Safeguarding and Wellbeing Resources for Parents

From the School Newsletter 25th September 2020

If you’re worried that your child is struggling with depression, here is our advice and information on where you can get support.

Coping with different emotions is part of everyone’s life. We all feel happy and sad at different times. Feeling sad can be a natural and appropriate response to what is happening in our lives. Mostly, the passing of time, life changes and the support of those around us help these feelings go away.

Depression is when sadness and low feelings do not go away; when they overwhelm a person and stop them from doing the things they normally do. If you notice this in your child there are ways you can help. 

These are things that can really make a difference:

  1. Recognising whether a young person is simply “being a hormonal, moody teenager” or suffering from depression could usefully be described as the difference between bouts of surly/grumpy behaviour, and unremitting, deep unhappiness over time, with a significant lack of interest in anything at all. 
  2. Don’t ignore worrying symptoms, hoping they’ll go away. Talk to your child about the signs of depression that you’ve noticed and voice your concerns in a caring and non-judgmental way. Let them know you will willingly hear about what they are going through.
  3. Trust your gut feeling – you know when something’s just not right.
  4. Avoid asking too many questions, trying to give solutions, dismissing them or glossing over their pain and sadness. Just listen and empathise.
  5. Try again another day if they don’t want to talk about it. Expressing feelings is hard enough at the best of time for teens, when they are depressed it’s even more difficult. Depression is particularly tough for teens.
  6. If not you, then someone else. Encourage them to talk to a school counsellor or trusted teacher, GP, advice services which offer helplines, webchat, emails, text and forums (see where can I get help section below).
  7. Combat isolation by helping to keep connections and communications going. Make opportunities for seeing friends, family; make time to chat regularly; do stuff such as sports, activities, silly and fun things; make music; walk a dog; try to get them involved and interested in something. 
  8. Ensure as much of the following as possible: regular physical activity, good nutrition and regular sleep (teens need 9-10 hours per night).
  9. Seek professional help if nothing is helping and the symptoms are worsening.
  10. Involve your child in treatment choices. Contact maybe three different counsellors to get a feel for different approaches and types of people. If your child doesn’t ‘connect’ with a therapist, for example, find another one.
  11. Be open with younger sisters and brothers, who will know ‘something’ is wrong and also need your time and attention. Asking how they feel and listening to them too is very important.
  12. Look after yourself. Find support for you, be honest about your own feelings. Don’t blame yourself.
  13. Be hopeful.

To continue reading about Depression and signs to look out for please visit this link.

From the School Newsletter 3rd July 2020

The #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement has accelerated following the death of George Floyd. The impact of racism on mental health can be profound and long-lasting. Please head to this link to download A Parents Guide to Black Lives Matter. 

Resilience is having the skills and resources to deal with difficult situations in life.

July is the months where students, teachers and families get ready for a Transition – from Kindergarten to Class 1, Lower School to Middle School, Middle School to Upper School, Class 10 take GCSE’s and Class 12 take A-levels and get ready to leave the School.

Transitions can be an unsettling time as one prepares for the unknown. By helping a young person think about ‘change’ and their respective feelings around that, a young person is given the opportunity to name their feelings (it engages the pre-frontal cortex of the brain – the cognitive function of reflection) and this calms the mind and helps the young person to seek the support network that they need at this time.

Talking to your child about how they’re feeling can be hard. By taking 20 minutes with them to do an activity you’ll both enjoy, you’ll create a relaxed space to start that conversation.

See the advice on Young Minds about starting a conversation with your child.

From the School Newsletter 19th June 2020

About Loneliness 

We all feel lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal, so everyone’s experience of loneliness will be different. 

One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone. 

You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience. 

Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don’t feel understood or cared for by the people around you. 

“One thing I’ve learned is the difference between feeling alone and feeling lonely – and how you can feel lonely in a crowd full of people, but quite peaceful and content when alone” 

Is loneliness a mental health problem? 

Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely. 

For example, some people may have misconceptions about what certain mental health problems mean, so you may find it difficult to speak to them about your problems or you may experience social phobia – also known as social anxiety – and find it difficult to engage in everyday activities involving other people, which could lead to a lack of meaningful social contact and cause feelings of loneliness. 

“I want to be able to interact with people and make new connections but my anxiety feels like an invisible barrier that I can’t break through.” 

Feeling lonely can also have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depressionanxietylow self-esteemsleep problems and increased stress

cycle of loneliness where mental health causes loneliness and feeling lonely damages mental health

“My anxiety and depression isolates me from people, stops me from being able to do the things I’d like to do so socially it cuts me off.” 

What causes loneliness? 

Loneliness has many different causes, which vary from person to person. We don’t always understand what it is about an experience that makes us feel lonely. 

For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely, such as: 

  • experiencing a bereavement 
  • going through a relationship break-up 
  • retiring and losing the social contact you had at work 
  • changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers 
  • starting at university 
  • moving to a new area or country without family, friends or community networks. 
  • Other people find they feel lonely at certain times of the year, such as around Christmas. 

Some research suggests that people who live in certain circumstances, or belong to particular groups, are more vulnerable to loneliness. For example, if you: 

  • have no friends or family 
  • are estranged from your family 
  • are a single parent or care for someone else – you may find it hard to maintain a social life 
  • belong to minority groups and live in an area without others from a similar background 
  • are excluded from social activities due to mobility problems or a shortage of money 
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of a disability or long-term health problem, including mental health problems 
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of your gender, race or sexual orientation  
  • have experienced sexual or physical abuse – you may find it harder to form close relationships with other people.

Some people experience deep and constant feelings of loneliness that come from within and do not disappear, regardless of their social situation or how many friends they have. 

There are many reasons people experience this kind of loneliness. You might feel unable to like yourself or to be liked by others, or you may lack self-confidence

Thinking about what is making you feel lonely may help you find a way of feeling better. 

Head to ‘Mind for better mental health’ for ideas and suggestions on managing loneliness.

Article taken from ‘Mind for better mental health’. 

From the School Newsletter 12th June 2020

Daring to dream 

Children are inspiring: they watch someone and immediately imagine that they too could be a superhero, pop star or Olympic athlete. Children are brilliant at reaching for the stars. They imagine an adult life of great possibility: running a riding stables or flying jets, writing a best-seller or designing clothing for celebrities. Adults do these things, and children are inspired. 

We adults must refrain from pouring our cold reality onto their dreams, believing we are protecting them from unrealistic hopes, sparing them from disappointment. Is it really better not to dream the impossible than to try to see how far you can get? If 6-year-old Joanne Rowling hadn’t believed herself capable of being a writer, writing her first story, ‘Rabbit’, we wouldn’t have Hogwarts and Harry Potter. If that small Jamaican boy Usain hadn’t dared to dream of being the fastest runner in the whole wide world, we wouldn’t have had the Olympic legend that was Bolt. 

Children see an injustice and declare that they will stop it. They have the audacity to hope for the best from people and sometimes this brings out the best in people. Take 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, who was concerned about how many girls in her ballet class considered themselves to be fat and dared to ask Seventeen magazine to stop photoshopping its photos. After 84,000 people signed her petition the magazine made a commitment not to alter the body size or face shape of the girls and models and to feature a diverse range in its pages. Or take 9-year-old Martha Payne, who commented daily on her school dinners, raising the standard of school meals and more than £10,000 for a charity providing meals for UK schoolchildren. 

Every person who has achieved great things has a tale of modest beginnings and those who first inspired them. Children dare to dream big. The sky is the limit when you are 6 or even 16. 

Parents’ encouragement is vital. Your child needs you to believe in them – a parent’s opinion is such an influential thing for a child. Take their interests seriously and help them to follow their passions. A person does well in life when they are doing something that they care about and enjoy. In a world full of people doing jobs they don’t particularly like, and surrounded by adults dousing children’s grand plans in realism before they can even try them out, our children need us to support them in following their hearts. 

All too easily they can hold themselves back through lack of self-belief, finances, opportunity or willingness to expend effort. Challenges can strengthen us, and if those around them believe something is possible, it helps them to believe it too. We all have our ‘disabilities’ – some more obvious and some more debilitating. The Paralympics gives us the chance to see that the most crippling disadvantages can be overcome. 

You can help your children to follow their dreams by paying attention to what brings them joy and finding ways for them to follow that passion: 

• Help them to research adults they admire and whose advice they respect. 

• Really listen to them as they talk enthusiastically about something. 

• Read the book they are raving about or ask them to show you what they like to watch. 

• Ask them to teach you how to use their favourite social media tool. 

• Help them pursue the activities they love and not the activities you’d love them to love. 

• Put them in contact with adults who are working in areas that fascinate them. 

• Let go of your dreams for them, making space for their dreams. 

And don’t get attached to their dreams, as they may change as they grow. 

Edited and adapted extract from From Daughter to Woman: Parenting Girls Safely Through Their Teens by Kim McCabe, Robinson.

From the School Newsletter 5th June 2020

Talking to children about Covid-19 

COVID-19 is in the news and on everyone’s mind. Our children, unfortunately, are not likely an exception. Even when children are shielded from media, peers, siblings, and overheard conversations can give children just enough information to bring forth concern. Children are also incredibly intuitive to their family’s emotions and will pick up on any fear and anxiety their parents or extended family may be feeling.  

So what is the best approach to sharing when it comes to children and coronavirus?  

Shielding vs. Communicating 

With small children, shielding them from troubling information is ideal. Children in early childhood should be kept from the news if possible. This includes making an effort to talk about coronavirus only when they are not present and not exposing them to televised news. Children in young grades, such as first through third, would also ideally be shielded, but exposure to older children on playgrounds or siblings at home means this is less likely to be possible. 

When it becomes apparent that the child has knowledge about the virus, then age-appropriate communication can begin, with the foremost focus being to help the child feel safe and more secure. It’s important to communicate once you know a child has some, even very limited, knowledge of the virus to be sure that they do not awfulize the small amount of information they have in the absence of a parent giving age-appropriate guidance.   

Listening and Tailoring Responses 

If you suspect your child knows about the virus, begin with an open-ended question about what they know and then actively and intently listen. Once their level of knowledge is known, follow up with a question about concerns and listen intently again. By keeping the conversation fluid and open, it will help to prevent oversharing on the parent’s part and bringing more concerns to children then they may already have.  

It’s also important to note that adults have different needs for coping than children. While an adult may relieve anxiety by learning all they can or preparing their home for extended quarantine, children will not necessarily take comfort in these measures. Consider that children under twelve will have a primarily emotional response to the news and as such require lots of listening from parents and lots of reassurance.  

While this reassurance can involve sharing encouraging data, it’s essential to remember the real question behind the questions, whatever form may take is, “Am I safe? Is our family going to be okay? How can I feel more in control?” As such, answers need to ultimately address these concerns that lie behind questions, even if questions are detailed oriented such as talking transmission rates or talking points picked up from news or an older peer.  

A  key part of listening will be making sure, as a parent, that you are never dismissive of the child’s fears, even if they seem irrational.  

In The New York Times Parenting article How to Talk to Kids About CoronavirusAbi Gewirtz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and professor at the University of Minnesota discusses this issue: 
 
“If your child is afraid because some kid on the bus told him he might die, that’s a real fear and you should take it seriously. If you simply tell the child, you’ll be fine,” they might not feel heard. Listen to them and track what the child is feeling,” she said. “You can say something in a calm voice like, ‘That sounds pretty scary, I can see it in your face.’” 

Empowerment and Control 

Fear of the unknown and anxiety of what’s to come can often be mitigated by empowerment. 

In the Time Magazine article, How to Talk to Your Kids about Coronavirus, Ellen Braaten, co-director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital says there is benefit in reminding children of things that are in their power, like washing their hands and covering their sneezes and coughs to avoid getting and spreading illness. She says, “Knowing there’s something we can do makes us feel less powerless.” 

In this study about empowering families and children during a healthcare crisis, experts recommend four areas of focus — choice, agenda-setting, reframing negatives and providing emotional support.  

In this current scenario, choice and agenda-setting can look like something as simple as choosing snacks or some favorite activities to do in case of school closure. In terms of reframing a negative, a school closure might be suggestive as having positive aspects, such as, “It’s going to be nice to spend more time at home together as a family.” 

Older Students and Teens 

Being informed and being anxious do not have to go hand in hand. Details for this age group, and learning about encouraging details specifically, may be very helpful. There is much misinformation, conspiracy, and fear-based reporting online that an older child may be exposed too, even in texts of conversations with peers. Arming teens with knowledge about realistic and trusted news sources and information may be extremely valuable to share. 

Also involving older children in empowering activities can be helpful, with the understanding that a little goes a long way. It might include giving the child hand sanitizer for their backpack, taking them shopping for medicine or food to have on hand during a longer stay at home, or talking about ways to pass time if school is cancelled for more than a week.  

Article shared from the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. 

From the School Newsletter 22nd May May 2020

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (18th-24th May) and the theme is kindness.

It’s been chosen because of it’s ability to strengthen relationships, develop a sense of community and deepen solidarity. It seems an appropriate choice given the current times.
We are including the link to the Mental Health Foundation for resources to inspire and we have attached a PDF from National Online Safety for 14 ways to be kind online.
We hope everyone enjoys some space for breathing out in half-term. It might be a fun suggestion to play it forward to next week, and think of some ideas for random acts of kindness for yourselves as well as the people around you.

From the School Newsletter 15th May 2020

If you are a parent or carer of a child with special educational needs and disabilities can be difficult and challenging in normal circumstances, but the 24 hour care in lockdown with no extra support from loved ones and carers and increased isolation to protect the most vulnerable, can lead to heightened anxiety, fatigue, loneliness and even burnout. As the primary carer you are  the hope in the midst of despair, the light within the darkness, connection in the midst of loneliness, comfort in the midst of grief and loss, and peace in the midst of conflict. In order to engage in sustained efforts and meet the mental health demands of your child, especially during times of crisis, it is important to try to attend to your our own needs wherever possible, so that you can continue to care for others; as the adage goes, “one cannot pour from an empty cup.”

Children with autism are usually very sensitive and therefore experience overwhelming feelings quite easily as they find it hard to process incoming sensory information. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, children benefit from a daily schedule. Children cope better when there is structure and a regular routine which they can refer to when they feel anxious. It can be visually displayed like a timetable of events and activities, including breaks and mealtimes as well as time to relax. They will then know what is ahead of them and what activities still need doing and what is expected of them. You can involve them in putting it together and include pictures/illustrations of the activities. You can also add times and places keeping it as clear as possible with a reward at the end. 

Please see these resources from the National Autistic Society which may help support you. Dealing with Distress – Autism, Coronavirus Tips for Families and Managing Anxiety.

From the School Newsletter 1st May 2020

Continuing with our theme for self-compassion we are including this ‘Meaningful May’ Action calendar with 31 meaningful activities for the month of May provided by the fantastic resource that is ‘Action for Happiness’. They also have an app for ‘daily happiness nudges’ and a podcast and lot’s of really helpful articles for all. They also have details of who you can contact if you are feeling unhappy. You can find them at https://www.actionforhappiness.org/

From the School Newsletter 1st May 2020

The Childline website has lots of valuable information, but one area we like to bring everyone’s attention to is their Calm Zone. The activities are suitable for most ages, although best done with a Parent for younger children. The aim is to help Children feel better when they’re feeling anxious, scared or sad and bring some mindfulness to their day through ideas such as a ‘Calm Aid Kit, a ‘let it go’ box and creating a ‘sense drawer’. It also includes breathing exercises, Yoga and ways to bring gratitude to our day’

‘We are all being faced to adjust to our current new norm, but with lot’s of unanswered questions this can lead to Anxiety. We understand this is currently how lot’s of our Upper School students are feeling with regards to their futures, especially around exams and their exam gradings. 

Youngminds have lot’s of tools and suggestions to help with Anxiety here: There is also a guide for Parent’s who may be looking for more support in order to help their child through Anxiety.

Please see Support for Young People links from our news post on 6th April 2020.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 13th March 2020

Coronavirus-related – careful what we say! Whilst it is important not to understate that Coronavirus is a serious issue, it is important that we don’t frighten children, especially the younger ones.
In a recent Safeguarding seminar, one person talked about how she had been checking her eight-year old son’s internet history. She was shocked to find that his searches were all about Coronavirus, including do children die from getting Coronavirus? And yet, he had not asked his mum one single question about it.
We just need to be a bit cautious about the words we use to not make children fearful.
This YouTube video below may be helpful:

All parents can come under pressure or stress from time to time. The NSPCC guide to Positive Parenting shares practical advice and tips for parenting techniques that work well for children of all ages – from babies to teenagers. This document may help.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 6th March 2020

YoungMinds is a great resource for students and parents if there are difficult feelings and emotions to navigate.

At specific times during the day, Parents have access to the school site; drop off and pick up only from Kindergarten, the Lower School , the Mansion and the Canteen. Parent Site Access Document.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 28th February 2020

The Childline website has lots of valuable information, but one area I like is their Calm Zone. The activities aim to help children feel better when they’re feeling anxious, scared or sad. Although children could be encouraged to visit the website themselves, these are good techniques for adults use with children. Ideas include: breathing exercises, a ‘let it go’ box and creating a ‘sense drawer’.

BBC Own It App
Catherine McAllister, Head of Editorial Standards and Safeguarding at Children’s BBC presented recently on the newly launched ‘Own it App‘. This innovative app is downloaded on to a child’s phone and will actively monitor the content of their social media interactions. This is not an app which allows parents to spy on their children, instead it will prompt children to reconsider the use of harmful language in messages or provide signposting to support if a child indicates they are distressed. It’s a really clever piece of software: have a look at the link for more information.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 14th February 2020

Safeguarding for Voluntary Organisations (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations)
The NCVO have created a number of ‘KnowHow pages‘ which outline simple steps that voluntary organisations in England can take to ensure that they are run in a way that actively prevents staff, volunteers and everyone they come into contact with from suffering harm, harassment, bullying, abuse and neglect.

The website is very thorough and case studies cover all kinds of organisations from village halls, mobile book buses, house clearance charities and pensioners’ clubs.

If you are a third-sector organisation or charity, or if you work with one, this NCVO KnowHow website will help keep your staff and users safe whether they are children or vulnerable adults.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 31st January 2020

Drugs, Alcohol and YouYou might take drugs for all kinds of different reasons. You might do it to fit in with a group, or because you want to try something new and find out what it’s like. Or it could be to deal with family problems, or cope with difficult experiences  you’ve had. Maybe you’ve been offered drugs, or you know other people who use them. If so, its a good idea to know the facts about drugs and alcohol, how they affect your mental health, and where to go if you ever want help and advice.Drugs & Alcohol – Please see the following link for students and parents.Childline – not just a phone callThe Childline website has lots of valuable information, but one area I like is their Calm Zone. The activities aim to help children feel better when they’re feeling anxious, scared or sad. Although children could be encouraged to visit the website themselves, these are good techniques for adults use with children. Ideas include: breathing exercises, a ‘let it go’ box and creating a ‘sense drawer’.  Please follow the link: Childline 

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 24th January 2020

Mental Health Week – 3rd – 9th February 2020 (Place2be)

The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Find your Brave’. Life is all about taking small brave steps every day. Bravery could be about sharing worries and asking for help when you need it, trying something new or making the right choices.

Life often throws us challenges. Bravery isn’t about coping alone or holding things in. It’s about finding positive ways to deal with things that might be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself.

Place2be have created a range of age-appropriate assembly guides and class activities, along with top tips for pupils and parents. The free resources will help children and young people explore what it means to be brave.More information and resources can be found here  Children’s Mental Health Week

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 17th January 2020

Tackling the issue of safeguarding in private tuition (FE News)

People are often surprised to find that private tutors are not required to have an Enhanced DBS check to work with children and young people, even in 1:1 situations. The tutoring industry is largely unregulated and given that 27% of 11 – 16 year olds have had private tuition in the last 12-months (41% in London)*, this is of concern.
The Tutors’ Association (TTA) President, Tim Morris, is a vocal advocate for regulation in this area and shares his thoughts in a useful article in a recent edition of FE News, which can be found on here.Parental Mental Illness Research Magazine Special Edition (Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health)The ACAMH recently published a special edition of their research-based magazine looking at the impact of children who live with parental mental ill-health.
New data published in Lancet Public Health show that nearly a quarter of children aged between 0 and 16 years are exposed to maternal mental illness. Researchers defined this as depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, personality disorders and alcohol misuse disorder or substance misuse disorder. One study found that paternal depression symptoms were significantly associated with depression symptoms in adolescents.Magazine pdf.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 10th January 2020

Transitions back into school.

For some children returning to school, the transition from home over the holidays may not be easy. Beacon House therapeutic services and trauma team have a wide-range of resources on their website, including one about managing transitions.

You can download the top tips here.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 13th December 2019

Christmas Time… Just because it is Christmas… looking after yourself.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” is what I hear constantly at Christmas. Whether it’s on the radio, the telly or out in public, we are constantly told that Christmas is a time to be happy.

But what if you’re not happy?

Please see the Young Minds link to staying healthy at Christmas, it’s also a great resource for young peoples mental wellbeing.

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 6th December 2019

Following the London Bridge incident on Friday 29th November, we have added these three links which might be helpful:

Supporting children worried about terrorism (NSPCC)

How to talk to children about terrorism (The Conversation)

Age Appropriate Support Guideposts Following a Traumatic Event – Parry and Oldfield

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 29th November 2019

20th November 2019, marked the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
(UNCRC). This is the most widely ratified treaty in the world where in 1989, more than 190 countries in the world
agreed on the rights of the child.

Being aware of this Convention help us to become ‘Rights Informed’ and the Scottish government
have illustrated a child friendly version of the rights of each child can be found here

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 22nd November 2019

Safeguarding Resources for Parents
Keeping Children Safe – NSPCC has a number of tips and advice to help you keep children safe whether they’re at home, out and about, online and other.

Wellbeing Resources for Parents & Children
Resilience is the word of the decade and it derives from the Latin word resilio, literally meaning to jump (or bounce) back. Loosely termed, its means ones ability to overcome adversity.
Two resources that might come in useful whilst navigating the Season of busyness, socialising and exam revision.
Anxiety explained for teens                  Academic Resilience 

From the School Newsletter – Friday Flier 15th November 2019

Safeguarding Resources for Parents
NSPCC Keeping Children Safe – From talking PANTS to approaching difficult issues, we have a range of tips and advice to help you keep children safe whether they’re at home, out and about or online. More information can be found here

Wellbeing Resources for Parents & Children
Wellbeing and resilience are important in preventing the onset of mental health problems. Wellbeing and resilience are vital to developing efficient problem solving skills, building and maintaining interpersonal relationships and realistic goal setting, all of which greatly enhance an individual’s ability to perform and contribute meaningfully in daily life.
Two online resources for parents below;
(1) Children’s wellbeing is closely bound to their parents’ wellbeing. Find out how to improve parents’ wellbeing and, consequently, their children’s here
(2) The NHS Guide 5 steps to Mental Wellbeing – Connect with other people, Be Physically Active, Learn New Skills, Help others, Pay Attention to the Present Moment (Mindfulness) here