Parent University: The Wellbeing Series – Mental Health

Mental Health

Anxious Kids

We were delighted to see so many parents join us for the last wellbeing series session of 2019 – especially so close to the end of term. It was also wonderful to hear two different voices at this evening’s session. Moira Conroy-Stocker (our school counsellor) and Lucy Draper (Head of Year 9) lead an interesting and engaging session on anxiety and how we can support our children with it. They were assisted by the Boys and Girls Club Association social workers who work with us at Renaissance – Angela Lee and Lisa Lu. It was great to have them join us as well, to provide support in Cantonese if needed.

Moira gave us a basic introduction to anxiety and how it can impact on our own lives. Lucy then led us through some strategies to support our children (and ourselves), beginning with an explanation of the physiological response to experiences and how it is the interpretation of our responses that can lead to anxiety. Lucy also explained a lot of strategies to help to boost resilience and counteract negative self-talk. Moira went on to outline the typical worries for children in different age groups – what might be considered developmentally appropriate anxieties. Anxiety is a normal experience, and Moira shared some times at which anxiety for children becomes a problem for children.

Moira also focused specifically on social anxiety and shyness, how they manifest and how we might be able to help. We viewed two videos from ParentTV, the service that RCHK has subscribed to on behalf of all our parents. Visit the PowerPoint presentation here. Check out the social anxiety video on ParentTV. You can also refer to the ParentTV episode focusing on shyness in children. Please visit our resource sheet for more details.

Responding to your child’s behaviour

This session was one of the best attended sessions we have had, with not a spare seat in the house. It was great to see so many parents and helpers with us for the evening. Geoff Wheeler and Stephanie Howdle-Lang led a session looking into what is behind children’s behaviour and how we should respond to it as parents. We explored a range of different behaviours and looked closer at what might be behind them using film footage to support our discussions. We took a closer look at some neuroscience about the development of a child’s brain and how this might apply to managing and understanding behaviour.

For more on this, see the Jared Cooney Horvath talk at RCHK (we were lucky to be able to film it!), with the password RCHK. You can also watch Andrew Fuller’s video about the teenage brain.

Geoff and Stephanie also talked about how parents can manage their own responses to child behaviour – what to do when your children press your buttons. We talked about behaviourism, rewards and punishments and discussed how RCHK views behaviour through its Positive Relationship Policy. We discussed consequences and discipline as different than punishment, and Geoff and Stephanie shared top ten tips for discipline without punishment. We finished the session with a sneak preview of Parent TV, using one of the videos to help us understand how we can react when our children say they are bored.

Handouts from the session are available here:

A tour through the learning brain

Jared Cooney Horvath has a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Melbourne and an MEd in Mind, Brain & Education from Harvard University. He has worked as a teacher, curriculum developer, brain researcher, and is currently an educational researcher at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. In an engaging and entertaining session, Jared spoke with our parents on “I can’t understand my teenager! A Tour Through the Learning Brain”. Sometimes they’re bored, disengaged, and unmotivated. Other times they’re risky, unpredictable, and emotionally volatile. What is going on with teenagers!? During this session, we explored the brain, how it develops (from birth through to old-age), and how things change during adolescence/ early adult-hood. We learned how (and why) teenagers think differently than adults and considered ways we can support them academically, emotionally, and cognitively. We came away with the understanding that although your teen might be hard to understand, that’s totally normal! With Jared’s permission, we were able to film the talk to share with parents who might not have been able to attend. Watch it here (Password: rchk).