October 13


True Colours / Teen Anxiety

By Henry Dingle

October 13, 2021

At school, Beth (14) feels anxious, fearful, insecure & isolated.

She entered Year 10 at a new school in Bristol in July of this year, with the hope being that she would make a new start there.  But she makes it in only 3 out of 5 days currently.  She leaves to go in each morning, but is often back home again within half an hour.  She just can’t go in some days.

The backdrop for this history of school refusal and anxiety are as follows:

  • Pressure to succeed - PE (frisbee) or school subjects, doesn’t matter, the idea of getting it wrong, not knowing or not understanding is unbearable to her.
  • Teachers attacking her verbally (and the punishment system generally)
  • She gets panic attacks in this environment
  • Other students don’t engage in group exercises so it's boring
  • She has no friends in her classes
The knock-on to this is that the mum’s relationship with her is also becoming really strained and she is working (and worrying) round the clock to find a solution for it all.  They can’t move schools again, it’d be too much and it's ‘too late’ for GCSEs.  Home Education is no one’s preference.  It’s not an option.

For me, and for my 12-Week Mentorship Programme, this family are a perfect fit.  

The ‘True Colours’ song must have bubbled up in my consciousness this morning as a result of meeting Beth.  Cindy Lauper’s rasping, heart-tugging, immensely tender, emotive and empathetic vocal...

"I can see your true colours shining through.  
I see your true colours and that’s why I love you, 
so don’t be afraid!  To let them show, 
your true colours are beautiful, like a rainbow"
That's how I feel when I meet many of these wounded, slightly guarded but simultaneously shining and potent young adults.  I see their 'true colours' brighter than they could ever imagine!  

I met Beth briefly but fully clocked her openness, willingness and obvious power (currently hidden from her of course).  

She wants to be a counsellor she tells me.  She's had counselling and thinks she could do a better job.  It was all talk in her opinion with no practical benefit or solution focus in the process.  I am wowed by this insight and response.

I want to steady the ship for her and her mum in this intense time for all the family.  Beneath the anxiety I know there is a treasure trove of power, potential and beauty waiting to be unearthed and built on.

I want to help Beth find her own life solutions.  What does she think?  What does she see might help her in these situations?  How would she prefer to go about things generally?  I want to help her to find her own agency.  No counsellor, or teacher for that matter, can help you unless you are actively trying to help yourself, so it has to be the responsibility of both to work together to find the best solutions.  I won’t lay it all on her - the responsibility, the pressure, the needing to know - I will just always be asking, gently inquiring, leaving the door open for her spontaneous opinion, insight and input into our process.

We’ll also study Maths - talking of practical benefit and solutions! - as a vehicle for tangible progress and satisfaction, along with the open mentorship.  Maths is such a powerful subject to ‘make friends with’ for many resistant students and to start the journey of self-directed learning with.  It’s the perfect ‘dry land’, in an apparent sea of endlessly complex and abstract life issues, challenges and obstacles.  It’s so concrete.  Maths is clear and simple in one way of looking at it: you either know how to solve the problem in front of you or not.  And if you can't solve it, then, with a good teacher and your own willingness, openness and some bravery perhaps... you can learn how.  

I can use Maths to show any student how easy it is to actively engage with all school work; how genuinely nourishing the content can be - in the right relationship, atmosphere and context - and how inherently satisfying an easy-going but focussed grey cell workout can be too, in amongst the noise and confusion of life.  We shoot for immersion not attainment.  True absorption in the question and topic, not just mechanically getting it done.  Attainment - performance and grades - then rise unstoppably as an inevitable by-product of this kind of true learning.

You can explore my 12-Week Online Academic Mentorship Programme, for parents and teenagers, by clicking here.

There's a free Training Video for parents if you click on 'Apply for Oct 2021' and below that the option to book a free call with me in the next week here.

Let’s see if we’re a good fit?  And if not no worries.  I know I will enjoy meeting you and will be able to help and advise in all kinds of ways regardless of whether we decide to go ahead with the programme or not.

To yours and your child's happiness, harmony and success in life!

Wishing you all a great week,


Henry Dingle

About the author

Henry is a one-stop shop for exasperated parents and demotivated, under-performing and frustrated teenage students. An expert in the engagement and motivation of young adults through authentic relationship-building, trust and accountability, he is a panacea for academic struggles and stresses in any family.

With over 15 years experience in tutoring 14-16 year olds in English & Maths, he uses primarily essay-writing technique (how to think), for Literature and Language, and optimal processing (how to relax and focus), in Maths, as the vehicles for increasing student enjoyment, self-study, confidence & performance in all subjects.

Henry empowers young adults to ‘self-direct’ their own learning - to lead on it themselves and to do it with joy, motivation and purpose. He is an expert at engaging this age group and uses his knowledge and background as a specialist Maths & English Tutor to enable a comprehensive shift in his students towards academic drive, success and well-being.

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