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Where Is The Help? #WMHD2015 #MentalHealth

Posted on 10th October 2015 in child/ child abuse/ childline/ children/ depression/ family/ swearing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 14.08.55It’s impressive to see so much focus on mental health today as part of #WMHD2015, how we can help others and how we can help ourselves.

I have seen several posts online from famous people in support of this day and the message behind it, which is an important step towards ending the stigma and shame that so often goes hand in hand with the words ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’.

But where do you go for help if you currently feel like even getting up out of bed or out of a chair is like wading through porridge. How do you ‘go out and make new friends’ if you don’t find anything likeable about yourself and therefore can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would enjoy your company. How do you put yourself out there if the previous end result was that you stood in a room wrapped in a cocoon of fog while everyone around you was vibrant and engaged and fully embracing that elusive casual happiness that seems as unattainable as a lottery jackpot?

This post is focussing on children and teens as if we don’t start reaching out to change their attitudes and improve their self-confidence and self-worth then this situation is only going to keep on growing and self-perpetuating.

So for children and teens in the UK, where can they go for help? If the generation above them is full of people with no tolerance and no understanding then they will be met with a wall of ‘don’t be so pathetic’ and ‘oh for god’s sake, just get on with it’ not forgetting ‘man up’.

I personally think there needs to be a new programme throughout schools put in place to deliver grass roots help and support to children and teens, building their confidence and self-esteem in such a way that the earliest niggles of self-doubt may well never develop into anything further.

I’ve seen that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are championing #WMHD2015 and I hope that with their backing and support there might finally become a time for our children and our children’s children when mental health can reach a parity with physical health. A time when¬†children will grow up with a sensitivity to others so that they are an inbuilt peer support system for each other.

You don't have to hit to hurt

However angry you are with a child, shouting and using abusive language is never the answer.

I have found it fascinating on #EducatingCardiff to see how the teens change their behaviour once the adults change theirs; the commitment and patience shown by several of the staff at Willows High is a joy to observe and surely should serve as an example to others in the profession. This ties in with the quote ‘You don’t have to hit to hurt.’

It can’t be coincidence that shouting, punishing and belittling students makes their attitude and behaviour deteriorate (along with their self belief and sense of safety and wellbeing), whereas praise, encouragement, trust, friendship and support makes them flourish and re-engage with their work, friends and the world around them.

If children were built up and nurtured at home and at school then they would stand more chance of growing up to be strong, confident, caring adults who would in turn build up and nurture their own friends, family and children; there is a great quote by Frederick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’

So what is there in terms of support for this age group? The local mental health services are all suffering cut backs and only the more severe cases are getting through to access care. (Needless to reiterate if children were loved and nurtured appropriately in the first place this would vastly cut the numbers who would need to be referred.)

For adults there are many services available, like Blurt.org

For children and teens there is of course Childline, our local YMCA runs a free counselling service for this age group and there are several Facebook support groups out there but it is important to check that it is a supportive one as there are also several very scary pro suicide groups too.

There is also Big White Wall which offers an interesting take on support and is well worth looking into, I believe they have an app too. Speaking of apps, here is a list of apps that may help with wellbeing.

With support it is a case of finding what works for you. Joining a club or an evening class may be the solution for some people, but having secret online peer support is what works for others. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

If anyone can suggest other support options in the comments that would be really helpful.

With love – and remember – you are worth it, you are a good person and you are doing fine x

Is It Ok For Teachers To Swear?

Posted on 13th October 2011 in discipline/ schools/ swearing/ teachers

Had coffee with a friend this week who told me that a teacher at her child’s school had sworn at the class. Apparently during a lesson, when losing the attention of the class, the teacher shouted “I’m not a f***ing foghorn”.

Another day, another teacher, apparently put her middle finger up at a child who was messing around.

I can’t help wondering how they can ever discipline the children or expect them to behave as an air of hypocrisy must make any such conversations impossible.

The more I think about it, the more shocked I am that this happened. It has made me wonder if I’m just too idealistic – in my head teachers gain the respect of their pupils and peers through well tempered, well managed behaviour. Leading by example and creating an ethos of personal safety and mutual respect.

Am I wrong? Is it now ok or even ‘the norm’ for teachers to swear at their pupils to regain control?

Mum, can we go to the f****** park?

Posted on 4th June 2011 in bad parent/ park/ swearing

We are very lucky to have recently had 2 new parks built in our town. They are wonderfully well equipped, easy to access and, of course, free.

Sounds good huh. Well in general it is, the kids love the exciting new bits of kit: sunken trampoline, zip wire, climbing wall, assault course etc. I love seeing them running around and getting some much needed exercise while they play.

The other evening we went to one of the parks, I was packed with a flask of freshly made coffee and some indulgent biscuits and the boys were stuffed with pent up energy. I found a bench and they found a set of swingy things that all swing towards each other in the middle and yet somehow don’t hit, it was all good.

So, I poured some coffee and commenced biscuit munching when I heard a small child say:

“Mummy can you push me?” I looked up to see a 3/4 year old boy on one of the swings, he was wearing a grubby spiderman suit and I exchanged a glance with my OH and remembered fondly the days when one of my boys refused to wear anything other than his spidey suit.

Lovely.

And then the boys mum, who was swinging really, really high at the time said:

“No I f****** can’t you’ll ruin your f****** trainers you little s***.”

Honest to god. Word for word.

Worst thing was the little boy didn’t flinch, didn’t seem in the least bit phased. My two boys literally stopped swinging in mid air and their faces registered shock as they both turned to look at me in disbelief.

The little boy then got off the swing as he clearly hadn’t ever been taught to swing and she certainly wasn’t going to push him. This put him right in the path of the other swings and I felt myself tense as I prepared to run and grab him, but it was ok, she had it covered. “No, f****** stay there you stupid f****** s***!” she screamed as she carried on swinging.

My boys came over to me “Did you hear what that mummy said?” they asked in hushed voices.

We moved further down the park and the little boy played near us for 30-40 minutes while she bounced on the trampoline, pausing only to bellow “of course I can do a f****** back flip you c***” at her boyfriend.

Fortunately, it started raining which gave us an excuse to take the boys home. As we walked back to the car one of them said to me “I’m glad you don’t swear at us.”

As much as I did momentarily think to myself that actually I’m not that bad a parent, the over riding thought I had was that the little boy didn’t really stand a chance in life.

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