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Archive: Tips

A message from Jay Vaughan during lockdown

Dear families, professional colleagues and friends of Family Futures,

Well we are now entering our sixth week of lockdown at Family Futures and seeing virtual working as something that will need to be in place for some time.

It has been an adjustment for all of the team but we are proud that we are still managing to provide support to our families, albeit virtually, our advice line is open and we have just had our first virtual panel! We have also just launched a series of Webinars to support parents with the first one, a Webinar with Dr Daniel Hughes, booking fast!

Lockdown has been hard for lots of the families we have been in touch with as they have been struggling to manage the stress of the pandemic and how much this situation is triggering trauma issues for their children.

For anyone who has a traumatic history feeling the world is no longer a safe place and other people can potentially be a source of fear is highly evocative. This is no longer a fear state that is just based on a traumatic history but a fear that is based on the reality of what is happening in the here and now. In this way a fear based survival response is a healthy reasonable response to the situation. For children who have had other traumatic experiences in their lives, which mean that their nervous systems are wired to stress, then the extent to which they are activated is much more extreme.

We are in a war situation and at such times calming our stress response so we can make good strategic decisions about how to survive is key.

Calming our nervous system is even more important than it would be in other war situations as it is our bodies that are under attack! We absolutely need to support our nervous system now, more than ever, so that our immune systems are in a good shape to manage the attack.

So how do we manage such immense stress and keep sane?

We need to be curious about how we are managing this stress, asking ourselves:

  • How is our body managing this crisis?
  • Is our heart beating faster?
  • What increases our heart rate?
  • What calms our heart rate?
  • How is our breathing?
  • Is that faster too?
  • Are we breathing higher in our chests?
  • What can make our breathing calm?
  • Can the breathing settle lower in the belly?
  • How is our skin temperature?
  • Is it hotter or colder at different times of the day?
  • Are some bits of our body constantly too cold or too hot?
  • What feels a good body temperature?
  • Do we have more aches and pains than normal?
  • Do we have more somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches etc?

So we just need to notice and be curious about what our body is telling us:

  • What information is our body sharing with us?
  • We need to think what resources us?
  • How can we calm our stress response?
  • What nurtures us and helps us feel good inside?
  • What or who helps us manage optimally at times of stress?

As parents we need to look after ourselves first, and our own body and nervous system responses, so that we are able to attend to our children’s nervous systems too. We need to find our own ‘oxygen mask’ and put this on so that we can in turn help our children put on their ‘oxygen mask’ too.

We are living in extraordinary times and what is happening in the world was unthinkable to most of us only a few months ago. We keep the hope that this time will pass and life will return to something more akin to ‘normal’ in the future. But for now we should be kind to ourselves and have compassion for ourselves as we are managing as best we can.

With love from Jay and all the team at Family Futures

27 April 2020

Jay will be running 2 self-care webinars for parents/carers on 27 May, 8-9pm and 11 June, 2-3pm

Jay Vaughan is the CEO and Registered Manager at Family Futures CIC. Jay is a Certified Theraplay therapist and supervisor as well as a Theraplay trainer. She is also a state registered Dramatherapist, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapist and Somatic Experience Practitioner.

If you have a question for us at Family Futures about how we can support you at this time of heightened stress and anxiety, please email us or call our advice line: 020 7354 4161.

New live webinars with Dr Dan Hughes

Dear Dan Webinar – Dan Hughes answers parents & carers’ questions

How to parent as you hope to during the lockdown

18 May 2020, 2-5pm live online (with a half-hour break from 3.15-3.45pm)

Family Futures is inviting adoptive parents, foster carers and kinship carers to sign up to a live online webinar on 18 May with Dr Dan Hughes, founder of DDP. Dan will be offering parenting ideas to inspire you and creative ways to help children (and their parents) experience safety in spite of the anxious times we are living through.

Find out more and book your place here

Sensory activities to do at home

These tactile rich sensory activities are recommended by our Paediatric OT team as a great way for children to have fun while at home.

No-yeast pizza dough – a quick and easy recipe your children can make

The following are NOT EDIBLE and need adult supervision!

How to make your own slime – 2 recipes for homemade slime

How to make play dough – an easy recipe with tips

Have fun! If you want to send us photos of your creations you can send them by email to and we will update this page with new pictures!

Sensory Summer Activities

Tips from our team of Ocupational Therapists/ Sensory Integration Practitioners at Family Futures

Have a look at our Sensory Summer Activities guide here with tips for parents and carers on keeping structure going through the summer, sun screen recommendations plus activity ideas for at home, the pool, the beach and outdoor play.

Need help in the classroom?

Our Education Consultant Marion Allen offers some advice and tips for supporting Looked After and adopted children in school.

If you’re a teacher, special educational needs coordinator or a teaching assistant working with adopted or Looked After children you may have spotted signs of behavioural and learning difficulties.

Research shows that children who have experienced neglect and abuse remain traumatised by their earlier experiences long after they are removed to a place of safety, leaving them with both emotional and psychological difficulties. The first two to three years of a child’s life are crucial not only for developing attachments, but for developing executive functioning skills which enable us to problem solve. Part of this is working memory. According to Gathercole and Alloway, 10% of the school population struggle with their working memory.

Read More…

Starting school – managing change

We hope you have had a great summer holiday with your family. With the holidays coming to a close soon, we’ve consulted with our Education Specialist again, to give you some advice and tips on how to manage the transition back to school. This is particularly important for those starting primary school and those moving up from primary to secondary school.

For most children, and even more for adopted or looked after children, the prospect of doing something new and different can be perceived as scary. For children and young people with a history of early loss or trauma any transition experienced may be frightening. They are likely to feel stressed and anxious about the prospect of returning to a familiar school or a new one as both of these events involve change and uncertainty. Going back to school may trigger feelings of insecurity and worry. In your role as parent or primary carer, it’s important to understand that your child may be feeling stressed and how it’s affecting them, and recognise the emotions which they may communicate through their behaviour or how they present.

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Simple therapeutic techniques

Strapped for time, space and equipment? Dee Bamford, Senior Practitioner and Integrative Arts Psychotherapist at Family Futures, says there are a range of simple techniques that professionals can use to help unlock a child’s inner world.

Professionals working with adopted or fostered children often feel they don’t have the space, time or equipment to carry out the work that would give them a full understanding of a child’s range of experiences, hopes and dreams.

We know talking to a child may not give the whole picture of what is really going on in their minds, and that much of their experience may be locked in their bodies or extremely hard for them to articulate.

We want to help them manage these feelings and behaviour, to think about and make meaning of their experiences. But when words are not enough, what do we do?

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Managing change – transitioning into school holidays

With school holidays just about to begin, we’ve consulted with our Education Specialist Katrin Harrow to provide you with some useful tips on how to cope with and manage some of the changes your child might be facing right now. We’ll also provide you with some inspiration for fun activities to do together.

Whether it’s dealing with the transition from school to summer holidays, starting school for the first time in September or moving from primary to secondary school, we’ve got some helpful advice and workable solutions for you.

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Selecting a School for your Child

The 2016/17 Primary School admissions closing dates are fast approaching; if you are still undecided,  here are some tips and advice from our education experts on identifying the right school for your child.

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The Tell Tale Signs of Bullying & What To Do

In recognition of Anti-Bullying Week, we are raising awareness of bullying amongst adopted children and providing some advice on what to do if you suspect your child may be getting bullied.

Read More…

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