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Being A Residential Child Care Worker Is Exhausting – Evidence

Being a Residential Child Care Worker is exhausting – evidence

You were looking for a job in which you could use all of who you are, all of your abilities, capacities, experiences, and knowledge.

Someone told you when you were applying and being interviewed of the special sort of tiredness.

You have to experience it to understand it is true. You can think you appreciate it, but it is not the ‘real thing’.

Residential Child Care is not the same as ordinary devoted parenting.

It’s not just looking after someone else’s children as some people, even in leadership positions seem to think from their public comments. It is a highly specialist and demanding job. People who don’t see this are mistaken

It might look ordinary, but it takes a whole team of extraordinary people to make something that special look that ordinary. Providing the experience for children that is that ordinary is trained and planned, monitoring, shaped, day by day, month by month. Every day is different, the needs of the child require creative response. We adapt for the child to adapt.

Feeling worn out then is a familiar feeling in residential child care. There are some excellent materials to support people with their emotional exhaustion. It is no use saying it won’t happen because it will. It comes with the role and task.

Physically you are running around all day, if you’re not actually playing with children then you are ready to respond.

Emotionally you are working to provide the environment that the child needs at this time. Sometimes nurture, sometimes boundaries, always shared.

This means taking what the child is giving out, accepting it and giving it back in a modified form. You are always applying your knowledge and experience to this moment in pursuit of achieving the plan for the child. So there you have identified the psychological and intellectual demands.

It requires that you are attuned, attentive, resilient.

That’s why you feel weary. It is a demanding job.

Here’s the explanation. According to a study reported in the journal ‘Current biology’ Wiehler et al, Paris Brain Institute) prolonged mental activity leads to an accumulation of a neurotransmitter in the prefrontal cortex.

The brain slows down to its activity to manage the build up of the neurotransmitter. That’s the reason you feel tired. Along with all the other reasons!

There is not a moment when you are not working. You brain is exerting cognitive control when doing ordinary things, sitting with children watching TV, during mealtimes, walking down the road. You are thinking of what is happening here and now, and why, and what might happen and how you might pre-empt it. These are demands that cause fatigue.

Working to adapt an attachment style that is the result of past experiences, or to support recovery from trauma, requires that you are continually ‘in the moment’ with the child. To be so requires that you resist the temptation to do something less demanding. The moment you do the child notices that they have ‘fallen out of mind’ and something occurs to let you know. Continually pushing against that temptation is demanding.

One aspect that is intriguing. Often though you are tired you don’t acknowledge it. The research explains this as ‘dissociation’. We are keeping ourselves on task though all the indicators are that we could drift off task.

It is not only how you are feeling. It is actually how you are feeling.

Which also reminds us that whilst we attend to professional training g and development of our knowledge and skills perhaps we need to do as much on relaxation, rest and recuperation.

NCERCC