Bickleigh Down CofE Primary School

‘Spurring each other on with love’

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Promoting positive mental health

At Bickleigh Down Church of England Primary School, we believe in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to ensure that the school is a community where everyone is able to thrive.  Our school's vision of spurring each other on with love and our values of love, hope, aspiration, forgiveness and spirit underpin everything we do. 


What is mental health?

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a state of wellbeing in which everyone is able to fulfil their potential, manage everyday stressors, work professionally and fruitfully, and contribute to their community. 

Our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing are all parts of mental health.  it influences the way we think, feel and behave. 

Both physical and emotional wellbeing are crucial for overall health.  Similar to physical health, mental health can be on a continuum from good to bad; it can change every day and over time.


Regulating emotions and dealing with anger:

Why is anger sometimes felt?

Anger is sometimes referred to as a 'secondary emotion' or a 'masking emotion'. That's because, as well as being a valid emotion in its own right, we can also feel anger as a response to other, more vulnerable feelings such as shame, loneliness, sadness, nervousness and embarrassment. Teaching children to identify the feeling beneath the anger is an important part of teaching self-regulation.   

The importance of co-regulation:

Children who find self-regulation difficult, look to the adults in their lives to help them regulate strong emotions.  The adult can do this by consistently modelling the desired tone and behaviour, and narrating what's happening and needs to happen.  This explicitly shows them how to react and respond appropriately.  The adult remains calm but engaged, continues to communicate with warmth, and ensures that predictable and consistent boundaries and consequences are in place so that children learn to recognise the cues.

Feeling the feeling:

Anger can be unpleasant to feel - it can often seem easier to act on it, even though in the longer term this could make things worse.  Learning how to tolerate an uncomfortable emotion takes practise.  Encourage the child to take deep breaths and focus on the areas where they feel the anger.  This takes their attention to what they're feeling instead of why they're feeling it. Encourage them to continue breathing deeply, noticing what they feel without judging the feelings or trying to make them go away. After a while, if they notice any other feelings with the anger, ask if they can put names to the other feelings that are there. 

Activities to support emotional regulation:

Once children are able to identify the physical cues that tell them they're becoming angry, support them in identifying 'go-to' activities that help them to feel calmer before it becomes a problem for them.  Quite often this is physical activity - anything that gets the heart rate going! Favourite activities can also help, such as drawing, painting or even a computer game for a small amount of time.  Having a 'squeeze ball', a scribble pad or an activity that occupies without raising stress levels, such as a word search, are ideas that have been used successfully. 

Developing Resilience

Resilience isn't something children are born with, it is something they have to learn to develop. Children need to be given the tools to build it. If a child isn't given the tools in the early years, this doesn't mean they can't learn the skills later.  

Try these tools to help your child develop their resilience.  Children will need to see this modelled and they will need you to do the questioning to start with.  Eventually, they will learn to internalise your voice.

Relationships first:

Human beings are hard wired for connections.  Close relationships can counter the effects of stress (which over time can lower levels of resilience). Sharing problems can help to put things into perspective for us and allow unhelpful thinking patterns to be challenged.  It's important to see the strength in asking for help - being brave and resilient does not mean facing things alone.  

Collect tools:

Create a collect of useful questions to ask yourself or things to do when something feels difficult or you feel 'stuck'. For example: What would someone you respect do? What's worked before? How can I break the problem into smaller pieces? What are three simple things I could do to help myself right now? List as many ideas as you can in two minutes - let your brain free-flow creatively and see what comes out. 

Give credit:

We often dwell on what we've not done rather than what we have.  At the end of each day, make a 'done' list. Acknowledge your strengths and give yourself credit for the effort you put into difficult things. By working to overcome problems to achieve something you found hard, you develop a feeling of mastery. This makes you less likely to be reactive to future stress and more likely to handle future challenges.


The importance of supporting children in developing a Growth Mindset

At Bickleigh Down Primary School, we believe that every child can succeed in all areas of their lives, and we think it's important to celebrate one another's accomplishments in order to inspire each other to have high expectations, take calculated chances, and push ourselves to learn new things.  This lays the groundwork for children to have a growth attitude and mindset. 


Growth vs Fixed Mindset:

A growth mindset is the conviction that you can learn new things and that your brain can develop. You can become smart; you are not born smart. The exact reverse is true of a fixed mindset.  It is the idea that you are incapable of learning new things. 


Why is a growth mindset important for children?

Problem-solving that results from fostering a growth mindset tends to increase children's motivation and self-confidence. They learn to accept failures and mistakes as a necessary part of learning, which helps children develop into lifelong learners. 


How can you support and nurture a growth mindset in a child:

1. Praise for effort, not just results. 

2. Embrace failure as a necessary part of the learning process. 

3. Avoid over-parenting and allow your child to make choices.

4. Encourage curiosity and a love for knowledge. 

5. Be a role model for your child and model the behaviour of a growth mindset.




September is traditionally a time of transitions for schools as teachers and children adjust to new classes, schools. friendship groups, curriculum and routines.

It is important to keep in mind that all periods of change in children’s lives can cause feelings of stress, anxiety and bring up emotions that they may need support identifying and navigating. If this happens, please follow these steps to offer support:

  1. Empower them: - share information of how they could get help and remain positive.

  2. Ask questions: - explore the what ifs and think of actions you could take for each one.

  3. Offer reassurance: - remind them of instances when you have felt a similar way. Share words to label the feelings and explain what you did to deal with tricky times.