Practical support provides hands-on skills for the whole whānau

Lyttleton-based couple Andrea Solzer and Matthias Blattner want what all parents want – for their children to be safe, happy and healthy.

When their youngest daughter became increasingly frustrated and reluctant to participate at school, teachers suggested one-to-one support through Mana Ake – Stronger for tomorrow, an initiative that supports schools, families and whānau when children are experiencing issues that impact their wellbeing.

“Our daughter did individual sessions at the school and was given resources which really catered to what worked for her, including a chart that describes emotions. This has made it easier for her to put into words the emotion she’s feeling, and where it presents in her body,” said Andrea.

Mana Ake kaimahi (workers) provide support when children are experiencing issues that impact their wellbeing such as managing emotions, friendships and bullying, parental separation and grief and loss. The kaimahi have a wide range of skills and can work with children, with their families or with groups of children at school, in the community or at children’s homes.

The couple were later offered the chance to participate in the evidence-based group parenting programme delivered by kaimahi – Tuning into Kids (TIK).

“A friend of ours had done the course and told us how valuable it was, so we jumped at the chance,” said Andrea.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s good to take opportunities to learn and get information when you can.”

The couple started TIK, a 6-8 week programme developed by the University of Melbourne to support parents and carers hone skills in recognising, understanding and managing their own and their children's emotions.

“You don’t often look at yourself from the outside or think about what you bring from your own upbringing. This course helped us do that and was the first time I learned skills I could actually work with. It’s tangible and you role play scenarios to prepare for real situations.

“It’s been massively helpful for our family by giving us a shared understanding and language. Instead of screaming and shouting we’re problem solving and using distraction. We got so much out of it, and the kids are now a lot happier too – it was sent from heaven to be honest,” said Andrea.

Desiree Etmuller, Mana Ake Practice Lead, said: “TIK is a strengths-based group programme which underpins our overarching vision to support wellbeing and improve children's emotional regulation.

“We get really good feedback from parents who have been involved on the course, as it provides practical resources and skills that can be used day-to-day.”

Andrea strongly recommends both the parent and one-to-one sessions for children to other families. “For both daughters it was absolutely amazing – it taught them strategies to take into daily life.”

“For us, the TIK programme was great. We made an occasion of it each week by working the session into a date night. Whenever I can I share what I’ve learnt with others – I think it should be compulsory for all parents!”

To find out more about Mana Ake visit the website here.

*stock image - a family playing a card game 

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