Dr Shelagh.com
Dr Shelagh Wright - Systemic and Family Psychotherapist and Family Mediator

I've Been Thinking - Dr Shelagh's Blog


In recent years the Government has recognized that they must intervene early to prevent children from 'going off the rails'. This 'early intervention' idea has received a lot of positive media coverage with shows like 'house of tiny tearaways' and 'super nanny' clearly recognising what health care professionals working with children and adolescents have known for some time, that behavioural issues with adolescents start in toddler hood. Most recently research apparently has shown that toddlers are being 'made nasty' by the TV they are viewing, this research has said that the most popular show for 4 year olds is 'Eastenders'!

Many first time parents have had little or no experience with babies and young children so are doing what was done with them (from what they remember) or following unsolicited advice from others. For many this works out well for some it does not. How do you know what to do with young children; contrary to popular belief it does not always just 'come to you; when you have your first child.

Any parent knows only too well how hard it can be to manage day-to-day life with one or more little ones demanding attention; there are many differing theories about what a good parent does with regard to managing a child's behaviour. What there is not is a foolproof method that works for everyone.

The kind of behaviours that toddlers present include:

Children will tend to learn what they experience for example if they see an older sibling behaving in a certain way then they will assume that this behaviour is ok. Parenting styles can vary but the principles tend to be pretty similar for example consistency and fairness are important aspects of teaching your child to behave how you expect them to. It is fine to 'reward good behaviour' but it is just as important to acknowledge bad behaviour. If you do not tell your child that their behaviour is not acceptable how then will they learn this. Children need to experience their parents as being strong, capable and able to take care of them even when it does not feel nice. Children need to know where the boundaries are so that they can then remain within them.

The practical way to enlist this 'early intervention' for families with young children is to seek professional help with a systemically trained psychotherapist or family therapist. Contrary to popular opinion 'family therapy' is not for families who are or have failed or for parents who are unable to parent their children; it is however for parents who would like some help and support in how to manage all the unexpected and expected trials that children present to their parents on a regular basis. Often change can be achieved in as little as 2-4 sessions.

Dr Shelagh can offer a service to parents that can address these issues by meeting with parents (in own home if required) for an initial assessment and offer guidance on how to manage the specific difficulties that parents may be facing with their child. This guidance will be tailor made to deal with the specifics rather than a general 'rule of thumb' that a parent may reading a book or see on television.