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A Self-help Storybook Created from the Heart

July 24th, 2018     By Boys Town Contributor

Anxiety, Back-to-School, Connecting with Kids, Coping Skills, Coping Skills for Teens, Family, Mental Health, Parent-Child Relationships, School, Self-Calming Tools, Stress, Teens, Tweens

New classrooms, new routines, new teachers and new schedules all make going back to school a little more exciting for kids. Okay, exciting might be overstating it a bit. Perhaps "energizing" is a more apt description.   

But just like that new car smell that abruptly fades after your first road trip, the thrill of being back in the classroom wears off quick, too. For some, it's gone in a week. For others, it takes just hours. In its place comes all the old hang-ups, insecurities, conflicts and disappointments that summer break had conveniently, if only momentarily, hidden away, like…          

  • Bullying.   
  • Having a falling out with friends. 
  • Earning disappointing grades.  
  • Breaking up with "the one."     
  • Losing at anything (athletically, artistically or academically).  

So when the new academic year gets underway and another cycle of school's ups and downs begins, what can you do when your child hits an emotional low? When Molly or Marco is feeling sad, overwhelmed or misunderstood, what can be said or done?

A hard truth to accept is that sometimes you may not know how bad your child feels or why. Oftentimes, you may not even be around when deep frustrations and disappointments set in. Still, even when you're unaware or unavailable, there's a way to provide support and strength to your child.   

A back-to-school gift

As you gather back-to-school supplies, include an Uphill Reading storybook. You won't find it any bookstore, and it won't cost you much but a few moments of your time.

Uphill Reading is a create-it-yourself book you make for your child that contains special images, meaningful mementos and inspiring words. It's something that can be a source of encouragement and help when one's heart needs healing, when one's soul needs soothing or when one's confidence needs lifting.

Life is filled with ups and downs.
When you're going uphill, read this.
It will keep your feet on the ground
.

Cheerful content…

To get you started, here are ideas and inserts you can include in your child's storybook that will fill several pages and, most importantly, remind your child of happier days.

  1. A favorite poem or passage
    Maybe your child wrote a funny limerick or made up a memorable rhyme. A thought-provoking passage or verse from a beloved book works, too!
  2. Feel-good stories about an athlete, artist or musician
    Paste inspirational stories about individuals who overcame challenging circumstances to achieve their goals. Anyone who shares the same interests as your child or who your child admires will make an impression.
  3. Song lyrics
    Write down lyrics by a musician or group your child likes, or pick lyrics your child may not have heard before but have a powerful, positive message.
  4. A Word Cloud
    Like the book you’re making, a word cloud is a memento that can be looked at again and again when a confidence boost is needed.
  5. Boys Town National Hotline number and website
    Include a Hotline card or the Hotline’s phone number and website with a note stating that help is always available when confusion, worries and uncertainties feel overwhelming. This is a resource they should always be aware of, the hotline will give them someone to talk to if they are in need of extra support.
  6. A Bliss-Blast list
    Let your child fill in the blanks with all the stuff that makes her feel bliss or all the times she had a blast (a favorite color, a description of the best gift ever received, the name of someone who’s a blast to spend time with, etc.).
  7. Baby stories
    Write details or stories about your child’s birth, such as what happened when he met his older siblings, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. Include other memories he was too young to remember (first words, favorite toy, or most-hated clothes).
  8. Affirmation cards
    Design cards with motivational phrases (“I got this!” and “I have grit!”) and paste them throughout the book.
  9. “Happy Apps”
    List downloadable apps that relax, encourage, calm and entertain kids with content designed to build self-confidence and support mental well-being. This is a fun one.
  10. Photos
    Create collages from snapshots of happy, carefree times.
  11. Unforgettable memory
    Write down a favorite memory you have of your child that he will appreciate or find amusing.
  12. Lucky charms
    Tape or paste on a page any charm or keepsake that reminds your child of something memorable, joyful or hopeful. The keepsake might be a rabbit’s foot, keychain, coin or other trinket.
  13. 10 ways to stay grounded tips
    Print and paste these tips on a page so your child will have self-help strategies at her fingertips for dealing with anxiety and painful memories.
  14. “Happy Place” breathing
    Insert this page from Boys Town’s YourLifeYourVoice.org website describing breathing strategies that can calm one’s emotions and refocus the mind.
  15. The “I feel” list…
    Improving one’s mood starts by knowing what it is you’re feeling. Help your child put a name to his feelings with this list of 120 emotions.
  16. Feeling and Personalized Coping Skills
    Print and insert the My Coping skills sheet for each of the four main feelings. Let your child complete it using the instructions on the website and encourage them to reference these whenever they are in need of some good coping skills.

The story goes on…

When you’re done compiling feel-good, inspirational material, present the book as a back-to-school gift. As your child thumbs through the pages, say why you made it… as a pick-me-up when life has you feeling sour.

Encourage your child to add more material (ribbons won, certificates earned, etc.) as the school year goes on. Because this is a story with a happy never-ending!


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