Sam Builds a Nest - A Child's Care Box for Courage and Resilience.
Build a nest. Build #resilience . For children and the grown-ups who love them, a toolkit for embracing challenge and change. The only #Christmas gift this year. @kickstarter #mentalhealth https://kck.st/2E9mhZx
Welcome our guest blogger Ashley Taylor
Spring is in the air, seven ways to help your child to bloom rather than wilt…the Buddy Bench method.
As parents it’s a key concern to do everything we can to raise a happy, confident and creative child, but it can be difficult to see the difference between what actually works long term and what will eventually become a quick fix that didn’t work or even worse a total myth..
Years of research into how the mind works. The first and most important being that it’s best to start at the beginning! All too often we as a society try to ‘fix’ problems later down the line.
Reacting to what has already gone wrong. Research has indicated that as that old adage says ‘it’s far better to prevent than cure’. With that said, teaching children to identify and manage their emotions, thereby building emotional intelligence skills, resilience and wellbeing at the earliest possible age is certainly the way forward when it comes to preventing mental health issues further down the line. Yes even as young as three in our Little Buddies workshop.
7 top tips are supported by some of the pioneers of our time when it comes to Positive Psychology, Positive Thoughts and Empowering Children.
1.Teach your child to live in the moment! A wandering mind is an unhappy mind… It has often been said the the present is called just that because it is a gift! Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert recently conducted an experiment that showed that focus on what we are doing rather than what has happened in the past or may happen in the future produced vastly increased levels of happiness…
2. Encourage positive emotions! Learning to purposely invoke feelings of love, happiness, care and appreciation is now proven to have profound positive effects on both our minds and bodies. Even greater is the ability to notice a negative emotion and choose to shift to a positive one instead.
3.Allow your child to play to their strengths, while learning to grow… Finding the balance between doing what is familiar and easy, with discovering new things and learning strengths we never knew we had is one of the keys to feeling happy and fulfilled.
4.Provide your child plenty of opportunities for love and connection… Research has shown that a child can increase their school grades through simply eating meals with their family and engaging in conversations. Put your devices away and chat.
5.Encourage your child to ask empowering questions… What else is possible? For example will generate completely different answers than What’s wrong with me, why can’t I do this? Asking empowering questions will cause your child’s brain to search for empowering answers, while asking dis-empowering questions will return answers that confirm the question being asked!
6.Encourage your child to build a vision for the future… If you don’t know where you’re going all roads lead there! If a child is able to decide from an early age what they want their future to look like they can engage something called the Reticular Activating System (the part of our brain responsible for seeing more red mini’s on the road than ever before once we either decide that’s what we want to buy or actually get one!). Once engaged the Reticular Activating System (RAS) is designed to seek out and move towards what we have created as a vision. Helping a child set goals, write them down and draw what they will look like will power rocket the RTA into action!
Last but not least, in fact vitally important is to
7.Celebrate Successes… Once a child has set and achieved even the smallest of goals, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! Look for things to celebrate.
Why not pick up a journal for your child and get them to start with three things they are thankful for each day either written down or drawn on the pages so they can spend vital time feeling good about themselves and their lives.
Seven Tips for Bringing People Around
Dear David Coleman: How normal is my daughter's grieving for her puppy?
Wears something blue on the designated day.
It’s their choice – jeans, jumper, club or county colours; wear a blue scarf, wear a blue bungee in their hair, they could even paint their face blue!
If at all possible from their own money box or does a chore because this is a child led initiative. All money raised goes towards your school’s fund for getting a Buddy Bench and the Buddy Bench Aware Programmes into your school, promoting friendship, kindness and emotional well-being for all.
How does it work?
The Buddy Bench, placed in the school yard or play area, can be used for children when they are new to the school, want to make new friends, their friends are not there on a particular day, they want to play something different from what their friends are playing, or they’re having a problem with their friends and just can’t solve it right now / want to take a break. Sitting on the bench lets everyone know you are feeling lonely, 'different', are being with your emotions and thoughts, and so others are free to check in with you and see if you're ok.
How do we know that children will understand how to use the Buddy Bench?
We don’t just leave a bench in your school yard and leave it at that. Buddy Bench Ireland will also be delivering the Buddy Bench Program in your school.
Tell me about the Buddy Bench Programme!
As well as the Buddy Bench, we deliver 3 age-appropriate workshops Little Buddies aged 3-6, Buddy Bench Aware aged 6-9 and You Are a Hero for aged 9-12+. Using a combination of story, puppet show, discussions, self-awareness techniques and role-play, our workshops teach children about feelings:
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What they are, how they change, how to express themselves, and how to listen to others.
Through supporting core competencies of empathy, creativity, mindfulness and communication, we are empowering a generation of children to create a world where it’s OK – i.e. normal, natural, easy and fun - to express yourself.
Your child will also get a lovely Buddy Bench Activity Book with original illustrations and a comprehensive set of creative activities that teach tools for self-assessment, coping and developing language for feelings.
SchoolsWhen there is a death in the school community the impact can be quite significant and every school should think about having a critical incident management plan which will help them take the appropriate steps when a sudden tragedy occurs.
Deaths and other incidents do happen in all communities some having a greater effect in schools. Ideally they should be prepared with a well- developed plan and have a team in place with clearly defined roles.
If a death does occur, schools should often have also consider seeking external support. Thus the need for our "Dealing with Loss" add-on to our programmes which can be tailor made to each school. Read More
This will vary between schools and there may be clear protocols and policies about the action to take when a death occurs in the school community.
Often both staff and children are impacted by a death of a community member, parent or pupil and it can help to have somebody with training and some distance who can ‘walk beside’ the staff to plan and implement the response.
Don’t jump to conclusions or react too quickly – take a planned approach (with a team) to gathering and confirming information firstly, work with the family to plan what and how information can be shared.
Staff shouldn’t share information with students in large groups – instead, after permission has been granted, they should consider how to tailor delivery of information.
This might mean sharing of information to individuals or small groups (for those closest to the person who died) as well as in classroom groups.
Supporting the teacher with this task is important. This enables pupils and staff to take in the information, ask questions and express feelings in a familiar and safe environment.
The response that is best in the period immediately after an incident or death is Psychological First Aid, which recognises that people benefit from some support, information and connection with each other but that most people will recover well from incidents such as a death in the school community.
We know that if a child is experiencing difficulties with emotions their learning will be impacted so school staff are very aware of these links and see their role as being about the whole child – which includes how they are feeling.
- Noticing that the child is showing some changes or signs that something is wrong if the first step, then “checking in” to open the door to a conversation.
- Listen when the child wants to talk
- Protect the child’s privacy by not talking in front of other children
- Problem solve with the child about what will help at school. For example, a child who is grieving may want to have a picture or photo on their table or have some quiet time to draw or write about their feelings when they’re feeling sad or upset.
- Be ready to check in with the family and work together.
- If the child is continuing to be upset over time and efforts to support him or her aren’t making a difference, be mindful of the limits of your role and consider when to talk with parents and the school wellbeing person about a possible referral for specialist support
- Take care of yourself too – hearing sad stories and seeing a child who is upset can be distressing and sometimes remind staff members of their own losses.
- Certainly not to dismiss the signs or hope the child will “get over it” – it’s important that children feel heard and understood.
- On the other extreme, don’t over-react to a child who is distressed or their behaviours related to distress. Listen to understand what behaviours might mean and problem solve together with the child and family so that they see that feelings are normal and the school will support them.