Young children are constantly learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge, from gaining new vocabulary to working out how to ride a scooter…they are learning all the time! One skill 2-4 year olds will still be developing is how to understand their own feelings and importantly how they can communicate these feelings effectively to others.
Whilst they are developing their understanding of their own emotions, young children are also likely to be going through big changes at home. These could be events such as starting nursery/school, learning to use the toilet or possibly even gaining a new sibling. Children may need extra emotional support during these changes to make sense of them.
So how can we help? Well, thankfully this week we’ve discovered just the resources to support children to understand their feelings during changes: Dr Sarah Mundy’s Parenting Through Stories*
Dr Sarah Mundy is a mum of three and a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Her books are designed to help children learn to manage difficult situations. We’ve been reading her first children’s book Please Stay Here- I Want You Near as well as her Parenting Handbook. Both books can be found on her crowdfunding website here.
Please Stay Here- I Want You Near is ideal for young children and or those with Special Educational Needs who are starting nursery, preschool or primary school. This beautifully illustrated, lift the flap, children’s book tells the story of a loveable bear called Bartley, who likes school but is a bit apprehensive about going. Through clever questions hidden behind flaps in the book, children are gently invited to open up about their own feelings about starting school or nursery.
What did we like about it?
- Fun- Most importantly this is a really lovely and enjoyable book for children. I say most importantly, as for something to be of use to a child they need to want to engage with it. A book is no use if it just sits on a child’s shelf collecting dust. This book certainly makes children want to read it! It’s cute illustrations, adorable characters, lift the flaps and relatable story all add to it’s appeal. We had lots of fun reading it and the children wanted me to keep read it again!
- Encourages Children to Discuss their Own Feelings- Talking about feelings is difficult (even for grown ups!) and what’s great about this book is it gently invites children to open up about how they feel. Questions hidden under the flaps on each page guide children to think about how Bartley the bear must be feeling and how they would also cope in the same situation. This is a fantastic activity to do with children and model to them the importance of being open about how we feel. We found it provided brilliant opportunities for us to discuss starting school, being away from us and ways that we could make it easier.
- Validates Children’s Feelings- I am a strong believer that in order for children to grow up being able to understand and manage their own emotions, we must validate their feelings when they are young. This means that when they are crying about leaving us for school we don’t say ‘Oh don’t be silly’ or ‘It’s not a big deal’. To children, this IS a big deal, probably the biggest thing they have faced. Instead we should be showing them that we understand how they are feeling, we are listening and we will try our best to help them. This book follows this philosophy, supporting children with their feelings and recognising that they matter.
- Active– For young children, often the best books to keep their interest are ones that actively involve them to participate. This book cleverly includes lift the flaps to open and questions to answer to keep children fully engaged throughout. And lets face it…kids love lift the flaps! They can’t resist seeing what is hidden under them! The children adored the cheeky little squirrel called Nudge that is under each lift the flap.
- Written by an Expert– What I particularly loved about this book is its underpinned by psychology and experience. The author, Dr Mundy is not only a Consultant Clinical Psychologist but she’s also a mum of three children. So not only does she have the professional understanding and experience of how children develop and express their emotions but she also has the lived experience of raising children herself. The final pages of the book provide parents with top tips on separation anxiety, such as when leaving a child at school/nursery not sneaking out without them realising.
- Provides Further Support for Parents- Importantly, Dr Sarah Mundy’s support to parents doesn’t just stop here…what’s great is, if like me you find the last two pages on separation anxiety really useful, Dr Sarah Mundy also has a Parenting Handbook packed full of advice to help further develop a parent’s understanding and confidence when supporting young children. She focuses on helping parents to understand a child rather than focus solely on managing their behaviour. Her Parenting Handbook covers a breadth of topics providing theory (with explanations of Attachment Theory and the PACE model) as well as strategies and practical tips (such as for toilet training, healthy eating, bedtime and separation anxiety). She also explains how to use her stories, such as Please Stay Here- I Want You Near to help support your child. I loved how well written the Parenting Handbook is, after reading it I felt more knowledgeable about my own children and empowered on how to handle those ‘tricky’ situations more effectively. I can also see myself ‘dipping back’ into the book when I’m looking for some advice on a certain topic in the future. I’d thoroughly recommend it.
Support their Crowdfunding here
And find them on Social Media here:
*Please note we were sent sample for the purpose of this review and this article is sponsored. All words and opinions are our own