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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Monday, 30 April 2012

When 9yr old kids realise (perhaps for the first time) that they're NOT crazy

Ever wondered, "What if?"

Have you ever sat in an assembly( or an office)... perfectly still... calm... kinda-half listening... not bothering anyone when you've suddenly wondered to yourself, "I wonder what would be like if I just stood up and swore out loud right now?"  or  "I wonder what would happen if I ran down the front and punched the Principal right in the nose?"

Don't get me wrong - I think my current Principal is a top-notch fella.

These thoughts are sometimes described as unwanted, invasive, distressing (even abhorrent) thoughts.  They are TOTALLY natural and NOTHING to be afraid of - yet they are at the roots of many OCD and anxiety cases.   I remember being a little freaked out by them as a kid.

The other day, we had an amazing school assembly.  The Principal (again... great guy) was speaking in front of 2000 people.  The stage was set for a huge moment in school history...

I wonder if you'll get the reference...

NOOOO.... I didn't tackle the boss and slap on a nasty kimora arm lock.  I didn't even swear really loud.  I did, however, think at one point, "What might happen if I tackled the boss right now?"   I was never gonna act on the thought, but I was pretty amazed by how my brain processed it for a few seconds first, before turning that thought into a puff of smoke.  These thoughts are - I must stress- very, very rare.  BUT THEY DO happen - TO EVERYONE.

Feeling like singing crazy frog IS actually a sign of insanity.
Got me wondering, how many kids have occasional unwanted, distressing, abhorrent thoughts and just think that they're CRAZY?  I wondered a more important wonder.

 Why not just ask the kids?

I thought long and hard about it and then decided to put it out there to the class.  I knew that they'd be cool about it.  I somehow knew that they were going to be able to handle such a conversation.

"So... you're safe here, in a judgement free zone... I'm wondering if any of you have ever experienced something like this..."

Every. Hand. Went. Up.

 When 9yr old kids realise (perhaps for the first time) that they are NOT crazy.


I'd never use the word, "crazy" with my kids.  I simply pointed out that they were not ALONE.  I also pointed out that there is something positive about these unwanted thoughts invading our minds and that is the fact that we have the impulse-control to simply discard the thoughts.   We discussed when it would be appropriate to seek help if we felt that the thoughts invaded too often or if they were too 'scary'.  We talked about the fact that asking for help (in all areas of our lives) is a sign of great strength.

Several girls looked physically relieved.

This is a strange post.  It tells the story of a year 4 class tackling the fringes of one of the most critical mental-health issues - that perhaps we shouldn't be tackling at all.  The ball kinda just got rolling - and these are exceptional kids.  The ball has to get rolling on mental health - perhaps even this early.  I wonder how many kids really did think they were 'just-a-little-bit-actually-crazy' before this 5 minute conversation? 

I am here to learn how to help kids in any way I can.  I will certainly be asking experts and doing some more reading to see what can be done to build self-confidence, impulse control and resilience in my students.


Bon Crowder said...

Mine aren't rare. They happen at least once a week, sometimes more. Sometimes they are as innocent as doing the chicken walk, sometimes much more horrid.

I take great pleasure in knowing that I COULD do something, but am not doing it.

The worse the could-do is, the more pleasure the I'm-not-doing is.

Thanks for letting me say this out loud.

Richard Black said...

Awesome to read your comment. Thank YOU.

I spoke at length with our school counsellor the day after I posted this. She said very much the same as you have said here. We can take great power from recognising that everyone has intrusive thoughts and that not acting on them shows your strength.

Thanks again for sharing here.