With the half-term, October, and my son’s final day of being an eight year old all happening within a two day window, ‘endings’ are very much in the air today.
It’s an under-rated subject, because ‘bad endings’ are bad for us; the lack of closure, the unhealed wounds, or the feeling of unresolved or stuck can linger indefinitely.

But how often are we so very ready for ‘the end’ – of the day, week, or term etc.- that that’s all we focus on? 
Even though endings and beginning never exist in isolation, we tend to spend far more time anticipating and looking forward to ‘the end’ than readying and preparing ourselves for what happens next. 

So today’s post is about those often unthought-out beginnings that follows, and three (of potentially many!) questions about the difference we can make to our children and young people when we give ‘beginnings’ our full attention… 

QUESTION ONE; Are we using the opportunities in beginnings?
I’m cheating a bit here, because these ideas are from two of 30 cards in my latest resource which shares simple insights all practitioners, and often parents too, can not only know, but easily put into action (see post image!).
The text in the white box are for the grown-ups;

“Beginnings are often fraught with managing chaos, achieving order, getting started on time etc., but they deserve so much more of our attention! The tone and expectations for our time together are set by how it starts. How are children welcomed when they arrive? How do you all say hello to each other?
Begin as you want to continue. It resonates through the whole day!”

But in the green box, there are discussion prompts and activities to ensure children can experience and develop the skills to practice good beginnings (and endings) too;

“Welcome each other, well. Can you use a hello ritual? Do you need to check in?
What do you all hope or wish for from your time together? Make a plan…”

(You can now order batch order my cards, tailoring the content and design to reflect your organisation’s purpose, values and branding. More info on my resources page here.)

QUESTION TWO; Are you ready to support children when a new beginning is painful?
I’ll be exploring this in a keynote at Supporting Mental Health Through Bereavement and Loss (22nd Nov), a conference led by Children’s Bereavement Centre, which I’ve partnered with for many years.

Because how do you talk to children about death?

It can be deeply uncomfortable; we may fear hurting more than helping by saying the wrong thing, so we say nothing or very little at all. 
Or our own painful bereavement may be very close to the surface.
Or we may think that encouraging the child to ‘move on’ is the most helpful thing…

But grieving children may need the very things we find challenging; to talk openly about their loss, and often fear, or for their grown-ups not to try taking their big feelings away, or solve the problem.
And maybe they really don’t need any positivity, as well intended as it always is.

It may be that you’re not the best person to sit with a child in their sadness and loss right now, but help them find someone else who can.

Conference details are  here. If you can’t make it, “Supporting Bereaved Children” will be the first course going on my e-learning platform. Sign up to my email list to get confirmation when the course is live.

QUESTION THREE; Are we seeing the bigger picture? 
Part of the ‘good beginning’ is in making peace with the ending that precedes, in saying goodbye well, but it’s not always straightforward.
For example, as a professional and/or parent, many of us have first hand experience of a child with separation anxiety.
For the child, their distress can be terrifying, but it’s often missed or minimised because it gets filtered through the adult’s perspective, who knows what the child’s nervous system doesn’t; that there’s ‘nothing to worry about’.

But there is the bigger picture for us to think about… 
All beginnings and endings are about some kind of transition, so when we practice them well – with time and intention – we help young people build a positive relationship with their capacity to manage change.

We strengthen their belief that they’re capable of navigating the slings and arrows of life; uncomfortable, unexpected and uncertain as they often are.
So how can we help children build a resilient self-image?

Recognise a ‘good beginnings’ on the horizon
It may involve a wait, but having ‘something to look towards’ has proven benefits on mental health. 

2) End the day with affirmative thoughts
What’s on our mind as we fall asleep is almost always what we wake up with, so this is about setting the tone for their day before children even open their eyes.

3) Acknowledge, accept and practice the ‘goodbye’ openly 
It might bring some discomfort, it might need courage, but we can still help children feel safe and connected as they process ‘goodbye’, and whatever ‘hello’ that brings… 

Three of the eight designs within Pip & Acorn’s Little Notes are specifically created to help children to reset, recover and restore their resilience through beginnings and endings.
It’s a beautiful but super-simple resource that makes easy work of self-esteem, building resilience and all-round emotional wellbeing; quick and easy, but meaningful. Click below button for more info!

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