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St. Brendan's National School, Cartron Point, Sligo



Dealing with an anxious child- pointers for parents:

  1. Help children to think about their thinking: thoughts are not facts, they are just thoughts. Encourage children to regard them as clouds passing in the sky or logs in a river – they come and they go;
  2. Calm is contagious so try to foster a sense of peace at home, by working on yourself if necessary. Meditation will slow down your brainwaves and maybe all the family could try it;
  3. Do deep-breathing exercises together: just five deep belly breaths will bring the central nervous system from that "fight or flight" state to a relax, digest mode;
  4. Adopt an integrated approach, with healthier eating and getting out as a family to connect with nature;
  5. Put all phones away at dinner time and avoid the temptation of letting children eat in front of the TV;
  6. Give them age-appropriate chores and praise for jobs done, as this builds their competence and confidence;
  7. Most important of all, have fun with them and let them play.



Wellbeing Programmes in St. Brendan's:

In response to guidelines on mental health issued by the Department of Education and Skills, last year we introduced the Weaving Wellbeing Programme to classes from 2nd to 6th. Weaving Well-Being is the first Irish designed positive mental health programme of its kind which aims to enhance well-being in children.

The Weaving Well-Being Programme gives children the opportunity to weave positivity into their daily lives through a range of activities in a variety of areas.

These areas include identifying and using their authentic character strengths, boosting positive emotions, developing and nurturing positive relationships and connections, building practical resilience skills (including mindfulness) and developing self-efficacy through empowering beliefs.

The infant classes engage with the Fun Friends Programme to also help develop self-esteem, positivity, boost friendship skills and improve children’s overall sense of wellbeing. The Fun FRIENDS Program was developed by Dr Paula Barrett to help guide the social and emotional development of children aged 4 to 7 by using fun, play-based group activities. Fun FRIENDS nurtures the child’s development by teaching them to engage resilience early on, encouraging them to thrive and smoothly transition into school life.

Friends for Life is also available in the school and used by middle and senior classes, usually in small group settings. FRIENDS for Life is a social skills and resilience building program that has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as an effective means to prevent anxiety for children aged 8-11. It is proven to reduce anxiety and provide participants with the tools to rise to life’s challenges, and make the most of setbacks and adversity. FRIENDS for Life also improves participants’ social and emotional skills, ability to focus, confidence, and the capacity to relax and regulate emotions.

These programmes are recommended by the NEPS school psychological service for schools.

The MAP mentoring for Achievement Programme is used by Mary McHugh from Sligo School Completion Programme. She works one day per week in St. Brendan's, seeing pupils (with parental permission) individually or in small groups to promote positive thinking, develop self-esteem and improve every-day real-life problem and decider skills. This work has proved invaluable towards developing a positive attitude around school attendance for pupils who may be finding it difficult to come to school for a variety of reasons.

The Mentoring for Achievement Programme (MAP) is an evidence-based programme that uses a distinctive approach to mentoring with students who have personal characteristics like inattention, disorganisation, disinterest or behaviour problems which interfere with their learning in school.

The mentoring approach uses professional adult mentors who engage with the selected students to  encourage them to stop and think and come up ways they can try out to help themselves develop a more focused and thoughtful manner of engaging in school. This process develops skills in students that they can use in their lives beyond school, skills like thinking, problem-solving, patience, risk taking to name a few.

Incredible Years

Many of our teachers are trained in the Incredible Years Programme for Homes and Schools and we have developed many strategies to help all our pupils to enjoy and participate fully in school. We strongly believe that a positive, supportive and caring environment where the staff is skilled in behaviour management leads to a better educational and learning experience for all.

We act on the belief – that a child is the most precious of all human beings, and the
ability to withstand the emotional and social challenges as a child and teenager, clearly rests
upon a caring relationship between parent, teacher and child.

The stated mission of Incredible Years is to advance the social and emotional behavior of children of all ethnic
groups, through a series of interlocking parent, teacher and child programs supported by more than thirty years of clinically proven worldwide research.

The goal is to deliver evidence-based programs and materials that develop positive parent-teacher-child relationships and assist in preventing and treating behavior problems and promoting social, emotional, and academic competence before a child becomes an adult.