Helping children to live life well

We are all on a personal journey and each is full of challenges bringing with it many ups and downs.

When I look back on my life so far it has been one big roller coaster ride with many loop d’ loops along the way involving school, friends, exams, financial worries, promotions no promotions, family, illness and bereavement. I’m sure as you read this you can identify with some if not all of these.

But what is it that gets us through, lessens the G force and eases the ride?

Well for me it has always been reaching out to someone else, a friend or a family member. One thing that has seemed to come naturally to me has been the ability to talk and listen and it is the reason I ended up in healthcare.

But from my experience of working in the hospital and educational settings many young people do not know who and how to ask for help. They know how to talk about and describe their physical health as they have learned this from people around them.

However, when it comes to their mental health they find it much harder to explain and feel that people listen less and do less to help as there is no quick fix. They feel that people jump in before they have finished explaining and offer solutions without really understanding the problem. It appears that it is easier to help when there is something to see, something to clean and put a plaster on. We can probably all relate to this, but what do we do about it?

I often have people ask me why did I come up with the idea of iSpace Wellbeing. There is a long answer to this involving research and statistics but lets summarise and keep it simple. I designed iSpace to help children to learn from a young age how to talk about their mental, social and physical health so that they can have the tools and the language to describe how they are feeling.

Learning to share worries and thoughts is so important today, living in a digital world has in some ways drawn young people into living very secretive lives and increased communication online can reduce their ability to recognise emotions due to less time communicating face to face. 

The role of technology during the coronavirus lockdown has emphasised that technology is here to stay, hence it is important that we are mindful of maintaining a balance between technology and the real world.

Children must be able to feel connected to people around them, know that they can ask for help and that people they trust will be there for them.

It is important that our children know that it is okay not to feel okay.

The iSpace Wellbeing Curriculum for schools teaches children about their mental, emotional, physical and social wellbeing through the exploration of a space themed wellbeing galaxy, a unique language that is easy to understand and communicate, analogies and life skills.

Classroom learning is supported by a toolkit for teachers, parents and healthcare professionals helping children to further explore health concepts and to problem solve day to day scenarios, through starting the conversation about mental health and emotional wellbeing in a fun, engaging and child-friendly way.

The toolkits language and visual aids help children to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that everyone understands. It helps them to share their problems and it helps the person listening to understand what these problems are and how significant they are to the child. The toolkit provides children, parents and teachers with a language and terminology that helps children to explain what it is they are feeling and what might help.

No child should ever feel that they should just pull themselves together, that they must be brave and carry on. When they show their emotions, we should be saying- tell me about it, I am here for you? rather than don’t cry.

We must be there for our children and ready to lighten their load when they need us, always remembering that….

A problem will get heavier when the only person carrying it is you!

Written by Paula Talman
Founder, iSpace Wellbeing