Christmas arrives in Hebden Bridge……in June!

Some feel-good news from my friend at kindadukish

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)


Anyone who has followed my blog will remember the one about the floods in West Yorkshire and which featured the above distressing image of the devastation of the floods. It was at Christmas time and for whole communities their priority was getting through the chaos caused by the floodwaters, seasonal festivities were the last thing on their minds.

Well, people in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale are now celebrating “the Christmas that never was”, six months after flooding devastated the area. Thousands of homes and businesses in the region were damaged when Storm Eva battered the north of England during December’s floods.


Organisers said it was an opportunity for the whole community to have a proper party.
The event features six snow machines and Christmas trees. There was also a surprise guest at the celebrations

There was also a Christmas lunch for volunteers who helped when the floods hit, with an…

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Helicopter Parents damage their kids

The furore over Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was imprisoned for 6 months after sexually assaulting a woman who was too drunk to know what she was doing, has not only raised the issue of leniency for sports stars (sentenced by a judge with sports credentials) but also the influence of parents.

His father wrote the court arguing that a prison sentence was “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action“.

A former dean at the university, Julie Lythcott-Haims, said that it was consistent with a phenomenon she had witnesses developing at the university: helicopter parents.

During her tenure she said parents e-mailed professors to complain about their children’s grades, intervened in dormitory disputes, and refused to let their children grow up and take respocibility for their lives.

The father’s statement seems to me to be siding with his son at all costs, unable to see that his son has committed a horrendous wrong” she said when speaking at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

He must always love his son but the most loving thing to do is to let the son know that you are loved but your behaviour was reprehensible and you need to accept the consequences of your actions

51VjT9u8jlL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Lythcott-Haims has written a book based on her ten year’s experience as dean of freshmen at the university: “How to Raise an Adult – break free of the over-parenting trap and prepare your kid for success”

She writes about the trend for students to be rendered “existentially impotent” by the over involvement off their parents. She says “Over the years I saw more and more students who didn’t seem terribly familiar with their own selves.

What’s to become of a generation that’s been mollycoddled, overprotected, and had their hands held for too long? Will they ever be able to seize the mantle of adulthood? Will they ever become that next generation of leaders we’re going to need them to be? Linguistically parents say “we’re on the football team. We’re going to university”. Their sense of ego is now intertwined with the student

This father defending his son over a sex crime was just an extreme example of the same trend she thought. She went on to say: “The father rising to the defence as if that is the job of the parents is misguided. The job of the parent is to make sure our children know how to behave properly in the world”.

This is the most sensible thing I’ve heard coming from someone from the university sector for a long time. At the moment it all seems to be about safeguarding, safe spaces and no-platform policies.

Is this because of parents defending their kids rights to be pampered? Is it because young people are more narcissistic than ever with their pre-occupation with social media and lack empathy, a key part of emotional intelligence?

I’ve posted before about helicopter parents being bad for kids and how overparenting makes children less resilient.

Don’t stress about Xmas

snowman_pointing_pc_400_clr_4412For many people Christmas comes second only to financial problems as a source of stress in their lives.

And of course Christmas can be expensive too and we are as likely to be as stressed about that as we are about coping with everything that has to be done on the day.

Everybody feels stressed at times; it’s a natural response when we think or feel that we can’t cope, that things are getting on top of us.

Ways to de-stress and relax at Christmas

First tackle the way you think about Christmas. Do you look at it as a positive fun-filled time or just a lot of hard work? Has it got sad memories? Do you dread the in-laws?

Having a positive mental attitude and a sense of humour is really important for your well-being. Be positive rather than dwelling on the negatives in life.

Don’t focus on the things that can go wrong but on the things you will enjoy. Give yourself some credit for what you do well and remember the nice things that happened last year and see if you can laugh about the things that didn’t go quite to plan.

If you have children imagine their reaction to it and for young children how magic it all seems to them. And don’t try to be perfect in every way – this is a holiday after all.

When you feel you are in control of a situation you will feel less stressed; it’s the feeling of helplessness or not being able to change things that can lead to stress.

Another important factor in being able to resist or cope with stress is to have some kind of social support mechanism – both in practical terms (someone to do things for you) and emotional terms (a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on if necessary but definitely someone to talk to).

And you may not realise it but you are far more resilient than you think so look at how you behave and what you can do in practical terms to have a great time.

Talk to your partner and family about how you feel about Christmas and how they can help you make it even better. Can you simplify the way you usually do things eg fewer decorations, inviting people for a meal rather than giving presents? Are you sending cards this year or donating to a good cause?

  • christmas_figure_presenting_400_clr_7011Planning and time management is really important. How far ahead do you buy presents (throughout the year or at the last minute?).  Have you decided on the food for the holiday, sorted out the decorations?
  • More importantly who does what – make a “to-do” list and stick it up on the fridge for everyone to see. Get the kids involved too. It can be a fun thing for them especially if they get to cross things off or add fun stickers.
  • Check presents with moving parts, batteries etc before the shops close – get in some spare batteries (beware those items with the hearing aid type battery, they can be fatal if children swallow them), SD cards, blank DVDs, USB sticks, CD-roms or whatever might be required.
  • Don’t overdo the pre-Christmas festivities or the alcohol, or rely on coffee and chocolate to keep you going (only works in the short term and makes you irritable).
  • Get in training for the holiday ie plenty of sleep and exercise (you can do that when you’re out shopping or go to a boot camp). Learn to meditate, take a yoga class, do Tai Chi. These traditional exercises really work.
  • Last minute guests might be welcome or an unexpected diversion. Learn to be assertive – saying NO is fine, you really don’t have to please all the people all the time (and if that’s too hard for you tell them what you still have to do).
  • Eat regularly and don’t just pick at the food as you’re preparing it. Also eat healthily ie less junk food and more fish and vegetables.
  • Relax for 20 minutes doing something for you. Lock yourself in the bath room and have a relaxing hot bath with candles and oils, or go for a quiet walk. If you have a pet even better as they are good listeners and help you relax.
  • Worried about the children being under your feet? Don’t give them all the presents at once. Make sure that they have a favourite film to watch or some other activity to keep them occupied (remember the plan!)
  • Alternatively do you know a friend or neighbour who is great with children but hates cooking? Barter some child-minding time in return for cooking for them (or vice versa of course).
  • Slow down – your speech and your gestures, learn to be patient and make an effort to be friendly to everyone – even the dreaded in-laws or old Uncle George. It’s not forever and smiling is good for you!
  • When it’s all over spoil yourself and have a massage with aromatherapy oils. Alternatively shiatsu, reflexology and acupuncture have lots to offer.

Updated since first posted December 2011

Getting kid’s praise right

stick_figure_family_portrait_1600_wht_2962For some years now I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of American psychologist Carol Dweck and her views on child-rearing.

Now the Brits have caught on with media psychologist Professor Tanya Byron and Professor Guy Claxton , together with Mind Gym founder Octavia Black, backing a manifesto to encourage British parers and teachers to adopt Dweck’s ideas. These are set out in a new book ‘Educating Ruby by Claxton & Lucas.

Dweck argues that children:

  • should be praised for hard work rather than innate intelligence
  • should be allowed to make mistakes, which should bed seen as learning opportunities
  • should be allowed to make their own decisions, even if it means failing at the task, so they can become more confident

Her approach may not result in a string of (devalued) A grades but will make the child more resilient and able to solve problems at college and later in life.

It’s reported that British schools are full of anxious and depressed children. Byron says it’s because they re over-tested, force-fed and misunderstood (?). She says she sees children struggling at school ‘to an extent that it severely compromises their mental health and daily functioning’.

Claxton says that universities are seeing increasing numbers of students seeking counselling because they fear being unmasked as an imposter.

‘Imposter syndrome’ is on the increase according to counselling services at Oxford and Cambridge because schools are getting better at force-feeding students into getting the grades they need for university but nor preparing them for real life!

Claxton says ‘don’t rescue your kids, especially girls, too quickly’. Parents tend to see boys as more resilient.

Dweck’s current research is helping children understand that perseverance and effort can help them realise their ambitions.

Another programme helps them to control and regulate their emotions ( key elements in emotional intelligence) so they can put negative experiences into perspective and reduce the likelihood of it leading to negative thoughts.

Cossetted kids who can’t cope………….fault of overprotective parents!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Parents who deny their children independence are creating a generation incapable of dealing with failure, a leading neuroscientist has warned. A trend over the past two decades towards ‘wrapping children in cotton wool’ is leaving them struggling to cope with setbacks in their teenage years and adult life.

1E9387FA00000578-0-image-m-24_1420070614741Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, an expert in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, said it was important for children to embrace a degree of risk and learn from mistakes. But she warned youngsters nowadays were ‘not allowed to be independent’ as they were when she was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Professor Blakemore, an expert in the teenage brain, said risk-taking was an ‘important developmental behaviour’ for teenagers as they began to negotiate independence. ‘Adolescents, after puberty, need to become independent of their parents and their families and they need to go out and affiliate with their peer group and they need to explore…

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Youngsters DO lack grit, say employers: Minister is backed over controversial claim that school leavers aren’t fit for work

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Businesses yesterday backed a minister who triggered controversy by saying young people lack the ‘grit’ to get jobs.

Nick Hurd was criticised after saying qualities such as ‘confidence, discipline and self-control’ were not being taught at school, in an interview with the Mail.

But yesterday business leaders and even senior Labour MPs lined up to agree that many teenagers have been left ill-equipped for the job market.


 Mr Hurd’s comments caused controversy on Tuesday but he has since been proven right as business leaders rush to confirm his theories

Neil Carberry, a director at the CBI, said: ‘What employers tell us is very much around grit, tenacity, self-determination to get on with colleagues, which is what Nick Hurd is talking about.

‘The Government has rightly pushed for more rigorous exams, but there is also space in the curriculum for character skills. Head teachers are only judged on their GCSE results…

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Adults today are self-obsessed and more stressed than those who lived through the Blitz, claims psychologist

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

British adults today are more self-obsessed and worry more about their daily lives than those who lived through the Blitz, a new book claims.

This is despite the fact they don’t have to worry about bombs, blackouts and rationing, says psychologist Graham Price.

He adds that today’s adults spend twice as much time fretting about their lives as those who lived through the Blitz.

British adults today are self-obsessed and 'consumed' with negative thoughts about their own personal problems from work and money to relationships, a psychologist has claimed British adults today are self-obsessed and ‘consumed’ with negative thoughts about their own personal problems from work and money to relationships, a psychologist has claimed

The book, The Promise, also claims that Britons have forgotten how to ‘look on the bright side of life’.

Mr Price suggests the poster, Keep Calm and Carry On, would have worked during the Second World War but has less effect today, despite the slogan’s recent resurrection.

 The problem is that today’s adults are ‘consumed’ with negative thoughts about their own…

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People are far more resilient than the modern day “nanny society” understands!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)


One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit on Boxing day 2004. The resulting tsunami devastated huge swaths of the Indian Ocean coastline and left an estimated quarter of a million people dead across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. Aid agencies quickly arrived to help battered and traumatised survivors.

Mental health was a massive part of the emergency response but the World Health Organisation promptly did something it has never done before or since. It specifically denounced a type of psychological therapy and recommended that it shouldn’t be used. The therapy was a single session treatment called “psychological debriefing”, which involved working with disaster victims to encourage people to supposedly “process” the intense emotions by talking through them in stages. It was intended to prevent later mental health problems by helping people resolve difficult emotions early on. The only trouble was that it made things worse. Studies had shown that people given…

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What doesn’t kill you makes you

The news that Ed Balls is using his wife’s name for his kids so that they don’t get bullied is perhaps understandable.

Of course he had a reputation as a bit of a bully himself as one of Gordon Brown’s enforcers and he may have been bullied himself as a child (bullies often were).

He says he only used his “challenging behaviour” with people he knew could stick up for themselves – like Gordon Brown (who has a bit of a reputation in that direction himself) and Tony Blair – and denies he treats people as badly as he was treated.

But is he really doing them any favours? Could a little adversity help you to become better adjusted as an adult?

Studies at the University of California have shown that when children respond to hostility or bullying, whether face-to-face or on-line, in kind they are liked more and earn more respect from their classmates and teachers according to a report in The Times.

Whilst not pleasant experiences the children remembered them more vividly than friendly events. Trying to placate your enemy doesn’t seem to pay whereas giving as good as you got earned higher ratings for maturity and social competence.

No-one is saying it is a good thing to have a lot of people hostile to you, and children no-one disliked were the best adjusted, but the research suggests that rather than ignoring bullies or people who dislike you, or trying to placate them, or even being completely unaware of them, it is better to confront them.

Similar results have been found by researchers at Strathclyde University. Children who are good at standing up to bullies, whether for themselves or others, are better at resolving problems without conflict, are more emotionally literate, and better at taking other people’s perspective.

In other words they display the emotional intelligence skills of self-awareness, self-control, empathy, and managing relationships.

Updated from post originally on EI 4u May 2010