As a boys’ educator, I am very proud of what we are doing in introducing self-monitoring as a wellbeing theme.
We all benefit from taking charge of our wellbeing, but focusing on wellbeing and realizing that topics like mindfulness and self-care need to be a priority can be a difficult challenge when teaching young men.
This isn’t because boys are any less capable of being attuned to their feelings – nor even less interested. It is largely because admitting that you need to monitor yourself and look out for your being hints at that one thing that society positions boys to avoid – admitting vulnerability.
As an educator, I make myself very aware of the social pressures on young people, and while there are also a number of ones specific to women – based around appearance, consumerism and sexualization, men they still struggle with the idea that society expects them to be tough, in control and without weakness, lest they be branded a “sissy”.
This makes encouraging men to seek help a challenge.
By focusing on self-monitoring, we begin to show young men and women alike that being conscious of yourself, and taking charge of your wellbeing is actually something that strong people do.
Anytime we take responsibility for ourselves, we move a step closer to maturation.
For young men, they will be better able to emotionally regulate if they become more conscious of their emotional states and their emotional triggers. Many of the activities across the term help them to become more aware of this.
After being introduced to the idea, students were introduced to the concept of stressors – things that are likely to decrease their mood and have a negative impact on their wellbeing. These can be common (after all, who isn’t stressed out by exams and friendship issues?) or they can be intensely personal. While some students love school holidays, for others time without the positive reinforcement of school and ready access to friends can be a real challenge. It may be the same for some teachers as well.
But we also have de-stressors or “boosters” things that immediately lift our wellbeing. For boys and girls alike this involves activities like being physically active, playing a game, completing a puzzle, sitting quietly reading or being mindful, playing with pets, getting out into nature and so much more. Again these may be intensely personal. Attuning young people to these helps them to “predict” what might be a tough time, and to feel they have strategies to meet it.
We are also supported in this through our partnership with Skodel – and soon both Senior Boys and Girls will be able to look at their long-term wellbeing check-in data and see if there is anything to be learned from the patterns there too.
All of this takes courage – examining yourself in any way, shape or form takes courage. And courage is one of our school values – the strength in your convictions to know the right thing to do at any given moment. Instead of a vulnerability or weakness, self-care should be seen as a challenge and in fact, a responsibility.
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