Everyone Has Problems. The New York Times published a nationwide survey in 2022 that they conducted with 362 school counselors. Ninety-four per cent of the counselors said their students were showing more signs of anxiety and depression than they did before the pandemic, 88 per cent stated that their students were having trouble with emotional regulation, and 72 per cent that there was an uptick in breaking classroom rules. Only six counselors said that behaviors and social emotional skills were back to normal.
The need to teach coping strategies has accelerated and many new BrainWise instructors are not familiar with teaching or social and emotional learning material. BrainWise was developed for education and health professionals, but today, instructors include parents, mentors, police officers, and paraprofessionals. The program’s scripted lessons are helpful, but new instructors may not realize how the lessons build on each other.
For example, a volunteer mentor was overwhelmed by the problems her young mentees listed for the Everyone has Problems lesson until she realized that the next lessons gave her teaching tools that would help the children address them. The following information helped her and will help others.
Problem lists are the first BrainWise lesson and send a message that the instructor cares and is listening. The serious issues facing children and youth are familiar to educators and health professionals but may not be to others who are now teaching BrainWise. Below is a problem list created by 12-year-old girls.
Top Ten Problems Listed by 7th Grade Girls
3. Gangs Fighting/punching, name calling
6. Gossip and Rumors
8. Death, Grief, Loss
10. Opposite sex
You may think that this list was created recently, but it was compiled in 2001. The BrainWise students in the picture are now in their thirties. Today, “Death, Grief and Loss” may be higher on the list because of the pandemic, school shootings, and opioid overdoses. Serious problems are not new, but more teens are experiencing them.
“Everyone has Problems” is a lesson that helps participants understand they are not alone. Professional resources are often difficult to access and unavailable and learning the 10 Wise Ways give them tools stop and think, calm down, problem solve, and find resources that will help them.
BrainWise Offers Hope
Instructors use examples from the problem lists throughout the course, so participants apply thinking skills to situations meaningful to them. They learn that others have the same problems, problems differ in size, and a problem that is big to them is not a problem for someone else and vice versa. They also learn that problems can shift back and forth from big to small or from small to big, and that people with wealth, athletic ability, or beauty may have the same, or more, problems.
Most important, they learn that they are not alone. The BrainWise instructor – parent, teacher, counselor, social worker, aide, police officer, health professional or caregiver – offers hope by sharing strategies that help the young person know what to do to prevent and manage their problems.* These strategies are in the BrainWise CPR lessons that follow Everyone Has Problems.
*Instructors who recognize that children and youth may be raising Red Flags about violence they or others have experienced are required to use this information to involve protective resources.
Career Education Center (CEC) high school teacher Stacey Hervey’s students have been involved since 2015 in community service projects with Denver Mile High Rotary as BrainWise teen mentors. (See issues #67, 41, 38 and 27.) This issue features Stacey’s students Jackie Reyes, Aa’ Janais Gaines, and Rachel Lopez and the exciting reinforcement tool they developed using Kahoots and Jeopardy (Issue 71). They created lessons that asked third […]
I am new to our agency and want to teach BrainWise with fidelity. I run a weekly, one-hour, group session for eight weeks. How can I help participants effectively use the 10 Wise Ways? This is a frequent request. BrainWise concepts may be easy to remember, but research found that more than 20 hours of practice are needed for the development […]
The following story about BrainWise instructors sharing information is uplifting and gives tips and strategies that can be used not only by health professionals, but by those who teach BrainWise in schools, social service agencies, the workplace, and at home. In 2016, BrainWise trainer Gary Brayton, Ph.D. gave a copy of How To Be BrainWise to a colleague, Melissa Roels, […]