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.
Helping you Learn, Grow & Inspire.
Counselor De Jesus
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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.