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On Friday 9th September we had R U OK Day which is a very important day that promotes people checking in with friends, family, teachers, parents, siblings, neighbours, or colleagues to make sure they are ok, that they are mentally doing ok. Some people do not like to make a fuss about their issues and end up keeping issues to themselves unless someone specifically asks. Some people feel like they do not want to burden others with their issues and also do not express them unless someone specifically asks. So, R U Ok Day was designed to make sure the question is asked and to get people familiar with practicing asking the question and checking in on people’s well-being.

Students check in with how they are feeling every Monday and Tuesday with the Pulse Wellbeing app. It is always helpful for parents and siblings to also ask students if they are ok. So perhaps on the holidays and on a regular basis, parents could find time to check in with their children. The best way to ask is in private, while no one else is around. The question can be asked in many different ways. Parents can ask by any of the following ways – How’s school going? Have you any issues at school, with friends, do you have anything that is troubling you outside of school? What is one thing in your life that you do not cope well with, or something that you do not like or fear or would like to change? Using language that your child would relate to works best.

It is also good to be aware of what coping mechanisms/strategies your child uses when things are not going well and to suggest some if they don’t have any. Some positive coping mechanisms are talking to someone, praying, running, participating in a sport, expression through music, art, dance, and writing stories. Other strategies are reading, meditation, or mindfulness which is being in the moment. We can practice mindfulness by looking around the room and describing what we can hear, see, feel, taste and smell. It is helpful to identify what your own positive coping mechanisms are and talk about them with your children. Modelling good coping mechanisms is highly effective, especially with primary school-aged children. Good communication with our children is important for their overall well-being, in creating a sense of safety, allowing them to share problems, allowing their voices to be heard, and allowing us to know what is going on for them which is vital when they reach secondary school.

Lizzie Stewart, School Psychologist, Loreto Nedlands