14pp., board book, RRP $A12.99
Helping children understand and cope with their feelings in an appropriate way is such an important part of helping them grow and be able to socialise effectively. So this deceptively simple book is such a gift for the early childhood teacher or the parents of little ones.
It explores the feelings of happiness, sadness, anxiety, grumpiness, excitement, fear and shyness in a way that will really help the reader come to grips with all the emotions that fill their day. Each page has a tab that shows its focus feeling and starts with “When you feel…” so it talks directly to the child. Each page validates the feeling (so it’s OK to be shy) and then offers some suggestions for managing it. So if you are excited you can jump up and down or tell a friend; while if you’re grumpy you can do something you love, huff and puff or imagine a jelly bath!! Several times “Tell someone” is the suggestion which is great advice but it’s balanced with actions that the child can do not only to overcome the immediate situation but also build their strategies and resilience.
John Joseph has written much about how our emotions colour and shape our responses to a given situation, particularly the effect that the chemicals that are whizzing around our brains at the time have on us…”Depending on the extent of the situation, the capacity of sensory information and rational thinking to get processed is weakened, severely in extreme cases. Each particular emotion activates a series of memories and physical responses, inhibiting the flow of some chemicals and creating surges with others.” He talks about the “emotional rooms’ – blue, green, orange and red – what happens in each and how how we manage that not only shapes the moment but also the ultimate effect on our personality. “Those who spend hours on end in a negative Orange Room find it difficult to break depressing thought patters. Those who move into Red with little provocation are unpredictable, prone to violence and struggle to make and sustain relationships with others.”
While that may seem a bit deep and meaningful for a board book written for toddlers, it demonstrates the importance of helping little ones learn about their emotions – positive and negative – and how they can manage them, self-soothe and self-calm healthily and move on. This book is a first-step in that process and an integral part of any investigation about ‘Being Me” and “Being a Friend’. Let them talk and illustrate about when they feel happy, excited, scared or what they worry about and then brainstorm the sorts of things they can do to help them manage those feelings appropriately. Help them learn that different situations often require different responses. It could even serve as a lead-in to your Protective Behaviours / or other personal safety program you use in your school.
Deceptively simple but highly effective.