Group as a Safe Place for Development of Mother-Child Relationship

Kos Jerkovic Vanda
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Center for Rehabiltiation Zagreb

Early intervention team professionals perceived the importance of supporting parents to encourage relationships that stimulate growth, development and learning. Children with developmental disabilities (DD) often have reduced interest for environment and they display difficulties in establishing contact, which can lead to emotional difficulties and problem behaviors. The program based on Erskine's therapy of contact-in-relationship enables different kind of contact using methods of inquiry, attunement and involvement to understand relational needs. Relationship with full internal and external contact motivates a child and a mother to establish contact, play spontaneously and learn through exploration with each other and the group as a whole.

Five mothers and children with DD (3 children with Down's syndrome and 2 children with developmental disorder of speech and language), 7-30 months, participated in ten consecutive sessions (90 minutes). Mothers were given examples how to practice the new approach with their children.

According to mothers' feedback after five sessions, they report having positive experience of group work, increased awareness of their and their children's needs, and being able to attune to each other. Some mothers observed positive changes in their children's behavior and interaction with other children.

Important task of early intervention is to empower parents through education and experience in a safe environment how to support child's development and themselves. We have provided safe place for parents and children to explore personal creativity, curiosity, spontaneity, learning new skills, and support change and autonomy.

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