When we look at our kids or students we may think, “They don’t have a worry in the world.” However, just because our kids are smaller, it does not mean their hearts hurt any less. As a school counselor and licensed child therapist I see firsthand the rise of anxiety and hopelessness in the youth of today. Not only do they have the worries we had as kids - such as homework, getting good grades, and managing sibling and parent relationships - but they also have a list of other worries which can be very overwhelming.
Due to the changing times, adults may be more weary of the world, which has a conscious and subconscious impact on our kids. Kids are more over-scheduled now than ever before which brings an extra layer of stress to their lives. Due to this they may not have as much time for free play which helps strengthen social relationships. With limited amounts of in-person social interactions and having a marked increase in interactions via technology, our kids may find themselves in situations which they may not know how to handle appropriately. This can consequently lead to an increase in anxiety and an impact on the belief in themselves in being able to handle these types of challenges.
Just like in the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, if kids do not have the ability to just be kids and if they are not given the appropriate emotional supports, it may cause an entire domino effect of severe cause-and-effect outcomes.
The amazing author Julia Cook, a school counselor and parent coach, has done it again and created an awesome book, A Flicker of Hope, which may resonate with kids and adults who feel overwhelmed and stressed. The book is brilliantly written in such a way that it is appropriate for students of all ages (including adults!) even though it touches upon a variety of “heavy” topics. Without using these exact words, the book would be beneficial for kids or adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or hopelessness.
The characters in the book help each other by seeing how they can build their self-confidence, support network and personal resilience in efforts to overcome their challenges. The characters also learn the importance of being present in the world, and being comfortable in their own skin. Not only is the book beneficial for those going through difficulties, it also helps inform people who can be “hope builders” to encourage others to persevere through their difficult moments. Children and adults of all ages could benefit from this book and its special message.
A Flicker of Hope is a great book which gives kids the power to believe in themselves, to believe in the power of others’ help, and most importantly to believe in the power of HOPE. This book would certainly be a great addition to your personal or classroom library!
Counselor De Jesus
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area. To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.