Coping with change and conflict

Children sometimes struggle to cope with parental separation or adjust to new living circumstances and restructured family units. They can find that they have split loyalties and are afraid of causing further upset or conflict for their parents. Our services for children and young people help them to cope with their family situations, change things that they can change, build self confidence and resilience for their future and have their voice heard.

We work with children and young people aged between 6 – 18 years and have four distinct services.

Consulting Children

Family mediation promotes and supports joint parental responsibility and can help parents to communicate better with their children.  Parents are encouraged to consider the welfare, feelings and wishes of each individual child. If, during mediation, it becomes apparent that it would be helpful for a mediator to consult directly with a child or children, and parents and children wish it, this can be arranged. Account must always be taken of the appropriateness of this with regard to each child’s age, understanding and development.

How it works
Your mediator will meet with parents to discuss the implications of direct consultation with the children including preparation for receiving feedback from your children as well as discussing any specific issues which parents would like raised with the children.

The mediator will then arrange to meet the children. Ideally this is done individually but it can be done in sibling groups, but again, the potential implications of this would be discussed with parents beforehand.  The main purpose of this meeting is to hear the children’s views on what their parents have been discussing in mediation. However, sometimes children also want to tell the mediator how they are feeling about their parents’ separation and how it is affecting them. The mediator agrees with the children what they would like to feed back into the mediation process for their parents to hear and how that will be done. Children can decide that they don’t wish everything that they have told the mediator to be passed back to their parents and we will respect their wishes for confidentiality, unless we feel that there are any child protection concerns.

Finally, the mediator meets again with the parents to provide the feedback and work with them to consider a way forward. Mediators can also offer information about other services we offer for children and young people.

There is a charge for this service. See our Fees and Contributions page.

Listen to Me

This service provides practical and emotional support to children and young people aged 8-18 who are struggling to cope with parental conflict, separation and restructured families.

In family break-up, children and young people can often be left feeling marginalised or invisible. Listen to Me gives them confidential one-to-one time with our Family Support Worker to allow them to talk through any aspects of their family situation and issues which may be affecting them. We can help children and young people to deal with:

• Anxiety
• Fear
• Low self esteem and confidence
• Anger management issues
• Feelings of loneliness or isolation
• Behavioural issues
• Family conflict

We tailor the service to each individual child and a range of methods and tools such as toys, therapeutic games and exercises, books and art work are introduced to suit the particular developmental needs of the child or young person.  All sessions are informal and relaxed and we work at the child's own pace.

Much of the distress that children present with relate to them not having contact, or having infrequent contact with one of their parents. Our Post Box service may be able to help. The aim of this is to help keep children in touch with parents or other family members who they don’t see or see infrequently. It removes the need for individual family members to share their postal or email addresses, land-line or mobile telephone numbers as all correspondence between the child and other family members can be sent via RSB’s Post Box.

There is no charge for this service but contributions are welcomed. See our Fees and Contributions page.

Contact support

It can be confusing and upsetting for some children when they first meet or are reintroduced to a parent or other family member whom they haven’t seen for some time or never met at all.

We can help avoid awkwardness and reduce fear and anxiety for children and their parents. We offer sessions for both the children and the adults to prepare for contact in these circumstances, set boundaries and address fears.

We can also facilitate the introduction/reintroduction and stay with children during the initial contact, encouraging interaction, play and communication. This usually takes place in one of our Child Contact Centres but sometimes can be facilitated elsewhere.

We can support children and young people of all ages with contact, but one-to-one preparatory work would usually only be undertaken with children aged over six years. However parents are encouraged to discuss younger children's needs and concerns with our family support worker.

There is no charge for the contact support but Contact Centre costs apply. See our Fees and Contributions page.

Children in the legal process

We can support children to complete the F9 form and can also support and accompany children who are going to speak with a solicitor. Please contact the service for more information.