What’s it all about? : Hot seating for stress busting

With our Unique Voice Creative Communication Classes being so prevalent in Schools across Bristol this term. Sarah reflects on her the two weeks so far at Southville Primary School, exploring the highlights of the scheme so far and discussing why she thinks the children respond so well to it.

I’m three weeks into leading the Creative Communication scheme with Ruth Stokes at Southville Primary school. We’re working with years three and six, running a scheme about stress busting.  As part of our session last week we introduced both classes to Becky (who is essentially either Ruth or myself wearing a different jumper).

When we tell the children they’ll be meeting Becky, a friend of ours who has had a really bad day and might be a bit grumpy, they tend to expect to see someone they’ve never met before. However, their willingness to play along when Ruth or myself walks in as this different character is brilliant. In our sessions last week the children committed themselves to finding out what was wrong with Becky and why she was so stressed. By gently asking for information about what had happened, they gradually uncovered the whole story until they discovered that Becky had dealt with a stressful situation badly and was now in trouble after acting on her anger negatively. Upon hearing her dilemma they generously offered her advice based on the stress busting tips they had compiled the week before.

It’s reassuring to know that they had taken tips we created together on board and had recalled them with detail and precision to apply to their guest. Not only that, but they all thought outside the box, showing compassion, sensitivity and creativity to offer advice. The year six class met a Becky who had been grounded after ripping her sisters top in revenge for her sister having accidentally spilt juice on her top. The children recognised that this was perhaps an unhealthy way to deal with the stressful situation and thought outside the box to offer suggestions such as;

“Why didn’t you draw a picture of the top that you ripped and rip that up instead, then you wouldn’t have been grounded.”

 “If you told your mum what had happened straight away she might have just got you a new one.”

We all make mistakes, and at times we all deal with situations. Negatively; it’s part of human nature. But by giving these children the chance to explore other coping strategies earlier on in life we increase their capability of managing stressful situations.

Part of what makes the in school drama scheme so successful is that it gives the children the opportunity to explore both sides of the coin. It’s no mistake that we ask them to act out negative responses as well as positive ones to different situations. By allowing them to explore what might happen if they don’t keep control of their anger or stress levels, their motivation to determine and find a better way to cope is increased tenfold.


Sarah Fullagar