Episode #53- STORYTIME — Making talking about mental/emotional health more accessible for children and parents

Storytime can be a powerful tool to make talking about a child’s emotional/mental health more accessible for the parent and child. This is such an important message for all parents so that we can give our children the tools they need to handle their emotions as they grow into adulthood.

Talking about mental health issues can be just as daunting for an adult, as it is for a child. Recent studies, however, are indicating that it’s something we should definitely be discussing.

In the United States alone, up to 1 in 5 children a year suffer from a mental disorder according to the CDC. That comes to over 17 million children meeting criteria for disorders that affect a child’s behavior, ability to learn, and process emotions.

The Doctor Dads speak with author Brian Wray about his new book Max’s Box. In his new book, “Max’s Box”, Wray offers children and grown-ups a glimpse into what can happen when emotions are suppressed, and how with the help of people who care, we can let go of the things holding us back.

Max’s parents give him a very special gift; a box that will hold everything. After putting in his beloved firetruck and fluffy stuffed dog, Max discovers that the box will hold his feelings, too. When Max is angry, the anger goes straight into the box. With each feeling it stores, the larger it grows, and the larger the box grows, the harder it is for Max to do anything. Before long, Max’s box is so big, it holds him back from enjoying regular kid activities, like riding his bike or climbing trees. Eventually, with some very special help, Max learns how to turn the box into something beautiful, and to let it go.

While the U.S. has come a long way in recognizing the effects of mental health, there is still a misconception that mental health issues are the domain of adulthood. Children have feelings, including fears and anxieties, just as deeply as adults. However, they lack the language to express them, and experience to give those feelings perspective. Misconceptions, along with persisting stigmas associated with mental health can prevent children from getting the mental health treatment they need; which can lead to a range of other problems later in life.

Picture books can help begin an important discussion. Allowing a child to see themselves in a story, shows them that they are not alone in their experience. Brian Wray’s books are a starting point to having larger conversations that he hopes will create a lasting impact.

“Mental health issues don’t go away by ignoring them. Acknowledging them, and talking about them openly is the first step to managing them. What better way to reach a child, than with a story?” – Brian Wray

A BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR –Brian was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to New York after graduating from Penn State. In 2003, Brian was awarded the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. During an opportunity to write for Walt Disney Studios, Brian discovered his passion for telling stories for children. He writes from Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife, two daughters, and their endless inspiration. Brian’s first book, Unraveling Rose, was the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Winner for “Picture Books, Early Reader”.

Max’s parents give him a very special gift; a box that will hold everything, including Max’s feelings. The more feelings that are added, the bigger the box grows, and before long, Max’s box gets in the way of everything he wants to do. Eventually, Max discovers a way to turn his box into something beautiful.

“This sensitive story of Max and his box of feelings is a wonderful conversation starter, and will provide children a way to visualize not suppressing their emotions with support from parents.”

– Dr. Nerissa Bauer, Behavioral Pediatrician.

2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Winner for “Picture Books, Early Reader”, “Unraveling Rose” is the story of a stuffed bunny who loves having fun with the little boy she lives with, until she discovers a loose thread dangling from her arm, and it’s all she can think about. The story will help parents and teachers talk to children about what to do with obsessive thoughts.

“This story helps us realize that being perfect is not what really matters, and that we can learn to appreciate life with all its imperfections.” –Dr. Linda Mayers, Ph.D., Child Psychologist


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