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Thursday, 29 September 2011

OK so I'm Deaf!

So after a little consideration and some frustration I decided I would like to know how deaf I am? I already knew I was deaf, but just how deaf am I? I visited a private hearing aid company and discovered (what I already knew) I am deaf. I have some nerve damage deafness mainly in my left ear. I suppose it’s helpful to know but there’s very little that can be done about it. Private hearing aids would potentially give some benefit and they would be hugely costly – approximately £2,500.

The lovely audiologist said he would refer me to the hospital and they can do the test again and that if I wished to see if a hearing aid would help then it would be better to be given one from the NHS. He was afraid that purchasing a hearing aid would be costly and was honest enough to encourage me to try an aid “for free” to assess the benefits for myself first.

I’ve been brought up around deafness and I have been involved with the deaf community for over 20 years. I am fluent in British Sign Language and maybe all of this goes a long way to making me comfortable with my deafness. Would you feel comfortable to be told you’re deaf? Does being deaf make a difference to your life? Do you resist your deafness and in doing so frustrate others?

Deafness for me is part of my life now just as it was as a child – my mother is profoundly deaf.

I hope this blog has made you think more about hearing loss, deafness and the need to embrace all of who we are….deaf or not.

Vivien Sabel is a UKCP Relational Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, Infant Communication Consultant and mother. She is fluent in British Sign Language and formerly trained and registered as a Trainee BSL Interpreter.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The impact of smacking

Up until the 1980’s smacking was only in debate by a few. Prior to this, many as a ‘day-to-day’ parenting tool saw smacking and spanking as par for the course.

The UK introduced its’ first ban on smacking in 1987 through the recognition that corporal punishment was no longer an option in our educational system. In 1999 this ban was then extended to independent schools. In the past decade further laws have been passed that have resulted in the prohibited use of corporal punishment in private and public children's homes and care facilities. Since 2004, the law has changed further to make it harder for parents, or primary caregivers, to use the defence of “reasonable punishment” when they could otherwise be charged with assault.

Concerns remain about smacking at home and in part-time educational institutions such as faith schools, where adults using "reasonable force" can avoid prosecutions.

But are parents being encouraged to look at alternative ways of managing their children without the use of smacking or physical punishment?

Currently, parents are allowed by law to mete out "reasonable chastisement'' on their children, providing smacking does not leave a bruise or mark. The Children’s Act 2004 clarifies these points and specifies the limits for parents. Children’s groups and MPs have argued that spanking or smacking is an outdated form of punishment that can cause long-term mental health problems. Despite persistent enthusiasm for physical chastisement in significant sections of the population, social scientists are virtually unanimous in arguing that smacking has more negative than positive effects.

Smacking or spanking is an act of aggression and in some cases violence against a child. In my opinion it has no demonstrative qualities and it has no place in parenting for the 21st century. Parenting in the 21st century means parenting with consciousness doesn’t it?

As a forty two year old ‘social scientist’ I am totally convinced that smacking or spanking is outdated, unnecessary, misguided, ineffectual and is a hopeless measure in support of discipline. Aggression is not the only way to deal with a problem. In demonstrating and modeling aggression and smacking it will not encourage positive teaching of our children, nor will it support them to consider alternatives solutions. It will affirm that ‘hitting out’ is the only way to deal with problems.

Smacking seems to me to be a loss of control. If parents have already lost control how far will they go in their attempts to discipline and control? How do we accurately measure “reasonable chastisement?” Take a look into the mind of a child and how he or she will process the concept of smacking, very simply in the following way. Mum or Dad smacks me so it’s OK for me to smack others too, especially people who are smaller and more vulnerable than me.

The consequence is that children who are smacked consistently hit out as initial response to dealing with problems and conflicts. I have worked with many children for many years and not only do I hear and see their parents in them and their learnt behaviours I have been on the receiving end of a couple of punches whilst in the clinical space. Yes punches rather than smacks. A child who is regularly hit will feel discomfort and pain, and he or she will experience shame.

Shame affects us in so many negative ways. A child will innately ‘act out’ their feelings in one of two ways - harming themself or harming another. They will not stop to consider the difference between a smack, a punch, a bite etc.

To add insult to injury smacking doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem. Many children learn to expect and tolerate the pain; some go on to request smacking as punishment as it is seen as a quick punishment. As the negative behaviours continue and the seeds of parental hatred begin to grow will it be your child visiting me in my clinical practice to discuss how being parented negatively (through smacking etc.) has affected their lives. I hope not, for their sake and yours.

I have three further comments to make firstly recent media articles are suggesting, “smacking never did me any harm” and kids who have been smacked are more likely to attend university etc. I’m afraid I believe the reason why people who have been raised using smacking as a disciplinary measure attend university is they are more than likely to feel a need to prove themselves to the world and I believe this is why they are more likely to attend university.

Secondly, research shows and so do many of the popular parenting experts/authors there is no place for smacking. We know that firm and consistent boundaries and reward-based systems will benefit our children thereby allowing for development and growth through learning more of the impact of their behaviors and how this can affect themselves and others.

Finally the issue of smacking must now be considered in light of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights, particularly Article Three on protection against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 is also relevant for child punishment, as Article 19 states: "Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation.”

In 1995 the Committee on the Rights of the Child, after examining the UK's first report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, recommended that corporal punishment in the family should be prohibited, and criticised the existence of the defence of "reasonable chastisement".

SAY A BIG FAT NO TO SMACKING….it’s not the answer.

Vivien Sabel
Relational Psychotherapist/Clinical Supervisor/Researcher/Writer


Vivien Sabel is the author of The Blossom Method ™ - Understanding and Bonding with Your Baby From Birth - publication date June 2012 (The Blossom Method has received outstanding worldwide reviews and a publishing house in Australia has already tipped it to be a global bestseller).

Vivien is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and a qualified Clinical Supervisor. She is a published researcher, a British Mummy Blogger and a parenting book & product reviewer.

©Vivien Sabel 2011 All rights reserved

Sunday, 4 September 2011

My latest independent parenting review

Independent Review by Vivien Sabel author of The Blossom Method™ - A revolutionary parenting/baby book (publication date June 2012). UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor & Researcher.

REAL brain development 'Love Your Baby' packets (mini book series) by Deborah McNelis, M.S. ed., Brain Development Specialist and owner of Brain Insights.

In agreeing to review these books I received a neat yet weighty parcel and inside I discovered some hidden gems. These books are unique, creative and educational. I have to say, I absolutely love them! I have so many good things to say about them I’m just not sure where to begin!

In the REAL brain development series there are six books for parents/professionals providing information about brain development through play, love and positive contact focusing on making connections in the first year and continuing on from age 1 to age 5. Each little packet has been prepared for easy access and each is jargon free.

I love the size of these mini books and the way they have been created; they are small and fastened together with a ring. It seems Deborah wanted to create these in a very easy and practical format so it is extremely easy for parents to use and take them anywhere. The ring, means you can easily flip to an activity that fits the current situation of the family (laundry, riding on the bus, cooking, waiting for an appointment, etc.) Each packet seems to be less like a book....and more like a simple to use and unique resource. Deborah has certainly achieved this with these little packets of joy.

These pre-eminent packets are a must read for all parents and professionals. The language is accessible and the pictures are delightful. My favorite consistent theme is hearing the voice of ‘our’ children throughout. The child voice can be ‘heard’ on the back of each page and it reminds you of what your children need to promote positive brain development. “My brain will adapt to whatever my world provides for me. For my brain to develop best, I need to have fun, interesting, loving experiences built into each day” McNelis (2008).

Each page provides you with information or an activity and then Deborah succinctly goes on to tell you all about what your children need for their brains to develop in the best possible way.

I think when Deborah produced these beautiful little books she had them in mind for providing ideas that some may not have been exposed to in their own growing up and to fit it in to busy working lives. But, she also kept in mind the busy professional parent who needs ideas just as much so they can spend quality interaction time with their children.

I think these packets should be given to each and every parent from their midwives, doctors or other healthcare professionals indeed any professionals working with parents or children to promote positive development. The ‘Love Your Baby’ packets can be used to support their efforts in an easy way through sharing practical ways to promote and easily learn about ways that really support brain development. Many schools, early childhood centres, parenting programs, family resource centres, nursery or Surestart centres, should make these available and distribute them to parents.

These mini books support ALL adults to realise that these are the ways science show us that brains develop best.

My daughter-in-law said she feels that it would be great if health services distributed these packets to those planning a pregnancy and those who have discovered they are pregnant. And I concur! I would have loved to receive my very own “Love Your Baby” packet. Then pediatricians, health visitors or other health care professional could give out the next one each year following!!

If I were the CEO of a health authority or other such company I would jump on board and consider using these packets as promotional items to increase the Public Relations of the company! They could also be used as promotional items for agencies or businesses wanting to promote the healthy development of children. These companies could have their logo and contact information printed on the packets!

The cost is $9.99 /packet US or UK --- International orders can be purchased with PayPal and the shipping will be calculated. When purchasing sets there is a discount in the price ... $27.00 for a 3 packet set or $54.00 for the 6 packet set. I believe bulk orders for organisations, schools or business get discount pricing for quantities over 25.

For more information and to order these pivotal packets and more from the REAL brain development series contact Deborah McNelis at