Children's advocate encourages caregivers to seek help

Children's advocate encourages caregivers to seek help

Monday, December 09, 2019

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CHILDREN'S Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is encouraging caregivers to seek assistance, where necessary, to produce positive parenting outcomes in children's development.

Speaking last Thursday at the annual Parenting Exposition, hosted by the Kingston and St Andrew Family Court in downtown Kingston, Gordon Harrison said there is no harm in asking for help.

“The most efficient tasks and the best performed tasks are really executed when you realise that you can't do it all and you identify persons who are able to assist you along the path to getting it right,” the head of the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA), said.

“Because parenting is a task of not only love, but the objective is to achieve excellence, you have to recognise that as human beings, although we try and we do well on many occasions and in many instances, no one person is the repository of all the information, no one person knows everything, let alone the most important job that you will ever have to do in your entire life,” she added.

Gordon Harrison emphasised that the formative years between birth and eight years are the most critical.

“What the science tells us is that if we do not get it right between birth and eight years of age, sometimes it is a lost cause. It doesn't mean that you can't correct it, but it's a lot harder. What it means is that we as parents have to gear up and take serious interventions if we want to correct anything that went wrong in the first eight years,” she said.

She argued that communication is an essential parenting tool in investigating possible problems that may be affecting the child.

“We need to check in with our children to see what is happening to them, what is affecting them, what is influencing the particular behaviour that they have exhibited. Sometimes when you check in, you realise there may be underlying issues that are informing their behaviour,” she said.

Some of these behaviours, she noted, may be symptoms of sexual abuse.

“If it is you are noticing a change in your child, it may be indicative of a change in that child's social surroundings that is not appropriate. It may suggest that the child has been interfered with. It may suggest that they are accessing material that is inappropriate for the child's age and now that child is acting out, because of what they have seen,” Gordon Harrison said.

This year, nine parents participated in the Kingston and St Andrew Family Court's Parenting School six-week programme, where they were trained in effective parenting methodologies.

Parents are referred to the school by the judge hearing their cases or by the court's counselling centre or partner agencies.

Participants who successfully completed the court's parenting school curriculum were presented with certificates of completion.

The modules are delivered by qualified personnel form the Court's Social Work Unit and external partners. Topics covered included understanding the developmental phases of a child, communicating effectively with children, recognising signs of sexual abuse in children, effective parenting, stress management and reproductive health.

Held under the theme: 'Be the Influence: Show Empathy, Show Love, Show Respect', the expo featured exhibitions by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, Disputes Resolution Foundation, the National Parenting Support Commission, among others.

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