A Handy Model of the Brain with Dr. Daniel J Siegel

Dr. Daniel J Siegel described how the brain, and its individual parts, can be represented within a “hand model”. This video is useful for reviewing brain parts and their functions. It   provides a simple foundation for the book The Whole Brain Child. Enjoy!

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The Whole Brain Child- Chapter 1 “Parenting with the Brain in Mind”

Chapter 1 of the Whole Whole Brain Child discusses the importance for parents to understand the inner workings of their child’s developing brain. This will help them to better understanding their child, respond to them more effectively in difficult situations, and help them to build foundation for social, emotional, and mental health.

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When parents understand how the brain develops, they can help to integrate their child’s brain. Integrating the brain, in this sense, refers to integrating the different parts of the brain (i.e. the left and the right side). If the different parts of the brain are integrated, and can effectively work together to address a situation, the child can thrive.

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Though this may sound complicated, the basis of the idea is quite simple. Parents can use just about every life experience to help their child’s brain to integrate with itself. The Whole Brain Child discusses many strategies for doing so throughout the book.

There is good news for us grown-ups too! The human brain, though its thought to be fully developed by a person’s mid 2os, remains mouldable throughout all ages. As long as your brain is functioning healthily, you can continue to develop and mould your brain.

The writer’s of The Whole Brain Child paint a vidid picture of what mental health, in relation to brain integration looks like. They describe a river of mental health. If you are floating along, in the middle of the river, you are integrated, and therefore socially, emotionally, and intellectually balanced. However, if you veer towards either banks; the bank of chaos or the bank of rigidity- you are experiencing a lack of integration. In other words, the individual parts of your brain are not working together effectively. If you are veering towards the bank of chaos, you may be losing control of different aspects of your life (i.e. organisation, emotions, etc.). However, if you are veering towards the bank of rigidity, you may be employing too much control to your life (i.e. lack of flexibility, lack of perspective).

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Children, as well as adults, are floating along these rivers of well-being. Parents can help their child to move towards, or stay within, the middle of the river; living a balanced and well-integrated life. However, it is important to note that it is perfectly normal for children to veer towards the river banks. They do this because they are new to life, and still in the beginning phase of their development. When this happens, parents can help their children to learn from these experiences. Learning from these experiences help children to become more resilient and both strengthen and deeper their own understanding of the world. Their brains, subsequently, become more integrated. So you see, even the most horrifying toddler temper tantrum can have a silver lining.

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…even though it may not seem that way when its happening in the middle of the fresh fruit isle in an action packed supermarket.

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KIS ES Parent Book Club

This week, the KIS ES Parent Book Club will start. Parents who have signed up and bought the book, will meet on a bi-weekly basis to discuss chapters read from a book that discusses strategies to nurture children’s developing minds: The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel.

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Many parents were not able to sign up due to busy schedules and other commitments. But that doesn’t mean that they will have to miss out! As the group and read and discuss the book, I will be posting relevant blog posts right here on the Counselor’s website! Some posts will include reflections on, and discussions of, group discussions whilst others will include videos and thought prompts.

Stay tuned…

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Happy 2018! ….A fresh start to Term 2

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Happy New Year KIS! Holiday are a great way to relax and decompress after a couple of exciting months at school or at work. We get to see our friends, family, and maybe even enjoy some quiet alone time. Holidays are wonderful routines within a year that can help to reboot you!

However, this wonderful gift of time often comes with additional responsibilities, unexpected events, and the temptation to completely let go of old routines. This is fine! It just means that when the holidays are over, we need to spend some time getting back into the swing of things. Luckily the have plenty of energy, gained from our holidays, to do so!

The first week back is a good time to review old routines, keep what worked, and toss out what didn’t. Remind yourself of your responsibilities, and get organised!

Children, just like adults, may need a grace period to reboot and reorganise. Make sure to spend some time this week, discussing home and school responsibilities with your child. This doesn’t need to be a daunting “you have to do all these things on the chore list” kind of talk. Ask you child to remember all of the great jobs and responsibilities they were able to do independently last year. Ask them what they would like your help with this year, and possibly, what jobs they feel they can now do on their own. This will help to build their independence! (and relieve some responsibilities for you!).

Welcome back KIS! 2018 is going to be a wonderful year! 

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Holiday Stress- How to manage!

Christmas stress - busy santa woman

Holidays are wonderful! For many it is their favourite time of the year. It is a time we get to spend with family and friends. It is a time to relax and enjoy ourselves. Still, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the responsibilities and pressures of holidays as well. Here are a few strategies that you may use to help manage holiday stress…

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

  1. Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  2. Give homemade gifts.
  3. Start a family gift exchange.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

  1. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
  3. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

  • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Reading a book.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

For more visit:

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
  • https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/quick-tips-reducing-holiday-stress-get-started#1

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Conflict Resolution

The ability to solve problems is a crucial life skill. This is why we take the time to explicitly teach social conflict resolution skills at KIS. We work to empower children to think through their problems, find an appropriate solution, and test it out. Of course, it is important to support children throughout this process. Helping them calm down if they are upset is often the first step. Next, it is important that a child feels heard and listened to, but after that we work merely as sounding board to help them decide how to move forward. This approach helps students to feel confident in their own abilities and increases their self-esteem.

That all being said, of course, there are cases when children need additional support from adults to work through a problem. This is the difference between a small, and a big problem. At KIS we work to help children differentiate between small and big problems. If they are facing a small problem they can often figure it out themselves or need minimal support. If they are facing a big problem, they will likely need support from an adult.

In today’s workshop we discussed the topic of conflict resolution and how it is linked to bullying. We also began a conversation about the importance of resilience. This is a topic that we will explore in further detail in a workshop scheduled for February, 2018.

Simon Sinek speaks about the topic of resilience and how it related to Millennial generation. Some food for thought…

If you have any follow-up questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Alex

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Preparing Your Child for Residential Trips

Daycamp

Residential trips are wonderful experiences that help to develop your child’s social and emotional skills. It also provides them with the opportunity to develop a sense of independence and build their self-confidence.

At KIS the residential trips are aimed to provide your child with unique opportunities that allow them learn about their environment, develop specific skill sets, and grow as an individual. However, because these wonderful experiences are happening in a unique environment away from home and home comforts, some children may experience “pre-resential jitters”. They may feel a bit nervous about the idea of being away from home for a few nights. Especially if this trip is their first experience sleeping away from home.

This is completely normal, and we are here to support you and your child in processing any feelings of anxiety and preparing for this unique experience. So please do come and see us if you, or your child, is experiencing any concerns or worries.

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What can you do at home?

If your child is experiencing pre-camp jitters, there is a list below of conversations of activities you can do to help them prepare. Please do note, that it helps to follow your child’s lead in these cases. There is no need for you to have nightly conversations about Residential with your child, if they are not expressing any concern. This could spark unnecessary worries on their part. Don’t get me wrong, of course you should talk to your child about their residential trip. Just try to follow their lead in determining exactly how much preparation they need before they leave.

medfr04015Preparation Conversations and Activities: 

  • Mark the Residential Trip days on your family calendar, surrounded by other fun activities and events. This will help to put the trip in perspective and encourage your child to see it as ‘just another’ fun experience they get to have.
  •  Plan a sleepover for your child at a friend’s house. This will help them to become familiar with the experience of sleeping away from home.
  • Plan an “in-house” sleep-away experience in your own home! Your child can build a fort in the living room and sleep there for one night. You can provide them with a flashlight to read a book and a fun evening snack to make the experience novel and exciting. This is a gentle way of letting them know they can sleep in “unfamiliar” places.
  • Discuss all of the exciting and fun experiences they will have at residential. Brainstorm games they can play with their friends on the bus, or songs they can teach each other. So much of camp is a social experience, focussing on the fun your child with have with their friends and classmates helps to relieve possible anxiety.
  • Discuss “emergency” situations. If your is concerned about specific emergency situations, talk with them about this. Discuss how the series of events might go, and what resources are in place to help them in a situation of need.
  • Remind them that feeling “homesick” is completely normal, and often, the feeling goes away as soon as the next activity starts.
  • Avoid packing expensive items that your child will worry about losing or breaking.
  • Go through their packing list with them- help them to take charge in packing their own bag, while you supervise.
  • Pack user-friendly toiletries (i.e. do not pack a bar of soap, which can be messy, but rather a small bottle of shower gel).
  • Pack a “home” piece if your child is especially nervous about being homesick. This should be a simple and inexpensive item like a picture of your family, or a pillow case with mom’s perfume sprayed on it. These little tokens can comfort children in a moment of struggle.
  • Instil confidence in them- let them know you are confident that they can do this! They are growing up and ready for such an amazing experience. Tell them that you are proud of them for becoming so independent and self-sufficient. Knowing that you believe in them will help your child to feel secure and approach this great experience with pride and excitement.

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Bed-Wetting: 

If your child is experiencing bed-wetting, please do not worry. This is perfectly normal, and it is something that we can help you and your child prepare for. If your child is experiencing bed-wetting, please let their HR teacher or myself know.

Parent Pre-Residential Jitters: 

Sometimes, it is not the children, but the parents who are nervous about a child’s first trip away from home. This too, is perfectly normal. If you are experiencing anxiety about this upcoming trip, please speak to your child’s HR teacher or come and see me. We can help to put your concerns at ease. It is important that parents do not pass their own worries or anxieties onto their children, as this can give a child an unnecessary sense of insecurity.

All in all, Residential trips are wonderful excursions that provide children with unique experiences and help to develop a multitude of skills and abilities. Please make sure you encourage your child and celebrate their opportunity for independence and fun!

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International Mental Health Day

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Tomorrow, Tuesday October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. Although the topic of mental health is relevant to us all every day, it is helpful to take extra time to focus on its importance. Mental health concerns your social, emotional, and psychological well-being. It therefore affects all different areas of life such as relationships, physical health, and work. It even impacts the choices we make. There are several factors which can impact our mental health state; biological, family history, and/or life experiences. It is therefore safe to say that mental health plays a significant role in all of our lives and being aware of our own state of mental health can provide many benefits.

In many cultures, mental health issues carry a heavy stigma. However, 1 in every 3 individuals is likely to experience some level of mental health challenge throughout their life time. It is therefore a relatively ‘normal’ experience to have.

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Destigmatizing mental health issues helps to build a culture where it is socially acceptable to reach out for help. We can do this by raising awareness, sharing our own experiences, and expressing acceptance and support to those who need it.

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It is important to talk to children about mental health. This helps them not only to develop a level of acceptance towards mental health issues, but it also helps them to be more aware of their own mental health. If you are aware of your own level of mental health, you are more likely to seek out help when you are struggling. You are also more likely to use the strategies that parents, teachers, and friends teach you in order to maintain your mental health. This positively ‘maintained’ level is often referred to flourishing. It is important to know that throughout our lives, we all flourish and struggle at different times. In addition to knowing how to ask for help, building up resilience can help us to deal with harder time. Below you will find a few videos that focus on mental health and resilience. Should you feel they are age-appropriate for your child, you may watch this video with your child at home to help aid conversations about mental health.

Mental Health:

Resilience: 

Should any of you have mental health concerns of your own, please know that you are always welcome to come and speak to me. Alternatively, you can always contact outside resources in Bangkok. Below you will find a list of websites containing information about mental health professionals who practice in Bangkok:

  • http://bangkokpsychotherapist.blogspot.com/p/list-of-expatriate-mental-health.html
  • https://www.bangkokcounsellingservice.com/services/wellbeing-project/?gclid=CPvhyujf4tYCFc6HaAodfHUMgw
  • http://www.bangkokcommunityresources.org/mental-health-treatment-options/private-psychologist-and-counseling-centers-thailand
  • http://bangkokcommunityresources.wikispaces.com/SUICIDE+HOTLINE

If you are interested in contacting a specific individual and would like a recommendation, please email me directly and I can provide you with additional community resources.

Have a lovely day!

Alex

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Parent Book Club- Join us for bi-weekly meetings!!

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Being a parent is a beautiful thing. You have the privilege of guiding another person through life, showing them how to appreciate the beautiful moments, and tackle the challenging ones. Still, it is not an easy job! Many of you have jobs, positions of responsibility, and other life goals that take up time, effort, and brain space.

This is why a little support, advice, and general information about raising children can come in handy. In the parent book club, we will engage in literature that addresses parenting, child-development, and overall physical and mental well-being. We will meet bi-weekly to discuss the content of a chosen book or article. These discussions are aimed to  help parents put written information into context, and make connections between personal experiences. Sometimes it helps to know that we are all experiencing the same challenges!

For our first book, we will be reading ‘The Whole-Brain Child’ by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. The Whole-Brain Child is written for a parent audience. It demystifies child behaviours by using science and strategies. Descriptions of brain developments are simplified and explained in order to help parents understand how their child matures over time. This, in turn, helps parents to select the most appropriate parenting strategies for their child. The writing is simple but the information is powerful. It is an accessible read for parents who want to know more about their child’s development.

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Daniel Siegal speak about the effectiveness of teaching children about the role their brain plays in their behaviours, emotions, and thought development.

 

If you would like to sign up! 

Please email Miss Alex at alex.sh@edu.kis.ac.th

You will soon receive and email about the day, time, and location the Parent Book Club will take place. You will also receive information about the option of ordering the book through the school library. Note: it will take a minimum of 3 weeks for the books to arrive, so we will not be starting the Parent Book Club until November.

A letter will be sent out to ALL parents of students in Elementary school. This letter will contain further information on the book ordering process, as well as a payment slip. If you would like to join, please return the payment slip and exact cash amount (for the book) to Miss Alex by  Thursday, October 12th.  

I look forward to hearing from you and see you soon!

 

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Body Safety Song- You are the Boss of your Body!

This is a great song to share with you child. It highlights every child’s inner power to protect themselves and be in control of their own body!

The Boss of my Body

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