Bag of Worries

The purpose of this session is to consider how children can share their worries and find out what relationships can support them to do this. Alison and Zoe joined the children. They are both working on turning Aberdeen into a Unicef Child Friendly City. 

Key messages: 

  • Knowing someone is there for you makes you feel better when things are hard. Adults should tell children they are there for them.”
  • “When someone is sad, teachers should notice and see if something is wrong. They should look out for children who have their head on the table or children not doing their work.”
  • “If a child is angry, they should be able to tell the teacher how they are feeling and say I might be angry today.”

Adults that children can go to if they have a worry: PSAs, teachers, auntie, brothers and sisters, grandma, parents and carers, social worker, Childline, babysitters, friends, police and your dog. The person has to be decent and reasonable person, someone you know and trust.

Worries a child might have How to make things better for the child

Messing Up Always start in pencil, try your best, do your best to work in a team.

Mum and Dad splitting up Ask an adult to talk to your mum and dad. Ask the adult to tell your mum and dad that your child is worried about them.

Natural Disasters Reassure the child by telling them they are rare. Go do hobbies to get your mind of it.

School Ask a teacher for help. Tell your parents

Loneliness Get a parent or teacher to talk to you and help out. Remind the child that they are NEVER alone. Just take a shot at it and try to meet people.

Moving School Talk to an adult, as an adult can reassure the child. Share your worry. Talk to someone at school and see if they can give you a buddy to talk to.

Being Scared Find someone who knows its alright. Speak to a trusted adult or friend or phone a help line.  Ask to go to a different class or a concentration station.

Having to go to guides Speak to someone, think positive, take a friend with you to guides and test it out.

Becoming Homeless Tell someone. Speak to a teacher. Ask your parent or carer to find work.

Nobody loves you Try to find friends and tell your teacher. Join in games to try and make friends.

The Thriving and Surviving Child

The Imagineers have been linking emotions with behaviour and thinking about what can be done to help children manage stress. 

Key messages

  • Behaviour is communication. Adults need to understand us instead of punishing us when we are not coping.
  • Self-harming behaviour is more than cutting yourself – damaging relationships, getting into fights, not doing well at/ or not attending school.

The Thriving Child

Feels: Happy, nice, good, wonderful, lucky, fit, healthy, good about themselves, grateful, loved, excited, confident and understood.

Thinks: Positively. I am going to do well in life. I am amazing.

Sensations in their body: skips, wakes up happy, smiles, calm, heart beating normally, chilled and open.

Behaves: Calm, cool, kind, caring, helpful, nice, do what you are told, you listen, pay attention, good at home and in school, talks to people, plays and has good relationships.

The Surviving Child

Feels: Sad, alone, frustrated, depressed, lonely, sick, low confidence, worried, stressed, useless, scared, hurt, anxious, not coping, angry, upset, nervous, confused, worthless, ashamed, overthinking.

Thinks: Badly about themselves. I hate myself. I hate school. I am terrible. Too much on their mind. Sick thought like kill everyone. I want to run away. Start dissing yourself due to low confidence. I’m worthless.

Sensations in their body: slow to think and act, body isn’t work properly, not enough sleep, cry, clenched fists, red face, low energy, tired, can’t concentrate, rage, tense, tired and in hibernation mode, close up.

Behaves: Doesn’t trust people, might steal, self-harm, join gangs, hurt people, swear, getting into trouble, sleeping lots, getting angry at people, bad, out of order, play up and acts differently from their normal self.

Our needs, our rights and our wellbeing

The purpose of this session is enabling the children to make a connection between their rights being met and their emotional wellbeing.

Key message: Love is what children need most.

“To do our best, a child needs to feel confident, express themselves through art, positive feedback and to feel loved by people.”

What do children need to be healthy, happy and safe: Sleep, love, a home, a family, to spend time with friends, healthy food and an adult to look out for you.

Loneliness

This week, the Imagineers are thinking about loneliness. Being lonely is something that most people will experience at some point, but if it happens a lot it can negatively impact on a child’s mental health and they could become vulnerable. 

‘A child can be lonely because their parent as died, or works lots or off-shore.’

‘When it rains, a child could become lonely because they are not allowed out to play with their friends and they have nothing to do.’

‘A child would be lonely if they ask their friends to play and they say no.’

‘If they feel someone doesn’t love them, the child could become lonely.’

‘If you are lonely you would feel depressed, upset and angry. You would cry and your body might be sore. If someone says you can’t play, you would fight them.’

The Imagineers ideas for helping a child overcome loneliness all involve including and spending time with the child and doing something fun or relaxing together.

Positive Adults Make Us Feel Good

The session is concerned with the impact adults’ behaviour can have on children’s emotional wellbeing.

Key messages: 

  • Adults actions impact hugely on children’s mental health. This ranges from divorce, parents working too much or not having time for them, abuse, someone dying, teachers being negative parents drinking/ using drug or arguing. Adults can also have a positive impact by providing opportunities to eat healthy, be active, compliment and encourage.
  • “Sometimes adults aren’t good to talk to because they always think you need help or try to make it better instead of asking how you are and talking about your feelings. Adults usually just want to fix the problem and what children might want is somebody just to listen and be there for them.’

Positive adult figures in a child’s life can be: police, ambulance people, youth club adults, parents, carers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, school nurse, teachers, counsellor and doctors.

Considering adults behaviour (at home, school and in the community)  

Positive adult behaviour: fun adults, happy, care for children and always help them out. Plays games with you, gives you praise, makes you feel proud of yourself. Gives advice. Doesn’t tell children they did bad, says ‘that’s okay you might do even better next time’. Lets you know they are there for you.

What we need from a positive adult: a place and time for us to talk one-on-one when we are struggling. Let you go on your phone if there is time at the end of class.

Negative adult behaviour: Shouting or screaming at you – it makes you not confident, want to shout back or you wanna knock their lights out. Affect a child’s safety, make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or scared. Telling a child to do things that’s dangerous or that they don’t want to do – if not a good parent or good role model. It might be scared to go home and might want to stay at a friends house all the time. Telling you what to do an making you feel annoyed – sometimes want to do own thing.

Imagineer Leo has written this blog post:

‘Today we were making our own characters with play doh. We were thinking about positive adults. Imagineer Gabrielle, made an alien called Naomi for her model. Naomi has had light to help children see what is happening at night time. Naomi also has a phone that can never cut out because it always has good reception and she is always ready to listen.

Imagineer Katie made her sister as her model. Her sister likes playing on her phone a lot. She knows a lot of things, she is really smart. She can phone a child when they feel scared or worried or they have good advice for other children that are going through a bad time in their life just know. She can also teleport to children when something bad is happening so she can be there to help them out when they need it.

Also Imagineer Sean-Paul made a man called Jim who has a love detector in his chest. Jim puts his love detector on when he feels lonely or down because it tells him who loves him, and how much they love him. He lets children borrow his love detector when they feel down.’

Looking After Ourselves

In this session, the Imagineers have been introduced to the stigma attached to mental health problems and have considered how children might look after their own wellbeing. They have created Care Boxes showing their manifesto for how to care for yourself. 

Key Message: Equip children with the right skills and tools so they can care for themselves too: breathing, meditation, getting enough sleep, be active, doing something they love or that keeps them calm.

Here are some of the ideas for the Imagineers’ Care manifesto: 

Get enough sleep

Ask for help

Listen to someone else’s story

Play with a dog

Laugh

Try out meditation club

Stay strong by talking to someone

Speak to friends about the things that are making you sad

Get a teacher to help

Explain to someone how it happened, so it won’t happen again

Try and think of positive things.

Ask for help

Do something that make you happy and calm like drawing or writing

Breath in and out

Don’t give up on what you do as it is motivating and encourages you

Body Image

This week, for Mental Health Awareness Week, the Imagineers will explore how  children think and feel about their bodies, and what can be done to encourage to nurture positive body image.

‘Playing football makes me feel great.’

Who can help support a child to feel good about their body: ourselves, family, parents, sisters/ brothers, family, teachers, social services, friends you trust and PSAs.

‘Teachers can make children cry and upset by putting them down. It might get in the way of a child feeling good about themselves.’

‘Teachers should give us time everyday to do the Daily Mile. They should come out and do it with us.’

Adults can: make sure you have equal boys and girls activities and clubs for children who are gender fluid, compliment and say ‘keep going’ or ‘don’t give up’, make opportunities to experience new things and go new places, make time to talk, make children feel wanted, provide us with healthy snacks and packed lunches, take us to dance classes, let us relax make extra curricular activities for accessible, help us cut down on bad food, let us go outside and play during class, make more better body standards – introduce role models who are more realistic.

‘A pressure on children is social media. You only see the happy side of people’s lives, you don’t see the down. Models are slim and they use Photoshop filters. It makes me feel bad about myself.’

Children can: play badminton at lunchtime, be active, get involved in activities, get sleep, eat healthy food, chill out in the sun to help your body relax and think happy.

‘If you feel good about your body, you may like more people around you because you are less self conscious.’

Making It Better

Sometimes, when a child’s mental health is at risks, they can’t change the really big things, sometimes things are out of their control. But the child can maybe influence enough things to help make a difference. The Imagineers reflected on their scenarios from the last session and improvised ideas for what children and the adults around them could do make things better. 

Key messages: 

  • “Sharing how you feel helps.”
  • “Stay strong by talking to someone.”
  • Children need time spent on them and to be listened to. This make them feel valued.
  • It is important to have someone to talk to that you can trust. The qualities that person should have is to be always there for you, make you laugh and a good listener.

Willow 10

Willow’s grandma passed away and she’s had sleepless nights. At home her mum and dad are arguing a lot and at school she finds her work hard and thinks she is bad at everything.

She feels sad about things in her life and she is only happy when she is doing things she likes, like baking and being outside. These things help her to escape the awful things in her life. She doesn’t feel like she has anybody to talk to.

Willow could do some things to change or influence what is happening. She could talk to someone about it and not bottle things up, she could do more baking to make pocket money to escape, she could change her appearance a little bit like dye her hair to build her confidence and make her feel better about herself, take a walk or cuddle her toys when her parents argue.

She can’t change that her parents argue or that her grandma has passed away. She can’t change how other people in her family behave when they are stressed. She can’t help that she isn’t able to concentrate on doing her homework.

She could write her feelings in a journal so that she can read it if she feels that way again- so she knows what to do and can learn from past experiences. She could maybe talk to other family and get help with solutions.  Use noise cancelling headphones to block out arguing and let her focus on her homework.

As her friend, I would invite her for a sleepover at my house and talk to her about her emotions. I would bake with her and do things that she likes. I would talk to my parents to see if they could help.

Mandy 12

He was bullied at Primary School because of his name. He recently went to High School and he feels anxious about more bullying. His parents split up and now he lives with his step-dad and step-sister. 

He is worried everywhere. Being at home makes him even more anxious than being at school.

He might not be able to stop bullying. Bullies can be permanent unless you change school. If he can’t change, then it might be hard for him to stay calm if people are winding him up.

He could change his name but people would still know. He could talk to someone he trusts at his new school, they might have knowledge and be able to help – it might of happened to them before.

Talking to someone is always good when your worried, but that might be hard if he doesn’t have any confidence.

As his friend I would annoy the bullies so that they know I’ll stick up for my friend. It might work but it could maybe make the bullying worse because more and more people might join in – I’ve found this out the hard way.