Rachel's story: Learning confidence in my parenting skills
I struggled when my first son Jake was born and I struggled again after the birth of my second child, Evan. I felt lonely. I felt sad. I felt I wasn't a good mother for my two sons.
I also felt under strain trying to manage with two very young children with different but constant needs.
I worked with the Mental Health Foundation and their Early Intervention programme and they helped increase my confidence as a parent and helped me to build on my relationship with my sons. I doted on both my children, but I was worried that my youngest child, Evan, wasn't getting enough of my attention. I was concerned that Jake and Evan weren't connected enough nor bonding as I wished.
With the help of an early years expert from the Foundation, I learned to focus on my best and most pleasurable moments with Evan. I thought these were when I was feeding him, as he's a good eater and I find it a relaxing moment for us both.
The Foundation's expert filmed Evan and I during feeding, as well as doing other everyday things like playing. The following week, I watched all the good moments of Evan and I together in selected video clips. They showed me that Evan was interested in the toys I was holding for him and he was looking at me with loving smiles.
I immediately felt relieved and uplifted. I started noticing all the tiny details that actually showed how closely bonded we are, such as looks, gestures and smiles.
This technique of being filmed, being shown selected positive moments and reflecting on these moments is called Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) and is proven to be a very effective tool in shifting people's perception of themselves and their relationships.
Over time, the VIG sessions helped me to feel more secure that I was a good parent, increasing my self esteem and developing a more positive image of myself and of my baby. In the following weeks I found that I had become more aware of our relationship. I was noticing all the good things that happened between Evan and I more and more every day, and realised that Evan responded positively to my inputs.
I slowly started to feel less stressed and unhappy because the evidence from the VIG confirmed that I was developing the best-possible relationship with her children. I knew that being able to recognise the good moments, and the positive cues that Evan was communicating, made an enormous difference to our wellbeing and gave me new hope for the future of my family.
I've had a very positive experience in just the short time I've been on this programme. I'm walking on cloud nine, to be honest. It's given me the confidence that even though things can get distracting, me and my kids are communicating. They are understanding me, I'm understanding them, there's not a problem, and I know what I need to continue to work on.