Simon Benn - The Children's Happiness Coach

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Half of Parents Fear for Children’s Happiness - Press Release 

Parents’ biggest fear for their children is their future happiness. That’s according a recent poll conducted by the UK’s first Children’s Happiness Coach, Simon Benn, to mark Children’s Mental Health Week (starts 05 Feb), which asked parents about their hopes, dreams and fears for their offspring.

Nearly half (46%) of parents worry often or all the time about their kids’ future happiness, with only 6% never thinking about it.

A close second was bullying with more than 1 in 3 parents concerned about this issue often or all the time.

In contrast, parents proved least anxious about their children’s school results and their attitude at school, with this rated bottom of the table.

Simon Benn, the Children’s Happiness Coach, said: “A whopping 71 % of parents would consider some external help with their child’s happiness. A result like this demonstrates just how far attitudes have changed. Helping children understand that happiness, likes all feelings, comes from our thoughts empowers them to be happy. The earlier they can learn these skills the better.”

The Children’s Happiness coach has developed a toolkit to help kids be happier, more confident and resilient to bullying. Using a mindset metaphor called The Juicer - the fantastic feeling machine - he gets 7 -11 year old children to play games and take part in activities that boost their mental health and emotional well-being.

Benn added: “In a nutshell children learn how to put happy apples, confident coconuts and resilient raspberries into the Juicer – their brains – to make happy, confident and resilient juicy feelings! They also learn how to put smiley strawberries into their Juicer so they can stop feeling sad. Every Juicer has a lid, which kids ‘put on’ to stop bullies throwing in rotten raspberries, so other children can’t upset them.”

“Explaining this isn’t enough! It’s like learning to ride a bike – you have to experience it yourself!”

Over a thousand children have already benefited from the Happiness Coach’s games and activities. They’re happy and confident an extra two hours a day, while 95% say they can now change how they feel more easily. Parents can download a free Juicer comic for their child at www.simonbenn.co.uk

One parent epitomised the feeling of the many when she said: “My dream is that my child grows up with the confidence of someone who is happy unconditionally and knows her own priceless value enough not to seek approval from external sources that cause the feeling of insecurity.”

- Ends –

Notes to editors

- Survey results available on request

- Free comic download available at www.simonbenn.co.uk

- Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, Global authority on Children’s Wellbeing from the University of York describes The Children’s Happiness Coach as simply: “Remarkable”

Contact: Michelle@peekaboocoms.co.uk on 07794 481 671 or 01274 583 043

How can you make your children happy? 

I couldn't start making children happy until I learned where happiness comes from myself. And I spent a long time looking in all the wrong places - houses, business, cars, holidays... It wasn't until 10 years ago, whilst basking on a sunny balcony in the Alps that I started questioning where I'd been looking. It was the first day of a skiing holiday I'd promised myself if I could hit my target.

I hit my target and I was happy. So I booked the trip and had a fabulous first day - superb sunshine, great snow, fantastic company, no falls...unusual for me ;-) But I wasn't happy - I was still worried. So I changed where I was looking for happiness and spent a lot of time and money on courses, books, CDs, DVDs etc,

It wasn't until 5 years later that I finally found out where happiness and, in fact, all feelings come from. Feelings come from thoughts. That piece of information might seem wrong, ludicrous, mildly interesting or obvious.

Most adults question it - I know I did, for ages.I fought it until I saw it for myself. 

You don't learn from information, you learn from inspiration. That's what we all do. But we're conditioned to believe that happiness comes from outside us.  We're bombarded by messages from advertisers screaming at us - buy this product, it will make you feel happy! The first thing I ask children - where do feelings come from? The kids point at their heads or their hearts. I agree -  feelings come from our hearts but they start in our heads. Then I ask them if they would me to prove it.They always say yes. So I say... think about the best day of their life. They recall the day and share what it felt like They feel good and they're happy. They don't question the fact that feelings come from thoughts. They accept it because they experience it in that moment...the happy memories comes flooding back to them in all their glory.

Is it worth trying this thought little experiment with your children? Realising where happiness comes from is the first step to being happy.

3 reasons to be hopeful about your children's happiness 

I'm doing a lot of research into parents' hopes, dreams and fears for their children at the moment. Unsurprisingly, nothing matters to parents than their children' happiness. And a lot of you are extremely worried about your children's happiness.That's probably fuelled by all the headlines about a meltdown in children's mental health because only bad news is news.

I wanted to do my bit to counter that, so here are 3 reasons to be hopeful about your children's happiness.

  • Babies don't need therapy, they're perfect and they remain perfect. Like a flawless and dazzling diamond. They grow and pick up manure from the world around them. That manure can be scraped away. They're never beyond hope. The diamond is forever.
  • Your child was born resilient, born to bounce back. Like a rubber ball. We all learn to walk by falling over and getting back up. So much for the physical world, in the emotional world, children get over upset way quicker than us adults.
  • Children's view of the world is far more fluid and less fixed than ours. Like playdough - not cement.They find it far easier to change their minds. And by reading this post, you're looking in the right direction to help them do that.

Carrot, stick or helium - what's the best way to motivate your children? 

I'm a children's happiness coach not a parenting expert so I'll simply share my opinion. Every child is different and every situation is different so the best way to motivate depends. We all learn by trial and error. And that's ok because as one author once put it you don't learn to read a bike by going to a seminar. We are conditioned to think there's one best solution to every challenge, but of course there isn't. So life's a learning curve not a multiple choice question.Here are your options:

Stick - whether physical or a threat - not my first choice. Isolation/the naughty step aren't great because the child's mood drops and that's not a great place to learn from. We learn more when we're happy.

Carrot - the idea for this blog post came from a discussion with a mum about carrots. She was telling me about her plan to reward her son for his results. Uh oh. Psychologists recommend rewarding effort rather than achievement. This makes sense to me because children quickly cotton on fast and may not stick at tasks where there's no reward. This reduces their effort where you really want it i.e. their weaknesses.

Helium - a mentor of mine once said that encouragement does for children what helium does for balloons. It's my favourite! A memory pops into my head about the opposite for encouragement i.e. criticism. One of the first major things I learned at work was not criticise those that worked for me in front of others. It embarrasses them, that sends their mood down  - like the child on a naughty step - and that's not where we learn best from. Without learning there's no change in behaviour and without there's no change in outcome. Criticism doesn't work - in my opinion. 

Hope that helps.

The easiest, simplest single way you can help your children's education 

Many of the schools I visit encourage a Growth Mindset. It's a simple yet effective tool from a leading educational psychologist called Carol Dweck. Here'a confession - I like simple because I am simple. I listened to the audio version of Carol's book, it took me weeks, it's a LONG book about the idea that we will learn more if we think we can learn more.

Here's Growth Mindset in 6 sentences:

Fixed mindset people don't believe they can learn new things. Growth mindset people believe they can. So how can you help your child to learn? You discuss fixed and growth mindsets with him or her.Then the next time they say they CAN'T do something, you just say one word YET. Then you ask them what other skills they've learned and ask them if there was a time when they couldn't do that to open up a discussion.

And here's another confession - I've got a fixed mindset about DIY that drives my wife nuts. Michael Brown finished my stool in woodwork when I was 11 - just because I was struggling. I've still not got over that and I was 51 three weeks ago.

So watch out for your own fixed mindset too!

We're all winging it...The weird parallels between growing a business and a family. 

I'm really enjoying NatWest's Entrepreneurial Spark programme for my social enterprise to inspire children. The programme has really inspired me to get under the skin of parents and their needs - I'm used to working in schools but to help more families I need to reach them at home.

What I'm finding on the course is weird parallels between growing a business and a family. Everybody's looking for better ways to do it. Because babies and businesses don't come with instruction manuals. Everybody thinks others are doing it better. And worried they could be doing it better. No-one's sure about what they're doing. Many are worried about being found out for that. Many parents don't want to parent like their parents. All entrepreneurs don't want to boss like their old bosses.

Coming from love, passion and the heart trumps rule books, instruction manuals and systems every time - but we're all a little slow to cotton on to that. ME TOO! Experimentation is the norm. But that runs counter to how we were educated -- that's there's one answer. That freaks newbies out, but old hands think we're a bit mental for not seeing that. Everybody's doing their best. AND THAT'S ALL WE CAN DO! 

Megan learns to be nice to others

Megan's mum was in a bad mood that morning and that bad mood rubbed off on Megan. Her day got worse and worse. When she arrived at school, she took out her bad mood on her best friend. She started picking on him and he got upset too.Then in the middle of their fight, she remembered something. Something she'd learned in school a couple of months' before. And then she realised what she was doing.

She was bullying her best friend, so she stopped immediately. Then she shared her realisation with her best friend.They both broke down in tears. "I'll never bully anyone ever again."And she hasn't.

If you want your children to be nicer to others and have more friends, then please contact me 01423 359 379

Boosting children's resilience to bullying so they can ignore bullies

Four years’ back I was testing my approach to immunising children against bullying. Here’s what I said to the children at the end of the session.

“Remembering what you’ve learned today will really help you. So write the start of this sentence down and then finish it with what you’ve learned...Because of what I’ve learned today I can….”

The room went totally silent as the children thought about what they’d learned. After a couple of minutes, Alex beckoned me over. She wanted to share something that she didn’t want the others to hear. Her story struck me dumb.

She’d joined a dance class and got too good, too quickly for the other girls. They didn’t like her or her talent one little bit. They’d started by calling her a show off and teacher’s pet because they didn’t like the fact that was new to the class and and already the best dancer.The bullying had got worse, but it never happened when the dance teacher was there.

And Alex didn’t feel she could tell the teacher…what good would it do? She felt sad, alone and lonely. Finally, she just hadn’t been able to stand the bullying any more, even though she loved dancing.So she’d stopped going to classes. Then she finished her tale by whispering to me, delighted, excited and over the moon…

“Because of what I’ve learned today I can go back to dance class and ignore the bullies.”

I was delighted, excited and over the moon for her too.My programme worked for Alex.It’s worked for 1,200 other 7 to 11 year olds. Are you curious about this programme? Please call me on 01423 359 379.

A tale about a teddy bear 

My dad would have been 80 yesterday but, tragically, he died 6 months shy of his birthday. I shed a few tears on Monday morning.

As the tears subsided I thought about his dad (who I called Pop) who died a lot younger and didn't get the chance to enjoy a long retirement like his son.

Painful memories came flooding back - hearing the bad news about Pop's heart attack, sharing this with my teddy and seeking comfort from my favourite toy. And like they did yesterday, the tears eventually stopped.

But that wasn't because of a little electronic widget hidden inside the stuffing that transmits feelings. The teddy bear didn't actually comfort me - it just looked like it did.

43 years on I know that our feelings come from our thoughts.

So we don't need to be afraid of the outside world or seek to change it before we can feel good.

Nor do we need to be afraid of our feelings - they're just a shadow of a thought and that thought will pass.

Sharing this with others fuels my soul.

How can you help your children bounce back? 

Teachers and parents tell me they want their children to be more resilient, so how can you do this?

Our world is obsessed with 10 Top Tips to ..., 5 Ways to..., 3 Strategies for... but there's a better way to boost children's resilience. Tell them who they truly are and treat them accordingly - because behaviour follows identity. They're not a porcelain doll that will break into a million pieces if it falls off the mantelpiece. They're not an orange that will bruise if it rolls off the kitchen table.THEY ARE rubber balls, they will bounce back. They learned to walk by falling over, getting up and going again.

WE ARE rubber balls too.Resilience is built in, it's part of our nature, we just forget it. Remember that and you'll be more resilient. And the more resilient you are, the more resilient your children will be. Here's to bouncing back.

My Story 

“Pleeeeeease don’t leave me Mummy,” I wailed. It was my first day at school and I really didn’t want to go. It broke my mother’s heart to see me upset. She wanted to wrap her arms around me and take me home. But she couldn’t. I had to go to school.

And so, with a lump in her throat she sent me through the school gates, hoping I would cope. I was scared.I was really scared. I didn't want my mum to leave me. Scary memories from that unseasonably cold September day haunted me for years. Other fears festered…

Being teased. Not being good enough.Failing. I was never taught how to stop feeling bad or how to feel good. None of us are – we’re just left to muddle through, told to deal with it! And I had a lot to deal with, including horrendous bullying and fear of exams.

My fantastic mother was always there for me but felt helpless. She tried to make me feel better but the bullies’ cruel words were stuck in my head. I became my own worst critic and bullied myself! My mother comforted me but couldn’t make me happy and she just didn’t know what to do.

Fast forward 30 years and the fear of failure was always there. Despite a loving wife, great house, enviable lifestyle and successful business, I still often felt like that sad, lost, lonely little boy in the playground. The feelings got worse when the company didn’t do as well as previously. After a lot of time and effort, I turned it around and made a stack of money. But making that money didn’t made me happy, so I set about finding out what would.

And after many years searching, spending tens of thousands of pounds on books, DVDs training and coaching I started to feel better. It was a gradual process, with lots of time getting nowhere until a huge shift.

I finally learned that the answer wasn’t complicated; in fact, it was incredibly simple; our feelings come from our thoughts, not our circumstances. Most of the time we’re not choosing our thoughts so we feel bad.

But we CAN learn to ignore that negative voice in our head and feel good. We’re not taught this so negative thoughts dictate how we feel.This habit becomes ingrained and we feel bad about ourselves.

Today’s children aren’t taught how to cope either. Yes many children have PSHE lessons but they’re NOT taught how to be happy. When I found that out I simply had to take what I’d learned, turn it into something children love and share it with as many youngsters as I can.

We have to empower children to manage their thoughts and feelings when they’re young and best able to learn new skills – so they don’t suffer when they get older. 50% of adult mental health issues have already been ingrained by the age of 14.

Since then I’ve helped 1,200 children be happy, confident and resilient to bullies through a fun and engaging programme based around The Juicer mindset tool. It really works and changes children’s forever! Adults are amazed. You can find out how it’s done today. Call me on 01423 359 379.