Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. We are living in very uncertain times and the following two reflections are particularly relevant and challenging for each of us.
If there is to be peace in the world; There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations; There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities; There must be peace between neighbours,
If there is to be peace among neighbours; There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home; There must be peace in the heart.
Chinese Philospher Lao-Tse
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Let's always work together to model respect and encourage our young people to be kind, compassionate members of the different communities they belong to.
This week is Wellbeing Week at St Martin's when we highlight the importance of mental health for all members of our community especially our young people. Parent ducator, Michael Grose provides these ten strategies to promote good mental health and wellbeing in children.
Kids with good mental health feel better, learn better and are better equipped to handle life's curve balls. It seems strange to talk about promoting good mental health in children. Shouldn't all children naturally have good mental health habits? After all, childhood is supposed to be a pretty relaxed time of life, free from the pressures and stresses that come hand in hand with adulthood.
Sadly, it doesn't seem that way. According to the Australian Psychological Society one in seven Australian children experience some type of mental health issue, with ADHD, anxiety and depression being the most common.
Having good mental health doesn't mean kids don't experience difficulties or worries. Feeling worried, sad or fearful is normal. Kids who are mentally healthy are equipped to handle many of life's curve balls that come their way. They also don't let their emotions overwhelm them. As a result they learn better and have more friends as well.
As a parent it's useful to reflect on the mental health habits that you promote in your kids.
Here are ten ways to promote good mental health and wellbeing in kids:
1. Model good mental health habits
If you, like many parents, live constantly with stress then consider ways to actively minimise it, such as getting regular exercise, plenty of sleep and doing relaxation exercises. Not only will this improve your mental health, and make you easier to live with, it will send a strong positive message that mental health is important. It's worth remembering that kids learn what they live, so make sure they see good mental health habits first hand.
2. Make sure they get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the building blocks of mental health and wellbeing. Many children and just about all teenagers are sleep-deprived at the moment. Many parents are sleep-deprived as well! Children need between 10 and 12 hours' sleep to enable proper growth and development, while teenagers need a minimum of nine hours. One of the single most powerful strategies to improve kids' abilities to cope with stressful or changing situations is to ensure they get enough sleep.
3. Encourage your kids to exercise
When my mum would tell me all those years ago to turn the television off and go outside and play, she didn't know she was promoting good mental health. She just knew that physical activity was a good thing for an active growing boy. Kids today get less exercise than those of past generations, which is an impediment to mental health. Exercise stimulates the chemicals that improve mood and release the stress that builds up over a day. An hour's movement per day seems the minimum for kids.
How much exercise does your child receive?
4. Encourage creative outlets
Kids should practise creativity if for no other reason than it helps them experience the state of 'flow'. This is the state of getting so immersed in an activity that you forget about time and place. Writers and other creatives understand the concept of flow. It's energizing and helps take stressed and worried kids out of themselves. rock star of character traits.
5. Provide a space of their own
Children of all ages benefit from having some space of their own where they can think. Quiet time and down time give children the chance to let their thoughts wander around inside their heads. It also helps them get to know, and even like, themselves. Children will often do their best thinking on their own, so they tend to retreat to their caves (bedroom) when things go wrong at school or in their relationships. They need to go within to find their own answer.
6. Talk about their troubles
A problem shared is a problem halved. Talking about what's worrying you is a great way to remove the burden of worry and reduce anxiousness. Some kids bottle up what's inside, while others will catastrophise a situation, which can make matters seem worse. If your child has a problem, let them know that their concerns are important to you. Kids often can't tell you what may be wrong, so be observant and gently ask questions to help gain a clearer picture of how kids may be feeling.
7. Help them relax
Make sure your child has a hobby or activity that relaxes them. The ability to relax and get away from the stresses of everyday life is essential. Some children who have real difficulty switching off may benefit from practising meditation or mindfulness, but most kids just need time to chill out so they can relax naturally. (I personally practise mindfulness and have found it a really helpful way to turn off my brain for a while!)
8. Have two routines – weekday and weekend
Households are pretty highly scheduled these days. There are routines for getting up, coming home, eating meals and going to bed. These structures are necessary when we're busy. Families need a second, more relaxed weekend routine that helps kids relax and unwind. It's important to have this release valve if families are flat out busy during the week.
9. Foster volunteering and helpfulness
Social isolation is a huge predictor of poor mental health. Encourage your child to be connected to and help others in any way possible. Helping others reinforces social connectedness and the importance of being part of a community, as well as providing opportunities for positive recognition.
10. Bring fun and playfulness into their lives
Kids should be the kings and queens of play; however, some children live such full-on, organised lives that much of the natural fun and spontaneity has been stripped from their everyday life. Mucking around, which is code for having fun, is something many children of this generation don't have time for. If you see your child constantly stressed or overwhelmed by events, change the mood by going to a movie, joining them in a game or seeking other ways to have some fun.
These ideas are basic common sense. However, as kids' lives get busier these essentials get squeezed out. Here's my recommendation to ensure that mental health habits aren't overlooked or neglected. First, see these habits as the building blocks of mental health. Don't ignore or trivialise them. Talk to your children and tie these activities to their mental health. Do this in your own way and your own time. Second, assess which of these habits need your attention and make some adjustments over time to push the pendulum back in favour of your child's mental health.
Once children learn the essential skills to read they require daily practise for reading to continue to develop. Reading is like anything else that requires practise to develop such as running long distance races, riding a bike, playing a musical instrument or painting a masterpiece. It is essential that children of all ages are read to each day.
Please encourage your child to read during the holiday period.
We are very fortunate to have two Brisbane City Council libraries in the Carina & Carindale areas. I know your children will enjoy visiting these facilities and reading the great range of books on offer, so I encourage you to visit these places soon.
Media Reports on student/teacher ratios
You may be aware of a media story about student/teacher ratios circulating in newspapers and related websites this week. Whilst we respect the intent of the story, we do not place emphasis on the detail as it s fails to take into school officers who work with our classes and play an important role in our students' learning.
Fortunately, the stories do highlight the importance of quality of teaching in the classroom not just ratios. Like all Catholic schools, we are focused on ensuring that each student achieves the best possible learning outcomes for them, and that they grow to be resilient individuals who are able to shape their own futures and make a meaningful contribution to the community.
Congratulations and best wishes
Congratulations to our students who received awards at assembly this week. Congratulations to our students who were involved in the Queensland Primary Schools' Netball Cup at the Sunshine Coast last weekend. I thank Mrs Melissa Taylor, Mrs Lisa Bloxsom, Mrs Katie Catalano and all others involved in this carnival for their commitment and support of the students. Well done to all involved in the recent Catholic Athletics Carnival and Invitational Touch Carnival and thank you to Mrs Lia Weston, Mr Sam O'Leary and Mrs Liz Mellon as well as our parent coaches for their work encouraging and supporting the students at these events.
Best wishes to our tennis players who will compete in the school carnival tomorrow.
Mrs Anna Vedelago (Support Teacher: Inclusive Education) has informed me of her intention to retire from St Martin's at the end of 2019. Mrs Erin Stiles has been appointed to replace Anna from the beginning of the 2020 school year. Erin is currently the Support Teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel school, Gatton.
We wish Miss Katherine O'Reilly and her fiancé Greg our blessings and best wishes for their wedding in the holidays.
On behalf of the St Martin's staff, may I take this opportunity to thank everyone in our school community for making our school the great place of learning that it is.
I will be accessing a week of Long Service Leave in the first week of Term 4. Mrs Jen Cran will be Acting Principal during that time.
School resumes Tuesday 8th October.
Best wishes for a safe, enjoyable break with your children.