I noticed the impact lockdown had on children and families – children were at home continually and the absence of a well-balance home environment (in some cases) took a toll on the children’s well-being. The Kids Matter programme equips parents and carers to manage their children's behaviour, with practical advice on how to make their homes a better place.
A major thing we have discovered is that many of the parents suffer from mental health challenges and low self-esteem, so every Kids Matter session focuses on helping parents to feel affirmed in their parenting.
We have had several church members, and many local friends, who have lost family members to Covid – our community is heart-broken and exhausted. I bumped into our local councillor last week and she said to me, ‘Your church has transformed that estate.
It was exciting when I joined the group! Particularly because during lockdown we were all alone in our homes and now we were joining with a community, even though it was online, and with people who had the same goal of learning new skills as parents.
My main area of concern with regards to parenting was discipline; how to listen well and discipline my children appropriately – gently rather than excessively. I was also interested in routine because I know that’s really useful when parenting.
Things had been difficult. After an abusive relationship and a long-haul slog for me and my 9-year-old daughter, we’re finally settled but it’s been troubling. Kids Matter was brilliant; all parents should do it.
Since doing Kids Matter I am more patient. I've stopped shouting so much. I’ve learnt to think about why my child might be acting up; that she might be stropping off because she’s hungry not because she’s being naughty. I know I’ve got the coping strategies to manage my children’s behaviour.
Once you have a child that’s it, you just worry all the time; seriously – all the time. Sometimes the world is too much. If you don’t have things like Kids Matter, the worry kind of consumes you; takes over your mind and then you bring it into your home.
So much has changed since doing the Kids Matter programme. I left school at 14 (I’m now 30); I didn’t do very well back then but I’ve gone back to school to do my GCSEs and I got a B+. I’m more relaxed now; I don’t take things to heart so much. We talk more and I look at things differently.
I enjoyed the discussions on family because my partner is African and we do have some cultural differences, so it was nice to think about that and share my thoughts knowing that what I said would be kept in the room.
No one is born a parent; we learn as we go. Even though I have been a mum for a large portion of my life, I still wonder whether I am doing the right thing. I joined Kids Matter hoping to learn some new things that I didn’t already know. And I learnt a lot.
I’ve done the Kids Matter parenting programme twice. My English is not very good – I am from Egypt and speak Arabic – but *Naomi helped me to understand the sessions; and the second time I understood better and found the information very helpful, especially because the culture here is very different from my country.
Before, I was worried that the things I was doing weren’t right but now I am more confidence in what I am doing as a parent. I have two older children (10 and 12 years old) and two little ones (20-months and 3 years old) and I’d forgotten what worked with the bigger ones, so it was nice to be reminded.
I’d given up trying to get my daughter *Samantha into a routine. Her crying was unbearable and so I’d just give in and do it her way. I could listen to other people’s kids when they cried but when it was my own child – it just went right through me.
The parents in my group were so friendly and made me feel confident to share my struggles; how to control my children (homework, bedtime, watching TV and everything) and complete my college course at the same time.
At home, I was tearing my hair out with a youngster and a 4-year-old; I was getting frustrated with the kids and shouting at them, and just not feeling like a good enough mum. I wanted to figure out if there was a better way, so I decided to do the parenting programme.
My boys are close in age and I was struggling with my older son who was being really testing. I didn’t know what to do. In the first session I tried to filter my parenting struggles and then after the second session I just let it out: “My boys are so naughty, someone help me!”
One minute you’re pregnant, the next minute you have a baby in your arms. There’s no guide or warm-up; you just get thrown into being a parent. Since doing the programme, I’m much calmer and better at recognising certain situations and honing in on key things that are happening with my children.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself through this parenting programme and have become a lot more confident in managing my son’s disability. I’ve learnt not to be so negative about myself. Before, I felt like a failure as a mum – like I just couldn’t do it; now I know that I can do it. Being a parent is hard but I can do it.
I was surprised at how much the programme helped me and how fun it was. I enjoyed hearing about other people’s experiences as parents – where they’re struggling, what they’re doing well and then sharing ideas and learning coping mechanisms that others have mastered. The cake was also good!
Before I started the programme my little girl called her sister “Mum” – not me, which made me feel down and depressed but I didn’t know how to correct her. I didn’t know how to communicate with my daughter; to ask her how her day was and whether she enjoyed school or even say “good night” and give her a kiss. I felt bad about this.
“I really enjoyed the small group and I think it would have been harder if it was a large group ‘cos in this way we got to know each other as kind of as real people.”
“They had the tables all set up with refreshments and then we chatted and it just felt quite informal, so that was quite nice and then you know lunch was provided afterwards and so it was just really nice.”
“Since doing the course, since doing the love languages quiz, he (7-year-old) wants to spend more time with me and now his handwriting is better because I now understand his love language better. I’m learning myself as well; I’m learning patience.”
“It was great that they had a crèche and it was also nice for me to kind of just let them play. You could see them play and you knew they were in good hands and you could get on and just enjoy your bit of time you know for coffee and just it was like being amongst friends almost.”