Looking at Problems Through the Eyes of a Child Can Be a Daunting Task for Parents


20. 01. 2016

The mutual understanding between parents and their children is very important in terms of ensuring a healthy relationship. This is why Rádio Junior run by Czech Radio currently has two radio shows running, one with a dedicated helpline for children and the other with an SOS line for adults. In both cases, psychologist Mgr. Barbora Downes who has been cooperating with Czech Radio since 2005 frequently provides valuable advice on these shows. Since 2008, in addition to these activities, she has also been a valuable member of Canadian Medical Care’s team of psychologists. Let’s explore her interesting job which brings closer the world of children to their parents and advises children on how to deal with their personal difficulties.

You currently cooperate with Czech Radio. When did your broadcasts first begin?

The first time that I found myself at Czech Radio was approximately eleven years ago as part of a discussion program that dealt with abused and neglected children. At the time, I worked at a crisis management center for children in Prague.  Thanks to working there, I got to know many of the editors and moderators who began inviting me to their programs (for example Káva o čtvrté (Coffee at Four) at Czech Radio 2 and Karambol on Radio Regina). Thanks to all these activities, I was contacted by Magdalena Šorelová, the program editor of broadcasting for children. With her, some ten years ago, we began broadcasting the Domino: Linka Důvěry (Domino: helpline) program. It is still active now, although it carries a different name. With the exception of my three-year stay in Australia, I am a frequent host there to this day.


What programs do you participate in at the moment?

Currently, I cooperate on the following programs. One of them is the Helpline of Rádio Junior which is aimed at children. In essence, it is basically what the Domino program was but now running under a new name.  It is aired each Monday from 19:00 until 20:00 on Rádio Junior of Czech Radio. I take turns with my colleague Tomáš Přenosil. Listeners can hear me once every two weeks. The second program I cooperate on is Atrium: Linka důvěry (Atrium : Helpline) of Rádio Junior. This program is aimed at parents and is aired on the online radio each Monday from 21:15 until 22:00. You can hear me there every Monday of the month.


Who are the programs aimed at and what problems do you encounter? Do you get feedback from the audience?

Both programs are connected. The Helpline of Rádio Junior focuses on everything that children are worried about. This can include relationships with their friends, siblings, parents or the lack of self-confidence.


Atrium : Helpline always looks at and mirrors the same topic which was discussed during the day with the children. It tries to explain to parents the way children perceive things and how they can be helped.  The program for children has a long-running tradition and children actually use the helpline quite frequently. Just recently, we were surprised that even topics like sex education did not scare them. In fact, we were contacted with many questions while the program was being aired.  


Some listeners share their often complex issues with us via email. We are pleased that some even contact us years later telling us about how well they are doing. The program for adults is being broadcast from October this year and we are doing our best to make sure that our listeners know about it.


What interesting topics have you recently dealt with?

The three latest shows covered topics including punishment at school and at home. It also covered the topics of relationships between siblings and sex education, all very interesting and complicated problem areas.  


What age group is the broadcast aimed at?

The target audience of the program for children has changed throughout its existence. Currently, it has a very wide range of focus ranging from 3 to 12 years of age.


How do children learn about the broadcast topics and how does it work?

The topic of the broadcast program is announced through the website but also directly on Rádio Junior. Children can call the studio on a free telephone line which is used frequently as well as email us. It may be a surprise to many readers that our telephone line is most busy when we discuss issues associated with love and crushes.  Children want to know how they can express their love to the other person and how they can deal with love that is not reciprocated. Interestingly, these are also topics that are applicable to both children and adults alike.


If your listeners do not manage to hear the radio broadcast live, can they listen to it later on?

The individual shows for children are archived and available on the Rádio Junior archive.  Atrium: Linka důvěry (Atrium : Helpline) recordings are also accessible within the archive.


What is the general reaction of the audience to the shows? Will the helpline expand further?

The show as it appears pleases the children who listen to it. Among the positive reaction that we receive from adults, there are some which blame us for siding with the children too much. However, this is the direction we wish to maintain. Children are already exposed to sufficient advice and instructions in their normal lives.  We are not currently planning expanding the offered shows and programs. The Atrium: Helpline show introduces a new and fresh concept that we established based on the numerous requests for help that we received from parents while the show for children was airing. Our goal is to transition this new project into a successful part of the broadcast offering.


Psychologist Mgr. Barbora Downes has been a successful staff member of Canadian Medical Care since 2008. Patients who wish to see her can book an appointment by calling us on +420 235 360 133 or by emailing us on cmc@cmcpraha.cz.

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