You Are Your Strong
“Hitting a nerve that can at times be very raw and complicated, You Are Your Strong is, at its core, an educational resource for early elementary developmental and therapeutic services.”
You are Your Strong is created by Magination Press, the publishing imprint of the American Psychological Association. This tidbit of information is critical to understanding the purpose behind the book: it is a pediatric psychotherapist’s clinical tool for opening dialogues about emotions.
Communicating with youngsters about emotions has long been a tricky subject. Books like How Are you Peeling (2004), The Feelings Book (2000), and I Was So Mad (2000), just skim the surface of the types of books already in circulation that refer to emotions and feelings. You Are Your Strong contributes to the subject matter adding a “Note to Parents and Caregivers” with tips for helping children relate to and manage their emotions.
There is no real narrative to this story. It is instead a collection of situations that might trigger emotional responses from a variety of different settings. There is an attempt to consider gender, family structure, ethnicity, and race, indicating that emotions are a part of humanity that knows no discrimination, and emotional assistance can come from any source.
As the situations develop, a case is made for how kids can learn to stand up for their own emotional experiences. At first kids are encouraged to seek guidance from trusted sources. Further along, however, it is better to trust oneself with emotions, and there are ways to build this skill set.
Getting help from friends and relatives is good, but, and this is a big but, the primary goal is to teach kids that they can dig into their own resources to manage their own emotional responses. Emotions are real, yet they can certainly be controlled, and when they are controlled, this is an empowering strength, a step toward healthy maturity.
The concept of becoming your own support system is couched in the term “Your Strong,” which is very abstract, and is cloudy in its delivery throughout the book. The message to the young ones is basically: “You Can Do It!” But the language used is not necessarily positioning preschoolers for successful comprehension. The illustrations are more approachable and pull the book back into a world the kids can understand.
The book sets up this concept of “Strong” early in the first few scenarios. Mamma’s “calm” transfers into her son to become his “Strong.” Papa’s “brave” becomes his daughter’s “Strong.” Grandma’s “love” converts into “Strong” as does Grandpa’s “gentle.” Because someone else is clam, brave, and gentle, then we too can be Strong by borrowing upon those attributes we see fully present and functioning in others.
When no one is around to help, a deep breath and a soft whistle become the “calm,” which becomes the “Strong.” A funny story serves to rattle out “brave,” which can become the “Strong.” Yelling into a pillow defers “mad” until “Strong” composure returns. Many other tactics help to re-balance and encourage the inward “Strong” to dominate outward behaviors.
With practice, the ultimate benefit of tapping into this type of “Strong” is that others will find their own “Strong” when “Strong” is shared. The more self-control a kid can exhibit, the more others will benefit. In the end, mastery of this skill is a win-win for everyone and worth the efforts in cultivation.
Hitting a nerve that can at times be very raw and complicated, You Are Your Strong is, at its core, an educational resource for early elementary developmental and therapeutic services.