It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way…  

6 November 2015

Mental health challenges in children and young people are on the increase and are posing huge problems for them, adults and the society as a whole. Families and schools alike, are now feeling the impact of this surge of mental health crisis. Something needs to give and changes must be made in order to safeguard children and young people’s future and as the next generation. And the change must start with us, adults!

Children want adults to take the lead and guide them even if they act totally contrary to this statement. They need guidance, including clear, consistent boundaries.

The child or pupil needs to know what they are supposed to do and wants guidance in order to be able to do it. Yes they are likely to react adversely at first when attempts to change their behaviour, routine, habits and patterns but that is partly due to the uncertainty of being thrown into unfamiliar territories of calmness, boundaries, assertion and discipline. It could also be due to a sense of confusion during the transition stages and lack of guidance. However, with consistent, firm, calm, gentle, loving, caring and reassuring action and guidance from the parent or teacher. The child or pupil may begin to see the benefits that the changes may bring. Trust is also a key issue for many children and young people.

In order to achieve any of the above, the teacher or parent must first know and understand what the problem is or underlying issues that needs to be fixed to bring about a change. The other key thing is that a more positive outcome is more likely if the parent or teacher first make changes within themselves in order to gain the results that they desire with and for the child or pupil. For instance, if you are someone who panics and/or show disgust at the sight of a self injury, it is really important that how you manage yourself and your emotions is changed, in order to gain any buy-in from the child or pupil.

When the man is right, the world will be right too.” Dennis Kimbro & Napoleon Hill

Children and young people respond to their environment. Fix the environment, and that will go along way to helping them to be in a more balanced emotional state, unless there are medical reasons which provide contra-indications.

Their behaviour is generally indicative of the underlying issues that they are attempting to grapple with or solve in some way.


Be The Change That You Want To See

Positive or new examples within the school environment might look like this:

ü      No labelling of any pupil

ü      Positive messages and focus reinforced at the start of each day for EVERY pupil

ü      Congruent verbal and non-verbal messages from staff/teachers and the school environment

ü      Lead by example


Positive or new examples within the home environment might look like this:

ü      Shared and reinforced boundaries, irrespective of the children and young people’s age

ü      Consistent habits/routines e.g. morning, home time, bedtime

ü      Consistent discipline

ü      Family fun


Positive or new examples within society might look like this:

Media see and treat people as OK (and a human being) irrespective of race, colour, creed, gender, sexuality, weight, size, etc.

“Be the change that you want to see”. Ghandi


So How Do You Do That?

As a parent or teacher, take control of the situation by taking control of you first and your emotions. If you want the children to be calm, you must first show and demonstrate calmness within. Shouting at them and telling them to calm down brings about the opposite affect!  Be calm and they naturally become calm. React and they will react. Respond consistently and they will begin to respond. Take the lead, or lead by example with consistent, firm, calm, gentle, loving, caring and reassuring action and guidance.

In Summary:

  • Ÿ         Anger and aggression begets anger and aggression!
  • Ÿ         Negative projections on children and young people results in negative reactions and behaviour on their part, towards you and others!
  • Ÿ         Model the response that you want to see
  • Ÿ         If you want calmness, be calm
  • Ÿ         If you want trust, demonstrate trust
  • Ÿ         If you want respect, demonstrate respect.


How teachers and parents manage their interaction with children and young people can go a long way in assisting children and young people to manage and regulate their own emotions. Given the gamut of challenges that young people face today, adults leading by example is only one aspect of helping children and young people to reduce their mental health challenges, but nevertheless a very important and significant aspect.

Sometimes as adults, we all need a little helping hand of support and/or guidance to uncover or discover the stumbling blocks that are getting in the way of being the person/teacher/parent that we want to be.


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Mindfulness In Schools

11 October 2015



n this article we are focusing on the use of Mindfulness techniques in Schools. It is a strategy and technique that is growing in popularity and one that is scientifically proven to bring about benefits, in particular in relation to depression.

Recent research, however, contradicts the benefits of Mindfulness.

Controversial Research Regarding Mindfulness and Exams


Mindfulness in schools is becoming more and more popular today.

Mindfulness is the preferred terminology for some people instead of the word meditation and a word that young people are more likely to respond to than ‘meditation.’ It originates from Eastern Buddhist traditions and is popular today for managing anxiety, depression, stress relief as well as general mental and physical well-being.

Celebrities endorsing Mindfulness include Davina McCall, Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey.

A recent research published in Psychological Science however, suggests that Mindfulness may not be suitable in preparation for exams.


Brent Wilson, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, said: “Our results highlight an unintended consequence of mindfulness meditation: memories may be less accurate….. When memories of imagined and real experiences too closely resemble each other, people can have difficulty determining which is which, and this can lead to falsely remembering imagined experiences as actual experiences.”

There is a mixed response to this research, which contrasts starkly with previous research on the benefits of Mindfulness.


Free Mindfulness SUMMIT

A FREE Mindfulness Summit for the whole MONTH of OCTOBER can be found Here

Be sure to check the Schedule for the FREE Mindfulness Sessions specific to the education setting.



How Teachers Can Help To Raise Students’ Self Esteem

18 June 2015

Teachers and schools can play a major role in helping to raise a student’s self esteem as this helps to bolster the self worth and resilience of students. Self esteem is an aspect of how we value ourselves; and can affect our trust in other people, in our abilities, and affects relationships. Teachers are in a unique position to identify and forestall early symptoms as well as possibilities of self harm. One strategy is for the teacher to devise a means of helping such a student stop or gradually lessen the use of ineffective or damaging coping behaviours which, according to mental health professionals, often mask possible feelings of vulnerability, emotional distress, low self esteem, childhood neglect as well as hopelessness.

A teacher could also rely upon the attribution theory for offering guideposts for effectively bolstering self esteem and confidence in a student who possibly has challenges with self defeating characteristics. The issue of mental health problems isn’t just limited to particular groups; they also span all classes; race and cultures and self harm is no different.

Self Harm Awareness

Emotional WellBeing
Ref: Nathaniel Branden

Self-harm is not just expressed in terms of the individual cutting, inflicting self-harm, or self-injury, but it includes a wide range of things people deliberately do to themselves that are harmful but usually not fatal. This can be a very traumatic time for young people and those who care for them, however. Problems with self esteem could also be as a result of childhood neglect or of emotional distress resulting from negligence or intentional acts of another person.

According to available statistics, one in twelve young people are said to subscribe to or adopt self harming behaviour whilst the last ten years in-patient admissions resulting form self injury have increased by 68%. It is very worrisome that a vast number of very young people are subscribing to self-harm as a solution to coping with life’s difficult pressures. It is otherwise erroneous that self harm is often dismissed as just an attention seeking behavioural pattern; rather it is a sign that young people are feeling terrible internal pain and are not coping well with life’s challenges.

Research also suggests that peer support can be helpful but then seems to work best when it is used alongside a whole school approach to mental health and reducing social isolation. Teachers can make good and proper use of self harm training resources for teachers available to them in solving these anomalies and to help to gradually reduce the rate at which students self harm.

The reasons for self-harm seem to vary greatly, and are specific to the individual, however a young person may subscribe to self-harm to help them cope with negative feelings, emotional distress, pains resulting from childhood neglect, , to feel more in control or to punish themselves.

The World Health Organization also suggests that the following strategies are important in helping to greatly reduce the possibilities of future self harming occurrences:

  • Helping students to have a strong sense of identity.
  • Promoting both the stability and continuity of students’ education.
  • Promoting healthy diet and good eating habits.
  • Promoting emotional expression.
  • Curbing both violence and bullying tendencies at school and in the community, where possible.
  • Providing information about services and accessing specialist support early on.
  • Self harm training and raising of staff self harm awareness and in the context of a school policy.

In identifying preventive measures, work in schools can help to reduce and help prevent self-harm as well as attempts at suicide.  However, quite a number of young people would prefer to turn to their peers for support whilst many have said that all they want is to be able to talk to someone who will listen attentively to and respect them. Schools can also provide support for their friends and peers who have been confided in about the self harming behaviour.