Students who have lost a loved one often try to protect the other members of their family from the painful questions they think will be too upsetting to ask. All the children I have worked with eventually state their biggest fear is "other people dying too." They need the reassurance of the surviving family members to say "While everyone does die, I plan to take good care of myself and be here for a very long time." If it is a parent that has died they need to know "If something were to happen to me, there will always be someone to take care of you." I have never worked with a child who wants to start this conversation. I frequently have asked the parent to deliberately bring it up. All children worry about death at sometime, but those who are grieving may be worrying about it a lot. When I say, "Have you asked mom/dad what would happen or told them you have this worry?" they always say "No, it would make them too sad." I always recommend to parents to find time to talk about the child's feelings and worries even knowing they probably won't share everything. Parents can say "If I was your age I'd be wondering what would happen to me if ..." or "I notice you seem much more scared at night, I am wondering what I can do to make you feel safer" For more good ideas check out dougy.org/grief-resources/
Monday, January 26, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
I frequently use this simple feeling scale to ask young students how their week has gone at school, with friends, and at home. I finally made a data sheet to record their ratings (6 sessions a page). This is where I take my very brief notes so I remember the key factors discussed in the session.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
For children, I highly recommend grief camps. These range from one day camps which are perfect for younger students pointofhope to comfortzonecamp weekend camps for 7-17 year olds. There are many organizations that run grief camps including the wendtcenter. Many of these camps are free but they fill up very quickly. If you have a family that may benefit, I encourage you to share the resources soon (for camps in summer 2015).
Monday, January 19, 2015
We are required by our district to teach a lesson to all fifth graders to promote awareness and destigmatization of mental illness. We use the lesson plan from NAMI http://www.btslessonplans
However, I adapt the lesson quite a bit to make it fit my school's population.
To motivate the students at the start of the lesson I focus on the importance of the subject. The statistic for adults is startling, later in the lesson I share that 1 in 5 youth in our state have a mental illness. I use a variety of techniques to keep students engaged in this lesson which obviously deals with some difficult information. If you want to motivate students during your lessons I suggest checking out this resource.100-motivational-techniques-to-take-learning-to-the-next-level/
The lesson really focuses on the stigma aspect and as you may know Rosslyn Carter has worked on that part of the issue for 40 years. For more information on getting beyond the stigma of mental illness check out the pdf at this link cartercenter.org/health/mental_health/symposium
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Dr. Sullivan has some very useful ideas in this book to explain negative, neutral, and positive self-talk. Dr. Sullivan writes, "Just like you can feel stuck in the mud, you can feel like you are stuck in negative thoughts..." or negative muck. In the book Dr. Sullivan describes the four flavors of negative self-talk: 1) all
or negative thinking; 2) jumping to conclusions; 3) should statements; and 4) magnification. I highly recommend this resource for counselors and parents. There is also a companion journal available for purchase (but I did not buy it so I can't say if it is worthwhile).