My newsletter last week focussed on stress in young people, particularly those preparing and undergoing examinations. However, ALL children, regardless of age or background, will be faced with stresses of varying intensity as part of their daily lives. When such stresses become severe, being able to employ strategies to tackle, cope and deal with stress are very important as part of a child’s growth tool box.  As educators and parents, we too have a role to counsel, support and listen to our children in order to help them through what can often be difficult and sometimes frightening circumstances.

What follows is some basic advice geared to help support young people as they encounter the stresses and strains of school, growing up and life in general. Please do discuss these methods with your child and assure them that discussing stress and asking for help are not signs of weakness. They are practical responses to a very real problem; responses that will provide long term, sustainable outcomes for children and their families.

Self care is critical as a healthy body will ensure that both body and mind are operating optimally. This does not mean that every child must be a Olympic sports person. It simply involves a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of rest.

Children are faced with circumstances where sometimes it seems like they have little or no control over what they think or feel. But, there are things that they and you as parents can do that will help them feel better and in a better position to tackle stress.

Diet: Food can affect your mood! There is a link between what we eat and how we feel so it’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet for both your body and mind. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Try these sites for brain food on a budget:

·         Change4Life: easy tips and recipes
·         NHS Choices: healthy eating for teens
·         Royal College of Psychiatrists: linking eating well and mental health
 
Exercise: Everyone knows that exercise is good for your body – but it’s also important for your emotional wellbeing. Scientists have discovered that exercise causes your brain to release chemicals that make you feel good. There is evidence to show that exercise can help raise self-esteem, help sleep problems, improve memory and concentration, takes your mind off negative thoughts, as well as reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Try these sites for more ideas:

·         NHS Choices: physical activity for teens
·         Young Minds: exercise and mental health
 
Improving individual self-esteem: Self-esteem is how you think and feel about yourself. Having healthy self esteem makes it easier to cope with life’s ups and downs. If you have low self-esteem, the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself tend to be negative. This can make you more prone to mental health problems.

Try this site for some different ways to boost self-esteem:

·         Young Minds: top tips on how to boost self-esteem
 
Taking time to relax: Regular relaxation is beneficial for positive mental health. If you make a regular time each day to practice some of the techniques below you will get better and better at relaxation and notice your day-to-day stress levels are lower. You will also become able to use relaxation at the times you need them most.
Try these relaxation techniques from Youthspace:

·         Breathing exercises
·         Seven eleven technique
·         Deep muscle relaxation


Another great way to relax is to practice mindfulness. This is the focusing of attention and awareness on the here and now, and is often used to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It has its roots in Buddhism, though is used widely by people of all ages from all different backgrounds with all sorts of problems.
 
Sharing what’s bothering you: Sharing what’s bothering you can help to make it feel more manageable. If you feel that the problems you’re having are too big for you to deal with by yourself you may want to get in contact with your GP, someone from school/college or someone else you trust.

Remember too that teachers, the Safeguarding Team and the School Counsellor are here to help.  The school counsellor offers a professional and confidential service with the sole aim of helping you tackle and overcome the problems you are facing.
 
Please do pay particular attention to your child’s mood and demeanor and keep the school informed if you have any concerns.  These will be treated respectfully and confidentially within the bounds of our safeguarding policies.

If you have any questions or concerns in respect of stress or mental health as it relates to young people and their development, do get in touch with any of the staff listed below or directly with me as we are all here to help:
 
1.  Mr Marco Damhuis – Head of the Primary School
2.  Mr Mike Moreton – Head of the Secondary School
3.  Ms. Judith Lee – Asst Head – Secondary School and School Safeguarding Lead
4.  Mr David Hallas – Asst Head of the Primary School
5.  Mr Gary Holman – Asst Head, Pastoral – Secondary School
 
All can be contacted via my P.A.,  jodiemonica.ho@pc.tis.edu.my 

Wishing you a positive weekend and week ahead. 

David Flint 斐迪偉
Principal of Taylor’s International School Puchong

References: 

UK National Health Service’s  Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Centre.
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