Pregnancy and BPD. It’s Not All Shits And Giggles

Pregnancy and BPD. It’s Not All Shits And Giggles

Last year I went through lots of tests and procedures in hospital, myself and my partner were then referred to a fertility clinic because I was told I had problems with my Fallopian tubes, because they were badly damaged and I had some other problems that were causing me a lot of pain. At one point I was told to get a hysterectomy as it’s the only way to stop the pain, I have an 11-year-old daughter but I was just 28 I didn’t want to turn off my ovaries just like that, it didn’t feel like the right thing to do even though I knew I would have to face facts that I may not be able to have another baby.  After so much bad news we received the final blow, my partner had zero sperm. We were told that I would need to lose 4 stone and pay for any further treatment as there was nothing available for us. We were devastated but we decided to accept the fact that it wasnt meant to be, we couldn’t put our relationship under that kind of tress and I had suffered after each appointment with my mental health and it was really having a big impact on the way I was feeling.

We went away in November and decided that would be it, we would come back and keep creating a better life for the 3 of us and we would travel more as its my favourite thing in the world! We booked a multi centre holiday to Thailand, Hong King & Dubai to take our minds of everything and I took time to convince myself that life would be better if i didn’t have another baby anyway, that there was so many more opportunities for us and my daughter was all grown up so we had it good,

I decided to tackle my weight, first of all my medication was a big factor in this so I started coming ff my pregabalin (lyrica) 75ml at a time, I had heard everywhere that this wasnt a good idea but my psychologist insisted this would be a great idea and I wouldn’t need it much longer anyway. She also told me not to take the anti depressant I had been given as it’s not a good idea to start a new therapy and new medication at the same time, so them being the ‘professionals’ that’s exactly what I did.

The withdrawal was horrific, weeks of pain, feeling sick, no sleep, crippling anxiety, crying, depression, I couldn’t leave the house and was an emotional wreck. I was hoping it would get better but I haven’t been the same since. a few weeks later I was still in withdrawal and my medication had been halved by this time. I decided one morning after feeling really unwell that I would take a pregnancy test, low and behold it was positive! (and so was the next one)

We couldn’t believe our luck! for the first few days it was so exciting! Then I began to worry as it was so early, I cried every time I had eaten something or done something that might affect the baby. We had a 7 week scan and it was a tiny dot. Then a few days later.. everything turned upside down.

With me already being so mentally unstable and the shock of everything, anxiety and the black cloud took over…I began to dread the whole thing, I hated myself, I hated my life and as awful as it may sound I resented the baby for making me feel this way. I was hysterical every day for weeks, I was self harming and eventually became suicidal. I was so distraught by my situation i was in the worst state I have seen myself in…probably ever actually. I cried hysterically day and night, I didn’t want to have the baby I thought it had ruined my life, I couldn’t see myself as a mother again, I couldn’t fit a baby into my life.

Deep down I kept telling myself  ‘you tried for 2 years for a baby, you must have thought a baby would fit into your life somewhere for all that time!‘ I didn’t understand why everything seemed different now, I felt doomed I was trapped as my partner was overjoyed and hasn’t got any children, so I didn’t want to hurt him but I was sure something had to give, it was a case of my sanity of the baby. Ir reached out to the mental heath team desperate for help, they made an appointment and told me to come of my medication straight away because of the pregnancy! I said that I couldn’t stop my medication, I had been so ill for weeks just reducing it and that I am suicidal so don’t think it’s the best idea, it would be more of a risk and I couldn’t possibly  feel any worse than I already did as I wouldn’t have coped.

The psychiatrist told me I shouldn’t have listened to the psychologist in the fist place with regards to medication, that it’s not her job..how was I to know that? I trusted the professionals.

I was referred to the perinatal team (Mother and Baby Mental Health Service) and was told I would be on a waiting list for 2 months before an appointment. They didn’t understand, it would be too late by then, I was ready to terminate the baby I had waited so long for. I begged and cried like never before. I was self harming more and suicidal thoughts were constant. I called the crisis team every time I was hysterical, at one point it was 3 days in a row, they promised to help me and kept referring me to the CMHT (community mental health team) who then kept repeating that the only person that could help me in the whole country was Doctor Cairns, the Perinatal doctor.

Getting through to this doctor was like purchasing rocking hose poop, it was impossible. I went on to write down all my symptoms I was experience, I was having bad  dissociation episodes and I hated every aspect of my life. To gain help I wrote out notes from an assessment that I done on myself so that I was giving them as much info as possible to allow them to help me in the best way, it was my only option.

Lets see what you make of this: Here is what I sent to them describing my feelings at the time and the hell I was going through, I was begging for help out of this hole:

My current situation 05/02/2017

 

  • Suddenly uncomfortable and unhappy in my home, I don’t want to be here anymore.
  • Hate everything about my home, have a bad feeling towards it
    Don’t want to sleep in my own bed or want to sit on my sofa – gives me an uneasy feeling
  • Smells that have been introduced to my house in the last few months trigger me to feel anxious for example a new spray we started to use – new ornaments or changes I have made to try to improve have been taken down
  • Panicking when I know I have to be in the house (after going away for the night I cried for 2 days and didn’t want tor return)
  • No pleasure in doing things
  • Coping techniques not working, cant distract myself
  • Feeling very confused and lost
  • Disconnected from everyone and everything
  • Spaced out, dissociating
  • No concentration
  • No feelings towards anyone or any excitement or other emotions just don’t feel there. I feel like there is something wrong, like I’m out of control and I don’t know myself
  • I feel like I have to move house desperately as I can’t bear to live here anymore – I loved my house a few months ago and spent a lot of time and money n it.
  • I can’t bring myself to talk about the baby or make plans
  • Scared as I don’t feel anything towards baby, I feel disconnected.
  • After trying for years and being told I was infertile, I was devastated I know how badly I wanted to be pregnant and had well thought it through. All of a sudden I don’t feel like that anymore? Doubts.
  • Nothing feels real, I just don’t feel like my life is mine and can’t put my finger on it. I thought I was happy months ago.
  • I haven’t been sleeping well
  • Suicidal thoughts, feel like everyone is better without me and that I just want it all to stop
  • Thoughts of termination as I don’t think I can handle all this. But this would put pressure on my relationship and hurt my supportive partner and I may regret it and suffer even more when I recover
  • I have an anxious, frightened feeling and I’m on autopilot the only think keeping me going is deep down I know I must have a routine for Emily and protect her and that I must have a font for my partner and to not hurt the baby.
  • When I look at photos from November I feel like that was me. I don’t know who I am now, I look and feel different and have different feelings, I can’t explain it very well but its like my mind is carrying on and my body is just working itself.
  • I feel like I’m going crazy,  I don’t know whats happening to me. I want to be excited and enjoy pregnancy, but I just feel it’s an inconvenience and I am scared of when the baby is born and how I will feel and cope..

Timeline of events leading to this time. 

I have recognised that I have felt like this before when I was going through my court case for historical abuse. I done treatment work on PTSD and dissociative disorder. I have looked back on my blog and have noticed similar feeling to now. I have written a timeline of significant things to identify the triggers or any similar trauma that could have affected me or created my problems.

  • Feb 2016:Abuser released from prison on my birthday (a year ago this Friday)

  • Throughout the year I had many problems with my health, and had a bad experience with a doctor when I told him my physical pain and he wouldn’t believe me and told me it was all in my head I struggled with my mental health and felt none could help me, it triggered an episode.
  • I was eventually treated and had an operation to remove my bowel from my ovaries and I was told I was infertile
  • There was mixed consultations to whether I could have children I we were told conflicting things and I was at one point told the only way to get rid of pain was a hysterectomy which I refused.
  • We went to fertility centre and went through treatment with them and told my partner had zero sperm and we had a difficult time and more episodes triggered
  • We eventually accepted that we couldn’t go on trying and put up with the strain it was having on our relationship and my health and decided not to have further treatment which was difficult
  • In November we went to Thailand for 3 weeks – I had family problems and realised that family relationships with my family weren’t what I thought
  • There was arguments and I felt alone and my mother ans sister hurt my feelings and I realised that again my expectations from the relationships were not reality, which was difficult for me to comprehend
  • I came back and started psychology – this opened up a can of worms, we began by talking about the secondary trauma from the court-case but seemed to focus on my bad relationship with my father. I was advised to stop pregabalin and not t take the antidepressants. At the end of the sessions as the psychologist couldn’t offer more I felt like I was leaft with ll these thoughts from things we had discussed, things about my past, and they were left not dealt with, I began feeling worse and I had come down off my pregabalin like she advised
  • I was really ill with withdrawal from taking 225mg less per day of pregabalin – this lasted weeks and I’ve never felt the same since. I had a low immune system so caught a flu and more illness
  • My car broke – I felt isolated and had already started to leave the house less and felt I was only safe and comfortable at home
  • I had a self employment meeting which I was so worried about, it led to a 3 week episode, which was really awful.
  • Found out I was pregnant – I was in shock and delighted for the first couple of days and then it all changed and I started to worry and have doubts and get confused about the situation and how it feels as I had accepted that I couldn’t have one. it is such a big change and I’m now suddenly confused and have no feeling. I am numb of all feelings and detached

 

Is that a normal situation? I carried n begging them for help and contacting the crisis team and anyone else I could to raise the alarm and get the support I needed, I was not going to commit suicide as I have  my daughter to look after  and I knew that I deep down did not want to terminate the baby. But in that state, what do I do?

I eventually was offered an emergency appointment a week later with this Dr Cairns. He spent the majority of an hour asking me about things that he had pulled from my records 7 years ago! Criminal history from when I was a child, I answered honestly to all questioned I cried as I spoke and I gave him my print out (as above) and explained my desperate situation. He told me and I quote

With Borderline Personality Disorder, There isn’t really any medication we can give to help it, there is not much we can do about it unfortunately.

I was so upset, by those words. Does that mean I’m fucked then? there’s no help whatsoever and because it’s a disorder that can’t be helped its tough luck? it’s not the first time I have heard words like these, it makes me wonder what they actually think of it. I instantly put my guard up. After speaking t him he was patronising and it was as if I was being dramatic and all the information I had given him wasnt relevant. I had a similar experience 2 years ago which can be found here .  On that occasion I wasnt wrong either, I had fertility problems and my ovaries were attached to my bowel causing so many problems..and that’s pretty much lead to where I am now.

I left the appointment with Dr Cairns after being told he would be in touch with some support. I heard nothing, from him or the mental health team.. I suffered, I hurt myself and I didn’t know what I could do we know we had to do this alone and just hope that I would get through it, but at the time I really didn’t think I would. I have not had an episode that lasted this long EVER. Which makes me think, is it prenatal depression? It didn’t feel like an episode, I recognise the symptoms and the cycle, this was something else altogether.

After 4 weeks or so, yes 4 weeks! of hearing nothing I received a letter from the perinatal team. I have never felt so insignificant as I did when I read it. it was a 2 page letter, the first 1 and a half pages were about things that had happened over 7 years ago! Which was a lifetime ago to me, Things move so fast in my life. Someone with BPD can relate to how long ago this was and how much will have happened and changed in that time. I was 21 for goodness sake, there was even details of a car accident I had been in 6 years ago. Why was it relevant to bring up my full psychiatric history and not deal with what was happening right now. In this letter his conclusion was basically
‘Had reasonable insight’

‘speech is normal’

She has experienced decompensation of her emotionally unstable disorder in the context of her psychotherapy uncovering historic traumas and then suddenly ending without resolution and acceptance of not having another child following a pregnancy’

‘There is clearly a risk that should her mental health deteriorate any more than there is a further risk of self harm but I don’t feel this is immediate’

Did he read any of my notes? Did he even listen to me? 

I felt ignored and still so upset and angry and that thee was no help for me, I had to keep on suffering alone. That letter sent me in another episode of despair, which also didn’t end well for me. I feel that I have been let down so much from the Mental Health team that I can’t trust them, they have messed with my head time and time again, they can’t be relied on, there’s not enough support or funding for them to help me.

Over the last few weeks through my depression I have managed to carry on with the support of my partner, I don’t have family around where I live  and I speak to my friend on a daily basis who has helped me talk things through each day until I was in a better place. I sought comfort and support from networking sites such as Netmums, where other mothers could give me advice and support and some guidance. it’s took a long time and I am still not in the light yet, though I’m now 4 month pregnant and can see clearer with regard s to the baby, It has finally sunk in and I am being practical about it. I am looking forward to finding out the sex on my next scan and when the baby comes I hope that it will all fall into place and I will love it like I love my daughter. I am constantly scared of not feeling connected to the baby again, as I grow my bump I feel more protective and I do worry about things like ‘what if I can’t do it?’ ‘what if i get ill’ but some say that this is me already being a good Mother and already thinking of whats best for my unborn child.

At the end of that letter the Doctor said that he would get me a CPN (community Psychiatric nurse) and a further appointment in 3 months time and that was that! This was February 24th. It’s now 27 March and 3 days ago I eventually got a call from his team to orange a CPN appointment, I made a complaint about my assessment and informed them I wasnt impressed with the outcome or the help I had received. I then received another letter from DR Cairns stating that I have rejected more help and didn’t find his assessment adequate therefore I am being discharged. Well thanks for that, Great support for mental health eh?

** Update**

I am now 5 month pregnant, I found out that I’m having a little boy and I seen him n the 4D scan, Finally my connection was there, I knew it had been all along but the black cloud of depression and mental health wouldn’t allow me to see it. I’m still struggling with the massive changes in my life but I’m on the mend mainly thanks to my husband. He has done everything he could for me to make me feel comfortable, support me and is constantly there to do as much as he can to get us through this. My older sister was messaged me everyday to reassure me that I would be OK and my friend is still like my therapist.. we are pregnant together so as you can imagine the messages of constant complaints, emotional support and those ‘Too Much Info’ messages are definitely for our eyes only.  I was failed once again by the mental health team a constantly live in fear of whether I’m going to be that mentally ill again soon, or if I will ever be myself again to be honest. I am looking forward to Junior coming along, I feel like I love him and want to protect him and can finally think positively about our future, I am glad I got through the first few months of the pregnancy, but I will always be disappointed I didn’t get to enjoy it and have peace of mind like other expectant mothers  do, the joys of Bordeline Personality Disorder.

I wanted to write this to show other people in my situation you are not alone, you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling this way. It’s not all  shits and giggles. But it will get better, there is hope!

There is not enough help for mental health during pregnancy, I have recently seen campaigns about it so hopefully, If enough people speak up something will have to be done, In the meantime try and have some hope, even when you feel like there is no way out of the dark. Just keep soldiering on.  I do find myself feeling better about the pregnancy though I’m still very anxious and worrying, but not feeling so doom and gloom towards it. I noticed I started feeling even better when I could feel baby move, made it more real I suppose? Like he’s contacting me to say he is there. I also made myself talk about the pregnancy.  Even though deep down I knew it was what I’d wanted, I was very worried about telling people how I felt but telling them some of what I was feeling – shock, worry, stressed not some much the abortion part as I still feel incredibly guilty – they offered their support and finally the gender scan was my turning point.

I find just taking each day as it comes works best, and making sure you make time for yourself. I’ve started reading again and quite often disappear to bed early to lose myself in a book or a film. Still have the thoughts I started out with: is this the right decision? What’s going to happen after the birth? How will I cope with my mental health? If I’m feeling particularly bad I like to write it all down. Look at what I wrote and ask myself “What can I do to ease the worry?” And come up with a plan. I also think that they’re quite normal thoughts, it’s a big thing and I don’t think any to be parent doesn’t have these thoughts at least once.

I know the last thing you want to admit to people is that you’re not feeling ‘happy’ about this pregnancy but talking helps. Whether a stranger or your partner or a friend.

But take each day as it comes, and wait until you feel the first ‘flutters’  it helps when it starts feeling more real and the horrible tired sicky stage has passed.

All the best  to anyone who is experiencing the same.

Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

I have seen enough in the news of people being wrongly accused of being sex offenders, paedophiles etc. Innocent people have been beaten to death, set on fire, chased from their family homes and committed suicide from the stress.

In some cases all one has to do is use the word ‘paedophile’ or state that the person in question has been grooming their daughter/sister/brothers dog or whatever, and the world is against the accused. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I appreciate that in some cases guilty people are also wrongly cleared of such offences and that is terrible, but all we can do is hope that if that is the case the truth will eventually come to light.

What has triggered this rant, is a series of articles I have read in the news and on social networking sites. I read stories about how being wrongly accused has affected peoples lives not just the court cases & harm they have come too, but the way it affects their mental health for the remainder of their lives, their jobs and their relationships with their family’s and friends. Once accused it often stays with them forever. After all, there is no smoke without fire, right? Wrong.

Sometimes these accusations go horribly wrong, like the man beaten to death and set on fire in 2013 after being wrongly accused of being a sex offender. I saw a Facebook post that had a picture of a man, clearly disabled alongside a message that read ‘This guy has been grooming my daughter and looking at her photos, share this and let everyone know who to watch out for’  it turned out the man in the picture was actually blind and this had not been the case.

I then read about the paedophile hunter that had posed as a twelve year old in order to trap a suspected paedophile and then shared his videos of his investigation online in attempt to name and shame the suspect. As a result the suspect committed suicide, which in my opinion isn’t justice.

I’m not saying that the man in question wasn’t in the wrong, he had gone to meet what he thought was a teenager, his intentions were clearly wrong and he should have been punished. On this occasion the hunter was correct in identifying a potential offender, but maybe if the he handed the video and evidence straight to the police rather than go on a mission for his own glory then things would have been different and he would have been brought to justice the proper way. By making the videos public, it  jeopardizes any ongoing police case, gives the suspect warning to get rid of any potential evidence and puts further people in danger. 

It also doesn’t mean he is going to be right about every suspect he takes to the internet to expose. Lives are being shattered, families are being targeted via inboxes and telephone calls. Why should an innocent family be subjected to abuse, they shouldn’t be it’s not their fault. These videos, images of suspects should NEVER BE POSTED on a social network.

Not only is the hunter putting himself in a dangerous position by taking this on himself, but he is breaking the law and had previously been warned that he was compromising investigations, yet he carried on doing this himself. It makes me wonder what kind of issues this guy was going through in the first place to become a self proclaimed ‘paedophile hunter’.

So, what is it with people trying to take the law into their own hands? Thinking it’s OK to expose people and ‘name & shame’. These ‘do-gooders’ should consider the reasons that we have trial by jury. The fact that someone is charged or accused does not mean they are guilty, or innocent for that matter.

Even in the cases where people have been proven guilty of these offences, is it then OK for us to take matters in our own hands? is it up to us to punish them?  having someone tortured or hounding them into committing suicide is not how it should be dealt with. Two wrongs do not make a right. I mean, where does it all end? Is the next step for the public to start tackling muggers, or people they perceive as muggers?

Dont always believe what you read on social networking sites, it could be people out for revenge, it could be edited images/videos. If you believe that you have information that you think that can help bring a criminal to justice then call a professional and let them do what they are trained to do.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) say ‘We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.’

We should also be taking more action to  educate youngsters about the PANTS  rule & the dangers of speaking to people online etc. Sadly this wont stop these things from happening. But if a child knows what to do in a situation or knows the boundaries, we can try and prevent it happening as much as possible and hopefully bring the offenders to justice in the correct way.

Want to talk to your kids but dont know how? check out these blog posts

Stranger Danger

The PANTS Rule

Dealing With The Disney Channel Attitude- Turning Negative Attitudes And Behaviors Into Positive

Dealing With The Disney Channel Attitude- Turning Negative Attitudes And Behaviors Into Positive

In the past few months, some attitude has arrived in my home that is very unwelcomed!

strop

So I’ve thought about what I’m doing right – my 7 year old daughter is well fed, well clothed, hugged and kissed, has a good stable family unit, routine, house rules and boundaries are in place, she gets rewarded and praised for good behavior, I always have a listening ear, she understands she needs to help out to get her pocket-money and gets plenty of toys and sweets!

I have been racking my brains thing where I have gone wrong, where the attitude she has picked up comes from and how she has been taught this stinking attitude; this includes being cheeky, back-chatting, storming about  & sometimes even disrespect and lack of gratitude.

 I started paying attention to our habits and routines and noticed a lot of the shows my daughter watches. Particularly the shows on Disney Channel including;  ‘Jessie’ ‘Hannah Montana’ ‘Good Luck Charlie’ ‘Suite life of Jack & Cody’

For those of you who have limited to no knowledge of these shows, they are filled with the most self-absorbed teenage characters ever who are constantly dealing with  dramas and relationship problems…issues inappropriate for children of their age. They are  built on smug overacting characters and a constant stream of witty, sarcastic one liners. 

 Most of the characters on these shows get anything and everything they want, have no respect for their siblings or parents, use and disrespect their friends, constantly cheat and scam others, and are (most of the time, if not always) very shallow.

Thus came the first decision to solve my dilemma;
Disney Channel is Banned from our home!

I sat my daughter down to explain why she couldn’t watch the channel anymore.  She wasn’t happy  about it, but I explained the behaviors in these programme’s aren’t real and aren’t the way she is supposed to act.

I explained the affect it has on her life if she mirrors the behaviors and attitudes of these characters, for example: If she back-chats or disrespects me with a witty comment- my feelings get hurt – She gets into trouble- she gets punished and loses  privileges.
So because we want to have a happy house, we need to learn to not copy these type of behaviors whether they are on the TV or at school etc.

Another issue I feel I needed to address is negative attitude:

“. . . nobody likes me . . . nothing good ever happens to me . . . it will never work.”

Parents should encourage & provide good, strong examples of self-confidence:

Enjoy life.
Believe in yourself and what you can accomplish.
Compliment yourself and others.
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake — point to it as a natural learning experience.
When you feel angry or sad, don’t keep those feelings very long.

I went through each of the above with her and gave her examples of being positive and the affect positivity has on your life.

positive

I decided an activity would be the best way to address some of these issues, as talking to much often results in going in one ear, out of the other.

I gave her a  piece of paper and a pen and asked her the following questions, one at a time.

  • Write down the name of someone you think typically has a good attitude. Why do they or what about them makes you think that?
  • Write down the name of someone you think typically has a bad attitude. How do you know they have a bad attitude?
  • When you think of the person with a bad attitude, what things (or who) does that person usually blame  as the reason they are in a bad mood?
  • Do you have to have a bad attitude if things aren’t going your way or do you think it’s possible to have a good attitude even when bad stuff is happening? Tell me why.
  • Are there things in your life you’d like to change to help you have a more positive attitude?
  • If negative stuff is happening to you, are there things you can do to keep  positive & happy? Name a few of them.

Whilst answering these questions, it makes a child look at how they react to things, can make a big difference in her attitude and the way she feels.

I then gave her another piece of paper asked her to write these columns:
School, Family, Home, Myself

I then asked her to think about any problems she is having in any of these areas. Once she has an idea, she should list it in the correct column (For example, “My sister keeps teasing me.” or “I hate doing maths” or “I don’t like getting my hair done”)

Once she has the problems that affect her attitude listed, we went through each one individually and asked her:

  • How do I feel about this?
  • Is there a way I can solve this problem?
  • Have I been blaming other people for this problem?
  • What will happen in the short-term if I don’t solve this problem? What about the long-term?
  • What little things can I do to work toward solving this problem?
  • How do I have to change my attitude to solve the problem?
  • What will happen once this problem is resolved?

We used coloured paper & bright pens to make this exercise more fun and after, we took some time  to reflect on these issues.
I gave my daughter lots of praise for co-operating and making an effort to change the attitude that keeps getting her into trouble and preventing her from a positive happy life.

Now, I know It’s not always easy to see the positive things in life, especially for kids, but having a positive attitude and outlook on life makes solving life’s problems much easier. Teaching her how to turn a negative attitude around will hopefully help teach her some important coping skills she’ll need in her life….and will hopefully bring some peace to our home!

Talk PANTS And Help Keep Your Child Safe From Abuse – The Underwear Rule

Talk PANTS And Help Keep Your Child Safe From Abuse – The Underwear Rule

Driving home over the busy Tyne Bridge this week I heard an advert on the radio that immediately got my attention, it was a campaign advert from the NSPCC regarding ‘The Underwear Rule’,  it’s a campaign designed to show parents a fun way to make their children aware of the dangers of sexual abuse without scaring them.

I have previously blogged about the importance of ‘Stranger Danger’ which is an important conversation every parent should have with their children, but sadly it’s not enough to keep our children safe, most abuse is closer to home.

It’s every parents’ worst nightmare to find their child has been touched inappropriately and no family wants to think it will ever happen to them.  But as the statistics show it does happen to one in 20 kids, and nine times out of ten by someone known to the child.

If we are to tackle this issue we must prevent it before it even starts, to do this we must educate our children about staying safe and speaking out.

The Underwear Rule is a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from abuse.

We know talking to your child about private parts can seem difficult, but you can have simple conversations about keeping safe without using scary words or mentioning sex.

NSPCC have developed PANTS as an easy way to teach children that their body belongs to them and to talk to a trusted adult if they ever feel scared or upset.

They’ve also created a child-friendly guide and other useful advice that can make talking to your child easier.

Learn the Underwear Rule and you’ve got it covered

PANTS is an easy way for you to explain to your child the key elements of the Underwear Rule:

P-

Privates are private

Be clear with your child that parts of their body covered by underwear are private. No one should ask your child to touch or look at parts of their body covered by underwear.

If anyone tries to touch their private parts, tell your child to say “no” and to tell an adult they trust about what has happened.

In some situations, people – family members at bathtime, or doctors and nurses – may need to touch your child’s private parts.

Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and ask your child if it’s OK first.

A-

Always remember your body belongs to you

Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else.

It can be helpful to talk about the difference between good touch and bad touch:

Good touch is helpful or comforting like a hug from someone you love.

Bad touch is being touched in a way that that makes you feel uncomfortable.

No one has the right to make them do anything with their body that makes them feel uncomfortable. And if anyone tries, tell your child they have the right to say no.

This can be a good time to remind your child that they can always talk to you about anything which worries or upsets them.

N- No means no

Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say “no” to unwanted touch – even to a family member or someone they know or love.

This shows that they’re in control of their body and their feelings should be respected.

If a child feels confident to say no to their own family, they are more likely to say no to others.

T- Talk about secrets that upset you

Your child needs to feel able to speak up about a secret that’s worrying them and confident that saying something won’t get them into trouble.

To help them feel clear and comfortable about what to share and when, explain the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets.

Bad secrets:

  • make you feel worried, uneasy, sad or frightened
  • may be asked to be kept in exchange for something
  • bad secrets often have no end time.

Good secrets:

  • can be nice things like surprise parties or presents for someone else
  • will usually be shared in the end

It’s important that your child knows the difference because ‘secrets’ are often an abusers greatest weapon in stopping a child from telling anybody about abuse.

Phrases like “it’s our little secret” are their way of making a child feel worried, or scared to tell someone what is happening to them.

S- Speak up, someone can help

Tell your child that if they ever feel sad, anxious or frightened they should talk to an adult they trust.

A trusted adult doesn’t have to be a family member. It can also be:

  • a teacher
  • a grandparent, uncle or aunty
  • a friend’s parent, or
  • ChildLine

Whoever they feel most comfortable talking to, reassure your child this adult will listen, and can help stop whatever is making them upset.

The more your child is aware of all the people they can turn to, the more likely they are to tell someone as

soon as they have a worry.

Remind your child that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking up.

NSPCC – Tips & techniques for talking

After school

If your child has learned about relationships or personal safety, ask what they remember – it will give you a starting point from which to begin more detailed conversations.

Talking over the TV

TV can be a great way of opening up tricky topics. Though we might sometimes wish our children hadn’t heard something in the news or on a soap, it’s best to address the point head on rather than dismiss it, or pretend it hasn’t happened.

The bedtime routine

When you’re getting your child ready for bed – or helping them tie their shoelaces or get dressed – you could talk about times when a trusted adult might need to touch them.

Driving it home

Car journeys are a great time to talk to your child. They’re in a comfortable setting, with limited distractions. If you’re on your way to school, you could ask about who they would tell at school if something was upsetting them.

Question time

Don’t shy away from your child’s difficult questions. Reward their curiosity by speaking to your child honestly. Talking frankly will make the subject less shocking, and you’ll show yourself to be someone they can confide in.

The PANTS rule for Kids
The PANTS rule for Kids

For more information cclick here to visit the NCPSS’s Page and download some friendly guides for you and your children.

Packing & Travelling With Kids..The Ultimate Guide….Are We There Yet?

Packing & Travelling With Kids..The Ultimate Guide….Are We There Yet?

When enduring a long journey with kids we tend to get a little stressed (Or I do anyway!)  so I have searched the web and put together a few of ideas on how to make the journey as pleasant as possible, and keep the  ‘Are We There Yet?’ questions to a minimum!

When holidaying with the kids, it’s essential to pack as lightly as possible. This way you’ll have spare hands to carry the suitcases, push the buggy and hold you’re little ones hand all at the same time!

Take clothing that is easy to wash and doesn’t get too creased. If you’re going somewhere with washing facilities, that’s great – you can keep your packing to a minimum. If not, it’s always worth taking some handwash with you just in case!

As any seasoned traveller with kids will tell you it’s also vital to make sure you pack various bits and bobs to entertain the children while on the road or in the air.

travel 2

When your flight’s been delayed or you’re stuck on the motorway you’ll be grateful you remembered some of  the following:

  • Paper pads and crayons
  • Mp3 Player
  • Books (including puzzle books)
  • Small toys
  • Electronic interactive gamesannoying for the adults but keeps children entertained for ages.
  • Travel games – Connect 4, draughts, Mastermind, etc.
  • Play dough – great on train journey

There are a couple other  cool ideas you could do to keep your kiddies entertained throughout.

  • Give them a Camera- (a child friendly one) this will give them time to take in their surroundings leaving you to do the same.
  • Be App-y – Thanks to toddler-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram the whole toy box into your hand luggage when travelling by plane
  • Encourage them to keep a travel journal- For the older children

For very long haul trips it’s a good idea to buy a few cheap ‘pocket money’ toys from the local toyshop before you leave. Wrap them up and pop them into your hold luggage so you can introduce a new ‘present’ for your child to open at intervals during the flight – hopefully the novelty of something to open and a new toy to play with will keep them entertained for a good portion of your flight!

And remember: there is no wrath quite like that of a child whose parent has forgotten their favourite soft toy! If your child has a special toy they really like to have with them at night be sure to pack it – it will help them settle to sleep on long flights and comfort them in unfamiliar hotel beds. Some children also like to have familiar smells around them so you could pack a couple of pillowcases from home to use in the hotel, too.

Try these Games on the road:

I Spy: The classic.

Guess the Animal: Someone thinks of an animal, others ask questions about that animal – can it fly? is it wild? To which the person can only answer yes or no. Or the person describes the animal and everyone else has to guess what it is.

Spotter’s Badge: Everybody has to look out for a certain list of objects. The most common ones (blue signs on a motorway, silver cars) get 2 points, then the more infrequent (caravans, pylons) get 5 points etc..

The Alphabet Game: Think of an easy category (like names, or places or animals) and then find a word for every letter of the alphabet. For example, if it was names, the first person might say Anna, the second Bill, and so on.

Word Association: Be as free as you like. The first person says apple, second person says banana, third person says monkey, etc. You can also play a version where you have to try to work back to the first word.

Just A Minute: Just like the Radio 4 quiz game. Talk for one minute with no hesitation, deviation or repetition. Children are surprisingly good at this.

Sausages: One person has to answer people’s questions answering only with the word ‘sausages’. Everyone has to think of the silliest questions they can ask to try to make that person laugh or smile when they say it. If they do, they are no longer it, and the person who asked the question takes over.

The Pub Game: look for pub signs and see how long it takes you to collect 5 heads, 10 arms and 20 legs. To do this, you simply count the number of legs and arms depicted on the pub sign, or in the name: ie, the Queen’s Head; the Phoenix and Falcon (4 legs) etc.

The Number Plate Game: look at the nearest number plate for the first group of three letters. The first letter is the initial of the person’s name; the second is where they come from, and the third is the job they do..

The No ‘yeses’ or ‘nos’ Game: You ask one person questions to which they can answer anything except yes or no. If they say yes or no they are out and it’s someone else’s turn. (What’s your name? Anna. Are you sure?)

 

travel 1

Travelling with kids doesn’t need to be too stressful, here are some more useful tips:

  • For going absolutely anywhere, even on a short trip, you could keep a small bag (not a big changing bag) with essential bits at all times: a calpol sachet, a couple of wipes, a nappy, some kitchen towel, savlon, plasters and a plastic bag. If going by car, it can easily be left in your boot if not needed.
  • When you’re going on holiday, encourage your children to find out about where you’re going. Let everyone choose one activity or visit on the holiday.
  • Hang on to bits and pieces from the holiday as keepsakes: tickets, brochures, a couple of postcards etc. Might be good for your children to make something out of when they get home or Show & Tell at school or nursery.
  • If you’re going on holiday with another family, make sure you discuss the basics before you go – for example what everyone wants to do, whether you’ll all stick together each day or whether you’ll spend time doing things apart, what you’ll do for meals etc. You don’t want to fall out over a misunderstanding that could have been discussed beforehand.
  • For young children, even if they are generally good walkers, it’s often a good idea to still take a buggy.  It’s always useful for carrying your bags and is good if they need a rest or get tired in a restaurant.
  • If flying, check the latest restrictions on hand luggage before travelling. Regulations on carrying liquids etc can include baby foods, drinks and made up formula.
  • If going somewhere hot on holiday, make sure you children have enough drinks throughout the day. Children are particularly prone to dehydration and they often can’t tell if they are thirsty. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you should also make sure you’re well hydrated.

 

Gallery

Good Behaviour Reward Jar. From Childzilla To Princess With This Simple Method.

 

Hello September, Back to School Routines & The Countdown To Christmas, Goodbye Sleep in’s and The Fight With Children’s Boredom!

I have recently been thinking of putting some kind of reward system in place for my daughter Emily who is 6. She is generally a good girl, but for a while now I”ve been seeing a lot more bad behaviour, ignorance, pushing the boundaries and  being a little monster in general.

I expect its due to the long six weeks holidays (which thankfully end tomorrow! yayy) I have loved having her here with me all the time and we have been on many day trips and holidays but the more she slips out of the routine the harder life is becoming.

Anyway, I have been thinking about a new  reward chart, we had one previously and it worked at the time but I think she has given up and grown out of it.  I remember seeing on a Super Nanny episode some time ago a marble jar reward system which seemed effective and I really liked the idea of it.

Basically the idea is you have a bag of marbles/buttons/balls or anything you can find, I will be using straws (see below)  that I have cut down and an empty jar.

 

A  ‘straw’ is placed in the jar for good behaviour, When the jar is full she gets a reward, our first ‘jar full’ will earn her £5 she will take this to the pound shop and choose 5 items (toys, books, make up etc). I will also be using rewards such as a trip to the cinema, a magazine, making cakes, a trip to the seaside. Depending on what your child likes. I got Emily involved in choosing the rewards so she is excited about getting all the straws into the jar

You would  need to specify exactly what earns a straw, I have a basic set of rules which I will specify below, but you can change them depending on what you’re trying to achieve and improve, so I’m going  to use the straw/jar method to address the issues with my daughter which are basically sticking to the rules. Then if she  is doesn’t stick to the rules or doesn’t do what she is  supposed to, a straw gets removed. . I personally will be giving Emily a warning, if she then ignores I would remove a straw.

I have heard of people using 2 jars one for putting a marble when they do something good, and on for when they’re naughty, then at the end of say, a week, the jar with the most marbles will decide whether the child receives a reward or a punishment, though I have to say I don’t like this method personally. My daughter responds really well to praise and so I don’t like the idea of a naughty jar.
I have also heard of some people putting a small monetary value to each marble (straw), so at the end of a chosen length of time (ie a week), the marbles get added up and it equates to a certain amount of money which the child then gets to choose to either save (yeah right!!) or spend on a treat (sweets/toy maybe).

I have sat down with Emily and discussed the rules, the straw jar and the rewards so she has a full understanding of the concept.

 

So far she has went to bed on time, got up made her bed and started tidying the front room an helped make breakfast! The house seems much more peaceful today and we are preparing for the ‘Back to School Routine’

 

These are the rules I have set for Emily, I went through each rule and explained why it applies to her so she understands why she should or should not be doing it:

 

DO

Be gentle

Be kind & helpful

Listen to people

Be honest

Play nicely

Talk nicely

Be polite

Tidy up after yourself

Do as your told

DO NOT

Hurt others

Hurt people’s feelings

Damage or spoil/ruin things

Interrupt

Cover up the truth / tell lies

Answer back

Be rude

Make mess & not tidy it up

Dinner Rules

Eat with a fork

Sit up at table (no slouching, hiding under, jumping about etc)

Don’t put too much food in your mouth (you could choke and it looks nasty)

Don’t say rude things about the food being served  (e.g ‘yuk, I’m not eating that’ it could hurt people’s feelings)

Eat/ chew with your mouth closed

Eat slowly not gobble it all up

Use a napkin (not your tongue or sleeve)

Say please & thank you.