Why did you decide to write a children’s book encouraging children to express their emotions?
I used to work on emotional resilience and self-esteem with small groups of vulnerable teenage girls. We asked questions like ‘How did that make you feel?’, but found they often couldn’t put it into words, or were quick to label many feelings as being ‘stressed’ or ‘depressed’. I began to think we needed to teach children about expressing themselves from a very young age.
What did you learn about young children’s emotional expression?
At a reading of my book Angry, ANGRY Angus at a local library, I asked children to draw pictures of a person who is angry, and one girl’s picture had spiky stick fingers. She said her fingers go spiky when she feels angry. It’s easy to think four- and five-year-olds don’t yet have the full spectrum of emotions, but they really do. Even at a young age children know how they are feeling so we need to teach the language early enough to help them express it.
What is next for you now the book has been published?
My former academic supervisor at Kingston University London nominated me for the Nursing TimesRising Star award and I won, which was an unforgettable experience. Next, I am running focus groups based on the book with Reception and Year 1 classes to develop lesson plans that we hope to roll out to local schools. We will also try to engage speech and language therapists with the book.