Raising children is both a wonderful and challenging experience! Everyone from time to time will need some extra advice and support to help them meet the needs of their child, enabling more positive family relationships to develop and ensuring their child achieves the most they can out of life. Below there are some of our parenting top tips and some links to support and advice from a range of services.
Parenting Top Tips
Praise works wonders! - Praise helps children feel good about themselves, so they are more likely to behave well. Praise helps us to notice all the good things about our children, rather than mostly focusing on their faults. Praise helps children to remember what we’d like them to do. Praise helps us to feel good too—it’s no fun having to tell children off all the time.
Clear, fair rules help us all feel safe! - We all want our children to grow up confident, independent and responsible. Developing clear, fair consistent boundaries helps them do this. Children need to test the boundaries in order to feel safe. When they do, we need to be firm without being harsh. Boundaries are a family affair—everyone needs to agree them and be prepared to stick to them. We need to parent with elastic—boundaries need to stretch as children grow.
We all need time to calm down! - When emotions are running high, a cooling-off time gives everyone the chance to calm down. Allowing time to calm down helps us to hold on to clear boundaries without nagging or adding our own angry outbursts. Sometimes our children need to release their frustration or anger safely before they can calm down. Parents can show children how to calm down by taking time to calm down themselves.
What we pay attention to is what we get more of! - Children like to please us, but some of the ways we want them to behave aren’t easy for them to learn. It’s easier to learn a new behaviour if we are appreciated when we remember it. Reward effort as well as achievement. Reward little and often, and remember that our time, pleasure and attention are the best rewards of all.
What children need is a good listening to! - One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to listen. In our busy lives it isn’t always easy to stop what we are doing so we can listen closely to our children and value what they say - but it’s worth it. Taking time to listen to our children builds trust and honesty. If we listen to our children they will learn to listen to us and to each other.
Giving children choices makes them responsible! - We all want to feel that we are in charge of our own lives—though it’s not always easy! It is helpful for children to learn, gradually, how to make choices for themselves. We can offer them a limited choice many times during the day. The choices we offer children need to be ones we’re happy to provide—and can describe to them clearly.
Feelings are signposts! - Being aware of our own feelings and accepting all of them (even the difficult ones) is a positive and healthy thing to do. Feelings are never bad in themselves - it’s how we deal with them that counts. Children learn from what they see us do. If we can express our feelings appropriately, they will learn how to do this.
Feelings fuel behaviour! - Noticing our children’s feelings is important—tuning in to their excitement and distress (and everything in between!). Responding helpfully often prevents explosive behaviour ☺ It takes years to learn to manage our feelings. Many behaviours (such as tantrums) are a natural stage of development - so don’t expect too much too soon.
A recharged battery means a family full of energy! - When we are very busy it can be hard to find a moment for ourselves, and it’s all too easy to put our own needs at the end of the list. If we neglect ourselves we become exhausted and stressed and then it’s much harder to enjoy family life. We owe it to ourselves to recharge our batteries and our families will benefit too.
Children at play are children at work! - Children do most of their learning through play. Play can be messy but it’s very important. We need to give time to let children play by themselves and also to join in with them sometimes. Playtime is their chance to be in charge - and it’s fun for us and for them!
Diversion...hazard ahead! - Young children easily switch their attention to something else that interests them. By offering a different object or activity, we can often avoid difficult situations without mentioning any unwanted behaviour. If you are going out it can be helpful to take some small toys or everyday objects for children to play with. If we think about the feelings driving children’s behaviour, we can respond to the feeling without mentioning the behaviour.
There is no time like the present, and no present like time! - Family life is like a treasure hunt—full of hazards, adventures and discoveries to make along the way. Spending time together as a family doing fun activities and building family traditions helps to build positive relationships. Strong bonds will then help you to navigate the times which are harder.
Parenting Support, Courses and Workshops
Our Family Support Worker, Jennie Milligan, is available for anyone needing support or advice about parenting or their child's needs. If you would like to speak to her please give the school a call or email GMA-Office@bestacademies.org.uk.
Stotfold Children's Centre has workers dedicated to supporting parents with children aged 0-12 years old. Information on what they offer can be found on their website, or if you would like advice or just to speak to someone they can be contact on 01462 730623.
Parenting is not always intuitive and there have been a lot of studies and research completed on how to meet a child's needs, use effective discipline and build positive relationships with your child. Parenting courses are build around this research and can be useful for every parent to attend, no matter how experienced or the age of your child.
Central Bedfordshire council offer the 'Triple P' parenting course. This positive parenting programme helps parents and carers to develop skills, strategies and confidence to handle any parenting situation. It is offers parents and carers a change to learn practical solutions to everyday parenting problems, such as boundaries, tantrums and effective discipline. There are three different course designed for different age ranges. If you would be interested in knowing more about this then please get in contact with Mrs Milligan who can let you know when and where the next available course is happening.
Stotfold Children's Centre offers Parenting Puzzle, a 10 week course that encourages parents and carers to enjoy bringing up their children and get the best out of family life. For more information please visit the children's centre website here. This course is designed for parents and carers of children under the age of 5 years old.
Outside-iN is a local organisation that offers support and workshops designed to increase the knowledge and skill base of parents and carers. Many of these workshops are specifically designed for the parents, carers and relatives of children with either ADHD or who are on the autistic spectrum, such as 'Understanding Autism', 'Understanding ADHD' and 'Breaking Down Barriers'. More information can be found on their website. These courses do have a cost associated, however, if your child has a diagnosis or is awaiting one then you can get funding through Carers in Bedfordshire to help with the cost. Please speak to Mrs Milligan for more information.
Magic 1-2-3 is another parenting workshop offered by Outside-iN. This course is beneficial for all parents and carers regardless of their child's needs and is a positive parenting solution designed to help improve behaviour.
CAMHS regularly hold talks about helping children manage their emotions and supporting children with anxiety. Details of these talks will be sent our via Parentmail when we become aware of them. If you do have concerns about your child managing their emotions or struggling with anxiety then please talk to either your child's teacher or Mrs Milligan as we may be able to offer support in school or signpost to an external agency. For more information please see our page on Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being.
Families in Focus provide a wide range of parenting courses and workshops supporting parents with issues such as anger, special educational needs and transitions.
We want all children to receive the support and care that they need should they be bereaved of a relative or loved one. Grief is a natural response to the death or loss of someone close and each child will experience grief in a unique and individual way and with the right support most children will be able to find a way to move forward.
Should a pupil experience a bereavement Gothic Mede would like to provide support in any way they can. This may be through providing additional emotional support in school or by making a referral to CHUMS or another external organisation. If you family has undergone a bereavement please let your child's teacher know, or get in touch with Mrs Milligan or Mrs Sugden.
Information and guidance on supporting a grieving child can be found on the following websites:
The impact of domestic violence and/or abuse on a family can be devastating and is a challenge experienced by families from all backgrounds. Exposure to or being the victim of domestic violence can be as damaging for a child as experiencing it first-hand. Domestic violence includes psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. It is more common than many people realise with one in four women in the UK and one in six men experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime. It can be an act or series of acts used to punish, humiliate, harm or frighten the victim.
If you're a victim of domestic violence or abuse, there are many different organisations which can help you. You do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it's important to tell someone and remember you're not alone.
Citizen's Advice list the organisation that are offer support and guidance regarding domestic abuse - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse-organisations-which-give-information-and-advice/
The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf - 0808 2000 247
The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation - 0800 970 2070
Central Bedfordshire offers a range of services to support people who have experienced domestic abuse:
- Inspiring Families - IF is for families who have experienced domestic abuse or unhealthy relationships and the parents want to remain together,or are separated but plan to get back together or if they are separated but have joint responsibility for the children. The programmes looks at the impact that the parent’s relationship has upon the child/ren. IF is a ten-week programme for both parents who attend at different times; both groups do similar work and have homework to complete.
- Pattern Changing is a ten-week programme for two hours (nine weeks with a one week follow up after two months). The purpose of the course is to help women regain confidence and self-esteem, explore personal experiences and learn practical strategies to gain empowerment and to change negative patterns of behaviour into positive ones.
- Bedfordshire Change Project is a Community Domestic Abuse prevention service for men or women who want to take positive steps to change the way they behave in relationships.
- Stepping Out - Support for women who are 16+ who are victims of abuse or are vulnerable in other ways. Offer support to cope and recover from emotional trauma, build confidence and enable women to move forward positively with their lives - https://www.steppingstonesluton.co.uk/
- The Freedom Programme - The Freedom Programme is offered through Central Bedfordshire. It is a weekly support programme for women who are in abusive relationships, or who have survived abusive relationships.
If you are interested in accessing one of these programmes please speak to our Family Support Worker, Mrs Milligan.
If you are unsure whether you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse more information can be found on the government website - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help or in this guide https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm
Raising a family can be expensive and many families find themselves in need of financial support, advice or assistance.
If you are experiencing times of financial hardship there are organisations who can offer practical support as well as advice and guidance:
- Turn2us is a national charity helping people when times get tough. They provide financial support to help people get back on track.
- The Need Project - Providing food packages and household items to individuals and families who are experiencing poverty or financial hardship. Referrals can be made through school, GPs, the children centre or a local church.
- Food Rescue Hub - A food boutique where unsold food, otherwise destined for destruction, is rescued and diverted from the bin, and offered to the community. Uncooked food is recovered from local food-based businesses’ and is offered on a pay-as-you-feel (PAYF) basis making it accessible and encouraged to all members of the community. Church House, Churchyard, Hitchin SG5 1HP; 10am – 1pm Thursday
Local food banks include:
- Letchworth food bank has locations in Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock
- Biggleswade Baptist Church
- Preen Food Bank
Referrals may be needed to access food banks but these can be obtained through citizens advice, Local Welfare Provision (0300 300 8070) or by speaking to Mrs Milligan.
If you are struggling with debt, support advice can be found at:
If you are experiencing financial difficulty please speak to Mrs Glindon or Mrs Milligan to discuss support with school related costs.
|School Nurse||The school nurse service can offer support around a range of health needs.||Referrals can be made through your GP or Mrs Milligan.|
|Heath Visitor||Health Visitors work with families and communities to improve access, experience, outcomes and reduce health inequalities. They work with families with children under the age of 5. Support they provide includes; healthy lifestyle, managing minor illness & accident prevention and school readiness.||To get in touch with the Health visiting Team call 01525 631150 or email email@example.com|
|Incontinence Specialist||The incontinence specialist is part of the school nursing team and can offer guidance and support to families with a child who is struggling with incontinence.||Referrals can be made through your GP or Mrs Milligan.|
Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life.
Children of all ages can benefit from practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can help lower anxiety and promote positive thinking. Practising mindfulness with your child is a great way to help them learn techniques to support positive mental health for the rest of their life. Mindfulness can also help children become calm and relax before sleep, helping make bedtime more peaceful.
There are a number of apps which can help you and your child practice mindfulness. Three of the best recommended are:
- Insight Timer. This app is free with meditations for parents and children. They focus on relaxation, managing stress, concentration, and sleep, as examples.
- Calm. This app provides mindfulness and sleep stories for children of varying ages. Several parents I know use the app to help their children relax, and restore themselves after a full day of running around.
- Headspace (for Kids). This app teaches parents and children together about meditation for different age levels. They focus on Calm, Kindness, and Bedtime.
You can also find mindfulness and yoga activities for children on youtube.
NSPCC - PANTS: The Underwear Rule
All pupils at Gothic Mede Academy wil learn the PANTS underwear rule.
With the help of the NSPCC friendly dinosaur Pantosaurus, PANTS is a simple way to talk to your child about staying safe from sexual abuse.
We know what you might be thinking: this isn’t for my child. Of course, no parent ever wants to think their child will be affected by sexual abuse. But that’s exactly why it’s vital you have this conversation – to help keep them safe.
For advice and guidance on talking to your child about the PANTS underwear rule visit https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/support-for-parents/underwear-rule/
Separation and Divorce
Parent's separating can be a time of anxiety and stress for children. If your family is going through this difficult change please make your child's teacher aware. This will allow the school staff to keep a close eye on your child and offer them any additional emotional support that may be needed.
The website Sorting out Separation provides a list of services to support parents in working together to resolve disputes and help them focus on the interests of their children. The 'Help Near You' page will help parents to locate services available both locally and nationally.
These services include...
- Accredited Specialists & Mediation Services
- Child contact centres & Relationship counselling
- Collaborative lawyers
- Separating Parents Information Programme’s.
Special Education Needs and Disabilities
There are a range of services across Bedfordshire that offer support to families with children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Autism Bedfordshire’s services help break down the barriers to social participation for autistic people and their families by providing places where they can go and feel comfortable, accepted and not judged by society. Their helpline is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for information, advice and guidance on all aspects of Autistic Spectrum Conditions and associated problems - 01234 350704. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Avenue is an organisation for parents/carers, grandparents and other relatives who have a child with autism in their family. The Avenue offers services that actively support the family, where our positive support groups are relaxed and friendly, where children with autism and their siblings are welcomed and where knowledge, ideas and experiences are shared.
L.O.A.F. (Loads of Autistic Fun) is a Saturday morning activity group which the whole family can attend. It runs fortnightly during term time from 10am to 1pm and provides an inclusive environment where all children up to age 12 (those with A.S.C. and their siblings) and their parents/carers are welcome and supported by trained staff and volunteers.
Families United Network (FUN) is a registered Charity and membership organisation based in Luton which supports children, young adults living with additional needs and disabilities throughout Bedfordshire.
Carers in Bedfordshire Parents Together Group - provides support for parents who are caring for a child with additional needs. An experienced support worker runs the session providing information, guidance and one-to-one support. You can also share information and experiences with other parents. They meet on the second Thursday of every month from 10.00am-12.00pm at the Hub, Ivel Valley School. Carers in Bedfordshire offer a range of parenting services for parents of children with additional needs.
Siblings of children with additional needs are able to access groups and support for young carers. These groups give children the opportunity to spend time with peers who share common experiences, as well as helping them develop strategies for dealing with difficulties and improving their health and well-being. More information can be found here on the Carers in Bedfordshire website.
There are a wide range of services locally and nationally who offer families support:
- Stotfold Children's Centre - support for parents of children aged 0-12 years
- Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service - Mental health support for anyone aged 17+
- Childline – Online and phone support for young people
- Advice Central - A single source of information on a vast range of topics including: Benefits, debt, disabilities, education, health, housing, immigration, employment & legal.
- Child Law Advice - Providing specialist advice and information on child, family and education law to parents, carers and young people.
- Citizen's Advice - Providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. Adviceline: 03444 111 444