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Mrs Hanbury headmistress talking with students outside
  • Head's Blog

Listening to Gillian Bridge, psychotherapist, lecturer and researcher, at the HMC Conference has brought me back to a blog I wrote some years ago which I called “Leave the kids alone”.

Gillian gathers together a wealth of research and personal experience to demonstrate the value of building resilience in children in order to improve their mental health. She goes further, suggesting that we reinforce unhappiness by allowing (or even encouraging) them to talk about their worries and repeat their anxieties. Instead, we should encourage them to let it go, move on, get over it. 

It reminds me of research which was carried out on survivors of the 9/11 atrocity. Everyone was offered counselling and therapy and many accepted it, assuming that it must be good for them. In fact, ten years after the event, research showed that those who had NOT had any sort of therapy, had better mental health. They had come to terms with their trauma rather than reinforcing by talking about it. Gillian Bridge describes how an overdose of dopamine increases our verbal communication and so we tend to over-talk and thus build things up in our own minds, making it impossible to move on. 

My rather simplistic advice built on this is to hear your child once talking about something which has upset them, acknowledge the upset, then move on. The younger they are, the easier it might be to offer a distraction, but distraction works for everyone: I recommend active distraction, rather than the distraction of social media....

If you would like to read Part 1 of this blog, please click here.

By Mrs Hanbury - Head Mistress of LEH School

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