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Yes you probably are, and for good reason! With the effects of the pandemic still ringing in our ears, teachers, carers and parents have a big job on their hands. Not only do we have a responsibility to support children through the chaos, but we’re also witnessing poor mental health in our friends, family and colleagues. Anxiety levels have increased, attendance has dropped, workload has intensified, the pressures have become insurmountable.

Anxiety breeds anxiety; If we’re running around like headless chickens, worrying or ruminating, it’s likely that the children we’re supporting will also feel uneasy. As the old phrase goes ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’; when it comes to supporting anxious children, we ourselves need to feel well.

If we feel calm, our children will feel calm, it’s not rocket science! Yet sometimes this piece of the puzzle is overlooked. Maybe you work in a school and have been tasked with supporting a nurture group, you feel under-qualified, have no idea where to start and enter the space flustered and unsure. Maybe you bombard the children with activities, but are met with disengagement or resistance. Maybe you’re so concerned over a child’s well-being that you lay awake at night worrying about them.

Of course some children do require specialist support from counsellors, psychologists or social workers, but I believe that for children who are experiencing low levels of anxiety, play may be the answer.

That’s why I decided to develop a well-being program where play is at the foundation of the learning. The Superpower Boot Camp Well-being Program is a series of pre-recorded lessons that can be used directly with groups of primary aged children. Using interactive group games and playful exercises; Superpower Boot Camp introduces six natural inbuilt superpowers to the children. These are breath, noticing the senses, movement, kindness, laughter and gratitude.

The superpowers are explored and strengthened in the lessons, with challenges set in between classes to help solidify the learning. Below I have listed three activities which introduce some of the well-being techniques I cover on the program.

Balance game

This game explains the difference between our natural breath and our superpower breath. The aim is to get the children to play the game, then after a couple of rounds instigate a pause, where you all take three deep breaths into your belly. Encourage the children to lengthen their breath, focus on their feet and play the game again using their Breathing Superpower. They should find that they feel stronger and more grounded when instigating their Breathing Superpower in comparison to their natural breath.

Instructions

  • In pairs, stand facing your partner
  • Placing both your feet together and bringing your palms up to meet your partners palms in the gap between you
  • The aim of the game is to try and gently push your partner so they step off their perch
  • If you or your partner step off of your perch you have lost that round

Elbow link

This game harnesses the children’s Gratitude Superpower by focusing on the things that make them smile. I find that this activity unites a group as they each respond and connect to their experiences.

Instructions

  • Have one person stand up and share something that makes them smile, this could be “Going to the beach”
  • If this statement resonates with another child in the group, and they agree it makes them smile too, have them stand up and link elbows with that person
  • Then they share something else that makes them smile, for example “Playing tag with my friends”
  • Whoever agrees that this also makes them smile, links elbows with that child, until everyone in the group is standing with their elbows connected

Secret mission

Challenge the children to do a random act of kindness for someone without them noticing! This could be over the course of a few hours, a day or a whole week. Using their Kindness Superpower, the aim of this challenge is to secretly spread kindness to the people around them. They could give someone a gift, send an anonymous letter or even do a task like the washing up without getting caught.

Taking a playful spin on well-being doesn’t water down the learning. Yes supporting a child’s well-being should be taken seriously, but don’t forget the fun!

For more information checkout https://the-best-medicine.teachable.com/p/superpower-bootcamp-intermediate

About the author:

Katie Rose White is a Laughter Facilitator and founder of The Best Medicine. She works predominantly with carers, teachers and healthcare professionals - teaching playful strategies for boosting mood, strengthening resilience and improving well-being. She provides practical workshops, interactive talks and training days - fusing therapeutic laughter techniques, playful games and activities, and mindfulness-based practices. The techniques are not only designed to equip participants with tools for managing their stress, but can also be used and adapted to the needs of the people that they are supporting.

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