Have you ever become anxious before speaking in public? Have you ever felt bad about the choices you made? Has imposter syndrome ever crept up and made you second guess your ability? Everyone in the world has experienced these moments at some point in their lives.
This is exactly what happened to the main character, James, in Kristen Maher’s new book, The Awfulizer. The Awfulizer is a voice inside James’ mind who constantly puts him down. The Awfulizer reminded him of "bad" things he had done and the more terrible James felt, the bigger the Awfulizer seemed to grow. The negative voice took over James' mind with such intensity that it eventually shut him down where he did not want to speak up in school or do the things he once considered fun.
Think of when children share these feelings with adults. Typically adults' responses include telling them they shouldn’t feel a certain way because they are good people. Although these types of responses are said with good intentions, they do not validate the child’s feelings. Instead of the child feeling better, they may feel foolish for sharing and may feel more alone.
In the book The Awfulizer, James’ parents noticed there was something bothering him, so they approached him with ease. As James explained his feelings, they listened and empathized with him by sharing they too experience these thoughts feelings from time to time. James’ mother told him, “When you know you’ve done something wrong, you apologize, learn from it, and let it go.” His dad shared by talking about his feelings, James got a superpower making him the “The Awesomizer.” By the end of the book James learned to engage in positive self-talk which eventually made The Awfulizer disappear.
Think… if your child or student shares they feel awful about life, what would make a more positive impact in the long run? Would you speak over their words and tell them they shouldn’t think those things because you know they’re great? Or would you hear what the child has to say to understand where their feelings are coming from, and then be able to provide them with strategies to help them with their challenges?
Very often as adults we want to protect our kids as though to put them in a bubble. The reality is however, experiencing a variety of emotions is a natural part of life. Instead of shielding children from negative feelings they may inevitably feel, let’s listen to our kids to truly understand their challenges and provide them with coping strategies they could use at that moment and throughout their lives.
The Awfulizer is a one-of-a-kind and honest book which helps kids talk about big emotions. Help the children in your life learn strategies to help them become “Awesomizers” themselves!
See the YouTube review on "Helping Kids with Self-Doubt" here.
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Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with children and families for two decades. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of Free to Be Mindful - a private practice located in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
Vanessa is passionate about helping moms, kids and educators with mindful living, mental health and personal growth through efforts including:
Host of the Free to Be Mindful Podcast which provides bite-sized tips and guided meditations to anyone working with kids
Founder of Amiga Moms, a supportive network for 21st century moms offering educational events founded in mindfulness
Public Speaking and Professional Development for parents, educators and young adults on topics such as mindfulness, building healthy relationships with kids, self care, mental health and more.