Schools lack…

School

Schools try their very best to teach children all the skills they need to learn in order to lead full and successful lives. I really believe that for the most part, educators really do care.

That said, I think there is one area that schools and society lacks attention that is absolutely critical and would change the way that our society worked as a whole. We all went to school and now we are all “society”. One day these kids will be taking our places.Will they be as prepared as we were? Were we prepared?

Bullying is a HUGE issue that receives a ton of attention but the education about it isn’t working. I’ve sat in school auditoriums, listened to very passionate speakers on the effects of bullying and then as we leave, I hear kids calling each other names, pushing each other, basically ignoring every lesson they just learned. I would hate to even fathom a guess at the hours a principal spends dealing with bullies, bullied children and their parents. Yet it is only getting worse.
And much worse than bullying? Having no respect for your own self, beating yourself up for finding life challenging, feeling like you are less than or not worthy of better, harming yourself in ANY way because you just don’t have the skills to cope.

I am not usually one for coming up with ideas that basically throw what we  are already doing out the window but in this case? I think we need to strongly consider it.
What do I think we should teach instead?
I think we could do wonders for our youth and our society as a whole if we taught about good mental health.

  • Teach and do projects on self-esteem, help kids figure out what they really love to do and how to be proud of it.
  • Teach lessons on being resilient. You CAN teach someone how to gain skills that will make the ups and downs of life easier to manage.
  • Explain to our youth that they are worthy of love, attention, and support. If they are not getting that at home, parents can be led towards parenting classes that are not done to be punitive but rather done to make all of their lives better. It is very obvious to me that the parents needs as much consideration as the child.
  • We need to teach children about self-care and self nurture. I was 43 before I even knew what this meant. I assumed if I showered and brushed my teeth? I was all good. I had no idea that I needed to also nurture myself, treat myself well, do things that I enjoy like being creative or spending time writing.
  • Teach some behaviour therapy. How to see the world with realistic but not dirtied glasses. Help them see the good that surrounds them and actively push further away from the bad.
  • Teach these children about mental health issues. Let them know what is “normal” and what is not. Help them learn the signs of anxiety or depression so that they can be proactive far earlier. Many youth and many adults graduate from anxiety and/or depression to more serious concerns such as self harm, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders. Give them the local support numbers to call if they ever feel the need to reach out for help. Don’t make them (or anyone) have to go searching for it when they are at their lowest.

My personal belief (and that is all this is although I would LOVE to change the world with it) is that youth who are taught and helped to mature with a good self-esteem, an ability to be more resilient, know that they are worthy and important people in this world, take an active role in doing things that make themselves happy and feel fulfilled, youth who are taught about mental health and have no fear or stigma attached to it will reach out sooner, get help quicker and not fall so far before trying to catch themselves.

Mentally healthy children, youth and eventually members of our adult society will require less interventions, they will become happier workers, more positive people, they will be resilient and good at taking care of their own needs.
I think it is worth taking the time to make this a part of the curriculum and if they don’t? We parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caregivers, friends, doctors, nurses, etc. need to start teaching it if we can.
I also firmly believe that these stronger, more self-assured youth won’t need as much help with bullies because a bully will be far less likely to upset them as easily AND we will have fewer bullies in the first place. Mentally healthy people do not feel the need to stomp on the feelings of those around them.

12 responses to “Schools lack…

  1. I agree completely and this is good advice I can teach all my children. Sometimes as parents it gets easy to focus on the negative behaviors and ignore all the positive. I try to keep a balance between the two. These tools can smooth out life for children and adults.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes to all of this. It should be how we treat our children everywhere….in school, at home, and everywhere in between. Great post!

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  3. Well said!! Bullying so much the focus these days. I have never seen any of my children’s schools teach about good mental health. I believe it is often missed and other things are taught instead of. Here sports is a HUGE thing. You have to be a great athlete, do really well in school, be active and volunteer in much and yet there is not much said about mental health issues. The world would be a very different place I agree if this was addressed while we were young.

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  4. Absolutely Heather! I live in an area where teenage suicides are the highest in the country. Because of social media and mobile phones, bullying is made easier for the bullies, and we live in a society where physical image is EVERYTHING. Teaching children self esteem, to be resilient (as well as basics like knowing right from wrong) is something that really needs to be done BEFORE they actually go to school. Ideally, how to take care of themselves both mentally and physically should be a set of skills they carry on learning until adulthood. Great blog!

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  5. I think this is absolutely brilliant. I take issue with much of the buzz around “bullying” these days because it doesn’t address the underlying issues. If a child/teen is engaging in bullying behavior, it is highly likely they are struggling with their own mental or emotional issues. Which could be stemming from any number of things. And if children/teens are literally killing themselves as a result of said bullying, they clearly had other things going on under the surface that contributed to suicidality. We do a great disservice to our youth when we deny them access to education and resources about mental health.

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  6. What a great blog entry Heather! I think every person in the world should read this! I think there should be more books written on this! You have hit it on the head! Every parent and every teacher, every pastor, every councillor or therapist should learn this and pass it on! When the world is full of greed and jealousy for others , they forget about the basic fundamentals of healthy living, to treat yourself and others with respect! You are awesome! Thanks for this post….I feel refreshed!

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