Anti Bullying Week: Sticks and Stones

Anti bullyingIt’s Anti Bullying Week, and to mark the occasion we thought we’d share this extract from Naomi Richards and Julia Hague’s new book Being Me (and Loving It) which contains 29 easy-to-read stories to help build self-esteem, confidence, positive body image and resilience in children aged 5-11.

In this story, Ginny becomes upset when the older girls in the playground start calling her names. Turning to her mother for advice, she learns that it is best only to listen to the people who you care about and to ignore those who you don’t. The story is accompanied by notes for the educator to support discussions and reinforce the messages being taught.

Click here to download the extract

We Need to Talk about Pornography – Vanessa Rogers

pornographyIn this extract from We Need to Talk about Pornography, Vanessa Rogers discusses the impact of pornography on young people. At a time when it has never been more accessible and the likes of revenge porn and sexting are on the rise, there is a growing need for more dynamic education around what pornography is, how sex is portrayed in the media versus reality and how pornography can affect sexual relationships, self-esteem and body image.

Click here to download the extract

Vanessa Rogers addresses this gap in sexual education by providing a comprehensive resource to support anyone who might be involved in sex education for young people. Through open conversations around sex and pornography, parents and educators can encourage healthy and respectful relationships in future generations. Packed with ready-to-use lesson plans and activities, and outlines for staff CPD sessions and parent workshops, this book is an essential resource for PSHE teachers, senior leadership teams, pastoral care teams, school counsellors, youth workers, school nurses and others. Click here to find out more about We Need to Talk about Pornography.

Download a therapeutic resource from Pooky Knightsmith’s new book ‘Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing’

Knightsmith_Using-Poetry-to_978-1-78592-053-0_colourjpg-printThere are five poems in this extract from Pooky Knightsmith’s new book Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing. Each poem, written by Pooky, is the subject of a common mental health issue borne of her own experiences in the field of mental health.  They address panic attacks, anxiety, depression and anorexia and are accompanied by supporting questions and activities to help open up difficult discussions.  They are an ideal resource for therapeutic, classroom and family settings.

“Unlike so many stereotypes about poetry, this book is practical, unpretentious and heartfelt, with applications for helping people- young and old- way beyond mental health settings.”                                                                                                              -Nick Luxmoore, school counsellor and author of Horny and Hormonal

>>Click here to download the extract<<

A classroom story to help young people recognise their talents and build self-confidence

self-esteem confidence

Age range:

Ages 8 – 11

Description:

A story about a boy named Noah who thinks he is useless at everything but learns that actually he has many talents and that it is impossible to be completely perfect. The story is accompanied by a lesson plan for the teacher which contains questions to ask the class, a list of learning objectives and an exercise to complete after the story.

Click here to download the resource

This extract is taken from Naomi Richards and Julia Hague’s Being Me (and Loving It), which contains 29 ready to use lesson plans designed to build confidence, self-esteem, positive body image and resilience in children at primary school.

Being Me (and Loving It): Stories and Activities to Help Build Self-esteem in Children – author interview

Richards-Hague_Being-Me-and-Lo_978-1-84905-713-4_colourjpg-print

We talked to Julia Hague about why her new book Being Me (and Loving It) is such a valuable resource for building self-esteem in kids.  She discusses the common self-esteem and body image issues affecting children today, and provides advice on how to support them.  Co-written by Naomi Richards (the UK’s number 1 kids coach), Being Me (and Loving It) includes 29 activity-based lesson plans designed for teachers, youth workers, educators and parents supporting children aged 5-11. Continue reading

Julian Cohen on ‘All About Drugs and Young People.’ (Part 2)

In the first part of this interview, All About Drugs and Young People (Part 1), JKP author, educator and counsellor Julian Cohen shared some of the insight and experience he has gained whilst working to educate young people about drugs over the past 30 years. In this second and final part, he talks about legal highs, how the internet has affected young people and drug use and offers more advice on what parents and professionals can do to support young people who are or may be using drugs. 

Cohen_All-About-Drugs_978-1-84905-427-0_colourjpg-web6. In your experience, how significant is the advent of legal highs and the internet? How do you think they have impacted young people’s experiences of drugs and drug use?

Both are very significant. As I explain in some detail in my book there are now hundreds of different legal highs being sold in this country. They can sometimes be sourced from dealers who sell illegal drugs but the main supply is through the many and growing number of headshops in cities and larger towns, from other retail outlets including some garages and even car boots and over the internet. This means young people have much easier access to a wide range of relatively cheap drugs, often without any contact with drug dealers or putting themselves at risk of breaking the law.

Many legal highs will be unfamiliar to young people who use them and some have dangerous effects, especially if taken in large quantities and/or with other drugs. We have started to see more deaths related to legal highs, many it would seem when young people have not been clear about what they have taken, how much it is safe to take or the implications of combining use of legal highs with other drugs.

Buying drugs over the internet has increased significantly, especially, but not only, for legal highs. All it takes is a credit card order and the drugs are delivered in a package to your door by mail or courier very soon, possibly the next day. There is also a growing market for buying illegal drugs over the internet, often using encrypted websites that make it very difficult for the authorities to trace sellers or buyers. The internet is likely to become an increasing feature of drug supply and markets in the future.

Ease of availability of legal highs and of drugs through the internet raises serious questions about our existing drug laws because there are now so many ways to obtain drugs without breaking the law or by reducing the likelihood of being caught. Countries such as Portugal, Uruguay and New Zealand and also some American states are beginning to experiment with new and less draconian drug controls. Hopefully, more informed debate about new ways of controlling drugs, and finding sensible ways of reducing the harm that can follow from using drugs, will develop in the UK.

7. Is addiction or dependency on drugs a common problem for young people? Why do you think some young people develop drug dependency?

The first thing I want to stress is that the majority of young people who use drugs have a good time and do not come to serious harm. Most go on to moderate use or give up altogether as they grow older and take on adult responsibilities. It is only a small minority of young users who become dependent on drugs.

I believe that drug use, in whatever form, is always functional. That is, rather than just thinking that drugs do things to people, people choose to use drugs, as they do, to obtain certain outcomes relating to increasing pleasure and relaxation and/or reducing distress, anxiety and pain.

A lot of people think of addiction or dependency as a lifelong disease or that certain people have ‘addictive personalities’ that mean they will inevitably become dependent and cannot do much about it. Having studied these issues for many years I do not think there is much good evidence to support these views, despite the fact that a lot of people believe them.

In contrast, I see dependent drug use as a symptom of deeper, underlying problems that people face. Dependency is an attempt by users to keep negative feelings about themselves, other people and the world around them at bay and to get through a life they are having difficulty coping with. It is a way of trying to deal with emotional distress and pain that is grounded in people’s past and current life experiences and situations. In the words of the author Bruce Alexander, dependent users experience a ‘poverty of the spirit’ and have become ‘dislocated’ from themselves, their communities and wider society.

8. What are some of the main things parents and professionals can do to support young people when it comes to drugs?

I have called one of the major parts of my book ‘Be Prepared’ and suggest ways both parents and professionals can help and support young people. The first thing I emphasise is the need to inform ourselves and to learn facts, rather than myths. I also stress that both parents and professionals can be proactive in helping to make sure that young people have a good drug education. Ideally we can learn alongside young people and also from them as well. It is also important to be aware of, and to question, our own use of drugs and our feelings and attitudes about drug use.

Most of all we need to develop our ability to listen to, and openly communicate with, young people, rather than lecture them. I also suggest that both parents and organisations that work with young people will benefit by negotiating sensible drug rules and sanctions, rather than imposing them or being overly draconian.

To ‘be prepared’ it also helps if we anticipate situations where young people may be using in ways we find acceptable and/or having difficulties with their drug use. This includes being clear about whom you might want or need to inform and involve, about any legal obligations you may be faced with and, for professionals, clarity about the boundaries of confidentiality. Both parents and professionals will find it useful to know how to make a sensible assessment of what is happening, why a young person may be using as they are and what risks are involved. It is also useful to know some basic drug-related first aid and about where and how to access specialist help for young people and also for yourself.

We need to be realistic about situations when young people are involved with drugs and the changes we can expect of them. Where young people are likely to continue to use drugs, whatever we may hope or say to them, it is crucial to adopt a harm reduction approach whereby we can help to ensure their safety and keep channels of communication open. I cover all these issues and more in my book.

9. How can we help young people who develop serious problems with their drug use?

As I explained before, if young people develop serious problems with their drug use they will be experiencing significant difficulties in their lives. If we are going to help them we need to empathise with them, listen to what they have to say, understand the difficulties they are experiencing in their life, help them to explore their options and help them to make realistic changes. We might also sometimes have to hold up our hands and appreciate ways we may have contributed to the problems they are facing.

Rather than castigating or demonising them we need to support them as best as we can. Ideally we will do so in the ways I have already described above and by helping them to access good, specialist services, when needed. However, we should appreciate that young people cannot be helped by such services unless they are willing to engage with them.

It can be difficult for us to be consistent in our support for young people who have developed serious drug problems. It can be very taxing, especially for parents. I have devoted a specific chapter to this and also written chapters giving advice about what we can do if young people become violent or steal money or possessions to buy drugs or supply drugs and situations where young people may be using drugs but do not see any harm in it and will not stop.

In such situations it will help if we can avoid panicking, are patient and realistic about what we can expect from young people. It is important to be clear about our own boundaries regarding what is and is not acceptable to us and what we are, and are not, prepared to do for young people. All this can be very difficult to do. There are no magic wand solutions. So I want to emphasise that neither parents nor professionals are on their own and that, where necessary, they should seek support for themselves so that they are better able to help young people.

But in a wider sense it is not just down to parents and professionals. If we are to reduce the number of young people who experience serious problems with their drug use we need to make sure that we have appropriate and well-resourced education and support services that engage well with young people. I am concerned that funding for such services has been declining. And we also need to address wider community, societal and political issues so that all young people have opportunities to develop meaningful and fulfilling lives in the future.

10. What did you learn from writing the book?

I learnt more about young people’s drug use and realistic and practical ways of responding to and supporting them. There is always more to learn. The book involved a lot of research using published sources and also talking with people. It was a challenge to organise my ideas and to reflect on, and learn from, my personal and professional experiences. Above all I had to question what I think and believe and why.

The process of writing re-enforced in me that we still too often focus on substances to the detriment of understanding and having empathy for people – young people, parents and professionals – and the reasons and ways we use drugs and also respond to other people’s use. In this sense it is important that we see drug use as more of a symptom, rather than a cause, of the issues we face in our lives.

 

You can read a free extract from Julian’s book, All About Drugs and Young People, in this blog post.

Julian Cohen is a writer, educator, counsellor and consultant who has specialised in drug and sex education work with children, young people, parents, carers and professionals for nearly 30 years. He has written extensively on drugs and young people, ranging from teaching and training packages to educational games, pamphlets and books for young people, parents and professionals. Find out more about Julian including his training courses and consultancy work on his website, here: http://www.juliancohen.org.uk/ 

Coaching Kids to Success

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Nikki Giant, founder of Full Circle Education Solutions and JKP author, explains how life coaching can be used to help support children’s well-being and aid in difficult  periods of stress and transition.

In any classroom within any school there are children struggling to cope with the daily rituals of life. These young people may be suffering torment from their peers, battling depression, striving to care for a parent at home, or perhaps may not even have a home to call their own.

With youth mental health problems on the rise, and suicide the highest cause of death for men and women aged 15 to 34 in England and Wales, and the third leading cause of death of youth in the US, it is evident that better emotional support needs to be provided to children and young people to help them prevent and effectively respond to life’s challenges. For youth who are largely happy and stable it is still crucial to build the social and emotional competencies they need to navigate life successfully, and the inner resources to manage future problems as they occur.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping vulnerable and challenging youth. For some, professional counselling is essential, while for other children, a formal therapeutic relationship is off-putting. In recent years, many schools and youth settings have adopted character education programmes, counselling services and peer support initiatives to help meet young people’s needs. Life coaching is one such form of effective support that couples behavioural change, emotional development and a supportive, mentoring relationship of trust that will be of benefit to all young people.

Life coaching is a well-established model, practiced worldwide in various forms to help people identify blocks in their lives, gain clarity about their future paths, and take action towards positive outcomes. Life coaches help people from all walks of life to improve their well-being or to address a specific issue that may be holding them back, and it is an excellent model to use with young people who need a listening ear and practical tools to overcome their problems.

The concept of using the life coaching model with youth is relatively unknown, and may be mistakenly associated with the idea of young children needing personal therapists and life coaches as a self-indulgent accessory for kids with rich parents. In reality, far from being a fashionable fad, coaching is a flexible and practical approach that can bridge the gap between informal support and therapeutic models.

Life coaches use practical, goal-oriented approaches to help people move from a position of disempowerment, confusion and stress to clarity and action. Life coaches help people to:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Create steps towards those goals
  • Create a space or an environment in which changes can occur

When working with children and young people, coaching tools and techniques can help to build self-esteem, resilience, self-awareness, and crucially, coaching helps a young person to create their own toolkits of resources and strategies to use at any time. All young people can benefit from a strong mentoring relationship of trust, respect and support with a caring adult, which is the key role of a coach.

Life Coaching for Kids is a practical resource to help teachers, parents, therapists and youth workers to integrate the theory of life coaching within a grounding, supportive relationship, to help transition children and young people through periods of stress or anxiety. The coaching techniques and tools within Life Coaching for Kids includes over forty activities to empower and support youth to develop socially and emotionally, as well as to manage specific issues such as bullying, poor body image, or anxiety.

The stresses of modern day living are plentiful and are difficult for adults to negotiate; even more so for children and youth who lack the tools and awareness to know how to cope. There are no magic wands or quick fixes to improve the lives of troubled and vulnerable youth: empowering children to be successful, healthy and happy is an ongoing endeavour, of which coaching can be one piece of the support puzzle. Coaching techniques are simple to implement, practical and solution-focused, helping young people to understand the issues they face and most importantly, giving the reigns of problem-solving directly to youth, which builds lifelong competencies and self-awareness to empower and equip youth to not only overcome life’s challenges now, but also in the future as they occur.

 

Life Coaching for Kids: A Practical Manual to Coach Children and Young People to Success, Well-being and Fulfilment by Nikki Giant is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers and all good retailers, priced at £17.99. Nikki Giant is the founder and director of the social enterprise Full Circle Education Solutions, supporting schools and youth settings to improve the well-being of children and young people.

 

 

Julian Cohen on ‘All About Drugs and Young People.’

In the first of a two-part interview, JKP author, educator and counsellor Julian Cohen  shares some of the insight and experience he has gained whilst working to educate young people about drugs over the past 30 years.

Cohen_All-About-Drugs_978-1-84905-427-0_colourjpg-web1. Your book emphasises that nearly all of us use drugs and have a lifetime drug career. Can you explain what this means and why it is something we need to be aware of?
If we define drugs as mood-altering substances we have to include medicines, caffeine and alcohol as well as illegal and other socially taboo drugs. This means that, in today’s world, we nearly all take drugs from a very early age. You might even say that we experience drug use before birth because many substances taken by pregnant mothers cross the placenta and can affect a foetus.

Too often we tend to think of drugs as only being illegal or other socially taboo substances. Yet medicines, caffeine and alcohol can also affect our moods, stimulate or depress our body systems and sometimes cause us problems. Medicines and caffeine play any increasing role in the lives of young children and are present throughout our lives. In fact many young children expect and sometimes demand medicines when they do not feel well or cannot easily get to sleep. Inadvertently we are teaching young children that, if you want to change the way you feel, you buy a drug and take it. You could almost say this is like an apprenticeship for future social drug use. At the other end of the age spectrum many elderly people take a plethora of mood-altering medicines.

We nearly all self-medicate on an array of mood-altering substances throughout our lives. When things are going relatively well for us our drug use tends to be more moderate. But when we experience difficulties our drug use tends to increase in an attempt to keep difficult feelings at bay. The real issue is not whether we take drugs or not, but whether we have a relatively successful, safe and pleasurable, what I call, drug career or a more damaging one.
And when it comes to understanding young people’s drug use, and their motivation for using as they do, it helps if we reflect on our own drug careers and the lessons we can learn from them.  In the introduction to my book I have written about my own drug career, and those of significant people in my life, and how reflecting on that has helped form my own attitudes and views about drug use.

 

2. One of the most commonly asked questions when speaking about drugs is; how easy is it to spot the signs of drug use? How do you know if someone is using drugs?
Following on from my answer to the previous question you can see that we nearly all use drugs and often there are unlikely to be anyway give-away signs that we do. Most people ask this question with regard to young people using illegal and other socially unacceptable drugs. The difficulty here is that unless you are with a young person when they are actually under the influence of drugs you may have no idea that they use drugs at other times. And even if they are behaving strangely or out of character they may be doing so for reasons that may have nothing to do with drug use. For example, they could be ill or have had an emotionally traumatic experience. Some publications list changes in behaviour that may indicate drug use but most of these things could be due to other things. The danger of looking for set signs and symptoms is that we will jump to the wrong conclusion and even start accusing young people in a way that prevents honest and open communication with them.

You might also find what you think is a drug or drug paraphernalia. Whilst this may indicate drug use it can be difficult to know exactly what you have found and whether a substance is actually the drug you suspect. Pills, powders and herbal-type mixtures are often not easily identifiable. They may not be what you first think they are and might be for purposes other than you assume or fear. And similarly what you think may be drug paraphernalia could be things that have other, non-drug uses.

My main point is that looking for signs and symptoms of drug use is no substitute for communicating with young people. And to do this effectively we need to avoid assuming the worst, keep calm and actually listen to them.

 

3. The book also talks about how the dangers of drugs are often exaggerated; what do you mean by this and why you think it is an unhelpful approach?
As I explain in some detail in my book there is a long history of us exaggerating the dangers of illegal and other socially taboo drugs whilst underplaying the risks of alcohol, medicines and other more socially acceptable substances. We also tend to ignore the dangers of non-drug activities that we often encourage young people to participate in, such as outdoor pursuits and extreme sports. Statistically such activities are often far more likely to result in injury or death, than using drugs. In this sense we can be very hypocritical about young people’s use of drugs.

We also tend to take extreme examples of cases where young people have died using drugs and try to present these as norms and as a warning not to use drugs. The problem here is that many young people find out from their own use and by hearing from others, that drug use is not as risky as we make out. In fact it may well be an exciting and fun experience for them. They then distrust adult sources of information about drugs and feel we are lying to them. The result is little open dialogue between us and young people. Drug use can be dangerous but we need to be honest with young people and keep the risks in perspective.

 

4. Similarly, you talk about how a lot of people have inaccurate ideas or information about drugs. What are some of the main or most damaging myths?
There are so many commonly believed myths about the effects and harms of particular drugs, about the people who use drugs and why they use as they do, about how drugs are obtained and how much they cost, about dependence and addiction and about what we can realistically do about drug use. In fact there are so many myths that I will not go through them here. Many of them are listed in my book where I invite readers to think about and discuss particular myths they may think are true and to be aware of the lack of evidence for them.

The difficulty for us all is that many of these myths are commonly used and re-enforced in the media and by politicians and other social commentators. In many cases we seem to be so anxious about drugs that we lose our capacity to think sensibly and rationally and instead latch on to soundbites and mythology. This creates unnecessary fear and is not a good basis on which to have meaningful discussions with young people about drugs or for parents and professionals to make decisions about how to respond to their drug use. And, of course, it is also not a good foundation on which to make decisions about drug laws and wider drug policies in our society.

 

5. You have specialised in educating young people about drugs for many years. In what ways do you think drug use by young people has changed in recent years?
The large scale surveys that are carried out on a regular basis do not give an accurate picture of overall drug use among young people but they do give us some indicators. It is clear that, more recently, fewer young people have been smoking cigarettes and slightly fewer have been drinking alcohol. The figures for those who have tried most illegal and other socially unacceptable drugs have also fallen.

However, new trends and new substances are emerging that give a different picture. Cocaine use is now more common amongst young people than 20 years ago and although ecstasy use has declined the recent trend to more use of powder, rather than just pills, may see numbers using increasing again. Use of ‘newer’ drugs such as GHB, ketamine, mephedrone, nitrous oxide and PMA has emerged and, as I emphasise in my book, there has been a very significant increase in the use of legal highs, substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs but are not (yet) controlled under drug laws.

So whilst there may have been a decline in the number of young people using certain drugs, many young people are still using and they now have access to, and are selecting from, a broader range of drugs. We also know that young people in the UK tend to drink more alcohol and use other drugs more often and in greater quantities than many of their European counterparts.

There are also questions as to whether or not more of the young people who do use drugs are using in greater quantities and/or becoming dependent. The evidence is not clear but there are concerns that the ongoing recession, high youth unemployment and lack of opportunities for many young people may mean that more of them may become involved with heavy use of drugs.

The other point I wish to highlight is that young people’s drug use has increasingly become part of the general pattern of commercialisation and consumption that is now such a feature of life in the UK. In this sense drug use has become both more individualistic and more mainstream. Some commentators now talk of the normalisation of drug use amongst many young people.

You can read the second part of this interview, in which Julian talks more about legal highs, as well as how parents and professionals can support young people, how we can help if a young person develops a serious problem with their drug use, and what he himself learned whilst writing the book, here.
You can also read a free extract from Julian’s book,
All About Drugs and Young People, in this blog post.

Julian Cohen is a writer, educator, counsellor and consultant who has specialised in drug and sex education work with children, young people, parents, carers and professionals for nearly 30 years. He has written extensively on drugs and young people, ranging from teaching and training packages to educational games, pamphlets and books for young people, parents and professionals. Find out more about Julian including his training courses and consultancy work on his website, here: http://www.juliancohen.org.uk/ 

All About Drugs and Young People – a free extract

Cohen_All-About-Drugs_978-1-84905-427-0_colourjpg-webIn this extract from All About Drugs and Young People author Julian Cohen provides a brief summary of the subjects he covers in the book, and includes a drug knowledge quiz which will help you to challenge myths and misconceptions about drugs.

For a free sneak peak, just click the link below to read the extract in full.

All About Drugs & Young People – free extract

You can find out more about the book, read reviews and order your copy here.

 

 

 

 

Helping young people to build a positive body image

Check out this free activity from bestselling author Kate Collins-Donnelly’s upcoming book Banish Your Body Image Thief. Collins-Donnell_Banish-Your-Bod_978-1-84905-463-8_colourjpg-print

This activity will help young people to be more aware of, and to understand, their own body image and how to develop this in a healthy way. Examples of poems, drawings and songs from other young people will help them get started and show that they are not alone in how they feel.

Download the activity here

Read more about Banish Your Body Image Thief

Read more about Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief, also coming soon from Kate Collins-Donnelly.