What made you smile today? What are three things went well today? What made you laugh today?
These are just a few of the questions you can use to help you reframe your thinking and train your brain to look for the positive. There has been much written about the way our brains are wired with a negativity bias – for primitive humans it was important for looking out for danger, which of course is not no longer relevant for us in the same way it once was. So, we need to work hard to rewire the brain and, just like any skill, this requires regular practice.
In the ELC, we have been using this practice for a number of years since working with Dr Lea Waters on positive psychology, developing the learner profiles and creating a greater focus on wellbeing.
Five questions to inspire reflection and gratefulness in children – Victorian Inclusion Agency
This year, the ELC is working with The Resilience Project, developed by Carey alum Hugh van Cuylenberg. He has developed programs initially for primary schools and subsequently for early childhood, focussed around the three elements of GEM: gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. These are key to supporting wellbeing. Hugh talks about daily habits (just like cleaning your teeth!) and emotional literacy.
We know that embedding these every day supports children’s wellbeing, but it is also important that it becomes a collaborative endeavour with the family to support mental health – more so now than ever before. These are lifelong skills worth taking the time to develop from early childhood.
Kindergarten families will receive more information about the program and how they can participate and work with their children. You may also want to read Hugh’s first book, The Resilience Project, and discover more about positive psychology and wellbeing.
There are many wonderful moments with the children where we know we are making a difference. This includes when they notice and comment on someone’s kindness, undertake an act of kindness themselves, express their emotions by naming them, express gratitude, and understanding the need to be mindful – practicing ‘belly breathing’ to become or remain calm in a stressful or anxious situation or taking themselves to quiet space or mindful activity. GEM is a philosophy that children can easily relate to, and by encouraging the daily habits, we’re encouraging mentally healthy children.
Director of ELC Kew