July is BIPOC Mental Health Month. It was created in 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face related to mental illness in the communities of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Magination Press has several stories that address these unique struggles and open the door for discussion. This year, we feature the Something Happened books. The Something Happened books present and explain sensitive and important events happening in communities across the United States and around the world. Told in clear, compelling stories, the books come with the authority of psychological expertise from the American Psychological Association. They include: Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story of Racial Injustice, which is a New York Times and #1 IndieBound bestseller, and one of ALA's most banned books; Something Happened in Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence, which was nominated for The Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice; and Something Happened to My Dad: A Story About Immigration and Family Separation. Something Happened to My Dad: A Story About Immigration and Family Separation by Ann Hazzard, PhD ABPP and Vivianne Aponte Rivera, MD In this realistic and empowering tale, Carmen learns that through community and love, she can find strength in herself and maintain her connection with her Papi, who has been detained because of his immigration status. Carmen loves doing magic with her Papi. He can make sarapes fly. He can make rabbits vanish! But one day, her Papi vanishes. She is sad and scared when she learns he has been detained because he is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. At first, Carmen’s family keeps Papi’s detention a secret, fearing that they might be judged negatively. As Carmen's community becomes aware of their situation, they rally around her family with love. Carmen learns she can find strength in herself and maintain her connection with Papi, no matter what happens. Read and excerpt from the adult-child dialog section. Check out the English version of the book here and the Spanish version here. Something Happened In Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD and Ann Hazzard, PhD ABPP Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police. “Why did the police shoot that man?” “Can police go to jail?” Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues. Hear Something Happened in Our Town read aloud here. Hear a podcast with Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP about talking with children about racism here. Check out the book here. Something Happened in OurRead More
Gun violence is an all too common occurrence in our communities. Children may experience fear, anxiety, and confusion after experiencing, witnessing, or hearing about shootings in their community. The authors of the New York Times best-selling, award-winning book about a police shooting, Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP, created a new book, Something Happened In Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence, to help kids and grown-ups talk about gun violence and explore positive ways to respond. This excerpt from the extensive Reader’s Note in Something Happened In Our Park provides guidelines for discussing community gun violence with children. The Incidence and Impact of Gun Violence Every year over 15,000 children and teens, ages 0-19, are killed or injured by shootings, an average of 43 per day. An estimated three million children witness a shooting each year. Exposure to community violence puts children at increased risk for a variety of negative psychological outcomes. These children spend less time outside and are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, emotional concerns and concentration problems contribute to poorer academic performance. Helping Children Cope with Anxiety We all want our children to feel safe. Yet, we also want to prepare them for the dangers they may face. At times, this preparation might increase their anxiety, although appropriate education also increases children’s actual safety. These are competing priorities, and finding the right balance is challenging. Individual and Family Strategies to Increase Safety and Reduce Anxiety Children who become aware of shootings may become fearful and want to avoid certain activities and places. Other symptoms of anxiety are sleep and appetite changes, physical complaints, concentration problems, clinginess, irritability, or behavior problems. Parents have an important role in helping children cope with anxiety. Children sense when their caretakers are stressed, so it is important for parents to develop strategies to manage their feelings. Children also rely on parents to help them understand and manage their feelings. These approaches may be helpful. Limit your child’s exposure to graphic violent imagery in the news or in other media such as video games. Ask your children questions to find out what information they have and how they are feeling. Discuss your child’s reactions and concerns. Validate their feelings. Help your child manage their reactions using some of the strategies below, designed to help them cope with feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Expressing Feelings: You can help your children manage stress by coaching them to “turn down the volume” on emotions that feel overwhelming. Deep breathing, drawing, humming or singing, snuggling with a pet or favorite cuddly object, and visualizing a safe place, positive memory, or situation where your child mastered something scary are all calming strategies. Any activity which helps your child feel empowered, like music, sports, or prayer, can help to balance feelings of vulnerability. Encouraging Positive Thinking: Positive thinking means encouraging your child to thinkRead More
Help Your Little Worrier Stay Calm
A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers helps children understand what worries are and what to do when they are feeling worried. From verses that demonstrate body awareness to coping strategies for kids, A Feel Better Book is not only enjoyable for children to read, but also helpful for both children and caregivers. To learn more about how you can help your child cope with worries, check out our article Stress Management Exercises for Anxious Children.
Whether from television news reports, the car radio, digital media, or adult discussions, children are often bombarded with information about the world around them. When the events being described include violence, extreme weather events, a disease outbreak, or discussions of more dispersed threats such as climate change, children may become frightened and overwhelmed. The latest installment in the bestselling What To Do series, What to Do When the News Scares You: A Kid’s Guide to Understanding Current Events by Jacqueline B. Toner, PhD, provides a way to help children put scary events into perspective. And, if children start to worry or become anxious about things they’ve heard, there are ideas to help them calm down and cope. This book also helps children identify reporters’ efforts to add excitement to the story which may also make threats seem more imminent, universal, and extreme. This adapted excerpt from the Introduction to Parents and Caregivers provides strategies to help kids understand and process the messages around and to put scary events into perspective. Keep these tips in mind as you help your child through scary times: Children’s ability to cope with scary events varies with age and with the child. Limit young children’s exposure to news stories as much as you can. When you are unable to limit their exposure due to your own needs for information, be available to interpret messages for them. Consider how you access news and how that may impact children nearby. Reading news on your own is the least likely to accidentally transfer information to children; television news is more likely to include frightening visuals and sound effects. Listen to the child’s concerns before offering explanations. Ask what they have heard and what that information means to them. You may uncover misperceptions and unfounded fears which need correcting. Tell the truth but gently. Don’t brush off a child’s concerns but present hopeful information with the truth. Include information about how the event is being dealt with and people are being cared for. Be careful not to let your own fears result in sharing information based upon speculation about possible future developments. Help your child put the event in perspective. While you may have a sense that a threat is far away, limited in scope, being managed, or even in the past, don’t assume that your child understands this. Comment to your child about the ways in which news reports may be making things seem more dire than they are. Help older children become active consumers of the news by teaching them which news sources can be trusted and why. Be sure to point out sources of information that are likely to be misleading, especially online. Remind the child that you and other adults around them will keep them safe. Use concrete examples when you can. Maintain routines and don’t let news intrude on normal daily activities (no TV news during dinner). Encourage children to employ coping strategies designed to reduce over excitement and anxiety if they becomeRead More