Bring Power to Your New Start

24th September 2019

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Children’s counsellor and parenting coach Anita Sharma offers advice for the new term…

As the new term gets under way, many parents breathe a sigh of relief as they welcome back the routine and familiar patterns of normal family life. Back-to-school nerves are part and parcel of this process, but hopefully this emotion is mixed with excitement for our children, since they are two sides of the same coin. Feeling ‘anxious’ and ‘excited’ can have the same level of emotional energy.

It’s natural to suffer from nervous anticipation about what the new academic year may hold, since our minds find it difficult to deal with uncertainty. For some, the thought of a new class, a new teacher, or even a new school only causes slight apprehension; for others it can provoke a deep level of anxiety.

Creativity is a human characteristic that allows us to find solutions to everyday problems. I believe strongly that finding a way to express ourselves through performing arts and creativity can be a powerful catalyst for promoting wellbeing, confidence and resilience.

Role-play exercises enable children to understand two sides of a scenario, where taking risks and facing their fears supports them to develop their empathic skills. Our classes incorporate mindfulness, visualisations, yoga and creative activities in a safe non-judgemental environment, allowing children to find their voice and step out of their comfort zone. This all contributes dramatically to them feeling happier within themselves.

The aim of the workshops is to bring self-awareness to children’s lives, to enhance and complement the academic rigour they get at school. Their need for a release is vitally important for a healthy balanced mind and body, which is what makes us a ‘human being’ not a ‘human doing’. This is why laughter is one of the best natural therapies – a good belly laugh leaves you feeling positively glowing long afterwards.

Why send your children to our wellbeing classes? In today’s very complex world the importance for children to self-express and to unleash their inner power gives them the tools to deal with difficult emotions (embarrassment, anger) and handle stressful situations (exams, peer pressure).

Older children are particularly vulnerable, as between the ages of around 12 and 25 years, the teenage brain undergoes significant changes that affect emotions, thinking and learning. This brings with it confusion and uncertainty, especially when many are struggling to forge an identity that reflects who they are. Navigating this never-ending and roller-coaster journey to adulthood can leave children feeling unstable and vulnerable.

Our brains are like a supercomputer with extraordinary powers, and we are the programmer. We can train our brain how to behave. It’s just like exercising any other muscle, but requires mental, rather than physical, strength.

Here are five tips we can teach our children to help them retrain their brains:

Take exercise – for energy and to give the physical benefits of improving mood by reducing the stress hormone cortisol, while releasing the happy hormones endorphin and serotonin.

Be positive – break the cycle of focusing on negative thoughts; instead note all your achievements, focus on your strengths and be grateful – and flood the brain with positive energy. The repetition of positive habits will rewire your brain.

Reveal yourself – authentically and truthfully express your feelings to release any emotional pressure. Managing intense emotions by writing, drawing or talking to someone you trust will lessen emotional turmoil.

Sleep better – sleep deprivation is one of the main contributors to anxiety, low mood and lack of concentration. Establish a healthy night-time routine by introducing a digital detox an hour before bedtime.

Be cautious – especially when your brain says go, go, go! Stop and think for a second, to manage the impulsive side of your brain. Boundaries exist for a reason, think before you act!

Parenting Workshops: Friday 27 September, Tuesday 1 October or Friday 1 November (7-9pm); Children’s Three-Part Wellbeing Course (ages 9+) Friday 15, 22 and 29 November (5.30-8.30pm), St John’s Church, Northwood HA6 1DN; contact Anita to find out more • 07956 849614 • •

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