental health above all else, and that's not easy even when it is top of the list. One thing I found is that parents often say "all I want is for my child to be happy" as if that's a really low bar, and an easy ask, and of course it is very much not!
I found peer pressure really hard to cope with and have found myself, eight years down the line from probably my lowest point, with a variety of friends of all ages - some older, some much younger, and this has really suited me, I realise. Conversation therefore tends not to be always child-focused or comparative and that has helped too. This wasn't a conscious strategy, but something I now notice and appreciate.
One of the biggest things for me was that I returned to work full-time and my husband started working from home part time - so we essentially did a swap. I was exhausted by parenting at this point and having a career to worry about instead was actually a good distraction. So our lives have changed hugely really from eight years ago. But there have been some real positives in many of the changes that have come about, and while I am not a "go with the flow" person at all, I have learned to be a bit more trusting in a process, of sorts... Hope this makes some sort of sense and is reassuring for your sister.
We had a series of mantras that we kept referring to while writing the book. "You are not your child" was probably the most used, but "This too shall pass" came in a steady second.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Popaholic · 19/09/2022 07:56

My dd is 12 and has been struggling to sleep for over a year, having previously been ok at bedtime. She has regressed to the point of needing me to spend two hours sitting with her on the sofa every evening, her dad now has to put her younger DS to bed to facilitate this, and then I “have” to read her to sleep every night, otherwise she will toss and turn until gone midnight. I can hear her - she has a breathing ‘tic’ whereby she gasps almost continually, like the opposite of a hiccup.I am exhausted as often she is in bed so late, and when she is only getting 7 hours of sleep she is exhausted next day and grumpy.

I have tried changing and imposing a routine (same order of events each night, ending screen time early) and tried tricks like teaching her some mindfulness techniques to let her brain wind down but she now refuses to use them, and also refuses to read a book. I’ve even bought a pillow spray and a new silky pillow case etc.

she has become obsessed by sleeping in just her knickers under a teddy bear fleece blanket, as she says she needs the softness. She has also become over attached to teddies, more so than two or three years ago. She is basically obsessive about to soft cosy things and clothes.

If I don’t pander to her, increasingly I get told by her that I’m a bad mum, I ignore her, I break promises to spend time with her - these comments are driven by me doing things like going to the loo when I am sitting with her, or needing to clean up the kitchen or get ready for next day for 20 mins. They can be delivered with real hurt and anger which escalates if I try to explain I can’t be with her every minute and things need to get done.

Even when I prepare her in advance, I will be able to watch tv for an hour at 8.15pm, then we will wind down with a chat while we both get ready for bed and have some stories at 9.15pm, this can lead to.a meltdown at bedtime where she blames me for her being “not tired” and not ready to sleep. Sometimes I’m so exhausted I say she has to go to sleep alone tonight at 10.15pm I shut the door and leave her, but then I know she won’t sleep and next day she will be very hostile for me “abandoning” her.

I assume it is anxiety but I can’t draw her out in conversation about it, she simply says she cannot sleep. And outwardly nothing is amiss in her life, except her beloved gran died about 18 months ago and I had to go back to work FT, everything else in her life is fine - good friends, good diet, no issues at home or school, loads of fresh air and exercise, not aware of any Sen. She keeps her feelings very bottled up and has done since she was a tiny child.

Any ideas? Should I just pander to her nighttime needs? I have completely run out of ideas but I am desperate. I can’t tell if it is just a phase of growing up, or psychological or caused by something physical?

Please
or
to access all these features

AliceWelham · 19/09/2022 19:15

Popaholic · 19/09/2022 07:56

My dd is 12 and has been struggling to sleep for over a year, having previously been ok at bedtime. She has regressed to the point of needing me to spend two hours sitting with her on the sofa every evening, her dad now has to put her younger DS to bed to facilitate this, and then I “have” to read her to sleep every night, otherwise she will toss and turn until gone midnight. I can hear her - she has a breathing ‘tic’ whereby she gasps almost continually, like the opposite of a hiccup.I am exhausted as often she is in bed so late, and when she is only getting 7 hours of sleep she is exhausted next day and grumpy.

I have tried changing and imposing a routine (same order of events each night, ending screen time early) and tried tricks like teaching her some mindfulness techniques to let her brain wind down but she now refuses to use them, and also refuses to read a book. I’ve even bought a pillow spray and a new silky pillow case etc.

she has become obsessed by sleeping in just her knickers under a teddy bear fleece blanket, as she says she needs the softness. She has also become over attached to teddies, more so than two or three years ago. She is basically obsessive about to soft cosy things and clothes.

If I don’t pander to her, increasingly I get told by her that I’m a bad mum, I ignore her, I break promises to spend time with her - these comments are driven by me doing things like going to the loo when I am sitting with her, or needing to clean up the kitchen or get ready for next day for 20 mins. They can be delivered with real hurt and anger which escalates if I try to explain I can’t be with her every minute and things need to get done.

Even when I prepare her in advance, I will be able to watch tv for an hour at 8.15pm, then we will wind down with a chat while we both get ready for bed and have some stories at 9.15pm, this can lead to.a meltdown at bedtime where she blames me for her being “not tired” and not ready to sleep. Sometimes I’m so exhausted I say she has to go to sleep alone tonight at 10.15pm I shut the door and leave her, but then I know she won’t sleep and next day she will be very hostile for me “abandoning” her.

I assume it is anxiety but I can’t draw her out in conversation about it, she simply says she cannot sleep. And outwardly nothing is amiss in her life, except her beloved gran died about 18 months ago and I had to go back to work FT, everything else in her life is fine - good friends, good diet, no issues at home or school, loads of fresh air and exercise, not aware of any Sen. She keeps her feelings very bottled up and has done since she was a tiny child.

Any ideas? Should I just pander to her nighttime needs? I have completely run out of ideas but I am desperate. I can’t tell if it is just a phase of growing up, or psychological or caused by something physical?

This sounds so tough. Difficulties that impinge on sleep can have a special kind of agony to them. I'm really sorry you're going through it. I think there's a lot to think about in your post.

On the level of simple "sleep hygiene', it sounds like you and your DD are already doing many of the 'right' things - plenty of outdoor activity/exercise, good diet, attempting a regular bedtime routine, stopping screens early, etc - and it can be important to keep these things going consistently. As you might know, there's also evidence for consistent getting-up times (trying not to allow lie-ins at weekends, etc), getting plenty of natural daylight (and ideally a bit of exercise) as soon as possible after your DD gets up, even on non-school days. Y

ou're obviously already thinking broadly about what might be going on and including any possible physical issues in this, and I think you're right to at least consider these in the mix, so (if you haven't already), it might be worth a check with your GP for basic possible physical issues. (By the way, when you talk about the breathing noises, I'm assuming you mean when she's awake - so not sleep apnoea or anything like that - and that you've checked out that this is a tic/habitual, rather than physiological? It sounds like this is the case, but just wanted to check).

Also, have you heard of 'bedtime fading'? You'd start by getting your DD to go to bed only at the time she normally actually falls asleep (sounds like this would be about midnight?), with a calm routine beforehand (and consistent getting-up time next day). Then you gradually move this earlier (e.g., by 10/15 minutes a night). I know this sounds (and, short term, can be) difficult for both of you, but there's evidence that it can also be very effective. Since she's 12, I'm guessing that sitting down and talking this all through with your DD - at a time which isn't bedtime, and ideally when you're both relatively relaxed - could be important.

There's lots to read online, but some websites/leaflets it might be worth checking out: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/parents-and-young-people/information-for-parents-and-carers/sleep-problems-for-parents www.acorneducationandcare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2022/05/Issue-10-Sleep-difficulties-in-children-and-adolescents.pdf

But going beyond the sleep hygiene/sleep intervention things, there are other factors to consider here (and some of them might affect how easy it is to implement the sleep tips consistently). First, it also sounds like this all started quite soon after your DD's beloved grandmother died. It's quite common for children to struggle to sleep in the wake of grief, and sometimes there can be fears about sleep because children (and adults) can associate it with death. A loss like this can also make children afraid about being "left/abandoned" by other people they love, too.

I imagine you may already know about places like Winston's Wish, which can help children with their grief. www.winstonswish.org/ And of course, twelve is also
an age when your DD might be going through puberty, and hormonal factors can contribute both to anxiety and to changes in sleep patterns.

Second, it sounds like your and your DD's interactions can sometimes be quite difficult at the moment (something I think most of us go through at different times in parenthood). I wonder how it's making you feel, when your DD says the things you mention (about you being a bad mum, abandoning her, etc)? These can't be easy things to hear (perhaps especially when you're already dealing with having to go back to work full time - on limited sleep) and you might be experiencing some difficult emotions (anxiety? guilt? irritation/anger?) when she says them? It's also possible that at the moment, as well as saying these things in an effort to express some distress she doesn't know what to do with, your DD has found that saying them might serve the function of helping cement/protect times at night when you're exclusively with her (whether or not she's aware of this?)?

It can be particularly difficult to put boundaries in with your children when you're feeling guilty and uncertain about things. With this in mind, I wonder whether it might help to try to put some cast-iron times in, away from bedtime/sleep (and not dependent on any distress or sleep problems your DD has) when you can do something together that you both enjoy and she can be the sole focus of your attention. It could be almost anything - a half hour walk on a Saturday, cooking breakfast together, watching a comedy straight after you get in from work…? I know as I type this that it's so much easier said than done, and that as well as full time work you've got at least one other child to consider.

I also know it's likely to require buy-in from others (including her dad? Other family? Friends?). The reason for the suggestion, though, is that allowing your DD to have protected time with you - that has nothing to do with bedtime - could (as well as giving her time to speak with you about anything that might be going on) help you to have the confidence to start putting in any boundaries around bedtimes that you decide to put in. Knowing that you've had time together could help you assess realistically the accusations you're hearing, and to avoid basing your decisions on any hurt feelings or misplaced guilt.

And now to you, because it's not just your daughter who's suffering. This is so important. It sounds to me like you've been dealing with a huge amount: a recent family bereavement will have affected you and the rest of the family too, and your going back to work full time (on limited sleep) on top of all the usual demands of life will have had an impact on all of you. You sound like a kind, thoughtful, dedicated parent, and that comes with its own challenges. There are no easy fixes for this, I know.

When we've spoken with parents of children who are struggling, a few themes have come out. Try to notice without judgment your own responses to what's going on (if you're feeling exhausted, worried, sad, angry - anything - that's just what you're feeling right now). Don't expect too much of yourself - sometimes just surviving the day is all we can hope for. Try to make time to do things (whatever they might be - exercise, seeing friends, feeding the birds, watching YOUR choice of telly), to make you feel like you.

To sum up, here's my best guess from what you've said: 1) It's worth continuing to look at the sleep hygiene/sleep intervention side of this, and/but 2) it might be difficult to put any required boundaries in place without considering some of the other things which might be going on, both for you and for your DD. I'm not going to pretend there will be a "one size fits all" answer to this, and of course it's not possible to know what's going on from just one brief post. If things continue like this, it might be worth asking for a referral to psychological services to get to the bottom of it. But you asked "Should I just pander to her night time needs?" and I think that if by that you mean allowing your DD to dictate entirely what happens, even if it means you both losing out on sleep, then the longer-term answer is "no". There's plenty to try. I hope things get better soon for you both.

post edited by MNHQ at poster's request.

Experts' posts:
Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?