We were delighted to welcome Dr Kathy Weston to speak to Alleyn’s parents on Tuesday 18 May in the latest parent pastoral evening, on the important topic of resilience – and how we can help our children cultivate emotional, academic and digital resilience.
Dr Weston, who has already spoken to Alleyn’s staff about how we can build emotional and digital resilience in school, helped parents break down research into very practical and actionable tips we can use to enable our children to enjoy their journey through adolescence. She spoke about how to navigate ‘parenting icebergs’ which we may not see on the horizon but that can influence our children’s mental health and resilience. And she offered a staggering insight into how poor digital hygiene can be a massive threat to resilience.
“Resilience,” Dr Weston, said “is not just about bouncing back. It’s about a mindset which covers curiosity, engagement, the insight we have to make sense of information, determination and our appetite for knowledge.”
Dr Weston examined the ongoing research into the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s resilience with a concerning rise in eating disorders, a lack of peer support and low motivation and mood.
But she cautioned that we must understand the bigger picture for young people, and how, even pre-pandemic, young people’s mental health was in difficulty nationally with half of all mental health disorders in adulthood starting by the age of 14 (WHO, 2020).
She looked at factors that contribute to family resilience and practical steps that we can take to help children become emotionally resilient – covering the importance of keeping our eye on our children's self-esteem, enabling our children to have a sense of identity and feel good about themselves, ways to cultivate a space for children to open up, why we should promote kindness and help children reflect and extract positives from a situation and empower them to think critically about things they are seeing and hearing, such as in the digital space.
She gave some very practical examples of things we can do every day to help - from counting acts of kindness and keeping a family resilience CV, to having ‘dinnertime debriefs’, and much more.
Parents had the chance to ask Kathy questions before Assistant Head, Head of Lower School, Mrs Thornton thanked Kathy for her astonishing energy and remarkable talk filled with practical advice. She said: “It is brilliant that our staff have learned from you, and parents have heard from you, and I think our children will benefit at home and at School. Thank you for an expert and engaging talk which was inspiring and empowering.”