Children’s Mental Health Week

The week of 4th February 2019 is Children’s Mental Health Week.

This is championed in the UK by Place2Be https://www.place2be.org.uk supported by HRH Dutches of Cambridge.

We teach children how to write, read, add and subtract along with a whole host of other subjects. Those things are important towards helping them to be successful members of society.

However, if children don’t have the skills and strategies to cope with the stresses that come with the access and use of that knowledge and becoming members of society, they will not be as successful as they can be.

Together, whether we are parents, teachers, club/team leaders or the general public, we need to be actively engaged in giving our children the tools needed for a positive mental health now and in the future.

The development of mindfulness in children can support this positive mental health development.

A number of strategies can be found here for free: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-series/

Share your ideas and activities in the comments.

If you have missed the official week, that is ok. The development of positive mental health in children is for all year long and not just for one week.

Find more mindfulness strategies for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

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#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 14: Colour Meditation

The key to mindfulness is not being in the present every moment of the day. That is not possible and not appropriate for a successful life; you do need some time to reflect in order to improve and prepare for the future. The key is being able to refocus yourself in the present at your will and not at the will of your meandering thoughts.

Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity.

Today, we will focus using a reminder, Colour Meditation.

Colour Meditation

– Choose a colour and decide to notice that colour during the day. Take the time to notice the objects and people wearing that colour.

– Have your noticed something or someone you have never noticed before? How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)

This ends our #MindfulFocusChallenge. We hope you have been able to see how mindfulness can help you in your day to day life.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 13: Hand Washing Exercise

Many psychologists believe that our emotions begin with a physical sensation, positive or negative. When we focus on positive sensations that are calming, we can emotionally become calm.

Today, our mindfulness practice will focus on positive physical sensations to mindfully be in the moment and anchor us in the present.

Washing Hands Meditation

When we wash our hands in warm water, it opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.

– When you go to wash your hands, be mindful of the sensation of the water and soap as your rub your palms, between your fingers and on top of your hands. Breath deeply allowing your breathing enhance the feel of water and soap.

– How does this moment feel?

– How is it making the rest of your body feel?

Repeat every time you wash your hands today.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 7: The Movie Exercise

It is good for us to take more than a few minutes to break away from everyday life and movies are a good way to do this. I always find it relaxing to cuddle up on the sofa and turn on one of my favourite movies. Today, our mindful focus exercise is just that!

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position with your favourite comfort items.

⁃ Select either a favourite movie or a new one you have been waiting to watch.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths and turn it on.

⁃ While watching a movie, pay attention to how you get engrossed in the movie.

⁃ Observe closely what emotions does that movie bring out in you and take a note of it.

⁃ Once the movie is over, take a few minutes to reflect on the movie and the emotions.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 6: Hair/Head Exercise

Have you ever considered how many times you touch your hair and head? Many people, when particularly nervous will run their hands through their hair or over their head, twist locks of hair or rub our scalps. The same goes for when we are happy, excited, sad and more. Today, we will actually pay attention to these movements.

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths.

⁃ Then, turn your attention to your head. Begin by either running your fingers through your hair or over your scalp.

⁃ Pay attention to how it feels against your hands.

⁃ How does it feel?

⁃ How does it make you feel?

⁃ Take the time to massage your scalp with your fingertips and enjoy the feelings.

⁃ Then, one small bit at a time, concentrate on the tingling of the skin, warmth and feel of the front, middle and back of your head.

⁃ Allow all of your attention to be on your head and hair.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 3: The Hand Exercise

Today, is a simple mindfulness strategy that helps with mindful focus; The Hand Exercise. Items you need are simple. You just need your hands.

⁃ First, find a comfortable sitting or lying down position.

⁃ Take a few deep mindful breaths to help you relax.

⁃ Then, hold your hands tightly for about 10 seconds, squeezing tightly,and release them slowly.

⁃ Now, focus on how your hands feel; staying focused for as long as you can or until the feeling goes away.

⁃ Repeat 5 times

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

If you find yourself becoming anxious during the day, give yourself a mindful break and repeat this strategy to help you find peace in your day.

Respond in the comments below, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

Mindfulness- Finding Positivity at the End of the Day

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For humans, language is a powerful tool. It can evoke positive, neutral and negative emotions. We also can direct these emotions in others by the words we say and the syntax of those few words.

As a Headteacher/Principal for more than 10 years, there is a similar conversation I have with parents and teachers repeatedly.

Usually, the scenario of the child moaning and complaining about something that has happened as soon as the child walks out the school doors that leads to upset in the family for the evening. This conversation repeats day after day, upsetting the parent and feeding a negative loop of emotions to the point of a child telling their parents nothing good about the school day. When the parents tell the teacher, he/she is baffled as the child has not complained and, in fact, has had an extremely positive days filled with lots of success and praise.

So, what is going on here?

According to Professor Nass, co-authored, “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010),
“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” Generally, negative emotions involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.

Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, highlights in an article he co-authored in 2001, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” which appeared in The Review of General Psychology, “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

Basically, at a very young age, we realise that when we tell our parents the more negative experiences that have happened in our day, no matter how small, our parents give us more emotional feedback than when we tell them our positive experiences.

So, how can we as both teachers and parents use mindfulness to change how we see the day that will lead to mentally healthier experiences and reactions and to a more peaceful school and home environment?

Teachers

End each day with a positive thought– Have each child tell the class what is one thing they have learned that day or what was the best part of their day in school before they leave for the day. As a class, celebrate the successes; clap, cheer, smile and congratulate the positives. These positive thoughts and emotions follow the children out the door and home.

This gives you, as a teacher, a sense of accomplishment and positive mindful reflection on the day. It allows you to enjoy the success of the day instead of only considering the things that didn’t go well. It gives the day balance.

For children, it begins to refocus the day and allows children to bask in the glow of positivity. It helps them to give the day balance.

Parents

When you see your child at the end of the school day be specific in your questions:
– What was the BEST thing about today?
– What is the BEST thing you saw today?
– What is the KINDEST thing you did or said today?

The key is to focus on the positive and explore and discuss this positive. Allow the conversation to grow about this positive experience. Ask for details (Who was with you when this happened?) , explore the emotions (How did you feel? Did you smile?) and encourage gratitude (Did you say thank you? How do you think they felt?).

If your child tries to divert to a negative, let them know you will listen to them about it but first you are going to enjoy the positives and discuss the positives.

Before bedtime, bring up these positives again. Allow the child to repeat and allow the positive emotions to be the last emotions they have as they go to sleep. One falls asleep and has a better sleep when they have positive thoughts to drift off to.

This gives both of you time to enjoy each other’s company and reinforce a mindful sense of gratitude that can lead to a more harmonious family life.

Does this mean a child should never tell a parent what did not go well? Not at all! What we are wanting to do is to help children to find a mindful balance in life and find happiness in being happy.

Please note:
Just asking your child, “How was your day?” Is a neutral statement and doesn’t drive a positive mindset. Emphasis needs to be positive language.

Eventually, as the habit of positivity develops, even a neutral question will have a child first reflecting on the positive. However, this does take time.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.