ABOUT THE WORRYWOOS PROGRAMME
The Worrywoos are a set of characters by created by illustrator Andi Green in conjunction with famous Australian child psychologist Dr John Irvine which address the growing issue of children’s mental and emotional issues.
The adorable group of plush ‘Worry Monsters’ each represent a common emotion anyone can experience. Each ‘Woo’ comes is linked to its own illustrated children’s book. Each book has a tale in which the main character is faced with different challenges and has to deal with their feelings.
The beauty of Worrywoos is it can be adapted and open to however the teachers believe it can be taught rather than running through it on a script. The kits can be adapted to different children’s needs and use the space and time they can dedicate to it. The DEI (Developing Emotional Intelligence) program can integrate across different subjects including literacy, music and the visual and performing arts. This makes the learning a lot more enjoyable and memorable.
Statistics indicate that 25.7% of children under 8 years suffer from anxiety and every educator is more than aware of the rising incidence of anger and aggression in children. What aren’t as obvious are the silent confidence sappers such as body dislike, self rejection, loneliness and social rejection.
WHO IS DR JOHN IRVINE?
After years of primary school teaching, John would become a lecturer in Special Education and Child Development and Behaviour Management at the Armidale Teachers College and at the University of New England in New South Wales before moving to Toowoomba in Queensland to head up the Early Childhood Education training program at the University of Southern Queensland.
Dr John completed his Ph.D. on Children’s play in 1980 and returned to NSW as Principal Lecturer and Dean of Academic Studies at the School of Early Childhood Studies, now attached to Macquarie University.
In 1988 Dr John released his first book titled “Coping with Kids”. Since then, he has appeared in all aspects of media and in doing so become one of Australia’s most renowned child psychologists. Dr John was also a consultant psychologist at the Central Coast Grammar school from 1986 to 2009.
Dr John also has several published books on child psychology, his latest being “Thriving at school” as well as “A handbook for happy families” which has been turned into four different DVD’s.
REASONS WHY CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT IN MODERN TIMES
According to Dr John Irvine, the expectations and stresses on kids of the 21st century are amongst the highest for any generation. Examples of indications of this include:
- Pace of change is increasing – only 2% of the knowledge our kids will have available at age 40 has been invented/discovered
- It is estimated that only 15% of the jobs available now will still be on offer by 2030
- The biggest drug abuse by teenagers is analgesics or pain killers
- Depression is expected to be the single biggest killer of our kids by 2020
- “Anxiety” is one of the most rapidly expanding diseases in today’s world.
- The biggest pressure on our kids is keeping up with their peers – particularly in freedoms, possessions and life style and “games”
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL SKILLS IN CHILDREN
A 20 year longitudinal study of Kindergarten children compared the level of social competence in Kindergarten and social functioning in early adulthood (Jones, Greenberg & Crawley, 2015). The general consensus was children with strong social skills in Kindergarten are more likely to thrive as adults.
For every one-point increase in a child’s social competence score in Kindergarten, s/he was:
- Twice as likely to attain a college degree in early adulthood.
- 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma
- 46% more likely to have a full time job by the age of 25.
For every one-point decrease in a child’s social competence score in Kindergarten, s/he was:
- 64% higher chance of having spent time in juvenile detention
- 67% higher chance of having been arrested in early adulthood.
WHO ARE THE SEVEN WORRYWOOS?
Nola – subjects: Loneliness, Rejection
Twitch– subjects: Frustration, Anger
Zelly– subjects: Jealousy, Envy, Bullying
Fuddle– subjects: Self Confidence, Assertion
Wince– subjects: Worry,Anxiety
Squeek– subjects: Social Confidence, Shyness
Rue– subjects: Body Image, Self Esteem
LANTERN CLUB’s WORRYWOOS PROGRAM SUPPORT FOR CANTERBURY SCHOOLS
On November 8, Lantern Club will be launching their Worrywoos campaign where 42 local Canterbury schools will be given their Worrywoos kits. Each school will dedicate a champion who will be in charge of their school’s programs using their kit. The kit include a plush toy and a story book for each of the seven “Woos”.