This upcoming week, from February 7th-13th February 2022, it is Children’s Mental Health Week. This is always a fun and busy time here at Happynesshub HQ as we share our talking dog resources and spread Bow-Wowza kindness across the globe. In 2022 we are again collaborating with our fabulous friends at the Now and Beyond Mental Health Festival. It is the second year that the wonderful Louisa, Jonny and the team are offering an amazing package of bespoke workshops, wellbeing experts, lesson materials and live programming – all free of charge and all again reaching thousands of schools across the country. The team here is also excited to announce that we have created a special show for the festival with human beings extraordinaire, Rebecca Keatley and Dr Radha – from CBeebies – for Key Stage 1 and 2. It’s called ‘Feel Fab In The Fur You’re In!’ and is all about encouraging children to be kind to themselves and to be comfortable in their own skin. It goes live at 0915 this Tuesday 9th February and there will be lots of additional Bow-Wowza resources available for schools and children too.

And this year the Festival is in conjunction with the TES (Times Educational Supplement) so you can find more Bow-Wowza resources for little ones on the TES platform – all about managing emotions!

Whilst working on ‘Feel Fab In The Fur You’re In!’ it got me thinking generally about the topic of self-compassion and reflecting on how kind I am to myself – or not as the case may be! One of the children’s exercises in our show is to draw a self-portrait and write around it positive traits about ourself. Rebecca and Radha (and our doggo Dexter D voiced by the talented Dan!) all found it quite hard initially to say and write down kind things about themselves – even though they all excelled at giving complements to others (often the way!). It’s funny how kindness often flows naturally to others, but not always inwards in our own direction.

On reflection, and chatting to a handful of good friends, I ended up realising a few bad habits I have recently been reinforcing. The first biggy is that I am the master of saying ‘sorry’. Even if there is no reason to apologise. I say sorry all the time and somehow turn things around to be my own fault even if they really are not. A very small example.. someone asked me a last-minute favour this week and was hoping I would have time to help them out (which I would have loved to do). It turned out to be bang in the middle of a hospital appointment. I felt terribly guilty I couldn’t say yes, apologised profusely and felt I had let them down. The feeling of ‘I am not good enough’ started to emerge. It was time to address this and the expectations I had of myself.

Next, I found myself in a new city, the sun shining, adventures beckoning and I felt an obligation to go explore when I had 2 hours free. My body however had a different idea – it was begging me to sleep and rest. To climb under the hotel duvet with a cup of tea and cake. In the end I did the latter, awoke the next day so pleased at my decision, but again remembering the guilt I felt because I wasn’t ‘interesting and adventurous’ enough. I pondered, how much of my time was given to other’s demands, society’s expectations, my inability to follow my intuition and to just be me. Why did I have such high expectations of ‘who’ I should be and ‘how’ I should live my life?

I then found myself in an Italian restaurant in central London. The owner of Sergio’s told me the romantic story of how his mother and father had met in the very street where we were, his father has asked his mother to marry him that evening and they were wed weeks later! Four decades on the restaurant they established was thriving and they were still together. (Slight tangent). As I talked to their son about pasta, changing times and much more, we then got onto ‘life’. And he said to me, ‘Some people find their happiness around here from parties and going out. Some love art, others work. I find my happiness in my home – and I know that – and therefore I am good.’ It was a simple concept but one that resonated with me. So often I feel I ‘should’ be doing something – to become wiser, to live a richer life, to better the world. But how do we find our place in world where we know ourselves so well that we are comfortable in our shoes, comfortable to live the life we choose (regardless of what others may think) and love ourselves fully.

This has always been my wish for all the children we work with – that they are truly comfortable in their own skin (or in their own fur as our Bow-Wowza dogs say!). How do you think you can reach that point in life? What tools do you use to be kind to yourself and at one with who you are? And how do you think we can support our younger generation to be the same?

Enough questions for now Hubbers! A big thank you to Rebecca, Radha, Dan and all the team who have so kindly given their time free of charge for this week’s festival. Happy Children’s Mental Health Week!