Training days prior to the start of term are always busy days. High quality training competes for time with the need to spend time preparing classrooms and the more prosaic or mundane demands of regulatory requirements. On Monday we met as a whole staff, found time to prepare classrooms, spent a couple of hours receiving updates about Manual Handling, Fire Safety and Working at Heights. However, of all the time spent, it was the couple of hours spent learning about children’s emotional health and how to help them to build resilience which was the most powerful.
This training, delivered by Perth and Kinross CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) really hit the spot. We were reminded of exactly what is required to develop and build resilience and also of those things which, while meant with good intent, can undermine it. Perhaps the most controversial and striking aspect of this was the extent to which resilience and strong emotional health can be undermined when we try to solve all of our children’s problems for them or protect them from challenging learning experiences. Whilst we all acknowledge that no one likes to see their children struggling or even failing to achieve something, it is in fact these failures and struggles which do the most to develop grit, resilience and thus strong and robust emotional health.
Ultimately we know that all of our children will eventually leave home and education and need to be equipped fully with strong emotional health if they are going to thrive in later life. It is unrealistic to think that we will be able to carry on protecting them or solving their problems so it is essential that we begin to equip them now to cope with some inevitable bumps in the road. This might seem like tough love but is in fact, according to the mental health experts, the most loving thing that you can do...who are we to argue?
If you would like to know more you might like to read this. It’s certainly made me think twice before stepping in to solve my children’s problems.
John F Gilmour