More and more kids in South Lanarkshire are not able to get the mental health support they need at school because of the lack of resources. I won’t state all of the statistics here on how far too many referrals are rejected and how there are simply not enough qualified practitioners available through the council due to funding. It takes on average 15 weeks for a child that has been referred to see an educational psychologist – which as we all know is far too long! 15 weeks is the waiting time and that’s not guaranteed that your child will actually get to see a psychologist! The waiting list is tough, sifted and dependant on need. But what about those kids that need positive mental health support now?
When a child is in need whether it’s bereavement, detachment from Mum/Dad anxiety, low self-esteem, low-mood and low confidence in areas of their life they need support in that moment, right here and right now. When children are in floods of tears, have difficulty breathing because of the trapped anxiety and they simply are beside themselves – they need time, empathy, understanding and a listening ear. You’ll know if your child is continuous with crying, fear, nervousness and are “out of kiltr” that something is not right for them. They’re not just going to snap out of it unless they can be shown in a nurturing way how to.
For me, I want to work with the child in the moment and capture all of their metaphorial descriptions of thoughts and feelings to find out what they can do to shift a change. Firstly though, it is OK for the child to cry. Tears bring healing, release stress and allow us to lift the lid of the boiling pot of emotions that have been bubbling for far too long.
Positive reinforcement through our words saying things like “it’s OK to cry, just let it out.
Let me know when you have, just keep holding on to me”, and “keep being brave and notice your tears. They’re your healing tears, they are here to help you, did you know that.” How very different and reassuring are these statements to a child regardless of age when they can feel safe and comfortable with showing their emotions.
What about statements like, “just stop crying, that’s enough”, and “I think you’ve cried enough now Bertie, dry your eyes”.
These are two statements I’ve heard recently and whilst I get that the positive intention of the adult was to help the child, they’re not really much help at all! Enough for whom? How does the child just stop crying? How do you know Bertie has cried enough, he may have a few more tears. How can Bertie keep his eyes dry when he needs to cry more? Very simplistic breakdown of language, but can you see how in the moment of emotions we as adults allow our feelings to get in the pathway of the child’s space? And if we were to really switch our internal dialogue off and listen to the child with everything we have, I bet the approach would be very different.
I’ve spent years learning and understanding how our language patterns (the things we say) has everything to do with how we connect, how we learn, how we reassure, how we give and how we receive. Then, how these words connect with us on a deep unconscious level and we start to believe they’re true. How we start to run images and videos in our minds eye of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
As parents for our kids it’s absolutely crucial, right from the outset, that we listen to ourselves when we talk with our children. What are the things that we’re saying? How often are we adding a block to self-esteem through our words? How often are we dismissive of our kids when they have something to say because we’ve just got too much noise going on in our head ourselves? What are the areas that our kids want to develop in terms of their confidence? How are we supporting with time, attention, praise and belief in our kids? What are they fearful of in this big world?
Let’s face it, hot in the news last week, on average 2 in 10 kids below the age of 14 are being thrown a prescription and some brain numbing drugs to help them feel calm, relaxed and ease their day. For me this is so wrong on so many levels. For those children who really need drug support (I’m talking bi-polar, bi-polar with psychosis and other neuro conditions) then of course, that’s the right action. But for other children where I believe just need time, 1:1 sessions, a clear supportive coaching programme, sessions in school – why are we writing prescriptions?
We simply do not have enough resources on a local and national level. It makes me really sad.
It makes me sick to the bottom of my stomach.
In an ideal world I’d love nothing more than to see groups of parents coming together lead by schools and local therapist practitioners to share useful strategies and daily exercises to build postive mental health. Staying healthy in the mind takes daily practise, the same as we do physically. We have to have an intake of food & water to keep us well, but what intake do we have for our brain that controls our thoughts, feelings & emotions?
Let me share with you one of the best tools that is Mindfulness.
Mindfulness in general is best experienced rather than talked about. It is something we “are” rather than do. For children it is all about how the adults in their life model it for them. Children will tune in to our behaviour, indeed model them –because this is how we learn! We copy, we repeat, we observe, we do.
Children of course, are naturally mindful in the way that they live, very much in the present moment and are not so concerned about the past or indeed the future. The most important thing we can do is not squash the natural quality of openness and presence but re-inforce it and invite it to continue to develop.
There is solid and growing scientific evidence that mindfulness is indeed valuable to school age children. Why do you think that is?
Mental health is hitting the news BIG time again this week with Mandy Stevens the NHS director publicly writing about her mental health experience. Mandy Stevens was a mental health nurse then climbing the corporate ladder in mental health in the NHS. She shares in her blog how she spent 12 weeks in mental health recovery as a patient of the NHS.
When I started my coaching journey I didn’t quite realise the massive difference and impact I had on my clients when I coached “in the moment” as opposed to pushing for future actions and vision. Not everyone likes the term “mindfulness” or the picture it conjures up in the minds’ eye. Most people often refer to sitting around for hours, chanting discombobulated stuff and generally not moving, just meditating. I too thought all this mindfulness stuff was rather quirky until I realised the power of my own ability to de-stress, de-clutter and just be.
I’ve spent years studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (when I was a sales & marketing director) and I’m a qualified practitioner, along with my coaching and learning/development credentials. I continue to suppot my learning in Neuro, Clean and NLP coaching through research, reading and CPD events.
More recently (2012) I started to take a real interest in the theory of mindfulness and how this all linked to other “helping therapies”, although I had a really good understanding of it’s practise through my CPD events. To me there are so many cross-overs with approach that it’s hard to extract the core differences.
I really don’t care what “it” is called. I like to call it many different things – like kindfulness, building self-esteem, confidence boosting, appreciation of who we are, appreciation of others, emotional intelligence, stress busting, loving me/accepting me, calibrating stengths, acceptance of our failures, ability to forgive, ability to let go., listening skills…..the list is endless!
Dr Debra Burdick is a world renown author on coaching with mindfulness. I love her approach as it plays to kids needs to have fun, move and be curious! If you haven’t got her book yet “Mindfulness Skills for Kids & Teens” go and get it! It has been one of my best investments and one of the easiest well laid out books I’ve studied for a long time!
Recently I’ve been working with an amazing bunch of kids at our local primary school in South Lanarkshire. We’ve been working with mindful approaches creating a fabulous space for them to explore, enquire and question. We’re having so much fun! They just love it when we come to take our time to stop and just be. Stop and just centre our thoughts on our breathing – literally some of them can’t wait to hit the floor to have our breathing time.
Their feedback is simply amazing. I asked them what do they like about working with Coach Hayley Tennant? Their answers brought tears to my eyes.
“I love the fact that I love me”, “I like to think about how I can be kinder to my friends”, “I know I can calm the storm in my tummy”, “it’s OK to feel the way I do”
My 13 year old boy Nathan says “if people in the workplace were just that little bit more considerate to others, were able to feedback freely and let go of stuff instead of conflict, it’ll all be a happier place” I’ve been coaching my kids since the day they were born. Creating space, exploring thoughts and feelings. Coaching them when the chips are down and building them up when they’re anxious or stressed out. I do all of these things, not by telling them how do it, but by showing them. My hope is that my children can draw upon their inner strength, resilience and mental toughness if anxiety, stress or depression comes their way.
Introducing self-coaching and mindful approaches in all of our schools across Scotland will surely support our kids at this crucial stage so needed as they’re forming their core values and beliefs now. Wouldn’t it be just amazing if we can make a small difference in a our childrens’ lives by showing and exploring how they can coach themselves out of self-harming, crippling limiting beliefs, anxiety, stress and the negative stories they tell themselves and start to believe them?
If you’d like to know more about this exciting journey of our programme please just get in touch with Hayley (Phipps) Tennant.
On facebook: coachHayleyTennant
Linkedin: Hayley (Phipps) Tennant
Blog written by Hayley Tennant
Currently there is a petition in Scotland headed by the amazing Heather Grace Mackenzie. I support her cause and have signed the petition with also sharing it with family & friends to continue to raise awareness. Heather writes in her petition:
“Mental illness is at an all-time high; according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), about 11 per cent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18. Research indicates that one of every four adolescents will have an episode of major depression during high school with the average age of onset being 14 years of age. It is generally accepted that anxiety and depression are amongst the fastest-growing health challenges to our society at present. According to Anxiety UK, anxiety and depression have increased 13% in the UK since 1993, and one in ten children and young people aged 5–16 has a mental health disorder.
In total, 55% of 338 school leaders surveyed by the Association of School and College Leaders reported a large rise in pupils with anxiety and stress. The survey, launched at the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference in Birmingham, found that over the past five years:
– 79% of heads saw an increase in self harm or suicidal thoughts among students.
– 40% reported a big rise in cyber-bullying
– 53% of those who had referred a pupil to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) rated them poor or very poor.
I’ve been teaching mindfulness to children since 2012, both in school and family settings. I’m a published author on the subject and am currently studying for a PhD, researching mindfulness and self-compassion within the education system. In addition I am mothering four boys and so this topic feels vitally important to me. I know the difference that learning mindfulness can make to a child’s mental and emotional (and indeed physical and spiritual) health. You don’t have to take my word for it… there’s a rapidly growing body of research that backs me up.
I implore the Scottish Government to please make mindfulness and self-compassion a core part of every child’s Personal and Social Education.
Following the publication of the ‘Mindful Nation’ Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) there have been launches in London, Cardiff, Belfast and Birmingham, but nothing in Scotland. This was a cross party effort by our representatives at Westminster and appears to have been taken up enthusiastically across the UK, but not in Scotland.
It’s time to act, or we continue to fail our children as we watch their mental health decline”
If you can support and agree with our kids having access to strategies that will benefit them for the future please click on the link and register your support.
Keywords: therapy for kids south lanarkshire, therapy for children south lanarkshire