It’s the start of the new school year and for many children it’s an exciting time. For some though the return to school may be riddled with anxiety and stress, possibly caused by bullying. A parent’s first reaction may be one of rage and anger, no parent wants their child to be the subject of bullying. I’ve come across a lovely book and CD by Alicia Thomas-Woolf that will help parents teach their kids to deal with bullying positively.
The book starts with a little explanation of how to use it. Using actions and emotions when reading it to your child will help to get them engrossed in it and possibly open up about anything that has been bothering them. The book uses a method called ‘dissociation’ which means that the story is happening to someone else so your child feels safe reading it. There are also specific instances where you may insert your own scenarios into the story, making it resonate more with your child.
The book is about a dog, a giraffe and a kitty that all go to school together. What struck me is that the characters are different animals which makes the child realise that there are different kinds of people in his/her environment. Doggy and Giraffe are mean to the little Kitty and keywords describing how kitty feels are highlighted in red. Your child will be able to focus on these feelings by seeing the highlighted words.
The book describes how you can change bad feelings into super powers which in turn makes you a kinder, better person. Using bad feelings positively is something all children ought to learn as a life skill to be used throughout their lives. The illustrations are really good and show the emotion of the characters as well as the feeling of nurturing when Kitty turns to her mum for support. Kitty’s mum tells her about the powerful song and that’s where you can listen to the CD while showing your child how to do the power pose, which was introduced by Amy Cuddy in a TED talk.
The power pose is useful to reduce stress and cortisol levels and release testosterone. Kitty really gets into the song and ‘throws away’ her feelings of ‘mad, sad, scared and bad’. After some practice, Kitty feels powerful and the bullies become worried because she is no longer upset by their behaviour. They didn’t understand the change in her and when they ask her what her secret is, she tells them.
The book helps bullies as well by boosting their confidence so that the need to bully diminishes. Having children feel powerful and in turn, kind and caring means they no longer feel the need to make others feel inferior. I like that the book shows you how to constructively change your mindset and how others will too.
I would recommend the book to teachers, caregivers and parents. It’s a fun book that coincidentally teaches children valuable life lessons in a fun way. My older kids aged 10 and 12 weren’t too interested in the illustrations but listened to the story as I told it to them and I asked questions as well.
This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2018.