Wednesday, 29 August 2018

How to help your child develop resilience to overcome adversity

As adults we become well versed in dealing with the trials and tribulations that life throws our way. However, try as we might to shield them, as parents there is little we can do to protect our children from life’s ups and downs. We can however do a great deal to help prepare them and to aid their development of resilience - a quality they’ll need in order to lead a fulfilling and happy life.

Raising resilient children is about providing them with the tools they'll need to respond to the issues, problems and challenges they'll face throughout their childhood and into adolescence.

With news of mental health issues in children seemingly on the rise, anything we can do to help them deal with stress and promote a positive mental outlook – even when things don’t go their way – can only help them as they navigate their way into adulthood.

So what do resilient children look like?

They’re the ones who seem to bounce back when things don’t go to plan. They’re the children who appear to be able to manage their emotions when faced with challenges and don’t let it put them off reaching for their goals. As this article from Psychology Today points out though, resilience is more than outward appearances, it’s more to do with a mindset - an understanding that to fail, is to grow. It’s quite a sophisticated outlook, so what exactly can we do to ensure our own children build the resilience they need to succeed in life?

There are a number of things we can do as parents that demonstrate what resilience looks like and encourage the resilient behaviours in our children. We have to be resilient in order to build resilience in others.

Use positive self-talk

Resilient people talk positively. They use phrases such as ‘you can do this’ and ‘you’ve got this’, rather than focus on what went wrong or what you can’t do. Look at how you yourself deal with adversity and about the language you use when faced with unexpected issues. Children will mimic the behaviours seen at home, so use positive language and remain hopeful, rather than dwell on the negatives.

Know how to manage their emotions

Resilient people are not afraid of showing their feelings or articulating them to others. It is by owning our feelings that we can work through them and determine a positive course of action to address issues we face. It’s fine to be upset, or angry, or frustrated – but use these to propel you forward, rather than hold you back. Encourage your children to talk about how they feel so that they understand how to identify and manage their emotions.

Are not afraid of change

Resilient people are not afraid to work around their plans when faced with unexpected events or interruptions. They are eager to try new things and – while they may appear disorganised – they are just happy using a trial and error approach to their daily life. Schedules are great – especially in today’s busy world – but we do have a tendency to over plan our lives and this does nothing to prepare our children for what to do if the unexpected happens.

What we need to remind ourselves is that no one – child or adult – can be expected to be resilient all of the time. That’s unrealistic. So if your child breaks down when they don’t make the football team or a favourite toy breaks, that’s a natural reaction. What sets resilient children apart is their ability to process these events and successfully move forward.

You can find more ways to develop resilience to help beat stress by visiting Mind's website.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

How to manage the first week back at school

It seems to have gone flying by, but the summer holidays are drawing to a close and the kids are going back to school. Indeed some children have already gone back. So what can you do to make the transition easier for them?

Early to bed, early to rise

Late nights may have been the order of the day in the holidays, but getting back to routine again can come as a real shock to the system. While children may have had the opportunity to get up late in the holidays to make up for late nights, the school day demands an early start and a clear head. Lack of sleep leads to irritability, non-compliance and hyper-sensitivity so it's important to get them back into their usual sleep pattern and routine as soon as possible. If your kids are struggling to go to bed at night after going back to school, get them outside and using their energy so they're tired and more likely to sleep earlier. The sooner you are back into the routine the easier it will be for them.

Enable and empower your children to do things for themselves

Holidays are usually a highly organised affair. All we expect of our children is for them to turn up and have fun! Sometimes, getting back to school and taking more responsibility for themselves again can be quite a transition. Giving them back more control over their own lives before and during their first week back can really help them adjust. Ask them to choose their own clothes and sort out their own laundry as well as helping with other household chores so that they are prepared to take over responsibility for themselves at school too. Enablement and empowerment are two life skills that should be encouraged and reinforced even during the holidays.

Keep communicating

We appreciate that the last thing your child wants to talk about when they are away from school is school. However keeping the lines of communication open during the holidays and first few weeks back can really help to prepare your child mentally for the weeks ahead and gives them an opportunity to discuss any concerns or anxieties they may have. Try and support your children's friendships too by arranging meet ups with friends outside of school.

The end of the summer can be a stressful time for children - and their parents - but for different reasons. For parents it's the return to the daily juggle between school, home and work and sometimes, in our eagerness to 'get back to normal', we can fail to spot the signs of anxiety or nervousness in our kids. Make sure they retain some of the 'freedom' of the holidays and give them some space to readapt to their school routine while also supporting them to explore and express their feelings.

And if you're getting your child ready to start school for the first time, Pacey, the professional association for childhood and early years, has come up with some handy factsheets. 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Book recommendations for Book Lover's Day

Every day our practitioners work with people dealing with anxiety, stress, anger and phobias; issues with their families, children or young people; relationship difficulties; and many other issues and problems.

We asked them for their recommendations for books that may be helpful when dealing with such issues.

Here are their suggestions. We will update with more books throughout the day!

Books on anxiety, stress and phobias

The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions, 1990, by Paul D MacLean
(Recommended by R. Victor Morton, Senior CBT Psychotherapist)

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, 2016, by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

Full Catastrophe Living, Revised Edition: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation, 2013, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Recommended by Kate Boyd, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist)

The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress, 2014, by John Teasdale, J. Mark G. Williams, and Zindel Seagull
(Recommended by Rebecca Knowles, Psychological Therapist)

Books on relationship issues

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships, 2011, by Dr Sue Johnson
(Recommended by both Roger Kostick, Psychologist Therapist and Senior Couples Therapist and Rebecca Knowles, Psychological Therapist)

Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, 2016, by Eric Berne
(Recommended by Sharon Laing, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist)

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing, 2003, by Beverly Engel
(Recommended by Sharon Laing, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist)

Come as You Are: the surprising new science that will transform your sex life, 2015, by Dr Emily Nagoski
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

Books on children and young people issues

The Thriving Adolescent: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology to Help Teens Manage Emotions, Achieve Goals, and Build Connection, 2015, by Louise Hayes
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

Raising Children Compassionately; Parenting the Non-violent Communication Way, 2004,
by Marshall B. Rosenberg
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

Anh's Anger, 2009, by Gail Silver
(Recommended by Kate Boyd, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist)

The Hate U Give, 2017, by Angie Thomas (This is a fiction book)
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

General books

Nonviolent Communication -A Language of Life (Nonviolent Communication Guides), 2015,
by Marshall B. Rosenberg
(Recommended by Tasim Martin-Berg, Consultant Counselling Psychologist)

Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain, 2014, by Sue Gerhardt
(Recommended by Maisie Hennessey, Senior Counsellor / Psychotherapist)

Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance, 2016, by Matthew Syed  (A good book for learning constructively from mistakes!)
(Recommended by Maisie Hennessey, Senior Counsellor / Psychotherapist)

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, 2007, Pema Chodron
(Recommended by Kate Boyd, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist)

Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of Life,  2000, by Thomas J. Harbin PhD
(Recommended by Sharon Laing, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist)

I'm Ok, You're Ok, 2012, by Thomas A. Harris (Recommended by Sharon Laing, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist)

The Compassionate Mind (Compassion Focused Therapy), 2010, by Paul Gilbert(Recommended by Paul Kirsten, Senior Psychological Therapist)

The Compassionate Mind Workbook: A step-by-step guide to developing your compassionate self, 2016, by Chris Irons and Elaine Beaumont
(Recommended by Paul Kirsten, Senior Psychological Therapist)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, 2013, by Susan Cain
(Recommended by Paul Kirsten, Senior Psychological Therapist)

Paul Kirsten also recommends the 'overcoming series'.

What Do You Say After You Say Hello, 1975,by Eric Berne
(Recommended by Kate Boyd, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist)

We hope you enjoy selecting and reading books from this list. Do let us know if you enjoy them!

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Forgiveness - steps to forgiveness

Forgiveness is about putting aside old differences, moving beyond past grievances and starting afresh.

Psychologist Bob Enright pioneered the study of forgiveness. He believes that true forgiveness is the offering of empathy, compassion and understanding (towards the person who has hurt you).

Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety and depression. Holding on to feelings of anger and resentment can be stressful and when we are able to let this go, our muscles relax, anxiety levels decrease, and we have more energy to focus on the more positive aspects of our lives. Forgiveness can be especially relevant in relationships, where things like betrayal and resentment can often occur.

Psychologists have developed a 20-step system to move people through the phases of forgiveness, however there are also self-directed steps that can be taken to get there:

1. Write it down

Let it all out. Why are you upset and who are you upset with? Get all your negative emotions down on paper and try to pin-point exactly what it is that you can't forgive.

2. Put yourself in the other person's shoes

Practising empathy can be very healing. Have a think about potential reasons for this person acting in the way they did and you may even find yourself feeling compassionate towards them.

3. Wish them well

This part takes a great deal of strength. Visualise a gift that you could offer to the person that has wronged you and let go of any hurtful feelings that may still be there. If you feel ready, extending kindness and goodwill in person towards them is a huge step towards forgiveness. If not, wishing them well - even in your head - can still be beneficial.

4. Remember that you deserve happiness

Forgiveness is often a two-way street and sometimes we can place a level of blame on ourselves, as well as dragging around anger and sadness. Remember, everyone deserves happiness. Be kind to yourself and show yourself the same forgiveness that you would like to be able to show another.

How to practise forgiveness

It's International Forgiveness Day today, so we wanted to take a look at the ways in which we can practise forgiveness and the benefits that this can have on our overall wellbeing and happiness.

Before we do that, let’s spend a moment to think about what happens when we don’t forgive. Like most things in life, if not cleaned up and put away, our thoughts and memories can fester and tarnish. If we don’t deal with things that are bothering us – if we don’t practise forgiveness – the only person who suffers is ourself. We become bitter and self-absorbed, our issues become part of us and this can dampen any enjoyment and happiness we would otherwise feel.

Forgive for yourself, not for others

We may sometimes think that by forgiving another person’s actions we are actually letting them get away with bad behaviour. The truth is, forgiveness is only beneficial to one person – and that is you! When you forgive, you give yourself permission to move on from the events and actions that caused you pain. You free your mind from thinking about it and going over events in your mind. You find peace. Forgiveness provides closure.

Say ‘no’ to negative feelings

Sometimes you need to re-programme your mind to free yourself from negative feelings. Going over and over events in your mind is seldom productive so you need to find a way to process whatever it is that is stopping you from moving forward. There are a number of ways of doing this. The first is by sharing how you feel with the person who you believe has ‘wronged you’. Often once you have expressed something  out loud, it allows your mind to free and you are able to move forward. If this is not possible, the next best thing is to write down how you feel in a letter. You don’t even need to share the letter, once written you can rip it up and burn it if you want - you will still have freed your mind from the burden and be able to move forward with your thinking.

Let go

Have a good deep look at yourself and answer truthfully: how is your life being affected by your inability to forgive? Has it stopped you from living the life you once had? Picture what your life could be like if you were able to process your feelings and forgive? Would you feel lighter, freer, happier, even? We can't change what has happened to us in the past, but what we can do is refuse to be burdened with feelings and emotions that weigh us down. When you make a conscious decision to forgive, you allow yourself to let go and that can only have a positive impact on your life, as well as those around you.

Remember, forgiveness is a process and it does take time. It is too easy to brush over events that have hurt us – file these feelings away and think that all is forgotten. However, it doesn’t do us any good. Although it is hard, we really need to take the time to work through our emotions. Only when we truly forgive others can we start to heal. We owe that to ourselves.

For more information on forgiveness - and how it helps us grow and move forward – read this article from Psychology Today.