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The role of a 'village' raising a child

04 February 2022
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21-year-old mother, Emma*, understands the significance of a 'village' raising her daughter and her 'village' includes Presbyterian Support.

It started recently when Emma's daughter, Ava*, was proving to be a handful and often having tantrums. Emma was struggling to know how to manage Ava. Add to that, Ava has a chronic illness and needs daily injections ... a lot for the young mother to cope with.

Enter in Presbyterian Support social worker, Annette. Her expertise and skills have helped Emma gain confidence to effectively parent Ava, help calm her down when she’s upset, and settle into the daily ritual of injections.

Now Ava puts on a brave face as the two-year-old sits quietly before she's given her daily injection. For Emma, injecting her daughter isn't as fraught as it once was but there have been plenty of times when the thought of this daily ritual was pretty overwhelming.

Emma had little training and was nervous, making the whole experience very difficult for both her and Ava. As you can imagine, the process was far from smooth sailing but when a nurse visited Emma, showing her an effective way to inject her daughter, the practice is now much more normal for both mother and daughter.

Emma's parents, who are also babysitters/caregivers, and Ava's father have also been trained as it was critical that no matter who was caring for Ava, they are able to give the little girl her injection.

“Emma has made incredible strides in a short period of time,” says Annette.

"She works full-time but is supported by her parents and Ava's father who look after Ava when she's working outside of preschool hours. She's overcome some pretty big challenges by learning how to inject Ava but the work we've done together is much more than that."

Working with Presbyterian Support, Emma has been encouraged to focus less on bad behaviour and more on good behaviour. For example, if Ava is drawing on paper at the kitchen table and started drawing directly onto the table, redirecting Ava back to the paper and saying we draw on the paper not the table encourages Ava’s creativity and discourages the drawing on the table.  Annette says in a very short time Emma's growing confidence in being a parent has been incredible.

“Emma provides all the necessary care for Ava, including a good diet, but she doubted herself and lacked the self belief in dealing with Ava's illness and challenging behaviour. With the work we've done, Emma is now more confident in her parenting.”

While Ava's behaviour has improved exponentially, she's still a typical two-year-old and has the odd tantrum but rather than focusing on this, Emma has learnt to distract Ava and turn her attention to something more positive.

Annette says distractions can be many and varied. "If Ava is having a tantrum, Emma might try to distract her with a particular picture or activity in a book, e.g. 'wow, oh my goodness, look at the wee dog in this book.' It's distractions like this that can help calm Ava and be a remarkable way of giving Emma the confidence she needs to be a successful parent."

Emma's confidence has been key to much better outcomes for both her and her daughter. Emma responds well when she's praised by Annette who reminds her of what a stirling job she's doing with Ava.

Emma says, “I want my daughter to feel she can come and talk to me about any problems she’s having so we can talk about them openly. I think this will be very valuable now and when Ava’s a teenager.”

Emma feels confident dealing with conflict, making sure she advocates for herself and Ava. She has more confidence to speak to others about how she wants her daughter to be raised and through her work with Presbyterian Support, she understands that her 'village' – grandparents, father, preschool, friends – are helping raise her.

Annette says, "Emma has identified the different parenting style she has in comparison to her own childhood and has a clear idea of how she wants to engage with Ava and what she wants for her daughter’s future. The living situation has improved dramatically and Ava's language skills have increased through reading."

Now that Emma's confidence is flourishing Annette can see Emma wanting to continue learning and growing as a parent.

"There's every possibility that Emma may enrol in our Incredible Years and Tuning Into Kids courses as her confidence in her parenting skills continues to grow and she recognises that additional courses could continue to help."

"We've also talked about Emma's future aspirations for herself, about future education and gaining more skills and qualifications while she continues to raise Ava. The long term is looking very positive for both mother and daughter," says Annette.

*Names and photos have been changed to protect privacy

You can make a difference

You'll make a real difference by donating to help us provide this type of support to other young mums and their tamariki. Will you help? We'd be very grateful for your support. Thank you.

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