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The Scottish Learning Festival September 25th 2013 Helping Children to Thrive.

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Presentation on theme: "The Scottish Learning Festival September 25th 2013 Helping Children to Thrive."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Scottish Learning Festival September 25th 2013 Helping Children to Thrive

2 2 The Thrive Programme is a innovative psychological training programme that equips children and teenagers with the self- awareness, skills and resources that they need to flourish in life. The programme brings together up-to-date scientific research and the insights gained from my 25 years of clinical experience in a unique and dynamic manner. I have trained a number of therapists and professionals to deliver The Thrive Programme. If you want to know more about the ‘Thrive Consultants’ in your area, please see

3 Helping Children to Thrive The Thrive Programme is fun and interactive. It enables children to develop self-understanding and build resilience through specially designed discussions and exercises. By undertaking the programme, children are helped to build an internal locus of control, the belief that they have the power to affect what happens to them in their lives. There is also a focus on developing self-esteem and confidence. Research has demonstrated that locus of control and self- esteem are important to a range of educational, psychological and health related outcomes.

4 Helping Children to Thrive Abouserie (1994), for example, demonstrated that students with an external locus of control had higher levels of academic stress than those with an internal locus. Those with low self- esteem were also more stressed than those with high self- esteem. An internal locus of control and high self-esteem have been implicated in educational resilience (the perseverance, engagement and success in education despite adversity) in numerous studies (Borman & Overman, 2004; Finn & Rock, 1997; Floyd, 1996; Jackson & Martin, 1998; Rouse, 2001).

5 Helping Children to Thrive A sense of control also facilitates positive coping in the face of failure and setbacks (Diener & Dweck, 1978; Dweck & Reppucci, 1973; Dweck, 2000; Hong, Chiu, Dweck, Lin, & Wan, 1999). One recent study (Allen, 2012) highlighted that a wide range of social factors and processes affect students’ perceptions of control, demonstrating the importance of creating school environments that facilitate a sense of personal power and mastery after setbacks and failures.

6 Helping Children to Thrive Locus of control has also been shown to have an impact far beyond success at school. One research paper, for example, (Gale, Batty, & Deary, 2008) examined the health effect of childhood locus of control. It was found that those who had an internal locus of control at the age of ten were less likely to be overweight, less likely to be psychologically distressed and had better self-rated health at aged 30 than those who had an external locus of control.

7 Helping Children to Thrive The Thrive Programme has been effectively used with children and adolescents in a clinical setting, who have consulted for issues such as phobias and fears, social anxiety, exam nerves, anger, lack of confidence and eating problems. “The thrive programme has helped me so much throughout these last few months since finishing the sessions. Whenever i feel anxious or worried i will use the techniques you have given me. I have been in a few situations but i didn't panic, I carried on with whatever i was doing and soon forgot about it. Also last year i felt anxious about being in an exam, if i was sick whilst doing the exam i couldn't sleep or eat much. But this year, i felt absolutely fine doing my exams. I completely forgot about it!” - A 14-year old boy

8 Helping Children to Thrive “I was a 17-year old having real problems with anxiety and obsessive thoughts about violence etc, that even though I felt wasn’t within my capabilities, still frightened me. Over a year later, I would like to say the biggest thank you for your help in given my normal life back, at a time where I didn’t know what was happening to me. At the worse times, the thing that kept me going was looking forward to the appointments I had, in the belief that you would give me greater courage, and it worked every time... It has benefited my life so much to be able to rid myself of these anxieties. Where I used to avoid awkward social situations, such as being on my own with someone whom I don’t really know, I now feel so much more confident. My self-confidence has gone through the roof, and friends have commented recently about how I seem to come more out of my shell, something I have found difficult ever since I was a small child.” - A 17-year old boy

9 Helping Children to Thrive “I started Thrive four months ago after a three week period of out of control anxiety, centered around the fear of vomiting, that left me unable to go to school, sleep, eat, or function in any rational way. After doing ONE session of Thrive, I realized that I had the ability to change and control the thoughts that were in my head, so I could live a life without fear. Instead of relying on other people to tell me that I am ok, all I do is remember what I learned from Thrive, and I am ok. Things aren’t always 100% perfect, but I always have something to rely on to comfort me and it comes from within now. Now, I’ve done about ten sessions of Thrive and am living a happy/healthy life!” - A 14-year old girl “I was sceptical about it working, but as I got into it I could see the benefits.I used to be petrified of going into assembly and having sports fixtures, but as I neared towards the end of the book I learned ways in which to control my anxiety and fears, and eventually stop them altogether. I’m now athletics captain.” - A 14-year old boy

10 Helping Children to Thrive Our recent research project (Kelly & Allen, 2013) into 35 children and adults, who had completed the Thrive Programme in order to overcome a phobia, found that all participants reported a significant improvement in their symptoms. All participants had rated their symptoms as having a severe impact on their lives prior to undertaking the programme (on a four point scale which included: little to no; modest; significant; severe).

11 Helping Children to Thrive After completing Thrive, the majority (30, 85.71%) rated their symptoms as having little to no impact on their lives, with the remainder rating them as having a modest impact. Additionally, participants’ locus of control scores became significantly more internal after completing the Thrive Programme. There was also a significant decrease in the participants’ social anxiety scores (where a higher score represented greater social anxiety) and participants’ self-esteem was raised at the end of the programme.

12 Helping Children to Thrive Recently, the Thrive Programme has been successfully applied within a school Eastern England. The school had set aside a budget and we consulted with the school to tailor an effective programme within this budget. Myself and another Thrive Consultant worked with the school’s Pastoral Team to implement a five-week programme for six 13 and 14 year old students with behavioural, motivational and self- esteem issues. All of the students had challenging home lives/backgrounds in some way (chronic illness, financial difficulties, parental divorce, parental physical/mental illness, social services involvement, etc.).

13 Helping Children to Thrive We conducted 5 x 2hr group sessions with the students, with one session every week. Each weekly group session involved an informal and interactive discussion of the weekly topic. Topics covered included: ➡ Helping the students to understand the importance of their beliefs and ways of thinking ➡ Identifying any unhelpful beliefs and ways of thinking ➡ Identifying school and home life areas in which they felt powerless and helping them to feel more powerful and in control in relation to these ➡ Helping them to challenge any social anxiety and build self-esteem ➡ Providing them with tools and techniques to manage their emotions ➡ Helping them to think about goals for the future and how engaging in school will benefit them.

14 Helping Children to Thrive The group sessions were based around my ‘Thrive for Teenagers’ workbook, which has been designed for 11-16 year olds. This simple workbook contains a basic outline of the material covered in each weekly group session, as well as exercises to be completed in each of these meetings.

15 Helping Children to Thrive The workbook also contains short homework exercises for the students to complete each day of the week in their own time.These daily exercises have been designed to help reinforce the topics covered within the sessions, ensure that the students take on board the Thrive Programme principles, and to help them develop and practise helpful beliefs and ways of thinking in relation to school and home life.Having exercises to do in their own time also helps them to take responsibility for making changes.

16 Helping Children to Thrive

17 We also gave each student an individual session at some point over the five weeks.These individual sessions enabled a more personalised discussion of how the Thrive Programme related to the students’ lives and specific concerns. These sessions also helped to give particular attention to anyone who was struggling in any way, as well as helping those students who found the group sessions more difficult.

18 Helping Children to Thrive With this group of students, who were largely disengaged from education and learning, it was really important that we motivated them enough to take part in the programme. We, therefore, worked out a system of £5 ‘reward’ vouchers, which the students could earn for applying effort. We felt that it was important to recognise the hard work the students were putting into the programme, rather than merely rewarding achievement. Rewarding effort rather than achievement would increase their sense of control (see Dweck, 2000 for research detailing that praising effort is more beneficial than praising achievement). The budget for these vouchers came from the amount the school had set aside for the project.

19 Helping Children to Thrive The students were able to earn £5 vouchers each week if they had completed all their homework (or demonstrated that they had put effort into doing but had become stuck). If the students had not managed to earn the vouchers, we explained to them why not, and gave them the chance to earn the missed voucher the following week, by putting in extra effort.This was so that students did not feel that they had completely failed or had ‘blown it’.This system worked well, with students who had a bad week going on to improve significantly the following week. Throughout the programme we also encouraged the students to process their improvements and to recognise their growing skills and resources.

20 Helping Children to Thrive Members of the school’s Pastoral Team also undertook a Thrive training session with us, so that they could help to support the pupils. These members of the Pastoral Team then ran short mentoring sessions with the students in addition to our weekly sessions. These mentoring sessions took place 3 times each week during morning registration.These sessions aimed to help keep the girls on track with completing their homework and give them further encouragement and support.

21 Helping Children to Thrive The programme culminated in an outward-bound day trip. This was designed to celebrate the students’ efforts and success, as well as to provide them with physical and psychological challenges enabling them to further develop and process their new skills. During the day we encouraged the girls to reflect upon their efforts and achievements and presented each of them with certificates.

22 Helping Children to Thrive

23 The Thrive Programme helped the pupils to develop a greater sense of control over their behaviour and progress at school, maintain better behaviour, attendance and achievement, and increase their self-esteem. The pupils made generally good progress towards their attendance, behaviour and achievement targets set by the school.We also looked at the students’ progress in relation to their locus of control.At the start of the programme, all students scored between 18 and 24 on a locus of control scale (where a higher score indicated a more external locus of control, i.e. a greater sense of powerlessness). After five weeks, all scored between 6 and 11, indicating that they felt much more powerful and capable.

24 Helping Children to Thrive Some comments from the students who completed the Thrive Programme are as follows:“It’s helped me by reseting my mind before I kick off, it’s made me reset and make me think before I do something”“Thinking about 10 positive things every week has helped me think better and see what I have achieved this week and help me know that I can achieve it again next week.” “In English I never used to read out loud but Thrive has helped me with my confidence and now I try to read out loud.” “Thrive has also helped me with my attitude towards teachers and other people around me.”

25 Helping Children to Thrive “Now I’m more confident and have a higher self-esteem and I’m starting to find it easier to share my problems and get help with them.”“I think Thrive has been one of the best experiences I’m going to have as I will carry on using the techniques even when I’m an adult”“I think I have improved a lot with my behaviour and my achievement points.”“Now I have a thrive attitude that makes me want to come into school, learn, and try my hardest to achieve my goals.”

26 Helping Children to Thrive Although within this school, The Thrive Programme was used with a group of students who were currently disengaged from education, its application is much broader than this. In a clinical context The Thrive Programme has been used to help children and teenagers who: have a fear of failure, struggle with exam nerves, who are perfectionists, have low self-esteem, have school phobia, have high functioning Autism and are struggling with related social and anxiety issues, and more... The Thrive Programme could, therefore, be applied within schools to help pupils with a wide range of issues, or merely to help students gain greater insight into their cognitive processes and enable them to build confidence and resilience.

27 Helping Children to Thrive If you are interested in learning more about the Thrive Programme, please visit Feel free to contact me, Rob Kelly, with any queries: You can also contact my Thrive Consultants who are based in Scotland:n also contact m Andrew Farquharson (based in Edinburgh): andrew@thrive- Janey McArthur (based in Stirling): jaJaney McArthur (based in Stirling): janey@mcarthur-

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