Helping children cope with emotions
As a new wave of emotional wellbeing books for children hits the market, meet Clare Shaw, an author of therapeutic stories covering tricky subjects such as bereavement.
“All too often I find myself reading another article around child mental health and the ‘crisis’ we now find ourselves in,” says Clare. “Reports say that one in eight children in England have a mental health disorder, yet only a third receive the treatment they need. These figures make for upsetting reading.
“My greatest fear is that every child has worries and emotions that they often can’t understand or control. These feelings could turn into something bigger and much more troublesome as the child grows. However, handled in the right way, at the right time, they could so simply be relieved while still young. I wanted to find a way that could help and writing appears to be my way.”
Having lost her brother when she was just 11, leading to years of mental health issues, Clare’s titles Love Will Never Die: Helping children through bereavement and At Times I Get These Feelings: Helping children with emotions, are written from the heart.
Using direct but child-friendly language, these books address the emotions felt by a child during bereavement and grief, or offer tips and activities to help children with their emotional literacy. She offers support and understanding alongside areas where the child can express themselves through writing and drawing. The books reassure the child there is no ‘right’ way to feel.
As Clare first started to research child bereavement for Love Will Never Die, she discovered that around 112 children are bereaved of a parent in the UK every day. It is a staggering figure, especially when you consider it does not include any other family members in the child’s life who may have died.
With so many children experiencing death, Clare felt her own experience of grief at a young age could be put to good use. As the majority of books written for children on the subject are metaphorical, children can miss the point, so Clare addresses the subject directly in an easily understandable format for children.
All the techniques used within the books came from school ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants), teachers and educational psychologists, and are tried and tested methods. A series of pages of activities, combined with areas where the child can express themselves freely, make them personal journals a child can keep forever.
Two major UK child bereavement charities now use this book with the families they support, as do many schools and funeral directors around the country.
Read more about child bereavement in SAIFInsight here.Tags: aftercare, bereavement, child, Clare Shaw