We have a new children’s book about emotions that we want to share with you and today Play-Based-Parenting welcomes the author for a very personal interview! Children’s books are a gentle way to explore emotions and start building Emotional literacy. Previously, I shared these awesome books for developing emotional awareness in children and now, I have another your children will love…
‘What a feeling!’ The ABCs for emotions, building emotional literacy
I was introduced to ‘What a feeling! The ABCs for emotions’ and the lovely author, Stephanie and knew instantly that this would be a fun and fabulous addition to our work on feelings and emotional regulation.
I honestly believe the first step to regulating and effectively coping with big feelings in children is to start building emotional literacy. I was overwhelmed with joy that Stephanie had the exact same belief. She believes that we need to increase a child’s vocabulary by giving them the words to express their experience of feeling a wide range of emotions, and how it feels in their bodies.
So without going into too much of my own emotions, and how truly excited I am to have connected with this book and the author, let me introduce Stephanie and this gorgeously written and illustrated book. It thoroughly explores a wide array of feelings and teaches children to notice how their body is feeling… Importantly, it acknowledges that there are both negative and positive emotions. Neither are shamed on and all are a normal experience in our ever changing life experience.
First, a little introduction.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, Stephanie Kaufman works with children and their families in a therapeutic setting to help them navigate challenging behaviors, concerns in social-emotional development, stressful family dynamics, trauma, and other mental health concerns. To further this ambition, Stephanie wrote What a Feeling! The ABCs for Emotions, an illustrated children’s book that helps kids identify their emotions and gives them a vocabulary to express what they are feeling.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Stephanie has witnessed many strong emotions coming up for kids at home, especially now that the school year has commenced and distance learning and/or big changes to in-person teaching environments is the reality for many. In this Q&A interview, she shares with Play Based Parenting her perspective to common questions no doubt your family has as well.
Building Emotional literacy with Stephanie Kaufman.
“Welcome to Play-Based-parenting Stephanie, and thank you kindly for sharing this book with my family and our readers. Lately we have experienced a change in the world and I think this book would do a world of good for children struggling to find the words to express their feelings during such uncertain changes… Building emotional literacy is crucial in the younger years and can only benefit us all.
The pandemic affects everyone differently, especially children and adults. How do you recommend parents authentically get tuned into what their child is experiencing? How do they meet their emotional needs?
I would say the most important thing a parent can do to support their child right now is to regularly take the time to be present, available, kind, compassionate, and just listen. As needed, provide some support to empower your child to come to their own conclusion about how to deal with challenges.
Even younger children can come up with creative and effective solutions independently. Let them try out their own ideas, and if they don’t work, let them try another one! The trial and error process is great for building resilience and gives children a sense of autonomy, which is even more necessary right now since so many areas of “normal life” feel out of our control. There are also many other effective strategies to help your family through distance learning and working from home.
Are there any signs of concerning behavioral or emotional changes parents should look out for?
Parents should look out for big shifts in personality, increased isolation, more difficulty regulating and returning to calm, increases in expressions of anger, or tantrums. Some of these behaviors may be considered normal and expected in the context of the fear and stress related to the pandemic and the true loss of community and predictability this era has brought about, but we still want to be present and supportive to help our children become more self-aware and learn to navigate the changes and disappointments that Covid-19 has brought into our lives. If you are noticing concerning and lasting changes in your child, it may be a good idea to seek professional support.
How do you recommend parents navigate this time of adversity with their families to ensure their children cope well with it and develop into healthy adolescents/adults?
It’s always good to start with compassion for self and others. Another important thing to keep in mind is that children usually learn coping skills by mirroring their parents and other role models in their lives. Narratives are also very important. Do your family members see themselves as victims, survivors, or thrivers in the face of the pandemic?
While working as an MFT, what inspired you to write a children’s book?
I have noticed that oftentimes, children want to express what they feel, but they either don’t have the verbal skills yet, or they don’t have the right words. For example, their feeling isn’t just anger, it’s something a bit more complex. The inability to communicate their experience can frustrate them. It is also hard for children to connect what is happening in their bodies to the feeling. I wanted to give children a tool to help increase their understanding of the physiological responses that accompany emotions and the right words to more accurately describe their experience. What a Feeling! The ABCs for Emotions is a great tool to help parents and children open discussions and explore the world of emotions.
Why is reading together important? How could that be helpful, especially books in the social-emotional genre?
Reading is so important, not just for academic reasons but also for social-emotional reasons. Books provide awesome examples and lessons for kids on almost any subject! Reading Curiously is a great way to promote the development of empathy, build insight, cultivate perspective-taking, and strengthen your child’s moral conscience.
How can families find a state of calm and promote harmony, even beyond the time of Covid-19?
Every family has different needs and challenges and will need to figure out what coping mechanisms work within their own individual family culture. Sitting down as a family and discussing what works and what does not work is always a good idea.
Try to imagine your family as members on a team that work together to come up with solutions and face challenges. It’s all about teamwork. Some ideas may include family game nights, eating dinner together, more cuddle time, mindfulness activities, going out on walks, dance, and/or yoga.
If people would like to reach out to ask about your practice or your book, where can they find you?
Thank you Stephanie and best wishes with your book. I hope others enjoy it as much as what we have and I hope it helps families to start building emotional literacy!
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