This series of short essays is intended as an introduction to TAC or as a refresher course for everyone around babies and infants who need special support for their development and learning. The article can be translated for use in newsletters, networks and websites in any country
FIFTH PRINCIPLE: ‘TAC Action Plans are designed to reduce the child and family’s exhaustion and stress as much as possible. Child and family are helped to have the best possible quality of life. Bonds of attachment between the new child and significant adults are nurtured.'
In the TAC system, there is no assumption that parents and other close family members must accept long-term stress, strain and exhaustion. With stress and exhaustion marital relationships can falter, family members can suffer physical and psychological illness and some families will fall apart under the strain. TAC members will observe when this is happening and then discuss the main factors with family members.
It is essential for family members to have a person they know and trust to discuss their upset, bewilderment, worry and confusion. There can be feelings of guilt if a parent feels responsible for the child’s condition, if one parent is blaming the other or if one side of the family blames the ‘genetics’ of other side. A parent might need help with self-esteem and confidence if they feel disempowered in the face of so many ‘expert’ professionals and then feel inadequate to the task of caring properly for the child.
It will help if one person can learn from parents if life is too busy with repeated assessments, medical treatments, therapy sessions and case conferences in hospitals, clinics and centres. This must include learning about travel difficulties and costs and additional problems when there are pre-school siblings to cater for. It will be necessary to ask how many home visits are made by various professionals because these can be sources of stress, can make the family feel the home is no longer a private domain and even that they are being observed and judged.
Parents can be asked about any difficulties they are having with home programmes from one or more therapists and teachers. Home programmes can work well for some families but for others the work is difficult to fit into the available time and space and can add to parents’ stress and tiredness. Parents might blame themselves if they feel they are not doing the programmes well enough or often enough. Also, some parents do not easily modify the natural parental role to become a ‘pretend’ therapist or teacher.
Parents must be asked about the child and family sleep routines. Many parents are struggling with all of the above issues while they are sleep deprived because of the child’s sleep patterns. Parents will be anxious if siblings are also sleep deprived and failing at school.
The following extract is from ‘Early Childhood Intervention without Tears’ on pages 12 and 13:
‘Parental tiredness, stress and general downheartedness will impact directly on the infant. But the child with a multifaceted condition has other threats to wellbeing and quality of life, including:
- busy days, busy weeks
- perhaps sleeping badly and experiencing bodily discomforts, anxiety, fear and pain during days and nights
- a growing throng of non-family people each expecting the child to relate to them and accept being handled by them
- being trundled around to a variety of locations for appointments that are organised without proper regard for feeding, sleeping and play times. This makes it very difficult for parents to establish infant routines.
- home-visiting professionals intruding on home life and natural home activity
- home therapy programmes delivered by parents that might be experienced by the infant as unpleasant and unwelcome interruptions of the natural flow of infant and family activity.
Quality of life for the new child and family is enhanced for the present and future when there are good conditions for developing bonds of attachment. This is equally true for all children. The necessary good conditions include: child and adults being as free of stress and exhaustion as possible; adults having quality time to spend with the child in a calm atmosphere; the child being calm and pain free for these quality times.
The first task is for TAC members to listen to parents and other family members to learn what their situation is, what is causing exhaustion and what is causing stress. The second task is to be imaginative and creative in making a TAC Plan that reduces exhaustion and stress as much as possible. It will probably be necessary in this to help parents approach all their other practitioners so that appointments and home visits can be properly co-ordinated and rationalised.
First TAC Principle here
Second TAC Principle here
Third TAC Principle here
Fourth TAC Principle is here
Fifth TAC Principle here
Sixth TAC Principle here
Seventh TAC Principle here
Eighth TAC Principle here
Ninth TAC Principle here
Tenth TAC Principle here