It isn’t just about the language though. I see it in the analysis and assumptions that professionals move to when it comes to child protection. I attended a cpd session on baby /parent interaction where we watched some video clips and asked to rate them. Should I be worried that myself and midwife rated the interactions much more positively than those who regularly worked with child protection. Were those others looking to find fault, or were the two of us looking to see the positives ? Probably a bit of both , but my reflection was about how easy it was to start to discriminate and see the negatives. I also pondered on how well were the practitioners are able to retain an idea of what “typical “ might look like as opposed to what “ typical” in their case load might look like. This was powerfully reinforced when I spent the following Sunday with about 400 children aged 8 to 12 at a sports tournament. Observing the children there, one got a true sense of how varied typical is terms of height, cognitive ability, weight , skill and social development.
If we are to be professional , we need to be able to remind ourselves of several things , one how the intensity and the emotions behind the work can lead us to focus on the negatives I’ve been privileged to work alongside people such as Brigid Featherstone and June Thoburn who are strong ambassadors for reminding us about our humanity and how it needs to come through in our professionalism. Allied to that we need to spend time reflecting on what typical in the wider world is ? Taking 10 mins to watch interactions in a school playground, in a nursery , park etc. does not have to be such a big ask does it ?
Vijay Patel, Associate