Some of our pupils may have developed a light fingered approach to meeting their needs. Stealing can often be a sign of a very unhappy home-life. It is possible that the child has not absorbed enough positive comments and experiences in the Early Years. They may see themselves as unloved, unworthy and generally lack confidence. Their self-esteem will be quite low and they may find it difficult to make positive choices. Sometimes the child will seek positive rewards in negative ways.
The first time a child steals, their body is gratified with feel good chemicals. Dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain) is released, which increases the feeling of pleasure. Sometimes children have natural issues with low serotonin ( The neurotransmitter responsible for mood and emotion regulation) and may seek to raise this through their actions.
Those feel good chemicals, can be achieved in various other more positive ways. Therefore, as a way forward rather than shaming the child, is better to try to channel their behaviour by offering alternatives and praising them for making those choices. Simple hugs can release Oxytocin in the brain, which has a natural calming/relaxing feeling. Serotonin is also produced. A hug also deepens relationships offering a sense of safety that might be lacking in the child’s life.
For example, in our unit we have introduced ‘Huggy time’. When the hug symbol is up on the wall, pupils can ask each other or staff for a hug. We have observed the positive effects on anxiety levels across the whole Nurture group since its introduction.
It is really important to address this issue in Education and not assume Parents will deal with the issue at home. It is also important to avoid public shaming of the child – they already feel bad- that is why they do it. Left unsupported, a child who steals can develop kleptomania, which has implications on other Mental Health issues. There is also the possibility of getting into trouble with the authorities.
You may be thinking of setting up a Nurture Class in your setting. My advice would be, think carefully before booking expensive training that looks good on paper but leaves you lacking when it comes to classroom practice. It is not necessary to have an accreditation in Nurture to be a Nurture Practitioner but you will need to understand attachment theory. You will need to plan a Nurture curriculum and assess the impact of your intervention. You will need to assess pupil progress and set individual targets.
Coming from an education as opposed to business background, I have developed my training with School budgets in mind. I have also considered the fact that teaching practitioners have little time for completing assignments and do not need extra paperwork just to please an outside body. As I continue to teach in a Nurture Unit two days a week, I can support practitioners in an insightful way. I can offer intuitive and relevant, up to date knowledge that only comes from being hands on.
If you wish to find out more please feel free to contact me.
How many of our pupils get to visit the beach? Visiting the beach can be very therapeutic. At the beach, there is a plethora of sensory feedback. The regular rhythm of sea waves is very soothing. The salty, sea air is very good for the sinus system. Ocean air has other health benefits too. The negative ions in sea air accelerate your ability to absorb oxygen, and balance your seratonin levels, a body chemical linked with mood and stress.
Some studies suggest ( see link below) that people who live next to the beach experience better health and Well being. Coastal proximity, health and well-being: Results from a longitudinal panel survey suggests that ‘self reported general and mental health was better’. We hear a lot about the connection between Mental Health and Physical Health. So back in the classroom should we be targeting Mental Health as a priority?
Pupils love sand-play and the vast expanse of the beach creates an immersive environment for them to escape their day to day challenges. It is important for children to be allowed to explore their play schemas e.g. envelopment – most children (without sensory issues) will enjoy burying items/people/themselves in the sand. Their knowledge and understanding of the world is enhanced by the exploration of dry vs wet sand. What better way to encourage communication skills than to set them the task of constructing a sand castle?
For older pupils it is important to teach the connection between the sea, its inhabitants and the carbon cycle. Scientists have discovered that the sea plays a major role in absorbing and distributing heat and CO2. Allow exploration of rock pools. If pupils connect with sea creatures they are more likely to want to Nurture them. Nurturing other creatures can be a therapy in itself.
Put a visit to the beach on the curriculum. Remember there are some pupils who have never even been to a beach.
For further reading on the survey please see link below