Bringing Up Great Kids (BUGK)

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services,  in partnership with The Smith Family (as Communities for Children Facilitating Partner) and Department of Communities – Child Protection and Family Support,  FinWA’s BUGK programme aims to provide a safe environment by supporting families who share the commonality of being linked with DCPFS. We offer flexibility in our delivery approach by allowing parents to interact with a parenting programme in whichever delivery method is most comfortable for them:

  • a playgroup
  • workshop or
  • through home visiting.

BUGK has been developed in Australia by the Australian Childhood Foundation as a stand-alone, trauma informed, parenting programme. An independent evaluation by Deakin University found the BUGK programme to be an effective intervention in building positive child-parent relationships, reducing parenting stress and minimising the possibility of harmful parental behaviour towards children

The sessions are delivered over six weeks with the themes of mindfulness and self-reflection threaded throughout the workshops. Using the metaphor of ‘Messages’ to pass on the learnings, parents acquire new skills and knowledge through a combination of reflective discussion, interactive games and activities, visual props, videos, handbooks and parent journals.

  1. ‘Messages of The Past’ gives parents space to reflect on their current parenting styles and how past experiences are driving their current way of responding to their childrens’ needs. Through the activities parents are supported to organize their feelings about complex emotional experiences, and share new self-awareness. They create a narrative of who they are by linking the past with the present to become the author of a possible new future. One parent recently found this workshop deeply therapeutic, she informed us that as a result, “I called my Dad, we talked about the past and he told me for the first time why he decided for me to live with my Mum. I understand better now”.
  2. The ‘Message Centre’ session focuses on using games and visual props to share information on neurobiological development in simplified terms. Highlighting the importance of relationships to healthy brain development, we teach the BUGK mindful parenting strategy called ‘Stop Pause Play’. This tool builds a parent’s capacity for self-regulation in stressful moments. One father informed us that he had been applying this strategy in the stressful moments when getting his seven year old daughter ready for school. After doing this each school day throughout the week his daughter then said to him, “I like this Daddy, I want him to stay”.
  3. Using role play and narrative approaches, the session ‘Giving and Receiving Messages’ offers parents insights into how their communication styles, and parenting responses may have impacted on their child’s development. This can be confronting for many parents. Parents emotions are supported and motivated to draw on their individual strengths to apply more effective communication styles. One parent recently informed us that it had helped her work through the pain and shame she was holding for the harm she had done to her kids. During the weekly phone contact with her older children she was able to offer her teenage son a sincere apology for the first time. She noted that she felt increased capacity to abstain from using drugs as a result of this healing.
  4. ‘Messages of Behaviour’ introduces the Iceberg Model of Behaviour enabling parent’s identification of children’s behaviour as their way of communicating their feelings and needs. This allows for a shift in the parent’s concept from misbehaviour being something that needs to be stopped, to a concept of what is this misbehaviour telling me about my child. We encourage parents to implement Stop Pause Play in these moments to help them consider the best way to response to the child’s feelings and meet their child’s needs. Many parents tell us that the Stop Pause Play is the best thing about the workshops, and how they hadn’t thought about why their child was misbehaving in as much detail before.
  5. In the session ‘Messages About Me’ we identify the typical stages of child development, focusing on links between the parent/child relationship and emotional development. This gives parents increased understanding of what to expect from their children at certain ages and reframe any unrealistic expectations. Step by step guidance on calming children’s strong emotions and guidance on how to engage in genuine, caring steps to repair after a rupture may support enhanced attachment and reduce family conflict. A mother recently explained to us that she used to, “Let my daughter cry it out for as long as it took. But now I can be with her and she calms down quicker”.
  6. In the final session ‘Passing on Messages’ we recap on the whole workshop and get feedback from parents to identify any gaps in the learning. We can then plan for individual follow up sessions to support parents in filling those gaps. We talk about stress, identifying how to recognize and manage stress in both children and parents. Using the analogy of a volcano we assist parents to identify their tipping points and consider ways to prevent an emotional eruption. We provide information on other support services and break down potential barriers to help seeking behaviours. Many parents noted that they found the weekly mindful meditation and breathing exercises helped them to deal with stressful moments and some reported that it helped them manage panic attacks.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the BUGK staff have provided individual, couples and group workshops to families via zoom and video-conferencing.  This innovative method of delivery has opened up a number of opportunities to connect with families who make find it difficult to travel to a workshop, including those in rural and outer metropolitan areas.

Fin WA staff have also been trained in Bringing Up Great Kids After Violence. We are exploring ways to partner with other organisations to deliver this specialized and much needed program that assists families to recover and rebuild positive ways of relating after experiencing Family Domestic Violence.

For more information about the Bringing Up Great Kids workshops and playgroup, contact:  Jo  Ph: 0401 839 766

Link to referral form.

Other helpful parenting websites and resources:

Raising media minded child
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