14th January 2019
This term we have been discussing wellbeing with the pupils. The following ideas are to promote resilience and wellbeing for children and have been adapted from Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book The Stress Solution and were documented in The Guardian at the beginning of the month.
Dr Chatterjee describes resilience as ‘the ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them.’ She denounces that one in eight children in England have a diagnosable mental health condition and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression have increased by 48% over the last 15 years. This data came from NHS Digital as recently as November 2018.
However, Dr Chatterjee explains that resilience can be taught, nurtured and modelled at any age, providing coping mechanisms to help deal with such emotional wellbeing concerns. Quoting Emma Saddleton, who works for mental health charity YoungMinds, Dr Chatterjee explains, ‘through strong support networks and encouraging communication, we can help young people understand when they feel down and what they can do to make themselves feel better.’
- One-to-one time
Resilience comes from relationships and children need nurturing. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to discussions and talking about your feelings will help your children to express theirs. Regular, distraction-free one-to-ones will allow your children to know they always have a safe space to open up.
- The importance of sleep
A lack of high-quality sleep is a huge driver for stress as it has a negative effect on memory, concentration, cognitive function and decision making. One way to improve sleep is to limit screen time before bed as the light released by digital devices suppresses production of melatonin – the hormone that signals to the body it is time to sleep.
A top tip is to switch your children’s night lights to red ones as it has the least impact on melatonin production.
- Regular exercise
Exercise doesn’t just keep you physically fit but also strengthens the brain. It is understood to be on par with medication when it comes to treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety as it gets the body used to moving more fluidly in and out of the stress state.
Exercising as a family can be beneficial as children like to do what they see us doing.
- Delayed gratification
With various devices allowing us to ask for something and receive it almost immediately, teaching resilience allows children to understand that you can’t always have what you want as soon as you want it. Playing board games, learning a musical instrument and undertaking a new sport are great ways of developing impulse control, mental flexibility and emotional regulation.
High-quality food within a diverse diet rich in fibre sends calm signals to the brain. One way to explore new food is the ‘eat the alphabet’ challenge where you aim to eat 26 different products beginning with each letter of the alphabet in one month.
- Model gratitude
Some key questions that help to teach gratitude, optimism and kindness can be used by parents:
- What did someone do today to make you happy?
- What did you do to make someone else happy?
- What have you learned today?
Adapted from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/05/six-ways-to-raise-a-resilient-child