Written by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd, Clinical Psychologist and Children’s Book Author
As a psychologist, I am always looking for ways to teach my three young children about their emotions and ways to be aware of their thoughts and feelings. Understanding emotions is key to strengthening a child’s ability to cope and regulate stressors in life. Storybooks can be used to engage children (and adults!) in gaining insight into their feelings and teach helpful ways to practice healthy coping skills. In particular, picture books that focus on social emotional learning can be used as tools to help shape the way children understand feelings and express themselves. Social emotional books provide opportunities for open discussions about emotional content which can help to increase a child’s emotional competence.
Children experience a wide range of feelings, just as adults do. This can include feeling excited, calm, bored, sad, nervous, embarrassed, disappointed and more. Coping skills and strategies are methods a person uses to deal with or handle stressful situations and experiences. Encouraging a joy for reading and practicing healthy coping skills can be done as a family and incorporated within a home. This helps with staying connected while teaching children important coping tools that help engage them in the present moment, increase attention, and reduce stress.
As a mom, I’ve learned it is ever so important that healthy coping skills are discussed and promoted for children at an early age. My first children’s book, B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings, was written to open up a dialogue for children to discuss feelings and develop healthy strategies to manage these feelings. B is for Breathe is the first of five books in the Skills for Kids Book Series. These books were created to engage, uplift, and inspire social emotional wellness and are wonderful resources for children, parents, educators, counselors, and more. The Skills for Kids Book Series also includes illustrations of ethnically diverse characters, which allows many children to see themselves in a book and read stories that they can relate to.
Children’s literature can be utilized to support enhancing reading and communication skills in addition to developing a wide range of social emotional skills in order to maintain healthy relationships, make responsible decisions, and better manage emotions, to include building empathy. By incorporating literature to promote healthy emotions, children can strengthen their ability to better understand the emotions, challenges, and goals of themselves and others.