Welcome to my page specifically designed for you as a child. ( I have a parent’s page under the parent’s section of the website that your mum and dad can look at as well).
You will find that there is a lot of detailed information on this page and I would suggest you concentrate on the parts that interest you the most rather than try to read it all in one go. The 5 sections listed below in blue are always on this page. Every so often I will update the page with relevant information about a subject that crops up alot at that particular time.
My name is Mrs Harrison, and I am the school senior mental health lead (SMHL) here at Cockfield Primary School. My role as the SMHL is to offer support to any of you that may feel unhappy or struggling with any aspect of your life. I offer a quiet welcoming environment and the opportunity for you to talk to me privately and confidentially or to just come for time out if you feel over whelmed or anxious. I can offer you a quiet, safe and calm space for them times when you just need to be away from everyone plus I have the added bonus of not being the person that reprimands or issues punishment, a cosy beanbag, a growing family of worry monsters and a good listening ear!
On this page we will talk about lots of things that I find you as young people struggle to cope with or that maybe you don’t fully understand. This is perfectly normal and I don’t want any of you to be scared or worried by anything you are feeling. Most things on this page will stay on here and I will update them every so often but I will also use this page to put on the day to day, week to week and month to month worries so keep checking in and seeing what the latest topic is.
This month let’s talk about the transition between year 6 and year 7
The move between primary school and secondary school can be a very exciting time but it can also be a time when you may feel really nervous, worried or confused. This is perfectly normal and we know in school how important this move is. Kooth (https://www.kooth.com/ ) asked other year 6 children how they felt about the move to secondary school and this is some of the things they said:
Things we most look forward to :
- Making new friends
- Making a fresh start
- New subjects
- Being more independent
Biggest worries or fears :
- Finding my way around the new school
- Older kids – what if I get picked on?
- Travelling to school – the bus journey
- Making new friends – will people like me?
- Scary or strict teachers/getting into trouble
- Having too much homework/work
If you are worried about any of these things then come and see me or Mrs Graham and we both have a little booklet that we can work through with you. It contains dilemmas that will help you plan what to do in situations where you may feel worried or uncomfortable and will hopefully help you to feel more prepared.
Here is a little clip for you to watch as well😊
What is a panic attack?
Panic attacks are a sudden intense feeling of anxiety and fear. They’re an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to danger, stress or excitement.
During a panic attack, you may start to have some physical symptoms that build up very quickly. These can include:
- a pounding or racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- feeling very hot or very cold
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- nausea (feeling sick)
- pain in your chest or abdomen
- struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
- feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
When might I have panic attacks?
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly.
What helps to manage panic attacks?
Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope if you feel you are having an attack:
- Focus on your breathing. It helps to concentrate on your breathing, breathe slowly in and out while counting to five or you could try the 5 finger breathing
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control and can help to calm anxious thoughts.. The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a grounding exercise that can be done almost anywhere and it doesn’t require any equipment or materials- just your brain! Take a few minutes to learn how to complete the exercise and then try it for yourself. You can even change this around a bit by using colours, 5 red things I can see, 4 blue things I can touch, 3 purple things I can hear etc
Why do we lose control of our emotions?
Confidence and Self esteem …….. believe in yourself
I think one of the main things that young people need to believe in is them self. So this section is all about self esteem and believing in yourself.
Self-esteem is how we think, see and feel about ourselves. It isn’t just about how we physically look but also how confident we feel.
Good self-esteem means we feel good about ourselves and confident in who we are and in our abilities. When we have good self-esteem, we’re not too worried about what other people think, or how much we get wrong, because we accept ourselves just the way we are, without judgment. It also means we believe we are worthy and deserving of all the good things in life. But sometimes, we might find it hard to believe in ourselves and feel good enough. That’s okay – it’s normal to struggle with our self-esteem and this can change at different times in our live
When we talk about self-esteem
We’re often talking about lots of different things, such as:
- confidence– if we are struggling with our self-esteem, we may not feel confident doing things, even if we have done them before and know we can do them
- how much we recognise and value the skills we have, like if we are good at a subject at school, at making people laugh, or our hobbies
- how able we feel to share our opinions and ideas, and whether we believe what we have to say matters and is worth other people hearing
- how comfortable we are with getting things ‘wrong’ and our ability to brush things off and realise that our mistakes and ‘failures’ do not define us
- how we treat ourselves, and if we are kind to ourselves and practice self-care
- how we think and feel about ourselves physically, also known as our body image.
What to do if you are struggling with your self-esteem
If you are struggling with your self-esteem, here are some things that you can do to start to feel more confident in yourself.
Understand why you focus on the negatives (by negatives I mean the things that make us feel sad or low)
This can feel quite difficult at first, but understanding why you focus on the negatives can help you think about what is causing you to have low self-esteem. To help you understand why you focus on the negatives, ask yourself:
- What negative things do you think about yourself?
- When did you start thinking these things?
- What has happened or is happening to make you think this way?
Challenge your negative thoughts
When you start thinking negative things about yourself, consider whether there is another way of looking at them. You might struggle with negative feelings because you feel like you have to do things ‘perfectly’ all the time. When you haven’t done something perfectly, you might feel like you ‘failed’. Instead, you could look at these moments and think ‘I did okay there’, or, ‘it didn’t go to plan, but I got through it’. By looking at situations from this point of view, it can take away the pressure to be ‘perfect’.
You could also:
- Think about what advice you would give to a friend who is struggling with these negative feelings; how would you help them to feel better?
- Remind yourself of times that prove these negative thoughts aren’t true. They don’t have to be big events, it can be small everyday things like when you felt good in an outfit or when you shared your thoughts in class. These positive moments can act as reminders that you can do it and that you do matter.
- You can also write these positive moments down so you have them to hand when you start to think negatively.
Focus on the positives
Write down your best feature, the last time you received a compliment, or the last time you did something for someone that made you feel good. These might seem like small things, but it is important to recognise all the good things about you, and the reasons why people appreciate you.
Another important subject at this time is gender identity.
I found this picture on the web of the gender unicorn and copied it as it explains things so well.
Our gender identity is how you describe your gender. For example, you might say you are a woman, non-binary, transgender, a man, gender fluid, or something different. Your gender identity is your decision and is also about how you want others to treat you – for example, how you want people refer to you (‘she’, ‘him’, ‘they’ or something else).
Gender is different from ‘sex’. Your sex refers to your physical and biological body parts (like the penis, vagina, different hormones or breasts).
Over time, you might explore your gender and you might decide that you are a different gender than the sex you were born with. You might explore your gender at any point in your life, or continuously throughout your life, but it is common to do so during puberty when your hormones are changing and you’re exploring lots of different parts of who you are.
Here are some different words people use when talking about gender identity
- Cisgender/cis – Someone who is the same gender they were assigned at birth
- Transgender – Someone whose gender is different from their sex at birth
- Non-binary/genderqueer/gender fluid – These are gender identities that sit within, outside of, across or between ‘male’ and ‘female’.
- Intersex – A person who is born with biology that is not solely male or female. For example, chromosomes, hormone levels or reproductive organs that have female and male characteristics. These variations may not always be seen on the outside and so sometimes they are not diagnosed.
- Pronouns – the terms we use to refer to someone, e.g. ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’.
How might gender identity impact my mental health?
Your experiences with your gender may affect your mental health in various ways. You might be questioning and exploring your gender, transitioning between genders, or thinking about transitioning. For some, this can be a confusing or difficult time. It may be distressing being viewed as a gender that doesn’t feel right, or being referred to with pronouns (‘he’ or ‘she’), that don’t feel right.
You may also struggle with your body image or how you feel in your own skin if your body does not match your gender. But it doesn’t always have to be this way and with the right help and support, things can start to feel better.
Gender dysphoria is the distress or unease you may feel if your gender does not match your biological sex – for example, if you are a man but have biologically female body parts, such as breasts.
Unfortunately, some people experience bullying, hostility or discrimination if their gender identity is not similar to the people around them. Experiencing this, or hearing about these experiences from others can mean there may be times or places where you don’t feel comfortable or safe sharing or expressing your gender. You might experience:
- feeling scared about sharing your gender with others
- hiding your identity because of anxiety about how people might react and what they’ll say
- worrying about what clothes you’re wearing to express your gender, or feeling pressure to express your gender in a particular way
- feeling self-conscious about how you walk or talk
- feeling like you have to act a certain way and be someone you’re not
- feeling misunderstood, even by those who are closest to you
- feeling under pressure to label your gender when you’re not sure, or to share your gender with others
- people using the wrong pronouns, like calling you ‘he’ when you are ‘they’
- being treated differently from others, or being bullied because of your gender
- feeling pressure to conform with the sex you were assigned at birth
- feeling unsupported or worried that your new gender won’t be accepted or understood by your family and friends
- people using your old name (“deadnaming”) when you have a new name
Having these experiences, particularly if they are on a regular basis, can be extremely distressing and overwhelming. You might start avoiding places or making conscious decisions about everyday things that others don’t need to think about.
Constantly carrying these emotions and making these decisions can be exhausting, and you may find it makes everyday tasks like eating, concentrating at school/work, engaging in conversation, or getting good sleep very difficult. You may also find it leads to feelings of:
- wanting to hurt yourself, or suicidal thoughts
If you are experiencing any of the above, it’s important to know you are not alone. You can always come talk to me or any grown up that you trust and there are professional people who can help you and things can get better. There are helplines, therapists, counsellors and mental health professionals you can talk to who understand what you’re going through.
I have a lot of you come talk to me about feeling anxious, scared, worried. These words all describe anxiety and we need to make sure we are in charge of our anxiety and not anxiety in charge of us.
Grounding techniques are one of the best ways to calm us down when anxiety is creeping in. I use the grounding rainbow with the children that come to see me. With this we think of the colours in a rainbow and we start working our way through it : 6 things that are red (take 3 deep breaths), 5 things that are orange (3 deep breaths), 4 things that are yellow (3 deep breaths), 3 things that are green (3 deep breaths) , 2 things that are blue (3 deep breaths), 1 thing that is purple (3 deep breaths). This kind of technique calms us down and regulates our breathing to put us back in control.
When you are feeling like you have no control over your feelings, try the grounding rainbow technique and see if it helps you.
As we are growing up it is so easy to feel frustrated and angry and not to understand why we feel like this. Anger is like a big red monster that takes over our body and we need to learn to tame that monster.
Take a look at this video from you tube that explains how to deal with our anger in a really simple way
During our school life we will all experience fall out and upsets within our friendship groups, not just girls, boys have their problems too. Always remember though that often we can talk through our fall outs and sometimes they may just be down to a simple mis-understanding. We need to remember that we can’t make someone be friends with us in the same way that we can’t decide who some one else can be friends with. In some situations it is just best if we walk away and breathe and let the situation calm down. This is often the best way to achieve a positive outcome and not loose a good friendship.
Here are my 7 top points to help us deal with our friendship problems:
1. Change happens. It’s a natural part of life. Friendships come and go, people grow apart and new opportunities come along. It’s not always enjoyable or easy, but it’s always interesting.
2. Accept your feelings. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or cross when you’ve been rejected or hurt by friends. Be kind to yourself, and be proud of how you’re managing this difficult time.
3. Use the opportunity to make new and better friends. Were there things you ‘couldn’t do’ because your friends didn’t like them or made fun of you? Are there other people you like, but never really had time to hang out with? Is there a club or sports team you haven’t got around to trying?
4. Think about the people you like. Do you like them because of their expensive trainers, fashionable haircut or new games console? Or is it because they’re friendly, make you laugh and listen when you talk to them? When we want to impress new friends, we sometimes think we have to be someone other than our natural selves. Focus your thoughts on the people around you instead. If you are interested in them, the more relaxed people will feel around you.
5. Talk it out. Share your feelings. Talk to trusted adults, your brother or sister or older cousins. Many of them may have been through similar challenges and can support you.
6. Refuse to accept bullying: it’s NEVER acceptable. If you’re being physically or emotionally hurt by someone, speak to an adult you can trust. Make some notes first if you’re uncertain about remembering what to say. Ask them to listen to you and not take any action without your agreement (although if the person is breaking the law this might not be possible, but then it will be taken very seriously). Agree a course of action to help you manage the situation.
7. Above all, know that any unhappy times will pass. Everything changes, and that includes the miserable stuff, so hang on in there and things will get better. You will have good times and feel happy again soon.