Exclusion, isolation or fears of being left out can create anxiety for any child, so we have built our Buddy Bench Aware Program around teaching self-awareness, friendship, empathy and self-expression, using the Buddy Bench as a visual tool.
The children explore the clues other children give away on the outside about how they feel on the inside. We appoint all the children in the class the job of “noticing” and responding with kindness.
During our interactive workshop we teach children to recognise and respond to their own feelings – different emotions feel different on the inside, physically
If you can identify your feelings and are aware of them you can make choices of how to appropriately respond to them.
Children can feel how positive qualities such as kindness and compassion feel in their bodies. We explore what exclusion FEELS like in our bodies – lonely, scared, unworthy, sad. And then we talk about how inclusion makes us feel accepted, warm, safe, valued. We teach kids to notice how others are feeling on the inside by the clues they give on the outside.
This Buddy Bench Aware program highlights the importance of friendship in our lives, friendships give meaning to our lives and make us feel like we belong. Feeling like we belong improves our children’s mental health. Friends are central to our happiness and well being and we all need kindness to grow
In this Buddy Bench Aware children’s mental health program, children enjoy the interaction with furry woodland creatures also.
Kin the thoughtful fox.
Alfe the very emotional and caring squirrel.
Red the robin who just loves his nest.
Neeke the monkey who is very different and so very very proud of the fact.
Each child receives a copy of this beautifully illustrated interactive workbook featuring teaching story and creative activities that give opportunities for developing a vocabulary around feelings, and a positive attitude about asking for help.You as a parent can read along and join in the questions too!
The feedback from our programs is very promising – we are currently completing an evaluation with the Centre for mental Health and Community Research, NUI Maynooth. According to teachers’ ratings, children show more empathy and kindness and a greater ability to calm themselves down when they feel upset. Their social and emotional development has improved, the children showed improvement in the ability to think flexibly, and had cultivated the life skills that have been linked to health and success in later life.
You may download a copy of the preliminary evaluation HERE