The biology of our emotional life
Most children will go through a phase where they might find the world around them and the ensuing emotions a little tough to handle. This can lead to anger or temper tantrums; poor sleep and a raft of other childhood emotional difficulties. For parents these phases can be equally tough. Parent and child often do not have the coping skills to manage these difficult phases. Parents often ask me if there is anything they can give their child to read that might make understanding what they are going through a little easier.
I have recently been introduced to the works of Professor Steve Peters. He was written a series of books that explore the science behind our emotions. They are a fantastic resource for parents and children. There are two in particular that I recommend to parents as they work so well together.
- The Silent Guides
The first one is aimed at adults. It is called “The Silent Guides” and it is a great one to read parents are thinking of reading the second one, “My Hidden Chimp”, with their kids. If you want to understand a little more about how the mind works on an unconscious level or how the various parts of the brain determine how we react to the world around us, then this book is for you. It is packed with neuroscience. But, you will not realise that while you are reading it. The Prof explains how the brain works in language and via metaphors and diagrams that everyone will be able to understand. The science is clear but it expressed without the jargon and massively difficult terms or concepts.
Not only will the book enlighten you about how your brain functions, but it will allow you to understand others. This in turn will create a more empathetic understanding of those around you when they are finding life a little tough. It would be a great read for anyone who works with children. It should be essential reading for all teachers.
- My Hidden Chimp
The second one is called “My Hidden Chimp”. This is designed for parents to use almost as a workbook with their children. The explanations are clear without being patronising. There are some worksheets to do that will help explain the emotions your child is feeling. It finishes with a wonderful section on creating good habits. This can only lead to better mental health for the entire family! Older children will be able to work through this book on their own.
I highly recommend both books. They are not only for those who are finding growing up a little tough. It is a very useful way for children and their parents to educate and prepare themselves for what life will throw at them as they mature. They will give you the coping skills to keep those typical childhood emotional difficulties to a minimum.
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