The Courage to Feel: For Young Children is designed to educate children towards emotional awareness and competence. In addition to describing the steps, activities to enhance learning via the use of common childhood experiences are presented throughout the book to provide multiple opportunities to learn through different learning styles.
Feelings are literally the guidance system that helps us navigate the waters of our daily lives, introducing us to a sense of confidence and joy in living. Understood and used wisely, they generate the capacity to engage life with confidence and joy. Teaching these skills to children will help foster early emotional competence, thereby giving children the ability to learn as whole and integrated people.
The book contains a storybook for children along with a reader's guide for adults to use in assisting children toward emotional competency. The objective of the storybook is to teach children about emotions and skills to help them develop emotional competence. This is done by telling the story of Simon’s son, Peter, and his growing awareness of feelings. Peter becomes aware of his feelings and learns to experience, accept and listen to them, finally allowing them to pass. The storybook teaches children the four concrete steps that are the foundation of the first book in the series,The Courage to Feel.
1. Awareness of the Feeling (introduces the reader to the primary skill of awareness or mindfulness).
2. Being with the Feeling and breathing into them (tolerating and managing the emotion).
3. Checking the message of the feeling (reality check).
4. Deciding to Act, Express, or Not (Tailoring the response to emotional input).
Throughout the storybook, Peter experiences a variety of situations. In each situation, an adult helps him learn something new about emotions. The scenarios build upon each other with one skill being taught in the first scenario and others sequentially added to assist the reader in learning all four steps and how they work together. The final scenario in the story is a conversation between Simon and his son, Peter, in which Peter summarizes the four steps of emotional mastery.
The Reader's Guide has three sections. The first section is designed to teach the four skills needed to obtain emotional competence. The second section is designed to teach the application of these skills in a variety of common emotional situations. These situations are common to children and the exercises are developed to help the adult and child rehears the skills presented in section one. The final section is a summary of the skills.
Each of the skills, or situation, is presented separately. The therapeutic goal behind the skill is described. The related text (from the storybook) is presented to ensure adults are accurately connecting the text and the skill. Questions and activities developed to assist adults discuss the skill and help children practice the skills are listed. The questions can be used to facilitate conversation around the story content, while the activities allow the reader to learn how to use the skills discussed.
Adults read a portion of the storybook with the lesson they want to work on. After the text is read, the adult facilitates a discussion with the child using the suggested questions. Following the discussion, the activities are then facilitated to provide the child opportunities to practice the skills. Questions were chosen to increase the child’s awareness of the skills. Activities were chosen to provide experiential opportunities to practice the skills. Increasing awareness, followedby rehearsal of skill, is hoped to foster the emotional competence we desire.
If the book is produced in digital format, questions and activities could be accessed through an icon on the page.
Andrew Seubert, LPC, NCC, is a nationally certified counselor, licensed mental health counselor and an EMDRIA approved consultant and trainer with extensive background in an Existential-Gestalt approach to growth and therapy. Always drawn to forms of therapy that address the entire person—mind, body, emotions, creativity and spirit—Seubert uses a holistic approach in his work with a strong interest in healing from trauma and PTSD, particularly through the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This interest also informs his approach in working with eating disorders and helping couples create and renew their relationship. His passion for an integration of psychotherapy and spirituality is a driving force, whether in individual sessions, workshops or intensive therapeutic retreats. Andrew lives with his wife in New York.