Cloud of Calm
A Book Review of The Big Worry Day
This month I teamed up with A Novel Mind website and created a guest post for their blog! It features the amazing book, The Big Worry Day, written by K.A. Reynolds and illustrated by Chloe Dominique. This book presents an insightful and authentic representation of childhood anxiety and is chockfull of coping strategies! As always, I have included an activity to go along with the book. Check it out HERE!
Finding Peace, Finding Courage
A Book Review of My Quiet Ship
Quinn becomes the commander of his Space Ship, directs his crew (stuffed animals), which gives him a sense of control in a situation in which he feels helpless and scared. Quinn's scary situation is his parent's loud arguing. This book can be helpful to kids in a variety of difficult situations, even if it is coping with their baby brother crying or sensory overload.
The Space Ship is a peaceful place where Quinn can go into his mind to help calm himself and to identify his feelings. The Space Ship is Quinn's haven. This book can encourage readers to use their own imaginations and create their own havens to help them cope. It is helpful for children and adults to pull themselves away from the source of their big feelings temporarily and try to find peace within themselves. It is similar to the concept of a Safe Space in schools where a child goes to a quieter part of the classroom with comforting objects in order to re-group, ponder and get in touch with their feelings. Quinn also tries to draw, which is another great coping mechanism to model to the reader.
In the story, the arguing became so loud and Quinn's feelings became so big, that his coping strategies no longer worked. Eventually, he gathered the strength to confront his parents and express himself about how their yelling was making him feel. This is important as others may not be aware of how their behavior is making you feel unless you tell them. Through the story, the author acknowledges the strength and bravery it takes to confront a situation and express your feelings.
Expressing feelings is the most important part of this process. When Quinn expressed his feelings, it had the positive effect of making his parents aware and most importantly, getting his needs met. Quinn describes how his feelings are affecting his body, which is a great way for kid's to start to identify their own emotions. For example, "...from the sounds that hurt my ears and make my heart ache." and "...the sounds that make my stomach sick." Identification of feelings based on how it feels in your body is crucial.
Through her illustrations, Sonia Sánchez gives the reader a sense of turmoil that is experienced through Quinn. By the end of the story, Ms. Sánchez uses her illustrations to create a sense of calm in the reader. She captures the feelings of the characters very well, which pulls the reader in to the emotion of the story.
I highly recommend this book for teaching coping skills and the importance of expressing feelings, especially with kids in difficult situations. It can lead to deeper conversations about what the reader experiences in their life, how they can cope and how they can use their skills to gain control over their situations.
I would like to caution readers on a couple of points in the story. Escaping through imagination excessively, without confronting and addressing the feelings, can become a maladaptive strategy to respond to trauma and lead to dissociative symptoms later in life. Additionally, there are trauma situations in which it would not be safe for the child to confront the adults about how they are feeling and could lead to further abuse. In this situation, help the child develop a list of other safe adults they can access for help, if the situation is out of hand and safety issues are prevalent.
You can access Hallee Adelman's website to purchase her book or check out other books by this author here.
Activity Idea for My Quiet Ship
Construct a Space Ship with the child as a means to explore events that make them want to escape and to help them identify related feelings.
These questions may help get the exercise started.
1. What is Quinn trying to escape from when he takes off in his Space Ship?
2. What feelings does it give him when his parents argue?
3. Do you ever feel a need to escape from something that gives you big feelings like Quinn?
4. What big feelings do you have when that happens?
5. What would be your best way to escape in your imagination?
6. What could you do to make others aware of how you feel and to get what you need from them?
Empty toilet paper roll
cardstock or construction paper
red/orange tissue paper or construction paper
silicone or other strong glue
markers or crayons
A Book Review of The Invisible String
The Invisible String
Written by: Patrice Karst
Illustrated by: Geoff Stevenson
Publisher: DoVorss & Co., CA
Welcome to my first Blog post!! I thought Valentine's Day would be a perfect day to kick off my first post with this lovely book about connections of the heart. I am dedicating this post to my former Infant Mental Health team at Easter Seals Michigan. Due to the intensity of our work together, working with vulnerable young children and their families, we developed very strong connections to each other. This book became a frequent go-to for all of us in dealing with loss in young children.
In my opinion, this book is most appropriate for children from three to eight years of age, but truly it resonates with people of all ages in providing comfort in the event of a loss. After all, loss is a universal experience that, like it or not, we all experience at one time or another and in one way or another. It is a painful experience that parents simply cannot protect their kids from, nor should they try.
Liza and Jeremy were twins that became scared one night from a thunderstorm and ran out of their room and into their mother's arms. This situation is a frequent occurrence and common fear that many kids can relate to. Ms. Karst does a beautiful job showing appropriate expression of feelings of Liza and Jeremy throughout the book, as does Mr. Stevenson through the illustrations.
This is a beautiful, comforting book that subtly touches on the many losses we incur in our lifetime. It presents the concept that we never really lose people we love, they stay in our hearts forever-always connected through that invisible string! Ms. Karst's creative concept of "the invisible string" is a magical concept that adds to the anticipation and mystery that draws kids into the book. At the end of the story, Liza and Jeremy are able to withstand the storm in their own beds comforted by their new knowledge that the people they love are always with them, even if not physically.
I have used this book so much in my practice that I have worn it out! It is very useful with kids who have been separated from their families through foster care or adoption, jail, or death. I have found it helpful for military families when kids have a parent serving overseas. It is also useful for kids with separation anxiety and for just the day to day life happenings of a child, ie. staying in their own bed at night, starting preschool or Kindergarten, or missing their non-custodial parent who no longer lives with them.
This story strongly resonates with children and adults alike and provides a comfort that only connection and relationships can provide when going through difficult times. I use this book as a great starting point to address all of the losses stated above. Many times, I follow the reading of this book by a therapeutic activity, to drive the concepts home.
1. Cut out large heart from construction paper, in child's favorite color, and write child's name in the middle of the heart.
Note: Work together with the child and parent, cutting if child is too young, having child pick out the colors and write name if they can.
To make the hearts, I simply fold paper and make them the old fashioned way! Kids love the magic of opening up the shape after it's cut and seeing the heart! See photos.
2. Cut strings and tape on back of large heart. See photos.
4. Have child pick out color for each of his/her connections and cut out smaller heart for each one. You can trace the first heart you cut so they are all about the same size. (Don't forget to let the kids do the "magic" by opening the heart!) Write the connection's name on heart using child's name for that person.
6. FINISHED PROJECT! During and/or after activity, discuss favorite memories they have about each connection. Suggest to parent/guardian to hang project in the house somewhere where child can see it often. Drive home the message "Even though ______ isn't with you now, you are ALWAYS CONNECTED by the invisible string! You are in each other's hearts forever and no one can take that away from you."
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Acceptance & Commitment -Therapy Skills
Acceptance Of Others
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills
Coping With ADHD
Coping With Depression
Coping With Feelings
Grandparents As Guardians
Grief & Loss
Negative Self Talk
Parent W/Mental Illness
Parent W/Substance Abuse
School Lockdown Drills
Sexual Abuse Prevention
Standing Up For Others
Supporting A Friend