Ms Jordan Howley – Senior School Psychologist
Starting high school necessitates social, emotional and academic adjustment. For the boys in Rogers they are not only transitioning to starting high school but they are adjusting to living away from home for the first time. To assist the boys at this important time, our Wellbeing Health team has planned a series of workshops designed to upskill the boys in coping skills.
This week the workshop focused on cognitive awareness and helpful thinking. The boys learnt that their mind is a thinking machine – it is constantly producing thoughts. We may be aware of some of our thoughts but many of them are automatic. When we are in a new context many of these automatic thoughts are likely to be negative and unhelpful. This is because our brains are designed to detect danger and potential threats in order to ensure our survival. This is what we call the “negativity bias”. In a new context, such as boarding, this is likely to be amplified while we adjust to our new environment. Our thoughts affect the way we feel regardless of whether those thoughts are true or not. Our thoughts can make us experience both pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Recognising when your thoughts may be contributing to you experiencing an unpleasant feeling and then coming up with an alternative or realistic thought, is a great skill the boys can use to help manage stress, curb unhelpful emotional reactions and to generally feel better.
If your son has participated in this workshop encourage him to share the information he was provided. If you recognise a pattern of unhelpful thinking in your son you can support him by validating how he is feeling, highlighting the unhelpful thought and encouraging him to come up with a more helpful. For example; if your son says “I miss you, I want to come home”, you could respond but saying “You are feeling homesick. This is a normal feeling and it will pass. What can you tell yourself at this time to help yourself feel better?”
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