HSE launches new resource, ‘Talking to Your Young Child about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing Up’ 

 
Research finds that parents are asking for support with how to communicate with younger children about relationships, sexuality and growing up
 

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) has launched a new resource for parents, ’Talking to Your Young Child about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing Up’
 
Launched by Minister Catherine Byrne, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health, she welcomed the development of the parent’s resource and acknowledged the importance of the initiative, “I’m delighted to launch this resource. It will enable parents to have guided conversations at home and to build a foundation for positive sexual health and wellbeing”.
 
Speaking about the suite of materials, Helen Deely, Programme Lead said, “We are keenly aware that parents are the primary educators of their children and have a crucial role to play in supporting their child’s development. This resource has been developed in response to research with parents of young children, which finds that they want additional support to help them to have more open conversations with their children about relationships, sexuality and growing up from a young age. This resource will support parents to talk to their younger children about relationships and sexuality in a gradual, age-appropriate way.”
 
The HSE SHCPP has also released the research report that informed the development of this resource ‘Supporting Parents Communicating with Children Aged 4–9 Years about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing Up’.
 
Dr Catherine Conlon, Assistant Professor in Social Policy at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College, Dublin who led the research said, “The research finds that while different parents approach communicating with their younger children about relationships, sexuality and growing up in different ways, parents generally considered it to be a difficult or tricky topic and one that did not come easy to them, mostly due to the culture that prevailed as they themselves had grown up”. 
 
She continues “Parents overwhelmingly want to be able to have open and honest conversations with their own children. However they report lacking confidence in doing this. They want to have the skills to be an effective and reassuring source of information for their children, but many feel unprepared to do this and requested support in this area.” 
 
The resource ‘Talking to Your Young Child about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing Up’ is available to order from www.healthpromotion.ie. It consists of two booklets; a parents’ guide, ‘Talking to Your Young Child about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing up’ and a story booklet, ‘Tom’s Power Flower, a gentle explanation of how babies are made’. 
 
The research report ‘Supporting Parents Communicating with Children Aged 4–9 Years about Relationships, Sexuality and Growing Up’ and associated research summary are also available to order from healthpromotion.ie and for download from sexualwellbeing.ie.
 
§  A list of helpful resources and training courses is available at sexualwellbeing.ie 
§  A key recommendation in the National Sexual Health Strategy 2015 – 2020 is the need to develop and promote accessible and appropriate information, resources and supports for parents to enable them to communicate effectively about relationships and sexuality.
 

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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