In the last of four interviews Isabelle Filliozat, French parenting expert, talks about her book, My Sibling. My Sibling is part of The Find Out Files, a series of activity books that explores feelings and relationships. You can also read her interviews about My Emotions, My Anger, and My Fears. Here's what Ms. Filliozat has to say about creating My Siblings: Magination Press: Why did you decide to include a book about siblings in The Find Out Files? Isabelle Filliozat: Do you really have to ask the question? Isn’t it the most difficult topic the parents face? It was the most complicated issue for me with my children. So hard! We hate to see our children fight, but behind those fights are emotions. If we parents learn to hear these emotions, fights lessen. Small fights are natural between siblings, but children need tools to help them deal with conflict so that they don’t harm themselves physically or emotionally. MP: Why did you choose a cat as the animal guide for My Sibling? IF: Cats are very cute and friendly. They come to be petted, but they have their independence. And as with your siblings, you never know if he wants to cuddle or fight. While kittens fight a lot with each other, they never harm themselves, but they practice fighting with one another so that they will be strong with strangers. Kittens cuddle a lot. They go underneath one another, on top, any position…I love the game “kitten basket” where all the family piles on each other, pretending to be kittens in a basket. There’s so much contact. You end up laughing and charged with oxytocin! MP: In My Sibling, you explain how birth order affects how families interact. You explore what it feels like to be a first child or a younger child. What kinds of unique experiences do middle and youngest children have? IF: I didn't have room to explore all positions in detail, but the idea is to think about the impact of the environment on development of temperament. When you are in the middle…well, you are in the middle…so you neither get the advantages of the eldest, nor of the youngest. And also you are older than one, and younger than another. So it’s a mix of the positions. It’s of course different when you are in the middle of three kids or in the middle of five, and when the gap between each is one or six years. So many situations and recompositions nowadays add complexity. The idea of the book is not to trap a child in a definition, but to help him think about the experience one is living. MP: What about twins or multiples? They have to share their parents from the beginning, and people frequently compare them. What kind of experiences do they have as siblings? IF: Yes, every situation is particular. That is what we have to realize. A baby doesn’t grow alone in a desert, he builds himselfRead More
About Isabelle FilliozatIsabelle Filliozat is a psychotherapist, speaker, and author of books on positive parenting. She created Filliozat & Co, an organization presenting conferences, workshops, and online resources for parents. Isabelle lives in France. Visit her at filliozat.net and on Facebook and Twitter @ifilliozat.
Magination Press’s new series of activity books, The Find Out Files, help kids explore emotions and relationships. Magination Press interviewed authors, Isabelle Filliozat and Virginie Limousin, about creating My Anger, one of the books in The Find Out Files. Magination Press: In another Find Out Files book, My Emotions, you identified seven different emotions to explore. Why did you decide to write a whole book about anger? Isabelle Filliozat: We wanted one on each and every emotion. Anger was the first, because it’s the first thing parents are concerned about and we wanted to arm parents with empathy rather than unhelpful responses when their child gets angry or has a tantrum. People tend to have a moral judgement about anger, because many confuse it with violence or a power play. Virginie Limousin: Children are immature and often respond with tantrums that are often misinterpreted by adults, who may respond clumsily. Parents may find themselves overwhelmed by their own emotional reactions. So this book provides parents with an understanding of anger (provides a certain emotional literacy to anger). The idea of the activity book is both simple explanations of anger—this natural physiological reaction of our body—and easy techniques for children to tame this emotion while allowing them to express it because it is very useful in our lives. MP: Why did you choose Parrot to be the animal guide for My Anger? VL & IF: There is the parrot and the professor Angrius to give information. The parrot is coming from the air, he is non judgemental. Professor Angrius (Colérius) is the main guide throughout the find out file. He is small and has hair like Einstein’s and wears large glasses to suggest he has read books and knows a lot. The parrot is one of his collaborators. The parrot has worked with him for so long that he can repeat everything the Professor has discovered during his research ;-) MP: Tell us about the oxygen cloud elevator tool. What inspired it? VL: Anger is an emotion that can be difficult to regulate. Sometimes it makes us want to hit, throw, or scream. Focusing a few moments on our breathing allows us to oxygenate our brain and not react impulsively. An emotion is like a cloud passing in the sky, it is temporary. And just as we contemplate the clouds, we need to be able to observe our emotion to understand what they are telling us. MP: You include lots of activities in the book: crafts, quizzes, drawing opportunities. Why did you incorporate stickers in all The Find Out Files books? IF: We wanted to get children as active as possible and offer them fun tools. Children learn when they are enthusiastic and feel in control of their learning. Most children love stickers. And those are colorful and fun. We wanted children to be able to associate anger with love, colors, and fun, so that they stop thinking it is a bad emotion and can make friends with it. WhatRead More
Magination Press's new series of activity books, The Find Out Files, help kids explore emotions and relationships. Magination Press interviewed author and parenting expert, Isabelle Filliozat, about creating My Emotions, one of the books in The Find Out Files. Magination Press: What inspired you to create The Find Out Files series? Isabelle Filliozat: Until now I had only written essays and self-help books for adults on emotions and relationships. I always argue in my books and seminars that all this information and these tools that help living in better harmony with oneself and others should be learned at school. Emotional and relational intelligence can be trained from the beginning. So finally, writing for children was a natural continuum of my work. I realized it was time to address the children directly, to empower them with information. Then the question of how arose. You learn better when you are active, that’s why I choose this format. First, the child is immersed in a pleasant activity. The activity is chosen to help him discover information or develop a skill. MP: Who identified the seven basic emotions you explore in My Emotions? Is that something in psychology in general or categories you created for the book? IF: My approach is mainly based on the work of Joseph Ledoux and, of course, Paul Ekman. The field of emotion is relatively new. The scientists don’t agree yet on a list of emotions; it depends on many factors and the way you define emotion (because even for the definition, there is no consensus). In 1972, Paul Ekman published a list of 6 basic emotions : fear, anger, disgust, joy, sadness, surprise. A few years later, his list was enlarged to 16, including shame. I followed him on that. Many experts on emotions saw the relevance of including shame in basic emotions, even if it was a social emotion. More recently, to create an atlas of emotions, (a map the Dalaï Lama asked him to build), Ekman led a large survey of 149 different scientists to gather a consensus. He concluded on five categories of emotions: anger, fear, disgust, sadness and enjoyment. They are the emotions in the Disney movie Inside Out. (He was a counselor for the film). So you see, nothing is completely fixed yet. During my professional life time, like Paul Ekman, my ideas have evolved. The seven emotions we explore in My Emotions are the seven I consider now as relevant. I add love, because love is a sentiment but also an emotion. I don’t use surprise; I may one day, but surprise is a startle reflex, the beginning of fear, the protection system. A categorization is only a categorization, it isn't the “reality." The more the scientists work on the field, the more information we get, the more we can refine our model. A model, a categorization, helps to label and to discriminate between different states. It is the first step to mastering. MP: Why is talking about and exploring emotions important?Read More