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How do I feel: A dictionary of emotions for children – Book Review

How do I feel: A dictionary of emotions for children

Lipp, R., & Philips, C. (2021). Wilding Books.

There’s little doubt that this writer and illustrator duo have a large amount of creative energy to continue producing books that support our tamariki’s emotional needs and wellbeing. How Do I Feel is no exception.

This book works as a dictionary of emotions, it alphabetically lists around 60 emotions, describes them and how they may feel in our bodies. That in itself is a clever way to help tamariki identify the differences between our emotions and feelings.

There are many things I love about this book, but it’s key feature, in my mind, is that alongside the definition and description of any emotion, is a full page dedicated to an illustrated depiction of the emotion. For those of you who know Lipp and Philips’ work, their same lively, movement-filled pictures are here again – the emotions are brought to life.

This is where the magic lies because as a parent, professional or educator, this is likely where our tamariki will ‘be’ and it gives us lots more to talk about. “Wow, this guy is feeling proud. He looks happy and the emotion seems to be bursting from his chest.” And the kōrero may continue – around when we have felt proud too, or when we were proud of our child.

Because this book isn’t a ‘story.’ It’s a go-to book to dip in and out of – you may read about one emotion each day as a teacher, or as part of bedtime reading, as a parent. You may visit it when you’re feeling an emotion, or you notice one your child is feeling – it might be a great way to talk about jealousy when there’s sibling rivalry or humility before the birthday party event. In this way the book helps us to emotionally ‘coach’ our tamariki.

My overall thoughts and feelings on How Do I Feel? – I love it! It’s a fantastic book to help us normalise emotions for our tamariki, and even for us. When we know that emotions are normal we don’t feel so alone in them, or that there’s something wrong with us. Talking about emotions is the best way to normalise them and validate them. This book is a great means to do this well– especially when this is new to us, it feels awkward or hasn’t been modelled.

It’s a double thumbs up from me – as a parent and a professional working with tamariki. It will be in my office and home bookshelf – both visible and ready to go to, anytime.

Reviewed by Anna Mowat who works as part of the All Right? wellbeing campaign in Otautahi

Rāhina / Monday

Reconnect with yourself

Connecting with yourself is a skill. To start the week, begin by taking a moment to check in with yourself, acknowledge how you’re feeling and how the last few years of turbulence affected you and your connection with others and the world around you. This is a good time to think about the people you have lost contact with who you might want to reach out to, or the special places you haven’t visited in a while, and set some whāinga/goals for the week ahead.

At the end of the week, you can reflect on how you felt at the start and how reconnecting with the people and places that are special to you has lifted you up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with yourself:

Rātū/ Tuesday

Reconnect with a friend or loved one

We know life can get busy, but feeling connected to the people that are important to us can make a big difference to our mental health. Connection brings purpose and belonging to our lives and makes us feel happier and more secure. Today is about reconnecting with the people in our lives – it could be someone special who you have lost touch with or just wish you caught up with more often.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a friend or loved one:

Rāapa / Wednesday

Reconnect with a special place

The places and spaces we spend our time in have a huge impact on how we feel. Most of us have places we can go that calm, inspire or uplift us. Today, make time to go to a place that is special to you and take notice of how you feel when you are there. For some of us, the special place that comes to mind might be out of reach - perhaps it’s overseas, or too far away to get to. Even if we can’t get there right now, there are ways that we can reconnect with the places that lift us up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a special place:

Rāpare / Thursday

Reconnect with your community.

Today is about reconnecting with your hapori whānui/wider community. It’s the perfect time to sign up to be a volunteer or join a local community group, but it could also be as simple as making the effort to reconnect with the people you interact with every day. Today is all about savouring the little hononga/connections that make us human.

A few ideas for reconnecting with your community:

Rāmere / Friday

Reconnect with nature

To round out the week, we’re asking you to reconnect with the beautiful taonga that is te taiao/the natural environment. Studies show exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, it contributes to our physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. All the more reason to spend at least a small moment today outside - breathing in some fresh air and noticing the world around you.

A few ideas for reconnecting with nature: