Skill Building for Mental Health

Most educators intuitively have a toolkit of tactics that encourage healthy development of their young charges. Red Flags simply encourages the intentional use of these tactics as mental health and resiliency building skills. Although there are many, many ways within the regular school day to reinforce resiliency skills, this page looks at only four:

  • Teaching for success
  • Problem Solving
  • Developing a Sense of Responsibility
  • Positive Self Talk

Claire, of Claire’s Story, the original video that eventually morphed into Red Flags, is today a middle school teacher. She recommends that specific examples be given when talking about skill building for resilience. So here are some suggestions and examples:

Teach for success

Success breeds success – Teach for success. In order to develop competence, students need the experience of mastery. Teachers can help by:

  • Breaking units down into small, easily managed pieces.
  • Using multiple teaching modalities: lecture, hands-on, visual, group discussion, etc.
  • Reviewing, or offering a review sheet before a test. (Base test totally on the review sheet)
  • Allowing retesting.
  • Grading with a green pencil, circling the answers that are right.

Example: Using a homework chart to help students visualize the effectiveness
of daily diligence.

Each day, after reviewing homework have the students record their effort. Following a test, have them record their grade on the chart and compare it to the effort they put into mastering the material through homework.


Basic problem solving skills include:

  • Naming or identifying the problem
  • Determining solutions and the possible side effects of each solution
  • Choosing and implementing a solution
  • Evaluating the result. If the result is unsatisfactory
  • Repeat the process.

Example: Utilize problem-solving examples that are right in the material being taught.
In history, social studies or literature: ask the students to name the problem being encountered by the historical figure, fictional character, nation or group of people.

  • What options were available?
  • What were the possible consequences of each option?
  • What option was chosen?
  • How well did it work? If unsuccessful, what did they do next?

Teachers can use the same process in classroom management

Example: The class is restless and distracted.

  • Stop.
  • Identify the problem.
  • Ask the class to suggest possible solutions.
  • Choose a solution.
  • Try it. Evaluate its success.
  • Repeat process if necessary. (Including an incentive might bolster success.)

Build on strengths

Help children identify the things they are good at or have going for them. Use those strengths as stepping stone to meeting new challenges.

  • Design classroom “jobs” or responsibilities that capitalize on their strengths.
  • Arrange group work to include a variety tasks that will utilize different strengths.

Example: Have students identify 3-5 strengths in themselves. (Children may have difficulty with this. A list of strengths may help. Be sure to include overcoming previous challenges as a strength.) Children who are well acquainted their classmates can identify each other’s strengths in small groups.

Positive Self-talk

“Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford.

Positive self-talk can provide the encouragement a child or teen needs to manage tough times.

Example: The whole of Claire’s 7th grade English class moaned when it was time to take out their grammar books. They hated grammar. Claire told them that any time during the day she used the word “grammar” they were to jump up on their chairs and shout in unison:




Not only did students begin to look forward to Grammar, but this quite literal “exercise” helped them to stay focused, listen, and eventually think more positively about it.

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Using videos for students and low cost materials for teachers and parents, Red Flags offers schools a comprehensive, affordable, common sense approach to basic mental health education.
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