TEACHERS NEED SELF-CARE

Angry mother scolding a disobedient child
Angry mother scolding a disobedient child

I recently spoke at a conference in Singapore to Pre-School teachers about the importance of self-care.
The thing is, stressed teachers are not effective and teaching is one of the most highly stressed jobs in the world. This is particularly true of pre-school teaching. You simply cannot get away from little children. It is not possible to say, “Open your book to page 123 and carry on with your maths” while you take a moment to leave the room and breathe!
So you have to be PRESENT all the time and that means very good stress management principles are needed.
A recent survey of 30, 000 US teachers in New York found most of them were highly stressed but wanted to stay with their profession because they CARE!

“We ask teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and, I’m dating myself here, Tony Soprano,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT. “We ask them to be Mom and Dad and impart tough love but also be a shoulder to lean on. And when they don’t do these things, we blame them for not being saviors of the world. What is the effect? The effect has been teachers are in¬cred¬ibly stressed out.”

Teachers often still have young children at home so they do “double duty!”
When we train teachers to use our EQ4KIDZ program we insist on spending 1 day where we focus on teachers’ mental health issues, EQ and stress management. We demonstrate ways to pause and be mindful and discuss helpful daily stress management.
In order to be able to drop all problems at the door of the classroom before entering, teachers need time to spend alone, to think, to plan and to manage their stress levels.
The busy school day must make some “intervals” or “gaps” where teachers can gather thoughts, reflect and re-group.
It is a great blessing to be able to teach the next generation but it is also one of the most taxing, enervating, highly skilled and stressful professions on earth so let’s ensure we do not lose our amazing teachers. The profession needs help!
With the many curriculum changes and challenging behaviours teachers must deal with, stress management is not just a soft option. It is a necessity. Unless all teachers are taught how to manage their stress, care for themselves and recognise unhealthy signs of tension we will have burnt out, fed up and stressed out teachers and unhappy, unsuccessful students.

NEW START for brave kids!

NEW Cute yellow chick standing on child' s handSTART FOR 16 KIDS!
On Good Friday we launched the EASTER NEW START program in Singapore.

 

What amazing, receptive kids they were!
We went through a gradual process, learning to regularly express GRATITUDE, reviewing our SMARTS, stimulating our brains, writing AFFIRMATIONS, writing goals and much more!
I have learned that children DO want to be motivated, and reach for the stars. They often feel hopeless and don’t know where to start. These kids were SO receptive and I observed so many acts of kindness from them throughout the day. Most children did not know each other well before the workshop- many had formed firm friends by the end!
I had children of all ages in this workshop and they were fascinated to learn more about their brains and find out the RULES FOR GETTING SMARTER.
Of course the hard work starts now and I sincerely hope the children will continue to use these KEYS TO SUCCESS.

Well done children! It was a privilege spend a day with you!
We will be holding a similar workshop with children in Perth on Friday and I thoroughly look forward to it!

Good GRACIOUS ME!

ハートを持つ子供Teaching  GRACIOUSNESS
After pondering the difficulties of teaching graciousness for 2 days my quest was answered!

On Monday I assessed a very polite child with great manners and an excellent sense of humour!  He was not scared to let me see his weaknesses and knew his strengths but wanted to improve on everything!  I realised I had a gracious child on my hands!

During the parent interview it became apparent his parents had deliberately set out to set up a loving but firm home environment.
Graciousness is not a personality trait. It has to be taught.

And it CAN be taught – to ALL children!

It is interesting to note that the word GRACIOUSNESS was at highest usage in around 1815 and almost left the collective vocabulary in the 1990s. It is gradually coming back into common usage. I personally believe our language tends to reflect our social mores and the interest in GRACIOUSNESS is a positive development.

Parents are actually beginning to ask about strategies to develop graciousness and all its associated qualities.

So how do we develop this elusive quality that has synonyms such as kind, elegant, comfortable, tender, well mannered, polite, considerate and thoughtful?

Children who have these qualities stand out like beacons to teachers. They are easier to teach, make friends easily and generally do well with their careers because their EQ tends to be a lot higher. They present a positive image and people want to be around them! Their good manners are so practised they appear to be second nature and we feel an “ease” with these people.

This is not something that can be learned at speed.

Here are some tips for parents and teachers:

• Tell children why their behaviour is helpful or not. Graciousness is about considering the needs of others before ourselves and is woven into the fabric of every major world religion.
• Read them books where people exemplify graciousness.
• Teach them good manners and insist on their use at all times- privately and publicly. Teach them social niceties so they will develop confidence in all social settings.
• Help them develop an attitude of gratitude. Families might keep a joint gratitude journal so that everyone writes or draws something they feel grateful for in every-day.
• You can have a special beautiful GRATITUDE STONE that gets passed around each day at the dinner table. As each member receives the stone, they must tell about 3 things they feel grateful for today.
• Help children write a Thank You for each gift they receive. This can become a fun exercise if children are allowed to select paper, stickers and markers and you can write the words if needed. Get children to write WHY they appreciate the gift.
• Children need to understand we do not necessarily like everything we are given. Use role play and puppets to help children act out receiving a gift they do not like much. How might the giver feel if we show annoyance or disappointment? Help them to understand that Grandma may not understand you already have 20 pairs of underpants! She may not be able to afford a more expensive gift so it was given with love and must be received with gratitude!
G.K. Chesterton, in A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND says that

“thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Get them involved with GIVING to others. This might mean donating outgrown clothes and toys to a charity shop, sharing the figs from your tree with neighbours or putting surplus lemons in a marked box on your verge. You could show children how your family can save some money to give to worthy causes or actually visit folks in an aged care home, serving in a soup kitchen etc. I have had children at my centre who have been completely transformed by their trips with parents to poor areas of the world to help.
• Don’t give them everything they ask for. Help them to realise that time with a loved one is far more precious than owning possessions.
Spend time with them on a regular basis. A parent at our centre has temporarily given up her position as a successful lawyer to take a low paying but less demanding job so she can give the gift of time to her child without taking reams of work home at night.
• Schedule special times such as BOARD GAMES evenings. A young Mum told me this week that her family have a board game night each week. What a wonderful idea! Families can talk together as they play and children learn that you definitely do not always win- a VERY big lesson for some children! They also learn that you can have fun without electronic media!
• Teach children how to be kind and gentle by looking after pets, visiting farms and learning about endangered species.
• Get children to begin a garden and plant and care for the plants they grow. This will help them also develop responsibility and respect for nature.
• Being gracious means showing equanimity, calm, respect, kindness and self-control – even when we feel the opposite. It is not about always expressing feelings. Children have to realise that there are many times when we simply cannot express our feelings without causing harm. They have to learn to stay calm, smile even when they want to yell and learn about the private expression of strong feelings. This is why drawing and writing in a private journal is so effective. A person who can draw and write in their private journal always has a means of expressing their feelings and can afford not to vent in public!
Model these behaviours yourself so children really understand. Reward graciousness when you observe it. Tell children exactly what they did right!

E.g. “I noticed you let Brian play with your Lego even though you don’t like the way he messes up your room. Well done!”
Graciousness IS important and is indeed transformative. Let’s take the time to teach it!