Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Last weekend I attended the Australian National Foster Carers Conference. I was asked to review one of the workshops I attended for our state magazine. Here’s a snippet from what was a really inspiring weekend.

By Sunday morning all the conference goers were a little tired, especially those who stayed up and danced the night away at the conference dinner. So it was great to walk into a room with a lot of energy in it.

This session was being led by Gregory Nicolau, Director of the Childhood Trauma Group in Melbourne. Gregory has extensive experience in helping children in out of home care and had given the keynote speech on Saturday afternoon. He’d obviously made an impact as the room was full and just kept getting fuller as more & more people turned up to hear him speak again.

This session was about helping carers and their support workers to understand the real message our kids are telling us when they swear and have tantrums, withdraw, lie or use violence. More than that, Gregory planned on sending us home with some skills and ideas that would help us to see past the behaviours through to the hurt child, and to help the child to find new, more effective ways to communicate how they are feeling.

The session was entertaining and gave us a lot to take away and consider. I appreciated that Gregory acknowledged that we had a reasonable working knowledge of kids, brain development and the impact of trauma. He took us on at a higher level and kept us thinking and reflecting on our past and present challenges.

When I go to a workshop I hope to come away with some key piece of information that really resonates with me and my current line up of kids. With this session, it was the idea of ‘credits’. Starting every day with a fresh portion of credit for each child, then giving them more credit for getting out of bed, for eating breakfast and for every time we catch them ‘being good’ or doing something that takes them closer to being a regular kid. Remembering to celebrate and acknowledge the positive steps they make in day to day life – heart medicine (as Robin Moore would say).

I came away feeling like my reserves were a little fuller than they were at the start of the session. Thanks Gregory!


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