A new child’s significant impairments are only half the story for a family. Here is a letter to parents (and hoping practitioners will read it too)
- you have a chance to get to know your baby and carry on with everyday life without too many people getting in the way -
Of course, the baby or infant needs all available support to help her or him survive, to stay as healthy as possible, to remain pain free and to have the best possible experience of learning and being alive. This is one half of the story. The other half is the combined traumatic experiences, fears, anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and exhaustion the family might have to endure for the coming months or first years. In the team around the child approach, both halves of the story are taken very seriously indeed.
The 2017 book, Early Childhood Intervention without Tears addresses stress and strain in families, considers the conditions for developing bonds of attachment, promotes the idea that the new child and the family deserve the best possible quality of life and argues for taking some of the pressure off early child and family support practitioners. Page 68 has a letter an effective integrated early child and family support service might send to new parents:
We are here to help you as you get to know your new baby. Two or three of the people here who already know you and your baby will join you as her or his Team Around the Child or TAC. This small team, with you in it, will plan the support you and your baby need.
When the people in this small TAC have got to know each other, we will ask you to decide which of them should be your ‘special person’ or ‘primary worker’. She will be the professional you see most, visiting you at home and when you come to the Centre. She will work with you to help your baby. She will not be on her own because she will have the other people in your baby’s TAC supporting her.
Your baby and your family are very important to us. Giving you the regular help of just one primary worker will mean your baby is not overwhelmed by too many people before he or she is ready. It also means you and the others in your family have a chance to get to know your baby and carry on with everyday life without too many people getting in the way.
We believe you know your baby best, even if you do not think so at the moment. The best way to help your baby learn will be if we add what we know to what you know. The best times for him to learn are in the natural times of playing with you, changing, bath time, mealtimes, etc. If we work together we can make these activities rich learning experiences and enjoyable times for you, your baby and other members of the family.
Babies can get tired, and parents too! Breaks, rest and relaxation are important. It is also very important that there is quality time every day for your baby just to be with you enjoying your company and getting to know you and the others in the family better. Life does not have to be all work!
Your primary worker and the others with you in your baby’s TAC are there for you. When we all work together your baby will have the best possible start in life and your family will be all the stronger. We are happy to discuss our work with you at any time.
Early Childhood Intervention without Tears is available from Interconnections at £22.00 plus postage - or electronically as a PDF for just £22.00