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.
AMA with the authors of "How to Cope When Your Child Can't: Comfort, Help and Hope for Parents” - open now!
RhiannonEMumsnet · 16/09/2022 16:21
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.
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.
Mitsouko67 · 16/09/2022 17:49
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 · 17/09/2022 09:19
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.
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.
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?
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