The frog is here to advise; how Eric the Oracle is helping children
Kate H-N is a nurse by background and has worked as a counsellor, life coach and hypnotherapist. She is the creator of Blockley Bank Tales
Life at Blockley Bank continues to tick along in the spirit of promoting positive mental health.
Here, Eric the Oracle, a wise old philosophical frog with a monocle, takes a long slurp of his magical dandelion fizzmix thinking potion before offering sound advice and mentorship to the community of woodland animals and river creatures who face some difficult emotional challenges. Against a backdrop of a lifetime career as a health care professional working with children and families, my six Relax ‘n Learn Teaching Tales are designed to raise and tackle some common issues that affect children’s happiness and which, if left unspoken about and not addressed, can lead to unnecessary unhappiness with mental health problems and behavioural disturbance, which typically attract unhelpful, stigmatising labelling. One way children can tackle some of their emotional difficulties can be to relax and learn some simple techniques very early on. A relaxed mind is an absorbent mind!
Each tale has its own relaxing introductory words that encourage readers or listeners to imagine following a safe, guided journey into a magical, riverside land called Blockley Bank where Eric the Oracle provides well researched wisdom through brief interventions, life coaching skills and psychological support, based on the principles of care, understanding, acceptance, mindfulness, forgiveness, responsibility and mutual respect. The six books, each on a different emotionally challenging topic, focus on how to tackle feeling different, negative thinking and anxiety, being too busy to do anything effectively, coping with loss and separation, dealing with bullies and managing an approach by a stranger.
Back in the real world, in recent years, talking about mental health is no longer taboo and not so much the Cinderella of the health service as it used to be. Even the Education Minister, Nicky Morgan, recently purported that we need to teach children resilience in schools. Of course, the concept is right, but the reality is that resilience is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ subject to be taught. Resilience is a kaleidoscope of skills that create the capacity to recover from physical, mental, emotional and/ or social difficulties. Positive mental health is when you’re able to learn properly, express emotions, form and maintain good relationships and cope with life’s challenges to ‘bounce back’ and move on.
Mixing the fantasy of Blockley Bank and all its characters with today’s real life stress-ridden world is not such a bizarre concept and has its advantages. Sometimes fact and fantasy are inextricably linked. Learning some key facts and interventions that are embedded in fantasy can soon be translated into the real world. There is enormous safety in being able to relax away from reality to observe how challenging emotional issues that cause great distress can be successfully and simply tackled by someone else, in this case, the community of woodland animals and river creatures.
The techniques described by Eric the Oracle can easily be applied to real life to promote positive thinking and self-esteem that support developing resilience, confidence, mindfulness and happiness.The woodland animals and river creatures certainly have their trials and tribulations, but Eric the Oracle is always somewhere around the riverbank, ready to offer his worldly advice to whoever needs it though thoroughly researched knowledge, brief interventions, life coaching techniques and emotional support - all of which are based on the principles of care, understanding, acceptance, mindfulness, forgiveness, responsibility and mutual respect.
Eric's special skill
Eric the Oracle has become what we would describe in the health profession as an Executive Coach and/ or Mentor. His presence in Blockley Bank is such that he has become the recognised leader of the riverbank and nearby woodland. How can this be? Well, it’s because he has that magic ingredient of charisma that all great leaders possess and which can’t be taught. It’s one small ingredient that can have a huge and individual impact. Eric the Oracle is non-judgmental; he’s inclusive, kind and considerate. He’s generous in spirit, yet assertive and calm and has the ability tocommunicate highly effectively and forge robust relationships. His life’s experience of survival has provided him with the ability to adapt to the things he can’t change (for example, theregular riverside disturbance from the two-legged beings who can’t live without staring into their little talking, flashing boxes), and also the strength to change what he can (for example, taking a different view of negative weather conditions so he can use the time more effectively to meet with all his family until the rain passes). He learned that he is master of his own destiny and that, not only do you get back tenfold what you put out in the world in terms of beliefs, thoughts and behaviours, but whatever you think you can or can’t do, you’re absolutely right. He advocates that if you want to change your life, then change your thinking. Simples!
Access to support and mentorship is essential for healthy living and positive mental health. Does this ring true in your world at work? Regular supervision and mentoring processes demonstrate a signature of good leadership - that is, providing the relationships are effective and productive and not simply ticking the supervision box. But remember, mentoring and supervision are different. It’s not rocket science, nor do you need Eric the Oracle’s magical thinking potion to know that to value the personal and professional contribution staff make to their organisations, in whichever field or specialty they’re working in, will enhance their commitment to their service and colleagues, as well as improve their quality of work and happiness to be there. That extra personal touch to value the individual comes from a positive mentoring relationship which helps develop the skills that underpin creating self-esteem and confidence. This in turn can impact positively on improving communication skills, managing change and sharing feedback and, above all, on managing all types of relationships. So have a think about who you aspire to be like or who do you simply admire and why? Be bold and make contact with them and ask if they’ll be your mentor – who dares wins in this life!
If you would like to know more about Eric the Oracle’s six Relax ‘n Learn Teaching Tales for children at Key Stage 1&2, please have a wander down to the riverbank at http://www.blockleybankbooks.com
One way children can tackle some of their emotional difficulties can be to relax and learn some simple techniques very early on.