You may have noticed that I have written fewer posts over the past few months. The reason is I was busy doing a very different kind of writing. I want to tell you about how I came to be the author of my first therapeutic resource book for young children on sadness.
A little over a year and a half ago, I was introduced through a colleague to Elaheh Bos, a very talented children’s author and illustrator. I collaborated with her on A spot of blue, a resource book for children (ages 4 to 8) on anxiety, gave feedback and insights on strategies to help with this emotion, and wrote the foreword. Not too long thereafter, I collaborated with her on a second project, The tiger in my chest, another therapeutic resource book for children (ages 4 to 8) on anger. For this book, I wrote the Anger Management Strategies section and I must admit that I really enjoyed the process of writing, explaining, and essentially teaching young children how to tame their anger.
Well along the way, something happened that I was not expecting. Not only did I discover a passion for writing, but I developed a desire to be the author of my own therapeutic resource book for children. Of course, I felt grateful to again be able to collaborate with Elaheh Bos as illustrator for my book. So once I made the decision to embark on this new journey, I knew I wanted my first book to be about SADNESS. Why? Because it is another BIG EMOTION (besides anxiety and anger). Indeed, sadness can at times feel overwhelming. Many children tend to withdraw and internalize sad feelings without the know-how or psychological skills to calm and soothe themselves and/or the ability to express their thoughts and feelings. The purpose of this book is to help young children recognize, understand, and learn various tools to cope with sad feelings. And importantly, a more personal purpose in writing this book was to find a way to reach out to as many young children as I possibly could.
Now let me tell you more about the story in When Monkey Lost His Smile and share with you some of the pages from the book.
Monkey is an easy-going, carefree, and happy little monkey until he discovers one day that his favourite and most special tree has been cut down.
Monkey feels very sad and even sadder when he realizes that his bright smile is missing too. Monkey experiences the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural impact of feeling sad. His body hurts, he has sad thoughts, and he just wants to be by himself.
He talks to his mother who gives him some important advice and then he sets off with the support of his friends in search of his smile.
Through his fun adventure, he shows how he uses 9 different strategies or tools to help cope with his sadness and to ultimately find his smile.
As a therapeutic resource book, it was important to me that a child reading this story would be able to both relate to Monkey and be able to figure out the tools that Monkey used to help him feel better. In my opinion, when one can connect with the main character and discover the coping strategies for oneself, then those are the best ways to learn something new. For that reason, on certain pages, there are little numbered bananas that identify the tools.
The section after the story, entitled “How to Find Your Smile When You’re Feeling Sad,” clarifies why it is okay to feel sad, gives examples of when a child might feel sad, and explains the different components – body signals of sadness, sad thoughts, and how behaviour might change when one feels sad. I thought it would also be useful to have a way to measure how your child is feeling by including a scale we made up called a feeling-o’meter. This scale can be referred to both before and after trying a tool to see if that tool helped change your child’s mood. Then in the tools section, all the numbered bananas from the story are fully explained. Your child is encouraged to practice the different coping tools to see which ones he or she finds most helpful.
If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, therapist, school counsellor, or librarian and you are interested in learning more about this new therapeutic resource for children aged 4 to 8, please click here. I am very excited to know what you think!
As always, I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments.