Mental health challenges in children and young people are on the increase and are posing huge problems for them, adults and the society as a whole. Families and schools alike, are now feeling the impact of this surge of mental health crisis. Something needs to give and changes must be made in order to safeguard children and young people’s future and as the next generation. And the change must start with us, adults!

Children want parents and teachers to take the lead and guide them even if they act totally contrary to this statement. They need guidance, including clear, consistent boundaries.

The child or pupil needs to know what they are supposed to do and wants guidance in order to be able to do it. Yes they are likely to react adversely at first when attempts to change their behaviour, routine, habits and patterns but that is partly due to the uncertainty of being thrown into unfamiliar territories of calmness, boundaries, assertion and discipline. It could also be due to a sense of confusion during the transition stages and lack of guidance. However, with consistent, firm, calm, gentle, loving, caring and reassuring action and guidance from the parent or teacher. The child or pupil may begin to see the benefits that the changes may bring. Trust is also a key issue for many children and young people.

In order to achieve any of the above, the teacher or parent must first know and understand what the problem is or underlying issues that needs to be fixed to bring about a change. The other key thing is that a more positive outcome is more likely if the parent or teacher first make changes within themselves in order to gain the results that they desire with and for the child or pupil. For instance, if you are someone who panics and/or show disgust at the sight of a self injury, it is really important that how you manage yourself and your emotions is changed, in order to gain any buy-in from the child or pupil.

“When the man is right, the world will be right too.” Dennis Kimbro & Napoleon Hill

Children and young people respond to their environment. Fix the environment, and that will go along way to helping them to be in a more balanced emotional state, unless there are medical reasons which provide contra-indications.
Their behaviour is generally indicative of the underlying issues that they are attempting to grapple with or solve in some way.

Be The Change That You Want To See

Positive or new examples within the school environment might look like this:

 No labelling of any pupil
 Positive messages and focus reinforced at the start of each day for EVERY pupil
 Congruent verbal and non-verbal messages from staff/teachers and the school environment
 Lead by example

Positive or new examples within the home environment might look like this:

 Shared and reinforced boundaries, irrespective of the children and young people’s age
 Consistent habits/routines e.g. morning, home time, bedtime
 Consistent discipline
Family fun

Positive or new examples within society might look like this:

Media see and treat people as OK (and a human being) irrespective of race, colour, creed, gender, sexuality, weight, size, etc.

“Be the change that you want to see”. Ghandi

So How Do You Do That?

As a parent or teacher, take control of the situation by taking control of you first and your emotions. If you want the children to be calm, you must first show and demonstrate calmness within. Shouting at them and telling them to calm down brings about the opposite affect! Be calm and they naturally become calm. React and they will react. Respond consistently and they will begin to respond. Take the lead, or lead by example with consistent, firm, calm, gentle, loving, caring and reassuring action and guidance.

In Summary:

 Anger and aggression begets anger and aggression!
 Negative projections on children and young people results in negative reactions and behaviour on their part, towards you and others!
 Model the response that you want to see
 If you want calmness, be calm
 If you want trust, demonstrate trust
 If you want respect, demonstrate respect.

How teachers and parents manage their interaction with children and young people can go a long way in assisting children and young people to manage and regulate their own emotions. Given the gamut of challenges that young people face today, adults leading by example is only one aspect of helping children and young people to reduce their mental health challenges, but nevertheless a very important and significant aspect.

Sometimes as adults, we all need a little helping hand of support and/or guidance to uncover or discover the stumbling blocks that are getting in the way of being the person/teacher/parent that we want to be.

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