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From Frustration to Validation

31 August 2023
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A few tears and upsets are a part of an active, healthy childhood, but a pattern of anxiety-fuelled outbursts was a warning sign.

10-year-old Hailey* started having outbursts at school. Upset by something a classmate said to her, she pushed a boy, and then a shoving match ensued. When the teacher stepped in to break it up, Hailey became aggressive, throwing papers and books around the classroom and bolting out of the room.

Kim*, Hailey’s Mum had been called to the school to talk about the incident, along with how Hailey’s behaviour had noticeably deteriorated since her parents' separation twelve months earlier.

It was suggested that Kim have a look at the Tuning in to Kids™ programme, run by Presbyterian Support, which teaches parents how to help their children manage their emotions such as frustration, anxiety, and anger.

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At school and home, the tension was rising. 

Kim found that every small frustration quickly escalated into an angry outburst.

Life was becoming increasingly difficult as Hailey also started displaying other concerning behaviours, including extreme fussiness with food, tears and clinginess during school drop-offs, and Hailey regularly wanted to sleep with her mum. 

“I didn’t know what to do. We were arguing all the time and I felt like I was failing as a parent. I desperately needed some help and was willing to do anything to see Hailey smile and enjoy life again”, says Kim. 

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A welcomed turning point.

The Tuning in to Kids™ programme emerged as a beacon of hope. Kim developed a greater understanding of her daughter’s emotional experiences and gained a new awareness of her own communication style.

In weeks, Kim noticed that the techniques she had learned were working. The dreaded task of doing Hailey’s hair remained a daily struggle, but Kim’s changed response helped to validate Hailey’s feelings, so she felt heard and could move past her frustration. “I can see you’re upset Hailey, is there a new style you would like me to do for you today?”.

The hair was plaited, and they were out the door without the usual standoff, a vastly different outcome from their previous mornings. The programme helped Kim to better manage these challenging moments. Kim’s response was filled with empathy, rather than stress. Tears still fell, but the atmosphere shifted. 

“It was wonderful to hear how Kim connects with Hailey and is now working with her to label her emotions. Their relationship is closer and stronger than before”, said our kaimahi (staff). The simple act of validating and labelling emotions fostered a new level of trust. In the end, the Tuning in to Kids™ programme marked the beginning of a much happier relationship between Kim and Hailey.


* Names and images have been changed to protect people’s privacy.


Will you please help support other families in need? 

Hailey and Kim's quality of life has drastically improved. Will you help us continue our valuable work by making a donation today?

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