Acceptance and how it supports positive mental health

Many young people in school struggle with accepting certain situations or circumstances in their life which in turn affects mental health and quality of
life. Many conversations follow a pattern with regard to an incident whereby the
young person was unable to accept the situation, request or sanction. Sometimes
because they feel theworld is against them and the act confirms to them that they
are rubbish. For some they struggle to accept as they have learned to believe
thatthey are/need to be against the world which fuels blame and underpins
feelings of injustice and anger. Both outlooks reflect low self-esteem, and poor
psychological well-being. One outlook drives a perceived sense of failure, the other
that they have not got the internal strength to face up to their part in the situation.
As staff we also need to accept that some young people in our lessons are not as
developed as their peers and so some of their behaviours or learning needs will
appear more demanding and challenging. We must also recognise and accept that
this is not always a sign of that young person deliberately acting in the way that they
do in order to annoy, upset or damage the quality of your lessons. Non-typically
developing children need to be coached and nudged through a consistent modelling
approach in the direction that you would like them to be within your learning
environment (not always the door!).

Little actions that can help in a big way!

  • Acceptance plays a crucial role in positive mental health, well-being and
    quality of life for children, young people and adults
  • Children do not always understand what this term means when used in day to
    day situations. By helping young people grasp that acceptance means
    recognising that some rules are bigger than us as individuals it can remove
    the element of fight. An analogy that I use with young people is if wearing a
    banana on your head suddenly became compulsory school uniform. Some
    young people would go with it straight away (accept it – this is a battle I
    cannot win), refuse until they had been sanctioned enough/conditioned into
    realising that wearing the banana was the only way (accept it in the end) or
    refuse to wear it and start a revolution that will lead to positive change for
    the better or accept it in the end out of motivational exhaustion!
  • Young people who have not had clear defined boundaries set out in early
    childhood do not see acceptance so clearly. They need to be educated on
    this concept but harsh actions alone will not support behavioural
    change. By explaining this concept young people will learn to see the
    realities of what needs to be accepted in life (ones we have little control
    over) and which events we have some control and the right to appeal
  • Ask your pupils why you are requesting what you are. Extract the maturity and
    moral understanding from them rather than trying to implant it.
  • Provide honest, reasonable and non-personal information to support this
    request. This can be easier for the young person to understand if you make
    the request about school conduct not just you as a teacher
  • Don’t forget long term behaviour change is not quick and is not easy. We all
    have to accept that some young people could be prevented from doing so

due to complex within child developmental issues and/or complex external
Next time: Cognitive Psychology – What you think is what you feel!