We’re delighted to announce that School Notices have teamed up with the renowned therapist Alicia Drummond, as its new In-House Parenting & Mental Health Expert.
Founder of Teen Tips, Alicia has years of experience working with both schools and families and over the course of the next few months she will be sharing her wonderful knowledge to help us protect our children’s mental health.
When you think about your children and imagine their futures, what do you see? If, in twenty years’ time, they are living a successful life what do you think that would look like? Would it mirror your own or do you want something entirely different for them? If you are honest with yourself does success look different for each of your children?
Often success for a very bright child would be about stellar results, a top university and a “serious” job whereas for a child who struggles academically we may “just want them to be happy”. Success means different things to different people and it is worth considering what it means to us because it will have a big impact on how we go about parenting our children.
In this series of articles we will look at how parents can create environments that set children up for success whilst protecting their mental health. We need to be proactive and focus on prevention of mental health problems and this is what I hope to achieve with you here.
Maya Angelou, American civil rights activist, poet and author defines success as:
“Liking who you are. Liking what you do and liking how you do it”
She puts it so succinctly but for me she does more than that because I think she also encapsulates our role as parents:
- to help our children to like themselves
- to help them find a life that is meaningful for them and,
- to teach them how to live that life with integrity.
I think the most important of these is the first – helping them to like themselves, which means helping them to develop healthy self-esteem and a strong sense of self-worth. People with healthy self-esteem understand and accept their weaknesses and appreciate their strengths. They are more positive, hopeful, robust and resilient and therefore a great deal less likely to develop mental health problems.
As parents we hold enormous power because our children rely on us for their survival and are programmed to seek our attention and approval. In the words of Voltaire (or was it Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility. The messages we give our children become the first ideas they have about themselves and they go a long way towards shaping their self-image and self-esteem.
Our attention gives them information about their worth – if they only receive positive attention when they are achieving, they learn that our approval, aka love, is conditional upon performance.
I believe it should be the right of every child to be loved unconditionally. Working with teenagers in therapy I am saddened by those who have learnt that parental love has to be earned. To be accepted in their family they have had to become human doings rather than human beings and the pressure to perform has become intolerable.
If we never give them our full attention they learn that they are low down our list of priorities. If we never have time for them they learn that they are not worthy of it. If we don’t show that we believe in them how can they believe in themselves? If we don’t help them to become competent why should they think they are capable?
In our fast changing world we can’t build the future for them but we can definitely build them for the future and helping them develop healthy self-esteem is a great foundation.
In the next article we will look at how we can create an environment that helps children and teenagers like what they are doing and how they are doing it and give them the permission to succeed without the pressure to succeed.
Alicia is a therapist accredited with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy; she is also a pastoral care consultant working with over 100 schools in the UK and abroad and, perhaps most importantly, is a parent.
Alicia set up Teen Tips when she noticed that as a therapist working with teenagers it became obvious that the number of young people needing mental health care had grown exponentially.
An advocate for being proactive in creating an environment for teenagers that promotes positive mental health, well being and resilience, Alicia believes that if schools and parents can work together to create such an environment, great things can be achieved.
Teen Tips Courses, Talks and Workshops are designed to give you information, advice and perhaps, most importantly, practical tips and tools to help you to help teenagers fulfil their potential.
Visit her website for more information here www.teentips.co.uk/
* Cover image reposted from Teen Tips