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Communicating with children and young people Jo Fox BA, BSW Consultant Social Worker.

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1 Communicating with children and young people Jo Fox BA, BSW Consultant Social Worker

2 Learning objectives To understand the child & young person’s ability to contribute to communication through out the age groups To develop strategies to communicate with children through out the age groups To identify a range of practice tools that support communication with children and young people. 2

3 What are we trying to achieve when we communicate with children? 3 © Child Centred Practice May 2010

4 What we need to understand about children Attachment Regulation Self Efficacy How does this manifest Resilience Sense of self Other mindedness Ability to make choices 4 October 2009

5 Core building blocks of ARC Attachment Caregiver affect management Attunement Consistent response Routines and rituals Regulation Affect identification Modulation Affect expression Competency Executive functions Self development and identity 5 October 2009

6 Child development in communication Understand the child’s developmental milestones, including their abilities and the range of communication at their command Think about how their personality and learning style may affect their communication style Think about the impact of the experience of abuse on a child 6

7 Developmental changes in children’s understanding (Jones, David) Children’s general knowledge about the world is limited by experience. The ability to appreciate the nature of other people’s attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and to understand that these may differ from one’s own, comes in later childhood. Older children and adolescents have their expectations shaped by prior experience. They may therefore have fixed expectations about how people in authority might react to them (e.g. black teenagers’ expectations of the police). Younger children have not necessarily considered the consequences of describing adverse experiences to others. Older children may well have done so, or have attitudes already shaped by their own or others’ experiences.

8 Developmental changes in children’s understanding Taken from Communicating with Vulnerable Children: A guide for practitioners by David Jones Children’s general knowledge about the world is limited by experience. The ability to appreciate the nature of other people’s attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and to understand that these may differ from one’s own, comes in later childhood. Older children and adolescents have their expectations shaped by prior experience. They may therefore have fixed expectations about how people in authority might react to them (e.g. black teenagers’ expectations of the police). Younger children have not necessarily considered the consequences of describing adverse experiences to others. Older children may well have done so, or have attitudes already shaped by their own or others’ experiences.

9 Try to avoid Close questioning Leading questions Suggestive questions Complicated questions Intimidation through personal or environmental factors

10 Kid talk Good at Feelings Personalising Imagining Understanding body language Poor at Attributing other mindness accurately Understanding the nuances intellectually Times, dates, space 10 October 2009

11 Ways to think about communication with infants Even though infants are non verbal they are strong communicators. When attempting to understand the world of the infant it is important to interact with the child – holding them, speaking to them, observing them being fed and bathed, watching their body responses in a number of different situations. 11

12 Ways to think about communicating with toddlers Positive strategies Play Pretend Make faces Watch body language Look for explorative behaviour Where do they feel safe? Watch for Exploring behaviour Proximity seeking Awareness of themselves 12

13 Ways to communicate with primary school kids 4 – 8 years Lots of drawing Make things Play games Use pictures Sand play Dance Tell stories Dress up Avoid multiple or complex questions Give them opportunities to talk in the third person Let them move around if they need too 13

14 Ways to communicate with older kids - 8 up. Make comic strips together Write plays Use technology Art/story book journals Chart success Go slowly Music and words to favourite songs Write things down Avoid talking down to them Give them space to consider their answers Do not over correct them Ask feeling questions Answer their questions honestly 14

15 Ways to communicate with adolescents Pick a safe environment Be clear about what will happen to the information Check if there are any no go areas Expect to be ‘played’ Use Art and conversation together Use music and conversation together Use film and conversation together Let them write Share your notes Challenge them Use feeling words Map progress Give them written information Make plans together Meet them half way whenever you can 15

16 Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006 How do we represent children in assessments? Research, inspections and inquiries indicate that children’s voices are absent or minimised during assessment Focus on parents rather than the child Use of language in reports

17 Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006 Ways in which children’s voices are silenced By not reporting what was said Children are minor characters in the narrative More weight is given to adult views when there are differences of opinion or conflicting accounts Presupposing what they might say Descriptions of children being limited only to how they respond or relate to their parents Presenting their voices as untrustworthy

18 Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006 Checklist (From Putting Analysis into Assessment by Dalzell and Sawyer 2007) How well do I know the child? Which adults know the child best and what do they think? How has the child defined the problems in their family life and the effect on them? Under what circumstances did the child express their views or feelings? What has occurred and what did he or she want to happen?

19 Communicating with Children © National Children's Bureau 2006 Checklist (cont) (From Putting Analysis into Assessment by Dalzell and Sawyer) What has been observed regarding the child’s way of relating and responding to adults? (Consider attachment) What do I know about research in relation to the experiences the child has had? What communication methods have I used? How confident am I that I have been able to establish the child’s views, wishes and feelings?

20 Impact of adverse life experiences on ability to relate Slow to trust adults Difficult to puts names to feelings Poor historians – can’t remember facts Omit facts they think could be dangerous/risky Want to please Say what they think you want to hear Poor literacy and expressive skills Attachment disorder can have a significant impact on successful relationship building and communication 20

21 Time Time Time More than anything children and young people need time. Time to feel safe Time to get to know you Time to get to trust you Time to get to know themselves 21

22 A belief in the future Children and young people need to know that telling their story can make a difference It must lead to improved outcomes Future pull – offering children and young people hope and a belief in tomorrow 22

23 Make a difference Use the information that children give you to understand their world, their strengths, their worries and their dreams. Take that understanding and with the child make a plan to change their world into the one they need and want Then take the journey with the child – it is not for the faint hearted or the careless – and see them to safety 23

24 24 If you cannot do these things for the child then…. “Don’t Ask”

25 25 26 September 2009

26 What Children Tell Us A sample of research studies Taken from NCB training pack 26

27 Studies to find out what children say Children Speak – Butler and Williamson, 1994 Your Shout! – Judith Timms and June Thoburn, NSPCC, 2003 Remember My Messages – Catherine Shaw, Who Cares Trust, 1998 Start with the Child, Stay with the Child – Voice for the Child in Care, 2004 Ask Us – Department of Health and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a project to find out the views of disabled children, 2002 Local surveys 27

28 Butler and Williamson (1994) – Who do children talk to about their problems? Many young people had no trust in other people and the majority would talk first to someone within the family network Over a quarter said they would talk to a friend A significant number had no trust in adult professionals ‘They don’t really listen. And then they don’t believe you’ 28

29 Butler and Williamson – Young people’s view of social workers Lack of understanding ‘They don’t know nothing about what it’s really like for you’ Impose their own views ‘They twist the story, then sort it out their way’ Doubts about confidentiality ‘They spread things around: the whole world knows’ Trivialise or overreact ‘Just because I put on a friendly face they don’t realise I want them to be serious with me’ 29

30 Butler and Williamson – What do children want from professionals? Good listener – ‘not like a robot’ Available – ‘not at lunch, off sick, on training’ Non-judgemental and non-directive – ‘advice should be ‘maybe’ not ‘you must’ – give you choices’ Humour – ‘someone you can have a laugh with’ Straight talking – ‘not always what you want to hear’ Trust and confidentiality – ‘consult before you spread things on’ 30

31 Timms and Thoburn (2003) – What do children think of the court process? 66% said they had someone helpful to talk to through the process 42% said they felt listened to in court 55% did not get the chance to speak to the judge, and 21% would have liked to When asked who was helpful, social workers received the most responses (30%) ‘I would like social workers to be a bit more alert and to hear what foster carers have to say and when they put down a time to come and see you they must try to make the effort and come’ 31

32 Shaw (1998) – What do children say about being in care? 49% said coming into care was confusing and scary, and 31% said it would have been easier if they had had more information 47% said they had a lot of say in decisions about seeing their social workers Although 30% described themselves as lonely, 70% said they felt happy most of the time Having access to ‘someone special’ to talk to was strongly associated with a generally positive state of mind 32

33 Relationships with professionals Young people said they would like to see professionals who are: – reliable – keep promises – provide practical help – take time to listen, and to respond – see their lives in the round, not just the problems ‘I would have liked them to sit down with me and have a conversation for more than 15 minutes. Instead of telling me what they were going to do with my life, find out a bit more about me’ Taken from Voice for the Child in Care (2004) Children want social work support that is: flexible; responsive; individualised/personalised; respectful of children’s views and wishes; and participative. Taken from Children’s experience and contact with social workers – report by CWDC

34 Voice for the Child in Care – Reviews Children and young people said they feel they are not involved in the conversation at reviews, it goes on around them, and is about them, but it doesn’t engage them ‘I was sitting in a room with about 15 people, all talking about me like they knew me. I’d never met any of them!’ 34

35 Ask Us (2002) – Views of disabled children We want what other children want We want to do what other children do We want to go where other children go We want to be respected We want to feel the same ‘buzz’ that other children feel 35

36 36 ‘I feel social workers come and go a bit quick. I don’t care anymore. My latest social worker, I’ve already been told he’s only temporary. If you know someone isn’t going to be around, you don’t bother talking to them’

37 37 Websites that can help with communication Free Web Tools for Elementary Teachers - Classroom 2.0 Lifeline Publications: Big Blue Book of Sex NCB | Communicating With Children Welcome to Youngminds — YoungMinds Resilience in Children: Professor Brigid Daniel - Life Matters - 18 April 2006

38 38 Websites that can help with communication Cafcass - Putting children first in family courts Youthhood.org: NCSET's Web Site for Youth TheSite.org St Luke's Innovative Resources | seriously optimistic books and resources | Strength Cards for Kids, Kids' Skills and more.!

39 Training packs, courses and resources © Aldgate, J (ed) (2006) The Developing World of the Child. London: Jessica Kingsley. (Note, training pack to accompany book is available from NSPCC). Butler, I and Williamson, H (1994) Children Speak: Children, trauma and social work. London. NSPCC and Longman. Cleaver, H and Walker, S (2004) ‘From policy to practice: The implementation of a new framework for social work assessments of children and families’ Child & Family Social Work, 9, 81. Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children’s Workforce (2005). Available from Commission for Social Care Inspection [CSCI] (2005) Making Every Child Matter. Available from 39

40 Dalzell, R and Chamberlain, C (2006) Communicating with Children: A two- way process. Resource pack. London: National Children’s Bureau. Available from Dalzell, R and Sawyer, E (2007) Putting Analysis into Assessment. London: National Children’s Bureau. Department for Education and Skills (2004) The Common Assessment Framework. London: DfES.* Department of Health and others (2000) Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. London: The Stationery Office.* Holland, S (2004) Child and Family Assessment in Social Work. London: Sage Publications. How it is (2002) London: NSPCC/Triangle* Hutton, A and Partridge, K (2006) Say it Your Own Way. Barnardo’s and DfES.* 40

41 Jones, D (2003) Communicating with Vulnerable Children: A guide for practitioners. London: Gaskell. Lancaster, P (2003) Listening to Young Children. Maidenhead: Open University Press.* Lord Laming (2003) The Victoria Climbié Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Lord Laming. Norwich: HMSO. Melia, J (2005) Wavelength: A handbook of communication strategies for working with young people. Brighton: The Trust for the Study of Adolescence. * Myers (2001) In Safe Hands. A video resource and training pack to support work with young refugee children. Leicester: NSPCC National Training Centre.* NSPCC and University of Sheffield (2000) The Child’s World: Assessing children in need. Training and development pack. London: NSPCC. 41

42 Quality Protects and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2002) Ask US. Shaw, C (1998) Remember My Messages. London: Who Cares? Trust. Timms, J and Thoburn, J (2003) Your Shout! London: NSPCC. Two-Way Street, video and handbook (2001) Triangle.* Voice for the Child in Care (2004) Start with the Child, Stay with the Child. London: VCC. Young Minds: obtain information sheets from their website * Zeigler, R (1992) Home-made Books to Help Kids Cope. USA: Magination Press.* 42


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