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Review: The Raven Tree Parent and Child Wellbeing Workshop

by Emily Payton

Anyone in the North-West with children has GOT to try The Raven Tree’s workshops. In particular, the parent and child well-being workshop. I apprehensively put my son and myself down, fully expecting to arrive late, that my son would hate it (he doesn’t enjoy a lot of things!), he wouldn’t be able to cope and we would have to leave, all within twenty minutes. And I am happy to report THAT THIS DID NOT HAPPEN!

My son is seven and has an array of neurological conditions. It is still a fight with various agencies regarding what the conditions are or could be. However, they are firmly sat on ADHD for the moment so we will run with that. He doesn’t tend to find many things interesting, but when he does, he hyper-focuses on them for maybe a month or eight. But with it comes a lot of sensory issues, social anxiety and quite frequently that all correlate with frustration and anger. So, I wasn’t optimistic about taking him to something new.

I was right in that we were late. But I was pleasantly surprised to see only another three parent-child groups. We began with some delightful breathing exercises as the meditative incense swirled around us. Amanda was wonderful! I had pre-warned her about my son and she assured me that if I picked up on anything from him, to whisk him out and bring him back when he was ready. Amanda made it so relatable for him. He anxiety-chatted a lot but not once did she appear his chattering was an irritation. We then moved on to wonderful attachment exercises. Children on one side of the room parents on the other. Lying on the soft fluffy carpet, we rolled a softball to and from one another. We then introduced a straw to blow back and forth. This encouraged eye contact between all parents and children and instead of it breeding competition between the doubles, the children were focused on their grown-up and improving their technique and connection.

Following this, my son needed a toilet visit and when we returned, there was a soft blanket out where Amanda had small piles of crystals. She explained what each was, how we could harness these crystals, what they represented and how they could help us. She explained in a wonderful age-appropriate manner how to bless the crystal and let everyone practise. My son adored this. It resonated so much with Minecraft that he felt he could contribute to the conversation while learning something new. Amanda allowed all the children to collect a small handful and fill a tiny glass jar which we could then fill with intentions. We were allowed to take these and ours still sits proudly in our living room. We also wrote family intentions on small wooden shapes and decorated them with string, encouraging conversation between each adult and their child about their own family and intentions.

After a short yoga and stretch session, Amanda taught us all how to massage our children. We sat behind and she explained very clearly and in simple terms how we could massage our children to evoke relaxation and connection. It was lovely to have that connection with my son, which I must admit, is extremely difficult as recently his aggression has been worse. We eventually swapped and Amanda talked the children through the same steps but described the movements to animals, which helped the children remember the moves. We also had wonderful conversations about ‘emotionally checking in’ about if the pressure was enough or too much and if the receiver was happy for the give to continue. It was a wonderful eye-opening experience for the children, who are so used to having their needs met unconditionally, they seemed very surprised at the encouragement for them to check in with the adult. It is certainly something we have been doing a lot more of at home.

Amanda was just wonderful, warm, funny and inclusive throughout. There were plenty of water breaks and it is advised you bring a small snack. My son asked to come to the child-only workshop over the summer which unfortunately was stopped by Covid. However, this is the first time he has ever asked to go somewhere on his own where there will be peers.

I cannot wait to continue exploring Amanda and The Raven Tree’s wellness experiences. I felt very comfortable with her and continued to learn a lot.

You can find The Raven Tree on both Facebook:

Instagram: theraventree


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