Back to School with Peacebeam for Kids
As the Autumn approaches and everyone is headed back to school this week, I thought it would be nice to talk a bit about the creation of the Peacebeam for Kids series.
We have had such a positive response from it and as we are often asked by listeners how we come up with our ideas, I thought this week was a good time to share!
The Peacebeam for kids series came about as a collaboration between me and Fred, Jane’s son who is eleven year’s old. Before we started writing, Fred and I had a long chat about his experiences of mindfulness, school, and generally what life was like for children his age. Some things sounded very familiar to me, even twenty years later – school bullies, pressure to be popular, pressure to do well at school and that strange transitional period between childhood and adolescence that is easily forgotten about. Some things however are new. The overwhelming reality of the climate crisis, and what that means about the future, adds a layer of anxiety that I didn’t grow up with. Social media and smart phones create a somewhat toxic relationship to persona very early on and mean that any type of bullying can extend well beyond the school gates.
The first things Fred and I set out to identify were the main things that troubled most children of around his age. These seemed to be anxiety – about school, about the climate, about friendships, about family and about the future; the difficulty in figuring out who you are as you move away from childhood and into adolescence and, adjacent to that, dealing with the physical and mental challenges that growing up presents. Then we thought, how could Peacebeam help with this? I asked Fred what Peacebeam meant to him and he said, “Peace, a better world and happiness.” How did we want children to feel listening to the series? Fred’s answer was, “Relaxed and less anxious.”
Once we’d got clear on this, I set about splitting the series into two main areas. These were building self-esteem to cope with the confusion around identity and growing up, and coping with anxiety and difficult emotions. It was really important to us that our tone wasn’t condescending or that we weren’t trying to get children to ignore their feelings at any point. Childhood is difficult and many of the things we face as a child impact the rest of our lives. It’s easy to forget how complex and significant this stage of life is and how the challenges are ones that adults continue to face. Things like finding your place in the world, connecting with those around us positively, building self-knowledge and self-awareness, and facing and transforming our fears are struggles that never really leave us. I think that’s why we’ve also received a positive response from many adults who have listened to the series!
Writing the first series for children was a really enjoyable experience. It was fun working with Fred and his insight was invaluable. We’ve come up with some ideas for a second series when we last spoke so stay tuned…
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