App to help parents get in the zone

A children’s charity is launching an easy to use phone app to complement a parenting course it developed in south east Northumberland.

Comfort Zone, launched in Blyth, is a simple, visual method of making sure parents are completely in tune with their child’s emotions and needs.

The aim is to give the child happy experiences it needs for brain development, in the first three years of its life.

Consultant clinical psychologist, Brenda McLackland, who specialises in the relationships between parents and children, was commissioned five years ago by Barnardo’s in Blyth Valley Children’s Centres to develop the course.

It has been used by the charity ever since and is based on feelings and emotions using a visual colour guide.

Red is for intrusive and angry parenting, blue for cold, disinterested parenting and yellow for warm, caring and fun parenting – the “comfort zone” required to keep young children both happy and content.

Assistant director for Barnardo’s, Julie McVeigh, who is based in Blyth, said: “The app is a useful tool to support the training we do with parents. It is a way of monitoring their progress and can be used as a record of their feelings.

“The app has a prompt to tell parents to ‘warm up’ towards their children or to ‘cool down’ if they are becoming too stressed and angry.”

The Comfort Zone takes one day to learn for practitioners and is usually delivered to parents in four to six weeks, during two hour sessions.

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