As Mellow is committed to enabling good relationships, the underlying construct of much of what we do is Attachment theory, which suggest that our earliest relationships provide the model for later relationships. Where a child is able to make a secure relationship this gives them the confidence to explore and learn, with the knowledge that when they need support or comfort they can return to their “secure base”. This model is carried forward into peer relationships, later romantic relationships and a wide capacity to build trust. Where children have not developed secure early relationships they can be distant and untrusting of others, or conversely over dependent and demanding, making too close relationships, too quickly with the wrong people and then being hurt when they do not work out.
These patterns play out across the lifespan and across situations and affect how families relate to each other and to services. If you don’t trust other people, then you are not likely to seek help effectively. Attachment patterns affect not just relationships but opportunities to learn. Where children are anxious, they are too scared to reach out to new opportunities and challenges. Where children are over aroused and preoccupied with having their needs met, they are not free to concentrate and learn.
We also draw on the principles of adult learning, with the group using the knowledge and life experiences of group participants and highlighting practicality. Group facilitators are trained to support sharing in the group, not “solving” participants’ problems but enabling collaboration between group members.
All aspects of the group reflect a commitment to reflexivity. We treat each other, parents and children with respect and by social learning we expect that a new and positive model of relationships is demonstrated at all levels of the programmes. Social learning theory also supports the hope that better parent-child discipline measures can help parents who have only known coercive discipline to use more firm but fair authoritative parenting.
At the base however, we believe that relationships matter and by supporting parents to make good relationships, better outcomes for children will result.