“If we could transform the cultural model of not listening or ego-listening, to one of empathic listening, children could grow up with feelings of self-worth, there would be less need to act out anger and pain.” Liesl Silverstone, Art Therapy

Having spent the morning working, I decided to treat myself to a coffee at a local cafe yesterday. I took a notebook and pen as usual, planning to have some thinking time for half an hour. In the queue, I was aware of the sound of a small baby crying. By the time I sat down, the cries had turned to screams. The screams continued. I looked round for the source. A group of young mums were chatting at a table, and the screaming was coming from a pram. I smiled sympathetically, having been there, done that and had the tee-shirt myself years ago.

I waited for the mum to pick up the baby and comfort it. I waited, and waited. She carried on her conversation, oblivious to the child’s distress (and the growing distress of the people all around). In the end, I had to make a hasty exit – it was too painful to listen to a child asking for attention in the only way it knew how without getting any response.

A new BBC Radio 4 programme last night discussed the topic of attachment. The long-lasting effects of being heard, responded to and cared for (or not) struck a chord. Interestingly, an art therapist discusses a child’s drawing in the programme. The “large lake of black” tells its own story.

You can hear the programme on


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