Top UK Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos and co-author Nadim Saad launch The Happy Confident Me Life Skills Journal which offers tips for developing key life skills (powers) to enhance the happiness and wellbeing of our children.
Here we speak to Nadim Saad and Dr Papadopoulos about their collaboration and objectives behind the book.
What are the key life skills that you champion to enhance our children’s happiness as they start their new academic year?
As adults, we know only-too-well how difficult it can be to go back to work after a holiday. The thought of going back to school is made even more difficult for children as they do not yet have the emotional maturity to cope with these changes. To have to suddenly return to structure and routine after weeks of fun and relaxation can be a very difficult transition indeed.
While we can’t necessarily prevent children from experiencing back to school anxiety, we can make the transition easier by developing key life skills that will prepare them emotionally and help them to cope with the challenges that lie ahead. Here are five life skills we can help develop:
1) Power of Compassion
When we focus on the negative things that our children do, we tend to be very critical. This pushes us into a negative loop, where the child doesn’t feel accepted, leading to more misbehaviour as they don’t feel good about themselves. Instead, try and have more compassion for your child (and yourself!) and take the perspective that they are doing their best with the knowledge and training that they have in any moment.
2) Power of Optimism
Research has proven that by focusing on the positives of each day and by creating small positive habits, we can create significant change. This is so much more achievable than trying to completely change a family routine. Start small and make the changes habitual. A good example is to take time for positive reflection at the end of each day, encouraging children to think about their day and their top three things off the day.
3) Power of Interoception
Interoception is the perception of sensations in our body and particularly of our feelings. This is something that needs practice but there’s a natural tendency for parents to want to save children from tough feelings or do the opposite, ie. dismiss them as not being reasonable in the circumstances. Neither is good. It is very important for a child’s well-being that they feel understood and that all their feelings are valid, to help them feel good about themselves. The best way to do this is to help them sense their feelings and name them.
4) Power of Failure
As parents, we’re bound to make many mistakes with our children and that’s totally normal. The importance is to learn from these, let our children see that we’re not perfect and that they can learn from their mistakes too. It’s important to model a healthy relationship to failure. Work to use positive language, and positive spin on day to day hiccups and challenges. Seek the lessons that mistakes and fails can bring. Celebrate the efforts put in, rather than the results, making your child’s pride in effort more important than the results. This will teach them always to try their best and will furnish them with a pride in their own achievements.
5) Power of Mindset:
At around 5, when children start school, they become increasingly self-critical, comparing themselves with others, limiting their self-belief, and boxing themselves in as being good at some things and not good at others. Maintaining and supporting a growth mindset is key to helping your kids to continue pushing themselves, and feeling able to take on new challenges. To achieve this, stay away from evaluative praise (you’re so good, so smart, etc.) as this can create a fixed mindset, and instead focus on effort, progress, and self-evaluation (eg. are you happy with this result?)
What is the aim of the book and which age group are you targeting?
Our journal is aimed primarily at 7-12 year olds although we know from feedback that teenagers have also been finding the journal incredibly helpful.
Right now, 1 in 5 children suffers from a mental health problem in any given year. That’s 6 kids in every primary school class… this is not ok. So, when Nadim (Saad) and I met, our discussions quickly turned to what more we could do to help children, at an earlier age. Nadim has already developed a number of great, science-based, fun tools and journals for kids aged 6-12, but we felt what was truly needed was to help children dig deep and really get under the skin of the life skills that would protect their mental well-being, before hitting secondary school.
Right now, 1 in 5 children suffers from a mental health problem in any given year.
Our new Happy Confident Me Life Skills Journal draws on well-established research in the behavioural sciences but does so in child-friendly terms, helping kids to better understand themselves, and how their bodies and minds work together. Through 60 super-engaging and fun activities split across the 10 life skills recognised to enhance future happiness and wellbeing, our intention is that they learn through play (the most proven method for a child to absorb new concepts).
TOP UK PSYCHOLOGIST DR LINDA PAPADOPOULOS CO-AUTHORS FIRST CHILDREN’S BOOK WITH RENOWNED PARENTING EXPERT NADIM SAAD
THE HAPPY CONFIDENT ME LIFE SKILLS JOURNAL
PUBLISHES 15TH SEPTEMBER 2021, PB £11.99
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