Posts Tagged ‘Children’

The 221 Mistakes Parents Make Every Year

January 20, 2020

 

A recent survey claims that parents make 221 mistakes every year. Well, that’s a relief. I thought I was the only one.

I can’t wait until the survey claiming teachers make 798 mistakes every year.

The biggest mistakes were quite predictable:

 

A survey conducted by OnePoll of 2000 parents, ages 23 and up, on behalf of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, found that the biggest blunder of parenting was allowing too much screen time for children. It accounted for 65 percent, followed by teaching children swear words (42 percent) and allowing them to watch content inappropriate for their age (39 percent).

The survey explored the challenges of modern parenting, finding that age six was the most complicated for handling children. Parents were ready to give up quite a bit to make their kids behave properly. 30 percent were willing to give up social media, 30 percent were prepared to sacrifice wine, and 26 percent were ready to sacrifice Netflix.

Among the surveyed group of parents, when it came to parenting advice, 42 percent approached their partner, 41 percent reached out to their mother, and 31 percent relied on other parents. Parents also turn to technology for parenting advice, and while 17 percent use the internet, almost 10 percent refer to social media.

 

I note that this survey was conducted by Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Not sure I’d want a product with that name in my shopping trolley.

Surely that counts as one of the mistakes parents make.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Very Concerning Vaccination Trends

January 17, 2020

I am completely pro-vaccination. I believe the anti-vax view risks young lives and must, therefore, be refuted.

My side seems to be losing. Below are some very disturbing trends published by Gallop:

 

Percentage of Americans who believe it’s important parents vaccinate their children.

2001: 94%

2015: 84%

2019: 84%

 

46% unsure whether vaccines cause autism

45% say no

10% say yes

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

ADHD Desperation Has Lead Parents to Marijuana

January 15, 2020

I am not a doctor, so I try not to make sweeping statements about ADHD. I suspect that ADHD is real but overdiagnosed.

What upsets me more than anything when it comes the explosion of ADHD diagnoses of young children, is that many doctors seem to overlook other possible causes such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, family issues and diet way too readily.

Was that a sweeping statement? I hope not.

What is clear, is that parents of ADHD are as anxious as ever to find a quick cure. Even going to the extent of experimenting with drugs, with little to no scientific reasoning behind the treatments administered:

Some parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have grown wary of Ritalin and Adderall, common treatments for the condition, because of the stimulants’ side effects and potential for long-term abuse. Now they’re turning to doctors who will prescribe medical marijuana instead.

“They have seen improved performance in school and happier and calmer kids at home,” Elizabeth Spaar, a family-medicine physician in Verona, Pennsylvania, told Insider, referring to how her pediatric patients and her own children with ADHD have responded to medical marijuana.

There’s only scant research to support the usefulness of treating ADHD with medical marijuana, and the course of treatment isn’t without its share of risks. Some medical experts are concerned about how it can affect cognitive development, especially in developing brains, as well as how it could impair short-term memory.

This is a dangerous game we’re playing and the staggering 10% of kids diagnosed with ADHD seem to be the guinea pigs.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

A Marriage Story: Brilliant, Yet Bleak

January 10, 2020

 

I have long been arguing that we have taken the toll of divorce on children for granted (a theme central to my novel, “My Favourite Comedian”). Many claim that since it is so commonplace, divorce is less a tragic occurrence and more a reality of life. If most children have to go through it, it can’t be that bad, right?

I don’t subscribe to that theory. In fact, whilst there are often very good reasons for divorce and in many cases, the children are arguably better off, the effects of a family break down is as difficult for children now as it has ever been.

Enter Netflix’s masterpiece, A Marriage Story. A movie that couldn’t even spare one scene depicting the perspective of a child in the midst of a giant tug-of-war over rights to his upbringing. Not one!

This film is far more interested in the thoughts and needs of his parents. Parents who are decent people on the surface, but who have been racked with self-interest and continue to be. One had an affair, the other basically got bored and was feeling unimportant. Bad decisions were being made on both sides, with the power divested in terribly immoral lawyers continuing the trend of decisions made with self-interest trumping what is really best for the child.

The movie is quite brilliant. It captures the end of a marriage with great insight and the acting is brilliant. It is also a stark essay on the selfishness of the contemporary person.

Selfishness that I would argue does nothing for the child and his development.

 

Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Discussing the New Zealand Volcano Tragedy with Children

December 11, 2019

How on earth do you explain the tragedy that took place in Paris to young children?

Below are some tips by experts in the field that can be used to assist in facilitating discussions about the recent New Zealand volcano tragedy:

 

Watch for Trauma: “Young children may have difficulties identifying and expressing feelings. Parents should pay attention to the children’s play (for instance, preoccupation with certain aggressive electronic games, drawings, repetitive play that imitates the traumatic event or events). Another sign of trauma is avoidance of reminders.” — Dr. Aurelia Bizamcer, Medical Director, Outpatient Psychiatry at Temple University Hospital

Keep Answers Truthful but Simple: “We’re not holding back, but we’re not giving more because the giving more could have the risk of alarming the child. … As a parent you have an obligation to protect a young child from being overwhelmed.” –Alan Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University; Director of the Yale Parenting Center.

Reassure Them: “We need to appreciate that kids have different fears. Many will worry about the movies, but others will worry about such events spilling over to other areas, such as the mall, school, the neighborhood. For kids of all ages, it is really important to let them know that these kinds of events are incredibly rare. ” –Dr. Gene Beresin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training, Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital

Keep Answers Age-Appropriate: “Parents should be sure to pitch the discussion to their kids’ developmental level. For a 6-year-old, it’s completely appropriate to reassure them of their safety, with some emphasis on the fact that this person is no longer at large. For kids over the age of 8, more concrete details are appropriate, along with, perhaps, a general discussion of how to be safe in public — locating exit doors for instance, and getting to safety in the event of any dangerous occurrence.” –Jay Reeve,President and Chief Executive Officer, Apalachee Center

Don’t Make Assumptions: “Don’t project your own feelings, fears and anxiety on kids because you know you don’t really know exactly what your kids are feeling until you talk to them.” –Dr. Jane Taylor, psychiatrist

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

January 19, 2015

chair

If you want to improve the behaviour of the classroom you could do worse than treat your students the same way as you wish to be treated. Just like I find sitting on the mat utterly uncomfortable I try to minimise the amount of time they are on the mat. Just like I can’t sit still for too long before feeling under duress, so too I allow my students to experience active lessons that mixes learning with some movement.

The truth of the matter is that kids are bound to their seats or the mat for way too long. It is unhealthy and bad for the brain. Don’t take my word for it. Read this wonderful piece by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom:

 

Except for brief periods of getting up and switching classrooms, I’ve been sitting for the past 90 excruciating minutes. I look down at my leg and notice it is bouncing. Great, I think to myself, now I’m fidgeting! I’m doing anything I can to pay attention – even contorting my body into awkward positions to keep from daydreaming. It is useless, I checked out about forty-five minutes ago. I’m no longer registering anything the teacher is saying. I look around the room to see how the children a few decades younger than me are doing.

I’m immersed in a local middle-school classroom environment. I quickly realize I’m not the only one having a hard time paying attention. About 50 percent of the children are fidgeting and most of the remaining children are either slouched in the most unnatural positions imaginable or slumped over their desks. A child suddenly gets up to sharpen their pencil. A few minutes later, another child raises their hand and asks to go to the bathroom. In fact, at least three children have asked to go to the bathroom in the past twenty minutes. I’m mentally exhausted and the day has just begun. I was planning on observing the whole day. I just can’t do it. I decide to leave right after lunch.

There is no way I could tolerate six hours of sitting even just one day, never mind every day – day after day. How on Earth do these children tolerate sitting this long? Well, the short answer is they don’t. Their bodies aren’t designed for extended periods of sitting. In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on their bodies and minds. Bodies start to succumb to these unnatural positions and sedentary lifestyle through atrophy of the muscles, tightness of ligaments (where there shouldn’t be tightness), and underdeveloped sensory systems – setting them up for weak bodies, poor posturing, and inefficient sensory processing of the world around them.

If most of the classroom is fidgeting and struggling to even hold their bodies upright, in desperation to stay engaged – this is a really good indicator that they need to move more. In fact, it doesn’t matter how great of a teacher you are. If children have to learn by staying in their seats most of the day, their brains will naturally tune out after a while – wasting the time of everyone.

Are these teachers clueless to the benefits of movement? No. Most teachers know that movement is important. And many would report that they are downright and overwhelmingly frustrated by their inability to let children move more throughout the day. “We are expected to cram more and more information down their throats,” gripes one middle school teacher. “It is insane! We can no longer teach according to what we feel is developmentally appropriate.” Another teacher explains, “due to the high-stakes testing, even project-based learning opportunities are no longer feasible. Too many regulations, not enough time.”

They go on to explain that recess has been lost due to lack of space and time as well as fear that children will get injured. “Too many children were getting hurt,” says a teacher. “Parents were calling and complaining about scrapped knees and elbows – the rest was history.” Even their brief break from instruction during snack time is no longer a reality. These few minutes of freedom are now replaced with a “working snack” in order to pack in a quick vocabulary lesson. Physical education is held only every sixth day, so technically this isn’t even a weekly affair.

The children line up for lunchtime. “Come watch this,” a teacher yells over to me. The children line up in pairs and are told to be quiet. Once everyone is quiet, two teachers (one in front of the line and one in back) escort the children down to the cafeteria. The thought of prison inmates quickly comes to mind, as I watch the children walk silently, side by side down the corridors of the school hallway. I’m told they are to remain quiet and seated throughout the lunch period. “I feel so bad for them,” exclaims the teacher. “They are so ready for down time during lunch, but are still required to sit and be silent!”

Many parents are also becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the lack of recess and movement their children are getting in middle school. One mother states, “Middle school kids in particular are just coming out of the elementary school environment, consisting of multiple breaks throughout the day. These kids are still young, and depending on the district, could be just 10-years-old going into middle school. They are experiencing a great change already in the transition alone. A break during the day is what they need to re-group.”

This same parent contacted the district’s school board members who ultimately make many of the decisions regarding school policies. She also met with the principal and deans and created an online petition consisting of a strong parent community advocating for more movement in school. The results? A brief five to ten-minute walk outdoors after lunch, which the teachers explain is really half a lap around the building and back indoors they go. “It may not be recess–but it’s a good start,” this mother states. “However, I still believe it’s necessary to make it school policy that all kids get a longer break.”

I ask the teachers what kids do when they get home from school. “About 60 percent of them are over-scheduled. The other 40 percent have no one home, so they do what they want – which often relates to playing video games,” a teacher complains. “I’d say we have only a handful of children that go home and find time to play.” Both teachers try to keep homework meaningful and under an hour, knowing kids need time to release after a long day of school.

Even middle-school children need opportunities to play. This past summer, a teacher at one of our TimberNook camps brought along his 12-year-old daughter, Sarah as a “co-counselor.” Sarah was excited about being a counselor alongside a college student for their small group of five children. In the past, she had simply been a camper. However, as soon as the group set out into the deep woods, dispersed, and started to play,  she quickly switched roles. She instantly forgot about her new status and jumped wholeheartedly into the pretend world, alongside the younger children. What took place next, was quite remarkable.

Sarah climbed high onto a fallen log that ascended to the very top of their newly designed teepee, donned with fresh ferns to camouflage their rustic “living quarters.” She wore a brightly colored feathered mask on top of her forehead. “Listen,” she said to the group of children gathered around her. “We need to get ready for the opposing team’s attack.” She took the time to look each of the children in the eye. “You,” she said to one of the bigger kids in the group. “You are now appointed as top commander.” “Julie,” she said to a girl that is known to be one of the fastest runners in the group. “You are going to be our top spy.” She proceeded to roles for each of the children to play.

Her age, strength, and intelligence made her their natural chosen leader and the children respected her decisions. She played just as hard as the other children. She forgot about her new role as co-counselor for the rest of the week, except to occasionally lead a group song or chant during morning meeting. The fun of being a camper and free play trumped all responsibility. She was still a child. She was not ready to give up her right to free play. Who could blame her?

Why do we assume that children don’t need time to move or play once they reach sixth grade, or even fifth grade? They are only children! In fact, I would argue that we all could benefit from opportunities to play, even up through adulthood. Everyone needs downtime. Time to move our bodies. Time to get creative and escape the rigors of reality.

What can we do for our middle-school children? I asked Jessica Lahey, a middle school teacher, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and author of the upcoming book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” to give her opinion on the matter.

“Teachers are often afraid that if they let children move, it will be hard to get them to settle back down again. This shouldn’t stop us from providing them with the necessary movement children need in order to learn. Middle-school children can always benefit from recess! Also, when I taught for Crossroads Academy, we had some great nature trails behind our school through the woods. I would often take my whole English class for walks. I’d give them a topic to ponder and then we’d walk for ten minutes to think about the question. We’d huddle and discuss the topic. Then, I’d throw out another question and we’d start to walk again.”

Jessica explains that this is also true for schools in urban regions. Children can walk to museums or local parks to explore and learn. They can bring along their writing journals and assess the world and culture around them. Learning doesn’t have to be done in a chair. Jessica goes on to tell me that one time, she had her middle-school children practice public speaking by taking turns standing on a small bridge over a rumbling brook. They had to learn to project their voice over the babbling brook in order to be heard by the rest of class. “It was a good practical lesson and there is something about nature that grounds the child, taking away the anxiety that typically comes with public-speaking,” Jessica reports.

All people in decision-making positions for school policies should be required to sit through at least one school day and experience first-hand what is required of children today. Then they will have a better idea of what is appropriate and what isn’t. Then they will start to think about what their decisions mean for real children in real schools. Maybe then, they will begin to value children’s need to move, need to play, and the need to be respected as the human beings that they are.

Middle school-age children need to move – just like everyone else!

 

Tip for Getting Your Kids to Open Up About Their School Day

January 8, 2015

first day

Personally, I try to make the child’s’ school experience pleasurable enough to make them anxious to share their day with their parents. But for the parents who find it hard to get anything substantive from their children in this area, here are some tips courtesy of via parenttoolkit.com:

 

1. Wait at least a half an hour

Kids are generally drained and strained the moment they walk in door. So wait at least 30 minutes to start talking about school. Give your child a chance to decompress and have a snack, take off the backpack, and just breathe.

2. Don’t turn questions into a third degree

What would make you want to open up and tell her all those details? The same rules apply to kids. Big kid turn offs: pushing, prodding, demanding, coaxing, lecturing and threatening.

3. Look interested

Think of how your best friend asks you about your day. Use her example. Make sure you are relaxed and appear genuinely interested when you speak to your child.

4. Ask questions that require more than yes or no

“Do you have homework?” “Did you give your speech?” are questions that make your kid only have to answer with a yes or no response. So pose questions that require your child to respond with more than just yes, no, nope, sure, nothing, fine.

5. Don’t use the same questions

A big kid turn off is hearing your same old predictable: “How was your day?” query. So be creative. Churn up those questions so your kid knows you are interested!

6. Stop and listen

The nanosecond your child utters ANYTHING related to school, stop  and give your full presence. Catch any little nugget of information and make it seem as though it’s a gold mine. Kids open up more when they think you’re interesting.

7. Stretch conversation with “invitation openers”

If and when your child shares a detail try using the “stretching method.” Don’t push or prod but instead use these type of comments: “Really?” “Uh-huh?” “I don’t believe it!” “Wow!” They’re not threatening and invite a talker to open up.

8. Repeat “talk” portions

Try repeating bits of your child’s conversation: Child: “I played on the swing.” You: “You played on the swing.” The trick is to repeat the tidbit in a matter-of-fact but interested way to get your child to open up and add more.

9. Make your house kid-friendly

Many parents swear they find out more about school from their kids’ friends than from their own child. So invite your child’s friends over. Keep the fridge stocked with food. Set up a basketball court (or whatever you need to keep those kids at your house). And then be friendly (but not intrusive) to the friend. You may find that not only do the friends open up more, but your child will tag onto the friend’s conversation.

10. Get on the school website

Find out what’s going on in your kid’s school world: read the teacher newsletters, click onto the school calendar, read the school activities schedule and menu. You can then ask specific questions about your kid’s day.

 

 

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Things Middle School Students Wish We Knew

December 15, 2014

middle

Courtesy of weareteachers.com via  :

 

1. I was not trying to get attention by falling off the chair. I am approximately infinity inches bigger than I was yesterday and I just lost track of how to balance. I felt like an idiot so I made falling into a joke. Crying was the other choice. And I’d rather cut off my arm than cry in school.

2. I did that homework. I am almost positive I did it. Getting it from done to folder to backpack to school to you is like seven extra homeworks. That is too many. It’s also possible I forgot to do the homework. I honestly have no idea where my planner is. Or maybe the homework was completely confusing and if I asked for help people might think I am stupid now when that used to be my best subject.

3. That time I called you Mom was the most humiliating moment of my life. It’s one thing in second grade but middle school? Ugh. How does this stuff still happen to me?

4. When you force us to get up—do stuff, act it out, test our ideas—it wakes us up and makes the lesson so much more fun and easy to remember.

5. Sometimes I just can’t focus. I’m buzzy, jumpy, pumped with electricity. Somebody suddenly looks distractingly attractive, across the room, which is fully that other person’s fault, not mine. Or I don’t get what we’re discussing and the pain of not understanding is so excruciating I just have to take a break from paying attention.

6. It feels awesome when you notice something special about me. When you value a skill or interest of mine, you give me a route in to subjects I didn’t think I’d like—and make me feel like I have something worth sharing.

7. What you tell me about myself matters way more than I hope you know. When you tell me I am something—smart, brave, kind, stupid, a trouble-maker, creative, a writer, a mathematician, funny, hard-working—I believe you.

8. I like it when you’re sarcastic but not when you’re harsh. When you say something ironically and I get it, I feel smart and mature. But when you’re mocking in a sharper way, it feels mean and a little scary.

9. Respect me. There are lots of things I already know about myself. Some I want to talk about, A LOT, and it means so much to me when you find time to include me (and it) in class. But lots of other things about me, I’m not ready to discuss, and especially not in class.

10. If you call on me and I am flat-out wrong, please don’t humiliate me. I’m already praying for a hole to open up in the floor and swallow me. It’s hard for me to believe that not knowing isn’t shameful but is instead a good starting point for learning. Help me.

And one bonus extra thing: You are suddenly one of the most important adults in my whole world. How you respond to me affects everything. Please be tough. Please be gentle. Especially when I am neither.

 

Click on the link to read Watch a Classic Argument in Action (Video)

Click on the link to read 7 Things a Quiet Student Wishes Their Teacher Knew

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Click on the link to read Top 10 Most Unusual School Bans

Click on the link to read Rules that Restrict the Teacher and Enslave the Student

Tips for Tackling the Mental Health Stigma in Your Classroom

December 3, 2014

depression

I must admit that I have never been formally trained on how to teach a child suffering from mental health issues or even how to bring the topic up in the classroom.

Whilst these tips by Martin Williams are all within the realms of common sense, it is good to get the reassurance that you can deal with something effectively even if you were never trained to do so:

 

Talk about mental health

“Mental health was never mentioned at school at all,” says Charlotte Walker, who now writes a blog on mental health issues. “I found out I had depression aged 12 from a teenage health guide.”

Now a mother, Walker is acutely aware that there is still a worrying lack of discussion about mental health in schools. It’s a problem that can not only lead to stigmatisation, but also cause health issues to go undiagnosed. “My son’s experience is that schools focus on the ‘safer’ feeling topics, such as insomnia and exam stress, but don’t dare go into the realms of bipolar or schizophrenia.”

Walker suggests that teachers should tackle the problem by simply trying to be more candid about mental health when chatting to children. “We’ve seen that sex and relationship education doesn’t always work because it’s in dedicated sessions,” she explains. “I think it’s important to have a general spirit of openness.”

It’s also important to talk openly about what support is in place for children who are experiencing difficulties, she says. “It tends to be that you only find out what’s on offer once you’ve declared your child is having problems,” Walker says. “If the information is given out to everyone, no one is singled out for stigma or discrimination.”

But tackle derogatory language

While it’s important to encourage discussion of mental health, research has shown that the use of pejorative terms about mental health problems are common in many children’s everyday language. While this is reflective of a wider societal problem, teachers can do their bit by cracking down on language when it is used in a derogatory or abusive way.

“Discriminatory language needs to be challenged,” says Walker. “Schools have come a long way with this on homophobia, but we need challenge the use derogatory words like ‘psycho’ or ‘schizo’ and the devaluing of clinical terms.”

Consultant psychiatrist Arun Chopra has said previously that misuse of terminology leads to misunderstandings about mental health. “You would never hear it used in relation to a physical condition,” he says. “You wouldn’t hear someone being described as a bit diabetic.”

Importantly, however – as has been pointed out before – language is just the visible surface of a deeper discrimination, so tacking language alone can never be the full solution.

Be aware

Unlike physical problems, some mental illnesses aren’t so obvious. “Only a couple of teachers and a handful of friends knew I was anything other than totally fine because I hid it,” says Lorraine Davies, who suffered from anxiety and depression at school. “If I’d been schizophrenic or suicidal maybe it would have been more noticeable, so, weirdly, I might have found more support and less whispering from friends behind my back as they tried to work out why I was being ‘weird’.”

For teachers, the key is to be on the look out for warning signs, according to Dr Raphael Kelvin, the clinical lead for Minded, a website designed to help pupils and teachers understand mental health issues. He suggests that teachers brush up on their knowledge of symptoms and never ignore a child whose behaviour fluctuates.

“If teachers understand that depression can strike not just when someone is saying they’re depressed, but also with someone who’s concentration and motivation has changed, they might be able to help them.”

Kelvin says teachers need to be alert, but do not need to become psychiatrists to help. If in doubt, he says, share your concerns with parents and other teachers to get to the root of the problem.

Help children tell their story to friends

“It’s very important to have a narrative about these things,” says Dr Kelvin, “people need a story to explain how things are. When kids come to the clinic after a period of difficulty, I often try to encourage them to have a story about their experience to explain what they’ve been through to their peers and friends.

“Often they either want to tell everybody or nobody, and the responses vary. The kid who tells everybody can become the butt of insensitive remarks; but the ones who tell nobody end up feeling very isolated. So how do they talk about it to their friends and how much do they want to say? What words do they need to tell their story in a way that’s not too painful? I think those are the kind of things that teachers can support pupils with. If you hear the story of why someone is behaving in a certain way you get a depth of understanding.”

Don’t alienate them further

A child who is experiencing mental health discrimination is such a delicate issue that approaching it clumsily or ignoring it all together can intensify the problem.

Davies says that a lack of understanding among certain teachers pushed her further outside the protection school should provide. “I was asked never to attend one teacher’s classes ever again as I was often late to his 9am because my anxiety was too high for me to get the school bus. Another went out of his way to provoke me – I think he thought I was a drama queen who needed a firm hand.”

Even teachers who are trying to help need to be careful, says Wilson. They should listen closely to pupils’ social concerns and approach issues with huge sensitivity.

“For instance, there are an awful lot of children who will have nothing to do with their classroom assistant because their friends laugh at them,” he says. “You’ve got to take that on board because their self-esteem is often at such a low ebb that anything will set them off. It’s all very finely balanced.”

 

Click on the link to read A Lack of Proper Sleep Does a World of Damage to a Child’s Attention Span

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Click on the link to read Sousa’s Techniques to Build Self-Esteem

 

 

Suicide is a Problem Schools Shouldn’t Walk Away From

November 30, 2014

jayden arnold

Since a child spends a majority of his or her waking hours at school, it bothers me that many schools are so reactive when it comes to helping a child at risk. To wait for obvious signs of distress is a policy that flirts with disaster. I have long called for schools to help students who have difficulties making friends or who are undergoing challenges such as radical change, seperation of their parents or those going through a breakup of a friendship or relationship. Instead of waiting for the students to ask for help, is there anything wrong with offering it?

Suicide often occurs when the victim feels that nobody cares or understands. What  better way to show you “get it” than to initiate contact with a student that might need it?

Suicide is not a problem that schools can afford to blame on home issues. It is very much an issue that needs to be tackled through a partnership between school and home:

 

A SUICIDE prevention policy should be developed in every school in Australia to counter the scourge that affects so many young people, the Black Dog Institute says.

The policy should include plans to execute prevention programs, goals for positive mental health and guidelines for managing suicidal behaviour in schools.

Institute director Professor Helen Christensen said the action plan should be distributed to all school staff.

Teachers and parents also could be trained as “gatekeepers” to improve the identification of suicidal youth by better recognising warning signs and referring students on to further care.

“Gatekeeper training can be delivered universally such as to all school staff or selectively to parents of at risk students,” Prof Christensen said.

Under peer helper programs young people, too, could be equipped with knowledge and skills to help fellow students they believe to be at risk.

Experts believe young people are more likely to confide in one of their peers than in an adult when they are having serious problems.

Prof Christensen has made a series of recommendations on suicide prevention in the specialist publication of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Teacher.

“There is increasing recognition that a coordinated approach to suicide prevention must involve the participation of key community organisations,” she said.

“Among them schools are particularly well placed to deliver interventions that will enhance resilience, improve mental health and reduce risk of suicide.”

Schools at the centre of a mental health crisis among young people report that students are self-harming or threatening to injure themselves at a rate of more than two per week.

Child psychologists also say increasing numbers of children are presenting with mental disorders such as severe anxiety and, in the most extreme cases, have suicided.

Principals campaigning for more counsellors to handle disturbed children in schools report more problems are emerging in younger students — some exhibiting violent and challenging behaviours and a lack of remorse.

Cyber bullying, increasingly linked to incidents of self harm and suicide, now affects an estimated 463,000 a year with around 365,000 of them in the 10-15 age group.

Research by the UNSW’s social policy research centre has found increasing evidence of the lasting effects of cyber-bullying with links to low self-esteem, mental health issues, depression and anxiety.

A number of schools have responded to the Sunday Telegraph’s coverage of the suicide issue affecting young Australians.

Figures show suicide is the leading non-medical cause of death in children aged 10 to 14.

Writing in the newsletter of Rosebank College in Sydney’s inner west, acting assistant principal Paul Hardwick told the school community: “It was with great sadness reading the Sunday papers that the fragility of life hit me.

“Over the last couple of months families, friends and school communities have been left to ponder ‘why?’ and ‘what should I have done differently?’

“The College’s deepest sympathies go out to the families and schools trying to work through the heartache and sadness as they come together to grieve the loss of those so young.

“While adolescent mental health issues are on the rise, we as a community need to be able to arm our children with the tools to seek assistance when they need it and certainly when they are vulnerable.

“Just asking if someone is OK is not always enough.”

Rosebank College republished in its newsletter points of advice given by the headmaster of The King’s School, Parramatta Dr Tim Hawkes, which ran in The Sunday Telegraph.

Southern Cross School at Ballina on the state’s north coast said it, too, was touched by the tragic stories published in The Sunday Telegraph.

The school this week held a Wellbeing Expo “to bring the subject of youth mental health into the public arena and open channels for young people to know where and how to contact the right people” for help.

 

Click on the link to read Teacher Runs Suicide Note Writing Workshop

Click on the link to read Don’t Wait For Signs a Child is Contemplating Suicide

Click on the link to read Teachers Can’t Afford to Make Light of Suicide

Click on the link to read Schools Have an Even Bigger Responsibility than Educating


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