Connect for Kids – play based social and emotional support

Charlotte JenkinsBeacon Community Services, Beacon Family Services, Family Relationships

Is your child struggling at nursery, school or when larger social groups gather?  We know some children need a safe and therapeutic environment to grow in social and emotional confidence.

Booking open for our next, face to face, local Theraplay® Group, starting Wednesday 17th April 2024 at Our Place Community Hub, Sutton Coldfield.   Read on to learn more.

Events have a huge impact on our lives and its not a new story that the pandemic has impacted children’s development and learning.   When the Chief Inspector at OFSTED reported she was worried abut young children’s social skills at Beacon Family Services we were not surprised.

We are seeing difficulties with social interaction and social confidence – children just behind where you would normally expect them to be.

Education and Recovery in early years providers: Spring 2022

All the usual causes are raised; face masks, too much screen time, lack of interaction with a range of adults and children and trouble accessing specialist support.  OFSTED’s chief said she is worried that children’s learning is being impacted and will continue to be.  We wondered why she was worried about their learning and not their relational experiences?  What if children, kept safe during the pandemic by their parents, are simply not feeling safe yet in early years settings and when larger social groups gather?

We are social creatures and need to make connections with others, from birth, to survive. 

Unlike most other species our brains at birth are relatively immature and we don’t stagger to our feet within hours but remain dependent on caregivers.  And that is part of what makes parenting such a hard job and why we often hear it said it takes a village to raise a child.

Children who have grown up during the pandemic, have lived with a far higher level of anxiety and vigilance around their social interactions.  Parents, extended family, early years, in fact all school staff, have felt more anxious about their roles interacting with children or encouraging their interaction with others.

We cannot live in a way that involves fear of interaction with others and then expect children to feel safe and ready to learn.

Babies have to learn the world is safe and go through countless moments of fear and reassurance as they are supported to cope with stress, like hunger, being sated.

How do we move from surviving to thriving? 

Our nervous systems are wired to detect danger so creating time for the kind of play that builds relationships through creating connection is vital to children’s recovery.  Many of the games we play like peekaboo or hide and seek help children learn it is safe and fun to explore the world.  When adults, especially those they feel safest with, like parents, join children in this play they are relaxed and joyful and give children the message the world is safe and they are safe.

What is Theraplay?  

Some children are going to need more opportunities to feel safe.  Theraplay® is an interactive therapy that relies on healthy playful interactions to create this sense of safety.  We are all wired for human connection and our Connect for Kids sessions help children and parents find safe ways to enjoy this.

We are pleased to share that The National Lottery have generously funded our popular face to face Theraplay groups to continue. Here are some of the comment’s parents attending our group have made:

“My daughter and I absolutely loved the group!”

“I feel more connected and understanding of my child and also feel more confident in using the Theraplay games.”

“Lots of fun games to play and repeat at times that are more stressful to encourage calmness.”

“My children are connecting together much more frequently.”

“I thought the games and structure of the session were really great and everyone was able to feel safe to take part or just watch if they wanted to.”

 

If your children are of school age and you would like to join our local Connect for Kids group, please book a place using this form.

Further groups will be run at later dates in the year in the same and alternative venues.

For more information about our Theraplay groups click here

We also run practical and informative workshops  that support parents attending our Theraplay groups to explore  their children’s feelings through play, and give practical guidance in how to respond to concerning behaviours at home. You can read more about them and sign up here

To speak to someone from our team call 0121 270 0590.

Charlotte Jenkins is the founder and a director of Beacon Family Services. She is an experienced social worker supporting children and families therapeutically using Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.