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Going back to school is a challenge after the long, summer break but after a period of readjustment that includes catching up with friends, getting to know the teacher and peer group, things usually settle back into the term-time routines.
Starting kindy and starting high school are two of the most stressful ‘Term 1s’ for kids and their parents, and no doubt, teachers, too.
Research by Forge Wellbeing as part of the Weet-Bix Feed the Belief Report – which polled more than 27,000 students – found that one in five suffer from negative self-esteem when they start high school and by year 12 only 50% of them rate for ‘positive emotions’.
Compare this to delightful, spirited optimism of kindy kids – of which 91% rate positively – and there’s a clear decline self-esteem, self-belief, competence and positive emotions through our kids’ school careers.
Founder of Forge Wellbeing and dad of two, Dave Gower says that it’s hoped the report will “help parents and caregivers understand the factors that impact their child’s ability to believe in themselves”.
The Weet-Bix Feed the Belief Report reveals that four in five (84%) of kids at Kindergarten have an overall positive level of optimism compared to less than two thirds (60%) of those Year 12. One in 10 high school students say they don’t feel positive at all.
Mum of three and senior leader at the Sanitarium Health Food Company, Jessica Manihera says that young children have “limitless belief” which she describes as “incredible superpower that fuels optimism, creativity, curiosity and courage”.
This naturally changes throughout childhood as kids become more aware of the world around them.
Dr Justin Coulson, parenting expert and dad of six, acknowledges that the world can be unkind to kids, and says that even before the rise of COVID, “today’s youth face significant challenges to their self-belief”. He cites pop culture and social media as major influences, on top of societal and global issues (climate change being a major one), on top of academic demands and the usual hormonal, developmental demands of the teenage years.
So, what can parents and caregivers do to better support children and help bolster their self-belief and confidence during some of the trickiest years in their lives?
Dr Coulson shares his expert tips.
One in 10 high school students say they don’t feel positive at all.
Dr Justin Coulson shares his top tips for parents and caregivers to help children believe in themselves and become the best they can be.
Pop culture and social media as major influences.
On a positive note, the Weet-Bix Feed the Belief Report showed that the majority (91%) of primary school students and two in five (80%) of secondary students feel positive or very positive about their relationships, including friends, family and other people in their lives.
Incorporating some of these ideas may help support positive high school kids.
The Weet-Bix Feed the Belief Report marks the start of Weet-Bix initiatives that will be rolled out throughout the year in a bid to support children’s wellbeing.