It’s OK not to be OK

Next week’s ethos theme is: ‘We keep trying even when it is difficult.’ For schools and parents, this is a fundamental attitude we need to instil in our children. Our focus on social and emotional skills through our ethos themes and PSHEE lessons is really important for children’s resilience. Helping children to understand themselves, supporting them to manage their emotions, and ensuring they know how to seek help when necessary underpin our pastoral provision and build resilience. Recent mental health campaigns often quote: ‘It’s okay not to be okay’ and so teaching children to accept that a full range of positive and negative feelings are acceptable enables them to express things such as frustration or anxiety rather than bottling them up. Resilience doesn’t just mean gritting your teeth and getting on with it! The stiff upper lip for which the British are renowned can actually be quite damaging as we suppress our emotions to save face. Instead, resilience is about being confident to seek advice and accept support when required, helping us to normalise the range of experiences we all have, including on bad days.

School staff and parents have a role to play in modelling positive approaches during stressful times. Children learn (taking verbal and non-verbal cues) from the adults around them, so adults should be mindful of how they respond to stressful situations and demonstrate the skills needed to overcome challenges. Adults can also play an active role in supporting children during stressful times, such as the forthcoming Entrance Exams for FIV. By identifying problem-solving steps to work through situations positively, with practice children can embed this approach so they are able to more resolve difficulties independently. Discussing what happened afterwards and reflecting on the approaches used can also help to reinforce the learning; reminding the child that positive outcomes are possible even when the journey has proved a bit difficult or stressful.