Self Help Books for kids? –Not quite!

I wanted to see if there was anything awesome out there for kids and just as I was going to look it up I realised there was one place I would definitely find it. Under the bed! If you like the powerful works of Louise Hay and Dr Wayne Dyer you’ll want to check this out! 

Some years ago I wanted to buy books I hoped would agree with my style of parenting and my personal beliefs about child rearing. I was a bit of a cave woman mum and I think I still am, if I am honest. I wanted to make sure I used as much of my intuition as possible while bringing my child up. I managed, perhaps also while beating a few people on the head with my cave woman bat a few times on my way (ahem, apologies to the ice cream van man and to the two unsuspecting, innocent, heavily-tattooed bald gentlemen in the car with the loud music passing by my pram with the sleeping baby all those years back), but in hindsight, nobody gave me any instructions how to do the ‘baby thing’ either, so I suspect I did my best.

I don’t know about you but I am also very sensitive to what kind of messages the stuff my daughter reads sends her about her self-image and the general idea of what being a female is all about. Being spiritual my whole life, I wished to give freedom but also a good base to my child. I wanted someone to write something that would send a positive message to my child about being herself but also perhaps about being a girl, and I wanted to be sure of this this before I bought it. There is no price to be put on reinforcing stuff like this in stories for a child. The power in stories can be truly amazing and it should be handled with the care and attention it deserves. While the Harry Potters of this world are brilliant, educational and fun, I felt I also needed to add to them something perhaps liberating in a different sort of way.

I think today’s world is not really encouraging kids to really be themselves. Children, especially in Britain, have more tests and more expectations put on them by the age of twelve then some people previously had in their entire lifetime! How is that just being yourself? Who are we kidding? And no, I am not exaggerating. We sort of pretend we are letting them be and we are building ‘their resilience’. I am a bit tired of this word, so overused and so under done. Just talking about resilience is doing nothing.

So, was I after resilience? No. Just a buzz word really. A bit of a dreaded ‘five a day’ for our mind. Everyone knows it’s a cliche and not enough but still it’s better than nothing. A resilient child is a loved child. However, there is a catch here! A strong child is not just loved by their parents but also by their society and their tribe (if they are lucky to belong to one in this ‘community divorced’ 21st century). It’s no good loving them then putting impossible requests on them. Testing this, testing that, stressing over this, stressing over that, all the time. Entire childhood gone! Which book is your kid on? Oh God mine’s on a different book (level)! Why? Are we not pushing the kid enough? Why are they behind? OMG they are four and they are behind already??? Yup, that’s us. Sucker parents. We got sucked into the rat race. We did! Please own up. If I can, you can.

So, back to books. What was I after? Love I was after. Unconditional. In literature, for children. Any children, boys and girls. And miraculously, I sort of found it! So, what’s out there?

Surprise, surprise, Hay House is very much leading on this. There are several books available for children but I chose only four today for no other reason than because those four were left long ago under my daughter’s bed. Forgotten pearls of wisdom, in the corner and a bit dusty, as befits the proper wisdom.

Being too lazy to write one myself, I was after a book that would make a change for the child who reads it, written by someone I trusted. I wanted books that initiate conversation between parent and child, so the parent does not sound like they are lecturing the child (and we all know how that goes down). I also wanted books that would not tell children that something is wrong with them so they need to change. I need to make something clear. I don’t stand for ‘poor you’ (cringe, cringe). I have no idea who came up with that phrase. No one wants to be told ‘poor you’, and kids the least! They want to hear ‘you are awesome’, ‘you are strong and able’ in whatever shape and form it turns up, not ‘poor you’. They don’t want to be told they are poor when they feel poor. Kids believe this sort of stuff. I cringe when I hear it but say nothing. Kids don’t want to feel someone is sorry for them. They want tools, solutions and stuff they can use. Not to feel helpless. I didn’t want that kind of book. I wanted something to empower a child.

Finally, what’s on my lap? The first and the simplest one is called ‘No Excuses’ and is written by the late Dr Wayne W. Dyer, world renowned and much loved author of self- help books for adults. He wrote this one with Kristina Tracy. The fun illustrations were done by Stacy Heller Budnick.

I love this book and my daughter loved it too. It is really about how your child or indeed you could be making any random excuse not to make your dreams come true. This really is a bit of an investment not just in your child but perhaps also in you. Sharing this book with your son or daughter could, and perhaps will, change both of your lives. I could tell you more, but I won’t. I don’t want to spoil it. All I will say is it is actually a bit of a journey to read it. A very simple story, with a boy as the main character, it’s not a very long book either. It’s a picture book so it is suitable for six year olds but the message is universal. Well written, with the purpose of making kids think and helping them change. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a picture book, in fact all the ones I chose today are, the stuff inside is well past most adult self-help books. And most importantly, the stuff inside works.

The second book is also written by Dr Dyer and Tracy, the same pair. It is called ‘Unstoppable Me’. This one is interesting in two different ways. It is actually written to cover some different issues children need to face up to every now and then as they grow (primary/elementary stage of development) and is also a poem book (added to prose). I suspect that often adult’s unhappiness might be rooted in the loss of child-like innocence. Too many expectations, too much living in the past or in the often wrongly-predicted future. This book, as with all Dyer’s books, is valuable for anyone, maybe especially for an adult who needs to wake up to their own inner child. I can’t think of a better way to do that than with your own child. I find sometimes it helps to remind myself what it felt like to be a little girl. I can recollect some of the feeling some of the time as I have been practicing a lot, however it is a fleeting feeling which escapes from my being in the blink of an eye before I can capture it, which I really would like to be able to do. The memory of being a child, if you can catch it, is a treasure to be searched and treasured over and over again.  Anyway, this book might be just what we need to be kids with our kids, join with their ‘here and now’ fully. And quite frankly I can’t think of anything better for bonding and good use of time together with obviously a few cuddles thrown in.  So, if there is one thing this will do, it will take the seriousness out of the conversation which we can only hope will help, as a spoonful of sugar for the (parental) medicine to go down. And yes, one more thing, about the poetry inside. The UK National Curriculum really loves poetry as of late (not to mention the love affair with Shakespeare!) so you can develop two things here. Apart from that, some kids just simply prefer the rhyme.

 

The next book I am looking at is another Hay House book and this one is written by Louise Hay herself. If you are in favour of not beating around the bush, you will love the fact that this book is straight from the horse’s mouth.

I tend not to take much notice of other people’s rants but I’ll happily listen to the advice of anyone who was once upon time meant to die very quickly and then proceeded not only to live into their nineties and take up ballroom dancing at eighty years old, but also help millions help themselves too.

So, what’s Louise done for children? Well, she did for children what she did for all the rest of the humanity. She wrote a practical book and just coated it in a story (as if in candy) so kids can digest it. This one is to be read slowly and perhaps could be kept as a reference read. When things go wrong, it could be dished out, as and when, depending on what the trouble is. The book is called ‘The Adventures of Lulu’. There are three stories inside on ninety-five pages. Again, don’t be fooled by the pictures, this is not a wishy-washy picture book. There are a lot of tools inside. Lulu is a girl who can talk to animals and they go through all sorts of troubling situations which are solved by anything from (Louise’s famous) affirmations to songs and mirror work. There is some serious stuff here but it’s all beautifully packaged for a little reader in need. I strongly recommend this one for any child, especially a low self-confidence,  worrying type.  Perhaps, if your worrying child is an older one you could suggest they read this to a younger child (pretending that is who this is for), as it might help them both. You don’t always have to be obvious. I’ve done stuff like that many times -pretending this is for one person when in fact it is for another. The benefit is all the same, we don’t always have to give it a name.

Another good thing about this book is that it gives practical tools parents can use. It is hard being a parent of a sensitive, shy or anxious child. At times everyone is trying to help and tell the parent what they need. Nobody is bothering telling them what to do. And all they want to do is to be there for their child and take control so the children can get the help they need any time. Having this book or all of them in your little library might be a source of this power for a parent and it’s worth it even it is useful only once.  Also, learning to use the tools might truly empower your children.

The next book, I left to the end. It is more of a beautiful book made to help girls on their way to change. It really is beautiful. Another one of the Hay House publications, the ‘Beautiful Girl’ is written by the very famous woman’s woman Dr Christine Northrup and again Kristina Tracy. The illustrations are done by the very skilled and, I would say romantic artist Aurelie Blans.

This book, it appears, is resurrecting that which we as women, perhaps, have been short of for thousands of years (5000 to be precise here!); remembering to cherish our bodies and marvel at the beauty and the power we were given with them. I love the women’s world and all the beauty and creativity it offers, not only in its physical power (to create babies for example) but also with the spiritual power that comes with it. And I feel, not in an angry sort of way, but with an urgency to make sure our girls know it, that this task of telling the girls it is beautiful to be female is more important than any other business. That being female, creative, and nurturing to others is also being nurturing to self and other females, to each other. This, I feel has been lost. This book gave me lots of hope that there are people out there reaching out to many, to work on bringing it back, on our girls behalf. Even more important is the fact that this is for young girls ensuring we start in good time and get it right from the beginning. The book emphasises self-acceptance while in the future going through a feminine change. It is very much a mother and daughter book. It might alienate dads, but it is not really written for them. It is not written to alienate them either, it is just not the book for dads to read, that’s all. This one is for mums and daughters alone. It is written for those moments mums and daughters share, when they bond within the same beautiful feminine world of being magically, gently yet powerfully, the true creatives of the miraculous species.

by Billie Krstovic

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