‘Emotional Athletes’: Emotional Intelligence & Resilience in the Classroom

‘Emotional Athletes’ is the latest wellbeing-based Learning Experience, geared towards developing emotional intelligence and practical strategies for resilience in students.

Of course, I’m completely biased, because these days are like babies to me – but it’s an awesome day.

Information and activities throughout the day are routed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness, child-friendly Neuroscience, Growth Mindset and Positive Psychology. There’s even a bit of Yoga thrown in!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

We begin the day by considering what it means to be ’emotionally athletic’, considering how and why it might be useful to understand where our thoughts and feelings come from. Using Dr. Dan Seigel’s child-friendly ‘Hand Model’ of the brain, we learn about how different parts of the brain work together, as well as what happens scientifically when we ‘flip our lid’ and become overwhelmed with emotion.

Morning activities involve engaging clips, quizzes, speaking and listening tasks and role play. There’s a small amount of writing as children are asked to think back to their own positive and negative feelings, considering how these emotions presented themselves in their bodies and thoughts.

As a class, we look at the 5 Part Model (CBT) of thoughts, feelings, behaviour and reactions, in any given situation, as well as considering the things in life that we can and cannot control.

Children are taught to take control of what they can in emotional situations; their breath, relationship with their thoughts and their attention overall. Mindfulness-based activities and meditations, sprinkled through the day, give them a chance to put this into practice.

In the afternoon, we focus on building our emotional resilience. Children move from table to table, trying out a variety of tasks in groups, aimed at either maintaining daily happiness or bouncing back from negative thoughts or emotions.

At the end of this action-packed day, children create their own origami fortune tellers, labelled with their favourite techniques from the day. This becomes a self-supporting tool that they can use independently the next time negative thoughts and emotions creep in.

Like I said, it’s an awesome day!


Jo Steer is an experienced teacher in primary, secondary, SEND and life skills-based education. She is also trained in Mindfulness and Yoga for children, and CBT (APT level 2).

If you’d like her to deliver this particular package or something similar in your school, call 07719330358 or email jo@skillswithfrills.com to discuss ways forward.

5 Awesome Resources to support Children’s Mental Health

Recently, a few people have asked me about different resources that might help their students or children with anxiety and mental health. In past blogs, I’ve shared links to some brilliant free NHS resource packs for children, relating to a whole host of mental health problems. Click here if you want to go back to this.

If you’re willing to splash a little cash however, there are some really creative, beautifully-made and effective resources to use with your students or children.

This post contains no affiliate links – just good old fashioned sharing of what I’ve had success with; so that others might enjoy the same with their classes/groups/children.

These resources aren’t a substitute for medical help where it’s needed – where there are genuine concerns about your child’s mental health then please consult a health care professional. Sadly, I know that there are a lot of deeply concerned and frustrated parents (and children), whose child has been on a waiting list  for the last year and a half to speak to such a professional. When you’re forced to wait, but desperate to support your child in the meantime, these resources will provide much-needed guidance and support. Similarly, educators who build resources like these into their teaching, will certainly support students’ already suffering with mental health problems, and hopefully arm all students with a little more emotional resilience, needed for a healthy response when they inevitably hit one of life’s ‘bumps in the road.’

Here are 5 Awesome resources that won’t break the bank:

  1. Andrea’s Harms’ The Mood CardsPresently, these are under £12.00 on Amazon.co.uk and they’re worth every penny. As well as being appealing to the eye, these cards offer a mix of CBT, Mindfulness and Positive Psychology. The idea is children are invited to choose a card which relates to how they feel at the time (or they can choose at random but I’ve not found this nearly as effective.) They then turn the card over and answer questions relating to their mood overleaf, or read out a positive affirmation, or both. This stays on just the right level of cheesy and it allows for child-led emotional intervention. Effectively, they’re coaching themselves. Side-note: The cards work for adults too! I’ve successfully coached myself out of frustration or anxiety a few times, using these fabulous cards.
  2. Lily Murray and Katie Abey’s, No Worries! activity book: Labelled as an interactive self-care work-book for children aged 7+, this lovely resource allows children to colour and doodle their way to happiness. There’s a real mix of activities, encouraging children to focus on feelings like gratitude and awareness of the moment, whilst also reflecting on their own emotions and feelings. Plus, there’s actually some factual information and practical activities thrown in. The best bit? Though directed at supporting children with anxiety, it’s still just a fun activity book, which should reduce resistance from children where there is any. Did I mention that it’s currently under £7 on Amazon? I loved this book so much, I couldn’t resist the sequel, Hello Happy! no worries hello happy.jpg
  3. Enchanted Meditations for kids CD by Christiane Kerr: This audio CD is a big hit, particularly with younger children. Yoga teacher and owner of a soft, soothing voice, Christiane Kerr, takes children on a guided mediation journey. Travel with your class on an underwater dolphin ride; chase butterflies around a secret garden; fly away on a hot air balloon ride. Yes – this one is significantly more cheesy; hence why it’s more effective with children 11 and under. It’s a brilliant tool for parents wanting to support their children in relaxing/falling asleep or teachers wanting to introduce formal relaxation. Currently, this audio CD in under £9 and seriously, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. When I’ve used this consistently with classes, I’ve found children to be calmer and more relaxed (even after lunch!), and quicker to concentrate. It doesn’t hurt too, that they soon look forward to this as ‘down time’ for their minds.enchanted meditations.jpg
  4. Mindful Kids’ 50 Activity-card set by Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun: There are some incredible Mindfulness-related products currently on the market, and this card-set is one of the best. It’s beautifully designed, currently available for less than £8, and is a super effective tool for teaching mindfulness and emotional resilience to children. The cards are divided into 5 categories, which I’ll summarise here to be confidence building; handling challenging emotions; sharpening awareness muscles; acceptance of yourself/the world; rest and relaxation. Activities are accessible and enjoyable for all, most solely relying on imagination. A few activities require two or more people and a few resources, but they’ll still fairly easy to put into action. For any parent or primary teacher wanting to establish a regular mindfulness routine with their students (with a few yoga poses thrown in) these card sets provide creative and varied opportunities to do so.
  5. Starving the Anxiety Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly: When I look through these books, I can’t help but wonder how different my life might be today, had I worked through these as a child or angst-ridden teen. There’s a book for children aged 5-9, currently under £12, or for a similar price, one for children aged 10+ which would probably would with children up to 13/14. Effectively, this book takes children through the stepping stones of a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) course. The book is packed full of really useful linformation about anxiety and its effects on the body and mind, along with really useful and structured activities aimed at ‘starving the anxiety gremlin.’ For parents or adults in school, working with anxious children, this book is a must!anxiety gremlin.jpg

If you do have any success with the resources above, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have I missed something unbelievably good? Tell me in the comments below!