Have you heard about Positive Education in Singapore schools? Hailed as a vital tool for maintaining the wellbeing of kids in the 21st century, Positive Education is a worldwide movement integrating positive psychology into school programs. The goal? Teaching children resilience: a key life skill that will help them face and overcome life’s challenges. We all know childhood and adolescence isn’t always easy – but with the World Health Organisation reporting that depression is now the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years, parents must find ways to help their kids address their emotions and manage difficulties they face.
Dr Toni Noble, co-founder of the world’s first Positive Education program, Bounce Back, spoke to HoneyKids to explain how schools such as Avondale Grammar are making a meaningful contribution to children’s wellbeing. She also shares some invaluable advice on how parents can help guide children through tough times…
Do you think children’s lives have become more complex? What has contributed to this?
Children are exposed to an increasingly complex world through media and technologies. The pace of change is far greater than earlier generations, and significant challenges to the wellbeing of young people today include higher levels of family break-up, family relocation and blended families; more pressure to complete higher levels of education; cybersafety issues; easier access to drugs; less time with parents; more loneliness and isolation as a result of being part of smaller families and the experience of less connection or sense of belonging to their local community.
How can parents best teach resilience at home?
All children face adversity at one time or other. Resilience is the ability to persist, cope adaptively and bounce back after encountering change, challenges and disappointments to a reasonable level of wellbeing, or to still thrive. Resilience is crucial for academic and social success in school and in life.
- Don’t over-protect your child from experiencing everyday frustrations or difficulties.
- Avoid offering ‘quick fixes’ or ‘feel good’ options when things get tough. Rather than saying ‘let’s go to McDonalds’, let them sit with the bad feelings, knowing that you care that they are hurting, but that it is something they have to deal with, not escape from.
- Encourage your child to talk about what’s troubling them and help them to find solutions. Such experiences can help a child to become more resilient in the future.
- Don’t fight all your child’s battles. Children need to experience some difficult times so they learn how to bounce back.
- Let them know that, although life is mainly good, everyone has the occasional bad time.Help your child develop courage
- Talk about everyday courage as being prepared to face up to something that is difficult for you even though you might feel anxious or nervous or fearful.
- Affirm that different people are frightened of different things.
- Differentiate between courage and foolhardiness or bravado to impress others.
- Encourage thoughtful risk-taking but make sure your child has thought through potential consequences and is ready for the possibilities.
- Talk to your child about your own fears and how you deal with them.
What are the most important things a parent can do to encourage kids to stay open about their emotions when they’re going through challenging times?
It’s important that children understand that everyone is sad, anxious or upset sometimes. Helping your child to recognise and accurately name their own feelings is the starting point to helping them to better manage unpleasant emotions. It also helps them to recognise and respond empathically and kindly to the feelings of others. Try this strategy:
- Take notice when your child is feeling sad or angry or upset.
- See this as an opportunity for closeness and teaching.
- Name their feeling and empathically validate it.
- Help with problem solving but within stated limits.
- Take an optimistic approach. Help your child to understand that bad times don’t last and things will get better, and remember that it’s important to positively track the good things that happen in their lives.
What are the key strategies being adopted by schools such as Avondale Grammar that have embraced the Bounce Back program?
Bounce Back is an award-winning program to promote a positive school culture as well as provide a multi-faceted wellbeing curriculum for classroom teachers to teach to their students.
Avondale Grammar School is teaching the Bounce Back curriculum across the whole school from Preschool to Middle School. The nine curriculum units are Core Values, People Bouncing Back, Courage, Emotions, Humour, Look on the Bright Side (Optimism), Relationships and Success (setting goals, strengths and organisation). These units are embedded within the school curriculum and each day in each class Avondale covers Positive Education. These units utilise children’s literature, relational teaching strategies and critical and creative thinking tools to help teachers embed the teaching of wellbeing and resilience in their curriculum and teaching. It is important to note that these topics are accessed in an age-appropriate manner. At Preschool the children learn to identify their emotions whilst at Junior School topics are more sophisticated such as ‘To have friends is to be a good friend’. At Avondale there is also a Teacher-Mentor program which gives young teenagers the opportunity to talk in a confidential manner to a teacher. This sort of program is important in showing students that their opinion and feelings are valid and worthy.
See Avondale’s Positive Education program in action and meet Dr Toni Noble in this video:
To find out more about how your child can benefit from the Bounce Back program and how Avondale Grammar School is at the forefront of Positive Education, join the information session for parents this month – all are welcome!
School Information Sessions, 29 October, 9am and 6pm
Avondale Grammar School, 304 Tanglin Rd, Phoenix Park, 247972
Dr Toni Noble is Avondale Grammar School’s Patron for Positive Education. This post is sponsored by Avondale Grammar School.