Last Monday I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by James Shone from the charity
“I Can and I Am”.
James has an amazing story from being a House Master to applying to be a Head and in his words landing the “dream” job. Part of the selection process was a medical, where James discovered he had a brain tumour. Surgery and a journey of recovery began with the “dream” job disappearing, James found a new purpose.
He set up the charity, “I Can and I Am” to inspire confidence in secondary school children through inspirational talks.
He started on Monday by sharing his own story and then talking to us as parents about how we can work with our children to give them the confidence to believe they can do anything.
His first top tip UFO Vs DBI, the abbreviations stand for Up, Forward and Out and Down, Back and In. If we always look up and forward and out, we can see the big sky with all the possibilities. Down back and in, begins that self limiting inner dialogue and where we over analyse events.
As a teacher he was keen for us to understand the progress made by teaching being evaluated by outside influence e.g. Ofsted. However we are still focusing very much on a funnel all the good stuff goes in, however the system only focuses on that very tight tube at the end of the funnel, academic results.
Teenagers today are spending so much time on their phones which as we know releases the addictive Dopamine in our brain. We need to unlock other passions and all of this can start at 14 years of age.
As parents we can look to a 3B continuum:-
- Between – controlling (when they are young and dependent)
- Beside – journey with them (understanding their life and the gradual steps of independence)
- Behind – I am here if you need me – the ultimate interdependence
Every child needs a confidence boost and James used the example of an ordinary balloon. We can either choose to inflate their confidence or deflate, knocking their self worth. If they are constantly deflated it is like driving a car with a flat tyre, progress is slow and damaging.
There are four things we can ensure:-
- Belong – do they feel part of something, do they have a role
- Valued – embedding a growth mindset (Carol Dweck) “I can’t do it” should become “I can’t do it yet…”
- Good at something – look at the multiple intelligences by Professor Howard Gardner. We all have strengths in areas that need to be uncovered by the people around us
- Future secure – setbacks are viewed as a springboard. We may fall down but how quickly do we get back up and focus on the future.
We must give our teenagers authentic praise by ensuring we say:-
- “I noticed…
- “I heard…
- “I saw…
Firsthand commentary of what they are doing well and it is our job to build those affirmations in their heads.
We have responsibility to demonstrate our own love of life be the role model with the right attitude.
We might not have a story as big as James Shone, however we can ensure that we smile and dance when we put the dishwasher on. Talk about your work with passion and share your life with your teenagers. Behaviour is contagious lets get them talking and off the screen.