Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Managing Anger

Studies (Columbia University) have identified the fact that angry children (consistently) were more dissatisfied, at age 30, than their peers who had less angry childhoods.

Below are 5 tips (for adults) to help children/teens control their anger: 

1. Teach them how to clam down. This is best achieved by i) diverting the attention of younger children and ii) helping older children to talk/think about what they are feeling.

2. Instead of reacting, children and teens need should be taught that anger is a natural emotion, the response to which can be controlled. This is achieved by deliberately choosing a considered response. 

3. Help them to understand what aggression is and its negative consequences.

4. Teach them problems solving skills.

5. Finally, teach them about goal setting and achievement (using real life examples), as this encourages them to behave in a way that will help them achieve their goals.

NB. The workshop program has ended.


Monday, November 28, 2011

KS3 Body Image Discussion

Below are a few comments (pupils) from last Friday's all female KS3 Body Image & Self Esteem Workshop. They are taken from the segment of the workshop, during which we were discussing the Media.

General discussion:

“I think the media is giving people what they want. I don’t want to be obese and I don’t want to see obese people in magazines; it’s unhealthy. I want to see beautiful people and nice things”.

"I think media images are of real people, but they are hidden underneath loads of makeup".

In response to the question "Does the media reflect or direct society?"

"The media reflects a very distorted view of society. Real people are not like the people we see in magazines".  

"I think the media both reflects and directs society. If it didn’t reflect it, people wouldn’t be able to relate to it. It also directs it, because people want to be like what they see in the media".

"I think the media directs society. Everyone copies celebrities and want to look like the pictures they see in magazines".  

For me, the quote of the day came from a year nine pupil. “I know that media images are not real", she said. "I keep telling myself that, but its exhausting to have to try so hard".


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The role of business is to make money (Milton Friedman). Business survive and grow by persuading consumers like you and me to buy their products and services. This is achieved by selling aspirations (desires/wants).

Realising this, I do have some sympathy for the sentiments recently expressed by Rabbi Jonathan Sack, speaking at an interfaith gathering attended by the Queen. In his talk he compared Steve Jobs to Moses by stating.

“The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTunes, i, i, i ".

"Through all the advertising", he continued, "and subtly seductive approaches to it (you’ve got an iPhone, but you haven’t got a fourth generation one); the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness.”

Personally, I don't think Steve Jobs is to blame for our consumer culture. We see aspirational selling every time we open a magazine, watch a TV advert, or click on an internet banner; it goes far beyond the technology industry.

E.g. I can't count the number ads that I see on a daily basis:
i) depicting unnaturally beautiful, blemish/wrinkle free celebrities/models (beauty products)
ii) promising me the perfect slim body of my dreams, utilising a suitably super thin image (diets)

While disagreeing with some of the Rabbi's comments, I wholeheartedly agree with this one. “What does a consumer ethic do"? He asked rhetorically, before responding. "It makes you aware all the time of the things you don’t have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have."



Friday, November 18, 2011

Cosmetic surgery VAT

I had an interesting discussion recently about the governments stated intention to raise an estimated £500 million a per year by taxing elective (non  medical / therapeutic) cosmetic surgery.   A 20% VAT induced increase on already costly procedures, such as breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tucks and facelifts, would put them out of the reach of many more people. e.g. It would add approximately £1,000 to breast augmentation surgery.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) have criticised the planned VAT increase,  arguing that many people have surgery for psychological not medical reasons.

"Should prominent ear correction be taxed?" Asked Douglas McGeorge (BAAPS former president). "An operation performed on young children to prevent them being bullied and developing psychological problems? ... What level of asymmetry or abnormality is required to justify breast surgery? When do large breasts create enough of a physical problem to allow treatment?"

BBC Newsbeat interviewed Kerry, who is hoping to have surgery to remove loose skin after losing 12 stones (an admirable accomplishment).  "I am trying hard to raise the money but adding VAT to it would just make it impossible", she said. "I can't afford that and I don't think it's fair I should have to pay more."

However, it is fair to say that the majority of people (research) think that VAT should be applied to elective surgical procedures.  The reason being that VAT is paid on most goods and services in the UK and  that it is applied to necessary things such petrol, adult clothing. and domestic gas/electricity  (fuel at a reduced rate of 5%).  

Currently, essential items such as most food items and children's clothing are VAT except, but elective surgery is not viewed as being part of this category.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Miley Cyrus - I love MYSELF

A few days ago, Miley Cyrus stood up to those who took it upon themselves to criticise her body.  "By calling girls like me fat", she tweeted, "this (a photo of a very emaciated woman)  is what you're doing to other people."

 "I love MYSELF", she continued adding "and if you could say the same you wouldn't be sitting on your computer trying to hurt others."

Going a little further, Miley then posted a photo of Marilyn Monroe that simply stated. "Proof that you can be adored by thousands of men even when your thighs touch."

I think it would be appropriate to let Demi Lovato (singer & actress), who has undergone treatment for an eating disorder, end this post. In reply to Miley's tweet she replied "AMEN!"


Friday, November 11, 2011

Dressed for success

Dragon Den's entrepreneur Peter Jones made me laugh this week.   His perplexed, bewildered expression as he walked around Innocent Smoothies head office was highly amusing.  

Peter was interviewing Innocent's co founder Richard Reed for BBC 2's 'Peter Jones - How they made their millions".  He was visibly unable to dissociate his perception of what successful business offices, men and women should look like,  with the reality that confronted him.

"This does not look like a working environment", he said looking around the Astro Turf  carpeted office. "It looks like a London play centre".  Richard laughed and responded, "Well, it kind of is".

"You let people wear what they want to wear?" Asked a baffled Peter, as the camera focused on a barefoot employee.

"That's the point", Richard replied. "If you want to wear a suit, you are extremely welcome to wear a suit".

"I feel completely out of place", said Peter looking around uncomfortably. 

"We would never judge someone by what they wear," said Richard unequivocally. "You have to wear what you are most comfortable in, so that you can do your best work. I've literally seen someone sitting at his desk in a dressing gown. That was perhaps pushing the limits of what you can wear about the office; he said he was cold".

"I'm seeing guys that are dressed very differently ... with respect",  continued Peter a short while later. Next to him stood another of Richard employees, wearing a yellow and white t-shit,  green shorts and yellow canvas shoes. "I would never let my staff turn up for work dressed like this," Peter stated before conceding, " but something works".

"People", began Richard, "work harder here than in 99% of businesses. People put in a huge amount of energy and personal commitment and take it very seriously.  Just because we wear t-shirts to work, it doesn't mean we're not working really hard".


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Cheryl Cole - Tattoo 'art'

In a interview with InStyle magazine (December's issue), Cheryl Cole voiced her belief that tattoos are ''art''.

This viewpoint is evidenced by her growing collection of tattoos, which can be found on her leg, lower back and the side of her hand.

''They are addictive, they really are", she told the magazine.   ''If it was up to me - and I could be brave for one day - I would have my whole back done.  My friends say 'Cheryl, please, you might regret it' - but to me, it's art.''

From the tattoo themed discussions I've had over the years, it's safe to say that tattoo's are a bit like Marmite;  you either love them or hate them. 

Cheryl's additional comments defining 'beauty' and her views on those who like to voice their criticism (of others) were enlightening.

 ''You should have whatever you want and do what you want", Cheryl stated.  "What's beautiful is being you. People are too judgmental and have too much to say about other people.''


Monday, November 07, 2011

Dawn French's weight loss formula

Congratulations to Dawn French for shedding 4½ stones in a very successful endeavour to improve her health.  Talking to ITV1's This Morning, she said “I have lost about four and a half stone – and yes, it was kind of intentional".

“I think when you’re over 50, you kind of have to pay attention to your health a bit. I want to be there for my kid".

“I just ballooned up a bit more than I wanted to. But you can always address it. You just have to eat less and walk more – and that’s what I’m doing.”

Dawn's weight loss has been gradual.  Last year her spokesman Neil Reading, dismissed rumours that she had had a gastric band fitted. It's "utter rubbish he stated adding, 'it's just healthy eating.'

If you would like to improve your health and lose some weight; it wouldn't hurt to remember Dawn's formula for success. "You just have to eat less and walk more"



Friday, November 04, 2011

Schools Health Education Unit survey

A survey by the Schools Health Education Unit, compiled using data collected
from more than 83,000 pupils in Years 6, 8 and 10 across the UK has found:-

i) Weight

    - 38% of 10 year old girls are not happy with their weight.
    - Almost 66% of year 10s, aged 14 to 15, wanted to lose weight.
    - Approximately 66% had not eaten breakfast on the day of the survey.
      Of these 24% % indicated that they had missed lunch the previous day.
    - 32% (year 10s) were happy with their weight.
    - 31% of boys in years 6 to 10 wanted to lose weight.

ii)  Healthy eating

    - 41% of the boys did not eat fresh fruit, salads or vegetables on
     "most days", compared to 31% of girls.
    - 40% of year 6 pupils did not eat protein "on most days".
    -  25% admitted to consuming crisps, sweets or chocolate regularly.
    - 75% of girls aged 14 to 15 drank less than a litre of water the previous day
      and 12% drank none at all.

iii) Exercise

    - Over 70% of year 6 girls exercised three time or more in the last week
      compared to 46% of Year 10 girls.
    - Almost 20% of 14- to 15-year-old girls and 15% of boys of the same age had
      done no active sports outside school in the last 12 months.
   On a more positive note, football, cycling, jogging and walking were often cited as
   the outside school activities undertook at least once a week.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What makes you, you?

A blank confused stare is often the first response to the question, ‘what makes you, you?’

“I think, therefore I am", the philosophical Latin statement by René Descartes points to the fact that you (by simply thinking about the question) exist. So accepting that you exist, what makes you, you?’

Are you a product of your DNA, the views of the family you were born into, a religion that defines you, the relationships that influence you, the experiences that have shaped you, the education system that instructed you, the culture that directs you, the media that informs/manipulates you; or all of the above?

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