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Families Under Pressure - animated parenting tips for struggling households launched

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

With UK schools expected to remain closed until June, there are growing concerns that many families face increasing challenges as some restrictions on movement remain in place.  
 
A series of eight short films offering parenting tips are being launched today entitled  ‘Families Under Pressure’ (www.familiesunderpressure.org), featuring the recognisable voices of a host of well-known parents including Olivia Colman, Rob Brydon, Holly Willoughby, Danny Dyer, Sharon Horgan, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Romesh Ranganathan and Shappi Khorsandi
 
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and Maudsley Charity are launching ‘Families Under Pressure’ to help families struggling under the Coronavirus pandemic. 
 
The tips are based on decades of research from the UK’s leading experts and rooted in the experience of NHS teams working with families and feedback from parents, and are available free on a dedicated website, along with informative resources, to provide parents and carers with tips on how to respond when children play up. 
 
This comes after government research released last week revealed that 4 in 10 adults (44%) said home-schooling was putting a strain on their relationships in the household, and a further 46% said their own well-being had been affected under lockdown*. 
 
Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, from King’s College London who recognised a need for the initiative, said: 
 
‘We are hearing that many families are struggling with restrictions. This comes as no surprise as research shows that bored and worried children are more likely to play up and cause disruption, and frustrated parents can over-react to these challenges. Very quickly, these sorts of behaviours can escalate and lead to the breakdown of relationships and exacerbation of problems.
 
‘The idea for Families under Pressure came when I was thinking about how my poor old mum might have coped with me in this situation, as I was quite a handful as a child. What advice would she have found helpful?  
 
‘These tips were originally intended to support families dealing with pressures of ADHD and other behavioural challenges but are relevant for families facing the current challenges too. I am sure that having well-loved and recognisable parents narrating and a digestible and shareable format, will really help at a time when it is needed most.’
 
The eight episodes released today provide tips and advice on:
 
  • TIP 1: Keeping positive and motivated – Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman explains the importance of looking after yourself and staying connected with others, to ensure you look after and stay connected to those you love. 
  • TIP 2: Making sure everyone knows what’s expected of them – Actor and comedian Sharon Horgan explains how to introduce simple rules that can be applied to everyone in the household.
  • TIP 3: Building your child’s self-confidence and trust in you – Actor and presenter Danny Dyer talks through advice on how to ensure your children know they are valued. 
  • TIP 4: Getting your child to follow instructions – Comedian and actor Rob Brydon provides advice on ensuring your child listens when you ask them to do something.
  • TIP 5: Promoting better behaviour – Athlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill offers advice on building good behaviour through rewards.
  • TIP 6: How to limit conflict – TV presenter Holly Willoughby explains how to implement a plan that will help avoid situations that can result in conflict.
  • TIP 7: Keeping calm when your kids act up – Comedian Romesh Ranganathan shows parents how to take a moment to collect their thoughts when things start to erupt.
  • TIP 8: Using sanctions carefully – Comedian and author Shappi Khorsandi explains how to deliver sanctions carefully, calmly and consistently.


Chief Executive of Maudsley Charity, Rebecca Gray, said: ‘Families Under Pressure brings advice from some of the UK’s leading clinical and research experts on parenting with brilliant creative partners and some of the nation’s best-loved parents. We know that many families are feeling the pressure at the moment, and these resources connect to a wider ambition we have as a charity to improve the mental health of all children and young people.’
 
Bruce Clark, Clinical Director Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said in support of the project:

‘As mental health professionals, we are committed to supporting young people and their families, who we know are looking for advice and support at the moment. Parenting plays a vital role in developing resilience and good mental health in young people, and it’s vital that families have access to the right information and resources in order to do this, particularly during times of crisis. The films and website provide families with useful and practical advice that can be easily implemented at home to help support the new challenges we are all facing.’

King’s College London, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Maudsley Charity have a long history of working in partnership. Together they are planning the ground-breaking new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People that will be a pioneering centre of excellence, bringing together world-leading clinical and research expertise to prevent and treat mental illness. 
 
‘Families under Pressure’ is funded by Maudsley Charity and the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.  They are based on ‘Pointers on parenting under pressure (POP-UP); Evidence-based support for families getting through difficult times”. Edmund Sonuga-Barke PhD FMedSci FBA (King’s College London) with Margaret Thompson MD PhD, Jana Kreppner PhD, Hanna Kovshoff PhD, Catherine Thompson MSc and Sam Cortese MD PhD (University of Southampton), David Daley PhD (University of Nottingham) and Johnny Downs MD PhD (King’s College London).
 
Four further bite-sized animations are also being developed to help parents support their children’s anxieties and emotions during lockdown and will be released during Mental Health Awareness Week. Head to www.familiesunderpressure.org for more information.

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