Children are never too young to help around the house


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The eternal question from young parents, “when do we start getting the kids to help around the house”??

My simple answer the day they are born !!!!! does that sound ridiculous ??? to some it may but you need to look at what getting our children to help around the house means and why we do it.

Children learn in many many ways, watching, listening, doing, trying, failing and helping.

The younger they are (2 to 4) the more they need help and encouragement, in the very early stages of their development they are watching what is going on around them. Everything we want them to do now has to be shown, replicated and made fun. The attention span is short and you need to be on your toes.

As they develop their little personalities (4 to 7) the helping period will start, everything you want to show your children now is done through asking them to help. At this age they respond well to helping, this is where they start to replicate our behaviours so having them do tasks beside us really works for them.

Now they are beginning to develop a bit of independence (8 to 10) this is the time to start giving some small simple tasks to complete without being tied to your left leg. They will enjoy lots of praise and encouragement so make sure you let them know they are doing a great job. If they make a mess of something jump in beside them and help them fix it.

The next phase of development is (11 and up) this can be the most difficult time for us and them, they really want to be independent but they don’t necessarily want to do the tasks. This is where we as parents need to be firm and set tasks that they can complete and can be good at. Don’t be afraid to support them either pre-teens are on the cusp of not wanting to know us and still loving us, keep the boundaries tight and keep the tasks short and specific.

It is our responsibility to example to our children what sort of adult we want them to become, they will learn by us showing, supporting and doing with them. Barking orders and criticising only demeans our children and undermines their esteem. If we want them to learn we need to be the best example for them.Enjoy your kids when they are young they grow up all too fast.

Here is a little list that might help all you parents and carers.

Age Appropriate Jobs for Children around the House

2-4 year olds – need lots of encouragement and will help a bit if tasks are used as a game, make things fun for them.

Putting away their toys

Putting dirty clothes in a basket/hamper

Help feed dog/cat/fish/hamster

Bring extras to the table eg salt , pepper, sauce etc

Tag along while dusting sweeping etc

 

4-7 year olds – Children of this age naturally want to help, they learn by replicating/observing. This is where we teach by showing and doing.

Put away their things eg toys, school stuff, sports kits etc

Help set the table

Help feed the pets

Help water the plants/garden

Help make their bed

Bring down clothes for washing

Help clear the table

Help load the dishwasher

Help in the garden (small tasks)

Help put away small shopping

 

8-10 year olds– if you have been working with your children to become independent now is the time to start giving them their own tasks to complete.

Making their own bed

Taking responsibility for watering plants

Clean and hoover with direction

Show them how to set and clear the table

Show them how to hoover and dust

Feed pets (depends on type of pet and how your comfortable your child is interacting with the pet)

Help choose and make dinner

Bringing their washing down

Help clean the car

Do the washing up

Load / empty the dishwasher

Take rubbish out to the bin

Help in  the garden

 

11 year olds and older – will now be more able to complete tasks independently but may be less willing, this is where you as a parent needs to be able to set planned and regular tasks.

Take out/in the bins

Set/ clear the table for dinner

Clean their own room

Put away the shopping

Clean the bathroom

Clean the kitchen

Hoover

Mow the grass/work in the garden

Do their own laundry with support

Choose and make small meals on own

Help wash the car/wash car

Make bed

Wash dishes/load or empty dishwasher

 

 

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

 

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When an article offends is it offensive ???


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One thing that is worth considering when looking at our personal life journey is how we react to others opinions and especially this article by Michael Patwell. To denigrate and cast Judgement is to do what we are offended by on a regular basis, JUDGE. When we in the Adoption community feel that we are not being heard or that at times we are not being agreed with then that can lead to hurt, pain and anger. Likewise if we want to have our opinions heard and accepted (not necessarily agreed with) then we need to accept that some people’s experiences are different than ours. In this one sided article (his view only) he clearly says that he was treated well, that what he saw was love and kindness. That may be a rose tinted perspective but it is his experience. I for one won’t take that away from him but if I ever got the chance I would try to educate him to the other side of the story. He is clearly right on one thing though, it is of its time as is all of history, things were done very differently then, children and women were lesser humans and were seen as a commodity. We continue to live with appalling practices in social care settings and the secularisation of the care field hasn’t led to a seismic shift in the care of the vulnerable. There will be investigations in the future and people will be accused of ignoring the pain of others or accused of ignoring the positive experience of others. If we continue to try to acknowledge history from only one perspective then we are ignoring history and creating an excluding dialogue, thus marginalising others as we would not like to be marginalised. Michael Patwell has written a piece that is his perspective only, and as much as it annoys me I still own my story and am as strident in my opinion as he is.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

“It is Morally Unacceptable”


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Ireland in 2008 was precariously close to financial bankruptcy or so we were lead to believe, the underlying message of the day was that we were morally obliged to save the money men and do the bidding of the financial behemoths of the European experiment. What has outraged activists and advocates since then is the way Ireland Inc. has abandoned all sense of values, ethics and morals and not just in the Christian sense.

There are on a daily basis campaigns springing up to support individuals and/or groups of Irish people who are feeling more and more marginalised, more and more abandoned, more and more ignored and less and less able to have a voice and be heard.

The message from the government is once we pay our bills and look after the European Union then everything will be ok. They operate in a world of platitudes, the world must see that we are ok, that we are still willing to help others, that we can and will send aid to other nations, that we will ride in on a white horse and rescue those who are struggling all over the world. That in itself is of course right and just, where the difficulty arises is when those that are marginalised in our society are being ignored.

If we accept that morality has many sub texts but broadly include a personal belief in what is right and wrong, is regarded in terms of what is known to be right or just, as opposed to what is officially or outwardly declared to be right or just, is a way of giving guidance on how to behave decently and honourably, frames what is good or right, when judged by the standards of the average person or society at large and is based on an inner conviction, in the absence of physical proof. Then we cannot accept what is happening in this Country either morally or ethically.

It is morally unacceptable for the old to be cold in their homes,

It is morally unacceptable for the rich to have gotten richer and the poor to have gotten poorer during a time of financial crisis

It is morally unacceptable for us to use the criminal justice system to deal with our addicted citizens,

It is morally unacceptable for us to keep people on trollies in hospitals,

It is morally unacceptable for us as a nation to think that offering someone a bed in a hostel is a solution to homelessness,

It is morally unacceptable for Ireland Inc. to deny the wrongdoings of the past in relation to the incarceration of women and children in Magdalene and other institutions,

It is morally unacceptable for us to have given away our rights to the gas and oil in our waters,

It is morally unacceptable for NAMA to be selling our assets to buyers from all over the world when we can’t or won’t house our most needy,

It is morally unacceptable for leaders of large NGO’s who support the marginalised to be involved in financial and ethical corruption,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow generation after generation believe that social welfare is the only way for them to live,

It is morally unacceptable for us not to have a living wage,

It is morally unacceptable for the citizens to have no say in local and national governance,

It is morally unacceptable for freedom of information to become more restrictive instead of less,

It is morally unacceptable for us to accept inequality of choice,

It is morally unacceptable for young people leaving care to be allowed go straight into homelessness,

It is morally unacceptable for us to ignore the wisdom of the elderly,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow private companies profit out of human pain,

It is morally unacceptable for the civil service to apparently have no mechanism to hold people individually responsible for their mistakes,

It is morally unacceptable for us to pay lip service to the notion of whistleblowing,

 It is morally unacceptable for the Garda to be used as a private security force,

It is morally unacceptable for Ireland Inc. to attempt to criminalise protest,

It is morally unacceptable for some in society to be prevented from having access to their birth cert/file

It is morally unacceptable for the Government of the day to forget that society is made up of a collection of individuals and that the strong need to support the weak,

It is morally unacceptable for us to not recognise those that have risen from lives of challenge to lives of moral positives, look at Katie Taylor (https://twitter.com/KatieTaylor ) (sports person), Elaine Harrington (https://twitter.com/TMMissElayneous ) (performance artist), Rachel Keogh (https://twitter.com/rachaelkeogh1 ) (therapist), Christina Buckley, RIP (former golden bridge resident) and on and on and on,

It is morally unacceptable for us to allow countless children finish school with no education and a potential life of hardship as a social welfare user,

It is morally unacceptable for the Government to be dishonest and ethically bankrupt,

It is morally unacceptable for each and every one of us to not take the opportunity to make a positive contribution to someone else’s life,

Let’s build relationships that are morally, ethically, respectful and caring, if we used that as the starting tenet of governance then we might see some growth and change both individually and collectively.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline Social Care Professional; he has worked and Managed for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services, homeless services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Committee Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, A Member of the Social Care workers Registration Board at CORU, A Member of Social Justice Ireland and was on the National Committee of the YES Campaign for Children. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

MY Birth Cert is Not Mine To Have


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I have been reading this morning in the newspapers about the new proposed adoption legislation, it said “at present many adoptees are unable to access birth certs listing their original parents’ names due to legal obstacles, including a constitutional right to privacy on the part of birth parents.To help resolve this, adopted people would be required to sign a statutory declaration obliging them to respect the wishes of birth parents in cases where they do not wish to be contacted”. The constitutional right to privacy is conferred upon all citizens as it is and in no other circumstance is any citizen required to sign a statutory declaration to uphold that privacy. In fact there are numerous piece of legislation currently used to protect one from unwanted contact by others. Mary Hanafin tried something similar many years go and failed to get the backing of the adoption community. I for one will not be prepared to criminalise myself by signing any declartion to access my Birth Cert something that no other citizen of this country has to endure. I implore you all during the debate on this issue to help make sure that there is unfettered access to original birth certs and full written histories. Please contact your TDs, Senators, MEPs and Councillors.

Mothers Day ????


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Considering the day that’s in it, Mothering Sunday, it struck me how discombobulated it makes me feel as an adopted adult and in turn I thought of all the mothers involved in the adoption process and how they must feel today. Imagine having given up a child to adoption, then going on to Marry and having more children but keeping the first child a secret, then on mothering sunday your children take you out to celebrate with a lovely dinner, except you cant celebrate because one child is missing. Or imagine all the adult children brining out their mother for dinner and the adopted one is feeling a little melancholy but has to block this as it would be unseemly. Well these scenarios and others are playing out all over the world today. I have a Mother who Mothered me and a Mother who couldn’t Mother me. Which one do I celebrate today, which one do I thank, which one do I buy the card for, which one do I say I Love you to. Both, I cant as I only know one. So today on Mothering Sunday consider the mothers who are struggling with this and the adult children who are struggling with this. Celebrating Mothers is a bit more complex than you might think.

Why the disciplining of children should never mean “PUNISHMENT”


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Many years ago when my son was 18 months old we were at home one day sitting on the floor, I had just made a cup of tea and had it on the floor, I kept telling Dave not to knock it over but of course he did, I was so frustrated that I slapped him just above the backs of his knees, his feet left the floor and he landed on his back. I got such a shock that I started to cry, I vowed there and then to never smack my son again, and I never did. That is how I remember it, but interestingly 27 years later my Wife has a slightly different version, she says that I actually hit him on his nappy and he fell onto his backside, and then she said that she told me that if I ever did that again that there would be no place in their lives for me. Either way the smacking was something that affected us all.

As a father and a professional social care worker, I am often asked by parents for my opinion on parenting skills and how to manage children. On many of these occasions when discussing discipline what I hear from parents is the need to feel that the child has been punished for whatever their indiscretion might be. This is a clear sign to me that there is frustration at play and the parental control dynamic is askew. Why would this happen, why would a parent feel the need to punish their child, why do we shout, slap, shake or send children to their room. What underpins this frustration, as parents do we feel we’ve lost control, is this where the underlying problem is.

When a child is born into a family the family goes through a process called attachment (http://www.essex.ac.uk/armedcon/unit/projects/wwbc_guide/wwbc.chapter.1.english.pdf), this is the time when the family (mostly the mother) spend all their time responding to the Childs need, it is supposed to be an innate process but is influenced by how we ourselves were parented. If this first stage of the parenting process goes well the likelihood is that we will have a happy, securely attached, contented child. If there is disruption to this process we may be left with a child that is less securely attached and we may have to do a little more work to re-build the bonds of attachment.

As a child grows and begins to explore its environment it needs to be guided by us the parents, all too often I see parents intervening instead of guiding. A child must be let do things, they must be let challenge themselves, and they need to be allowed to put themselves in at risk situations so that we can model for them what is safe and what is unsafe. This type of modelling behaviour is very positive for a child, they feel very secure watching their parent doing something and then helping them do it, it helps them make sense of their world.

Children as they get older find a myriad of ways to communicate with us, the most fascinating way for them is through speech, watch a child who has learnt that they can make sound, they do the behaviour non-stop because we react to it, they see happy smiling faces and recognise that as being a positive expression so they repeat the behaviour. That is the kernel of all future parenting, instead of negative, harsh, punitive discipline we need to model pro-active, caring, loving behaviour.

When we want a child to learn something it is our job to show them and explain to them, this may need to be shown time and time and time again, and as we spend this time showing our children we are re-enforcing the relationship, the love, trust and care. Children will not always get everything right, but again it is our job to show them where and how they went awry, then we can take the opportunity to model the behaviour we want to see. This is why punitive harsh treatment such as slapping and shouting at a child doesn’t work, all this teaches a child is that shouting and hitting and disrespect are what we use to get something that we want done. (http://www.eumom.ie/Parenting/Slapping-Your-Children.aspx)

As children get a little older and are capable of doing little pieces of work for themselves then we need to take the opportunity to place expectations into their daily routine, we may need to give them lots of encouragement around this and spend time showing them exactly what we want them to learn but ultimately what we will achieve is a young child who has a sense of worth and who will have finely attuned self esteem.

The type of tasks can be as simple as completing a bedtime routine, bringing down their washing, helping in the kitchen, completing schoolwork etc. All of these tasks can be modelled and explained to our children, all too often in order to get something finished we complete tasks for our children as we are frustrated by the amount of time it takes for them to complete them, I always implore parents to allow the children complete the tasks themselves with support, this fosters self esteem and helps them develop.

One area that I often hear parents giving out about is the constant battle they go through when trying to get their children dressed, I often hear “he wouldn’t wear that and he wouldn’t wear this”, many times I have said to parents why don’t you let the child wear what they want or as a minimal give them a choice, this is a good skill to teach young children, it helps them become independent and alleviates any arguments.

The result of this style of positive parenting is that we will have helped our children to become autonomous, disciplined, caring children. They will grow into young adults who are capable and loving, respectful and caring. They will be able to have positive relationships and will be less likely to give into peer pressure. They will be able to cope with all that the world can throw at them and when they can’t they will be confident enough to be able to find the help they need. (http://www.helpme2parent.ie/BuildSelf-Esteem.html)

And finally when they themselves become parents they will be able to repeat all the positive behaviours that they have learned with their children.

So remember when you are at your wits end, are fit to be tied and ready to explode, take a breather and see how you can show and explain to your child exactly what you want them to do…..then when you have done that congratulate them and yourself for a job well done.

Good Luck

Ado

Adrian McKenna is a frontline child care professional; he has worked for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. He is a Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, Social Justice Ireland and the YES Campaign for Children.

All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

Aftercare support – let’s empower young people leaving care to start new, healthy lives


Turning our back on young people leaving the care system is doing nothing to break the cycle of abuse and neglect, writes frontline social care worker Adrian McKenna, originally published on http://www.campaignforchildren.ie

As a professional working in the care sector, I have accepted responsibility for the care and protection of the children I have been assigned to.

Can I say I believe that the needs of those children have always been placed above the needs of the care sector and the State? Unfortunately, I can’t.

I have seen children’s rights being measured against the needs of the accountant.

I have seen children moved from familiar care settings they had adjusted to because a bed had become available in a cheaper setting.

I have seen children in care forced to make their own way to hospital because there was no one available to bring them.

I have seen children going to school without breakfast.

I have seen teenagers who are expected to survive on €19.00 a week.

These things happen because gaps exist in our child protection system, gaps that are allowing children in need to fall through the cracks.

As a social care worker, I am tasked with making sure the voice of the child is heard in the decisions that affect their lives, until this right is finally enshrined in law.

But my task is made difficult, by overloading of case files, a lack of resources and the fact that my work is not supported by laws that protect the rights and the voices of children in Ireland.

So how do we make things better? The care system has to be founded on legally-based directives, not soft-focus wish lists. One tangible example that needs immediate attention is the lack of aftercare services that are available for young people who have lived in care.

Latest figures show a total of 6,015 young people and children are living in State care in Ireland – nearly double what it was twenty years ago.  The vast majority are in foster care, with the remainder in State residential care, voluntary care, special care or in detention schools.

As it stands, once a young person turns 18, the State is no longer obligated to legally support them. The experience of social care staff is that without support, many young people coming out of care struggle to cope.

While some are able to make that transition to independent adulthood, too many young people end up becoming marginalised, or even homeless. Some develop addiction problems and even get sucked into petty crime. Without support they can get trapped in this cycle.

We must return to this issue as a matter of huge urgency. Children and young people in care need support the whole way through the system but it can’t simply stop there. Turning our back on young people once they turn 18 isn’t doing anything to break the cycle of neglect and instability that many of these young people are finally beginning to recover from.

As a social care worker, it’s intensely frustrating to see young people that I have helped to care for thrown out of the system without a helping hand or support system in place to help them make that transition.

We owe them more than that – let’s give young people exiting the care system the chance to start living safely, secure in the knowledge that they’re not alone, that aftercare support is there for them when they need it. Empowering young people to take care of themselves will help prevent future generations of children entering into a cycle of neglect and abuse. Let’s make it happen.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline child care professional; he has worked for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.

Challenging ourselves, Professional Social Care


Today all over Ireland there are professional Social Care Workers doing great work with a myriad of different service users with a myriad of different needs. Today all over Ireland there are Non-Professional Care Workers doing great work with a myriad of different service users with a myriad of different needs. What unites all these people is that they want to help, they want to care, they want to make a difference and where this becomes problematic is when the organisations they work for does not have the same goals.

The residential care sector for children has been subject to statutory inspection for a good few years now, and this is right and proper, and in that time some service providers have not passed these inspections and have had to be closed down , again right and proper. The adult service providers have not been subject to this level of scrutiny, vulnerable adults whether physical, intellectual, or sensorial disabled or old aged are living in environments where close external scrutiny is not the norm, the most vulnerable in society are being let down by us the professionals. The longer Professionals remain quiet the more vulnerable our service users are.

A few years ago I worked in a residential setting where I was unhappy with the level and quality of service being offered to the young people in our care. It was a privately run, for profit, residential care home. The longer I worked there the more uncomfortable I was with the way it was run. Money was the guiding hand; everything was measured against the euro. Budgets were based on profit and loss, not on care, morals and ethos. Over time we were inspected and with a bit of work we passed two inspections, at the second inspection I voiced my concerns about the way the service was run, and to be fair to them the inspectors listened and acted appropriately. Eventually the inevitable happened and I had to make the decision whether to stay or leave, and so after a short break (mandatory holidays for all staff enforced by the directors) I decided not to return to work for this organisation.

I effectively put myself on the dole as Irelands economy collapsed; thankfully my wife supported me through this. I again spoke with the inspection service about my concerns. I was well and truly sickened by my particular experience of the private residential care sector. I now know that this isn’t the norm in childcare, but while we all strive to do the very best that we can for the very vulnerable people we work with if we are not willing to stand firm against bad practice then we should find a job elsewhere. Time and time again we read of investigations into bad practice and downright abuse, this can only happen when proper oversight is not as normal as tea and toast.

We as professionals should be the driving force behind these changes, we the professionals should be instituting change from within, and we should be fighting to make sure that all the people who use our services get the very best service they can get, and that starts with trusting, honest, open and safe relationships with one another. Hopefully this year we will see the wording of the proposed referendum on the rights of the child, hopefully it will be child centred, child focussed and strengthen the hands of those that advocate for societies most vulnerable.

Adrian McKenna is a frontline child care professional; he has worked for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.