From The Chaplain

The one important thing all our kids should learn about.

Many of us watch on as our children feel anxious at times, wishing we could magically make their anxiety disappear. Surely their lives would be easier, their days calmer and their moods happier if we could somehow keep this anxiety away?

Yet, we can’t.

Because the reality is, anxiety is a universal human experience.

That’s right, we ALL feel anxious sometimes.

In fact, we’d be in trouble if we didn’t.

There’s a helpful analogy that’s often used, that likens anxiety to a smoke alarm.

You see, when there’s a fire present, a smoke alarm sounds and we fly into action, ready to combat the blaze or to escape; But for many children, this alarm can become a little too sensitive. It can start to sound when it needn’t. When this happens, our kids will feel anxious in situations in which there’s nothing to fear.

Because they incorrectly sense danger, children may start to avoid activities that they should otherwise be enjoying – like class performances, sleepovers or school camps.

They can also spend a lot of time worrying, asking a seemingly never-ending stream of questions that begin with the words, ‘What if…’ And understandably, the sound of repeated false alarms can be both stressful and exhausting for our little ones.

But why stop there? Given that ALL of our children will feel anxious from time to time; shouldn’t we actually be educating all of our kids about anxiety – about what it is; why it’s helpful; and how to stay in charge of it?

Naturally, it’s hard for our kids to feel in control of something that they’ve not been taught about. I imagine it’s also hard for you too, as a parent or educator, to teach your children about something you may never learned about either.

As a Child Psychiatrist, here’s where I suggest you start:

  • Teach your child that anxiety is a normal, safe and often helpful feeling
  • Normalise anxiety – tell stories of times that you’ve felt anxious and of how brave you’ve felt when you’ve faced your fears
  • Books are a wonderful tool for teaching children about anxiety. They teach children that they’re not alone in their experience and can provide both practical guidance and reassurance in a non-threatening way.
  • Teach your child that, just like the rest of their body, they’re in charge of their thoughts and that these thoughts, in turn, influence how they feel

As your child learns more about anxiety and how to manage it in situations they might’ve been otherwise tempted to avoid, they will steadily gain a sense of mastery and control.

And that’s when the magic happens. To truly make our children’s lives easier, their days calmer and their moods happier, we don’t need to make their anxiety disappear. We just need to help them master it.

By Dr Kaylene Henderson

Taken from Maggie Dent’s Blog; Maggie is an author, educator, & parenting & resilience specialist. She is a dedicated advocate to quietly changing lives in our families and communities.

This term we will look at more posts from Maggie Dent, she has some great resources on her website.

God bless

Chevonne

From the Chaplain – 22 February 2019

Welcome back to school Glendale Parents, Teachers, and Students!

Here are 5 tips and tricks to help you save time during the morning rush with kids:

  1. Create a routine – Depending on what type of person you are, having to get ready when you’ve just woken up isn’t always ideal. Developing a routine for everyone works well, because sometimes running on autopilot gets things done allot better. Creating a checklist for your younger kids to “study” helps quite bit, because they know exactly what needs to be done next.
  2. Sharing is caring – If your kids are old enough to help out with whatever needs to be done in the morning, then why not rope them in? Share the load by making each person responsible for a few things. Not only does it give you some time to breathe, it also teaches your kids valuable life lessons. It’s a win-win situation.
  3. Set clothes aside the night before – Make sure the kids get their shirts, shorts, skirts, trousers and the rest ready the night before and have them laid out for the new day – great for a night time routine.
  4. Get a head-start on lunch – Prepare and pack everyone’s lunches the night before and label them accordingly.
  5. Get yourself sorted first – Try your utmost to get up and get done before the kids add their copious amounts of chaos to the mix.

Once you establish a routine and get the hang of things, life should become somewhat easier and hopefully a little bit more sane.

I am at the school on Mondays and Tuesdays please feel free to call or pop in if there is anything I can do to support you and your family.

Chevonne

From The Chaplain

Hello Parents, Teachers and Students, I have recently joined Glendale PS as the new Chaplain and I thought I would share a little bit about myself in the hope that you would get to know me a little better.  I am originally from South Africa; I have been in Australia for 9 years; the last 5 years I have lived down South in Esperance where I met my husband and got married last April.   I have worked in the Youth Work field for the last 5 years and I look forward to my journey as I grow and develop as a School Chaplain.  

I will be at Glendale on Mondays and Tuesdays, I look forward to meeting you and journeying with you as we draw near to the end of 2018 and head into 2019.

I’ll leave you with this quote, “As for the future, it remains unwritten. Anything can happen, and often we are wrong. The best we can do with the future is prepare and savour the possibilities of what can be done in the present. “Todd Kashdan.

Take care

Chevonne Burr

Teaching Kids to Be Peacemakers – Part 3

In this term’s newsfeeds we’ve been exploring how to teach kids to be peacemakers, rather than peace breakers, with some tips from Focus on the Family

Here are some final key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

You don’t need to feel like forgiving before you can really forgive.  It’s a choice you make, not a feeling. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting about what someone did to hurt you, excusing the other person’s wrong doing, getting a guarantee that someone won’t do the same wrong thing again. Forgiveness does mean not dwelling on what the other person did wrong, not bringing up the situation and using it against them, not talking to others about what the person did, and being friends with the person again.

It is never too late to start doing what’s right. 

You can always stop doing wrong, then think about a better way and plan how to pursue it.

Think before you speak. 

Or before you act. Or before you confront someone.

Respectful communication is more likely to be heard. 

This includes the words we speak, our tone of voice and our body language (making eye contact and avoiding bad gestures, facial expressions or posture).

A respectful appeal can prevent conflict in the first place. 

  • Stop yourself from choosing to say or do something that will cause conflict.
  • Think about why you want to appeal and about what words to use.
  • Appeal (Ask): Using “I” messages and questions, communicate your appeal in a respectful way.
  • Respond respectfully whether the other person answers yes or no.

I hope the tips this term for resolving conflict have been helpful and that we can all learn to be peacemakers, rather than peace breakers, making our homes and school a more harmonious place to be.

On a final note, many of you will be aware that I’m finishing up at Glendale at the end of this term to go on parental leave. It’s been a pleasure getting to know many of you during my time at the school and being part of the Glendale community.  I’d like to wish you and your families all the best for the future. 

God bless, Adele

Teaching Kids to Be Peacemakers – Part 2

In the last newsletter we began exploring how to teach kids to be peacemakers, rather than peace breakers, with some tips from Focus on the Family.  

Here are some more key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:

Conflict starts in the heart. 

The choices we make to get our own way are deliberate. We decide whether to be obedient or disobedient, wise or foolish, caring or unloving.

Choices have consequences. 

For good or bad, the choices we make will affect us and others. Conflict is often the consequence of a choice we have made.

Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices. 

Selfishness is not smart and will not lead to happiness. The wise way is to obey authority, make right choices, seek wise advice and respect others.

The blame game makes conflict worse. 

It doesn’t work to point the finger at someone else, cover up one’s own bad choices or make excuses.

Conflict is an opportunity. 

Conflict is not necessarily bad or destructive. Even when conflict is caused by wrong-doing and causes a great deal of stress, it can lead to good. By handling it right we get a chance to serve others and become better people. Therefore, it is wise to step back from a conflict and ask yourself whether you are doing all you can to take advantage of these special opportunities.

The “Five A’s” can resolve conflict. 

Children, like adults, can learn to confess their wrongs in a way that demonstrates they are taking full responsibility for their part in a conflict. These simple steps will almost always lead to peace:

  • Admit what you did wrong. Include both wrong desires and bad choices.
  • Apologize for how your choice affected the other person. Express the sorrow you feel.
  • Accept the consequences for your wrongdoing without argument or excuses.
  • Ask for forgiveness.
  • Alter your choice in the future. Think over and plan how you are going to act differently next time.

Learning to be a peacemaker can be challenging, but the results are worth it. In the next newsfeed I’ll share some final tips for helping kids (and adults!) resolve conflict. 

Teaching Kids To Be Peacemakers

As a Chaplain I often talk to kids about issues in peer relationships. And no doubt if you have more than one child at home conflict will be a common theme in your home too! Imagine how much better life could be for you and them if you can teach your children how to resolve conflicts among themselves, or with their friends and other people they know. In this term’s newsfeeds we’ll be exploring how to teach kids to be peacemakers, rather than peace breakers, with 12 key tips from Focus on the Family.

Here is the first of 12 key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:

Conflict is a slippery slope. 

Some children try to escape from a conflict, while others try to solve it by going on the attack. Few naturally try to work it out.

Escape Responses: These responses are used to get away from a conflict instead of trying to resolve it. They delay healing. Escape responses include:

  • Denial — Pretending that a conflict does not exist or refusing to do what we can to work it out
  • Blame Game — Blaming others for the problem, pretending we did nothing wrong, covering up what we did, lying
  • Running Away — Prolonging the problem by running away from the other person

Attack Responses: These are wrong attempts to win a fight rather than resolve it. They damage a relationship further rather than repairing it. Attack responses include:

  • Put Downs — Attacking others with harsh and cruel words, stirring up anger in others
  • Gossip — Talking about others behind their backs
  • Fighting — Using physical force to get your way

Work-It-Out Responses: These are the only good ways to respond to a conflict.

  • Overlook an Offense — Dealing with an offense yourself by simply deciding to forgive a wrong
  • Talk-It-Out — Going directly to the other person to talk out your disagreements
  • Get Help — Asking a parent or teacher to help you decide how to handle the conflict you are involved in

The first step in helping kids learn to be peacemakers is helping them identify how they respond to conflict and encouraging good ways to work it out. In the next newsfeed I’ll share some more tips for helping kids (and adults!) resolve conflict.  

Helping Kids with Big Feelings (Part 3)

In the last newsfeed we looked some suggestions for at what to say when your child is crying. Here are some suggestions for what not to do when your child is crying adapted from Happiness is Here blog.

What NOT to do When Your Child is Crying

Don’t distract. When you distract your child from their feelings, you miss a chance to connect and help them learn the emotional regulation skills they will need in the future. You also send the message that their feelings are unimportant, or too much for you to handle. Children need to know that you are capable of dealing with their emotions so that they feel safe and capable too

No but’s. When you’re empathising with your child’s feelings, refrain from following it up with a ‘but’. E.g. “You’re sad because you really wanted another piece of cake, but you can’t have one”. ‘But’ kind of invalidates everything that comes before it. It tries to explain away or fix the feelings. There’s no need to do that. Empathising is enough.

Ask too many questions. When your child is full of huge overwhelming feelings, they don’t have the ability to provide answers to lots of questions. Empathise first, ask questions later.

Say ‘it’s ok’. People are well meaning when they say ‘it’s ok’, ‘you’re fine’, ‘shh’, but the thing is, your child doesn’t feel fine, so even though you’re trying to be reassuring, it can come across as minimising their feelings. A simple ‘it’s ok to cry’ is a better option.

Have a time limit. Don’t use empathy as a technique to ultimately stop the crying. That’s not the goal! The aim is to help your child feel heard, understood, validated, and supported. Don’t try empathy for 5 minutes and then declare it ‘doesn’t work’ because your child is still crying. Empathy is not a technique for control, but a way of meeting your child where they are and supporting them.

Next time your child is struggling with an overwhelming feeling meet them with empathy and understanding. Feelings aren’t something to be avoided, but opportunities for connection.

And Finally A Big THANK YOU!

On 14 March 2018, Reverend John Clapton from Holy Cross Anglican Church and Mrs Sandra Liang from the Alliance Church presented a cheque to support the work of Chaplaincy at our school. The money was raised by the Hamersley Community at the Carols Under the Gum Trees event in December last year. I wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank the local churches for their very generous donation and ongoing support of Chaplaincy at Glendale Primary School.

Helping Kids with Big Feelings (Part 2)

In the last newsletter we looked at why dismissing or minimising our child’s feelings makes your parenting job harder. Sometimes, even when you know that you shouldn’t tell your child to stop crying, it’s hard to know what to say instead!

Here’s some suggestions:

  1. It’s ok to be sad
  2. This is really hard for you
  3. I‘m here with you
  4. Tell me about it
  5. I hear you
  6. That was really scary/disappointing/upsetting/sad etc.
  7. I will help you work it out
  8. I’m listening
  9. I hear that you need space. I want to be here for you. I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready.
  10. It doesn’t feel fair

You could also just say nothing! Sometimes no words are needed and physical comfort or presence is enough.

Check out the next newsfeed for what NOT to do when your child is crying. Adapted from Happiness is Here blog.

Helping Kids with Big Feelings

As a parent, you deal with a LOT of feelings on a daily basis. And sometimes, it can all get to be just a little bit much! When you’ve had what seems like hours of multiple people crying at you, the temptation to make it stop is high!

We’ve all said it, or at least thought it. ‘Stop crying! Just stop!’

Or maybe you heard it as a child?

“Don’t be silly”

“Shh, everyone is looking at you”

“Stop that noise, right now!”

“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

But what if I told you that every time you dismiss or minimise your child’s feelings, you actually make your job harder. You very rarely succeed at making them stop anyway, and it’s more likely that they will need more support from you in the future rather than less. If you don’t hear the message they are trying to send you, the messenger just gets louder and louder until you do. Children are looking for empathy and understanding. If they don’t get it, they’ll keep trying.

Crying is ok. It’s a very healthy and necessary way for children to express their feelings, and we don’t need to make them stop. By telling them to ‘stop crying’ we send the message that their feelings are not important, not valid, silly, and annoying. If we want our children to learn how to regulate their emotions, and to trust us with their problems and feelings, then we cannot be dismissive of them when they try to do this!

Crying is always appropriate. Whatever your child is upset about is valid. It might seem trivial to you, but a child does not have an adult perspective on the world. Oftentimes people struggle most with allowing children to express their feelings in public, thinking that it is not an appropriate setting and worrying about other’s reactions or judgement. But let’s not teach them they need to quiet their feelings for others. They will eventually learn our unspoken social rules. One day they will know how to deal with their feelings and express them at times that adults consider ‘appropriate’, but the way we support the development of emotional regulation is by empathy and understanding, not silencing.

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” Catherine M. Wallace

So if you shouldn’t dismiss your child’s feelings, what should you do instead? Check out my next newsfeed for 10 Things to Say Instead of ‘Stop Crying’. Adapted from Happiness is Here blog.

Back to School Blues

The holidays are over and the school year is back into full swing.  For kids, transition is often tainted with trepidation, and the transition from summertime to the school routine is no exception. Children adjust to change according to their own temperaments and levels of resiliency. Parents, however, can play a major role in how well kids adjust to change. Following are a few insights that can help you equip your child to face this back-to-school season.

Acknowledge worries. Addressing your child’s most basic concerns goes a long way in equipping them to face the school year with confidence.

Build New Habits. How a child responds to a difficult teacher, a difficult classmate or a difficult learning experience is often a habitual response. If your child has had a challenging or traumatic experience at school, it’s crucial that you help them separate the past from the present. Help your child understand that hurtful memories need not define their view of current experiences. Just because your child felt ill-equipped to deal with difficult personalities last year doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to deal with them this year. Stressful classroom situations are opportunities for our children to practice — with our support and supervision — the life skills needed to get along in this world. School is a great place to prepare for life! 

Maintain a daily routine. Children crave structure and feel safer with routine. A home that has less structure may cause anxiety for children as they struggle with the more rigid environment at school. Routine at home can also foster more positive and effective homework habits.

Nurture a positive self-view. Sometimes it’s hard to recall previous successes when we are struggling with a sense of failure. Remind your child of previous times in their life when they made good decisions, when they handled a difficult situation or person with grace or when they mastered something difficult. Help them learn to laugh at themselves, reminding them that a positive attitude helps create a positive home and school environment.

I hope that the tips above, adapted from Focus on the Family, help with the transition back to school this year. If your child needs any additional support settling back into school I’m available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You can contact me directly, speak with your child’s teacher or leave a message with administration.

Wishing you all a great 2018 at Glendale!