In June 2017 Mentor delivered a teacher training event: ‘Understanding Prevention – Social Emotional Learning to Empower Young People’. Speakers included specialists in the field of social emotional learning and early years prevention; their objective, to inspire practitioners to use evidence-based approaches to help young people with complex needs overcome anxiety-related behaviours.
Lauren Bond and Emma Dove from UNIQUE Behaviour Consultancy discussed children’s neurological development and the impact certain factors can have on emotional and social wellbeing. Young people who struggle to regulate their emotions are often diagnosed with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder or attachment disorders; this often means their prefrontal cortex was slow to develop, making verbal reasoning, self-regulation, logic and empathy difficult. These basic social skills naturally come to most young people; those with a diagnosis struggle to manage their emotions or make constructive choices. Too often research on limited social awareness has made evident that low empathy can cause young people to engage in bullying or succumb more easily to peer pressure. Lauren and Emma argued it is vital that practitioners work with children and young people to help them moderate their anxiety as early as possible so they can participate in school life, have improved academic performance and make healthy choices.
To prevent such a vulnerable cohort from substance misuse, it is essential that schools take a holistic approach when supporting students who struggle to cope. Bridgid Normand, developer of the American programme Second Step, encouraged teachers to take a whole-school approach to promoting self-regulation, safety and support. Using brain builder games, skills for learning, problem solving and emotional management workshops, children from kindergarten up to middle school (5-13 years old) have demonstrated increased resilience. This programme has proven to be extremely beneficial to children who suffered trauma as it has instilled a positive mentality, as well as increased pupils’ sense of belonging and social connectedness. This universal programme has immense potential to create a novel approach to social emotional learning in the UK.
For more information on how understanding children’s brain development is key to developing better prevention, read our most recent Mentor-ADEPIS briefing paper the development of the brain and how the adolescent brain is wired for risk-taking.
See below for the speakers’ presentations from this training session: