By Play Therapist Lauren Stockly (aka CreativePlayTherapist), “Be Mindful of Monsters” written to help children understand and cope with powerful emotions. The book follows Ezzy, a gender-neutral nine-year-old whose feelings of anger, sadness and worry have grown into monsters. With a compelling story and diverse characters, the book explores the challenges and benefits of accepting uncomfortable emotions. “Be Mindful of Monsters” is designed for use in a therapy setting or at home.
The book is a collaboration between child therapist Lauren Stockly and illustrator Ellen Surrey. This may be the pair’s first published work together, but their partnership began in Kindergarten when they began writing and illustrating as a team. They have since refined their talents and couldn’t be more pleased to share this collaboration rooted in lifelong friendship.
What makes “Be Mindful of Monsters” special?
Relatable: All children experience overwhelming feelings at times, but they don’t always know the best strategies for coping with and processing those emotions. By exploring universal themes such as sadness, anger and fear, “Be Mindful of Monsters” can resonate with any child, regardless of their specific circumstances. Told through the eyes of a racially ambiguous, gender-neutral protagonist, the book invites kids from diverse backgrounds to see themselves in the story no matter who they are.
Adaptable: This book is designed to meet a wide range of needs, from reading for fun to targeted therapy. It is intended to spark dialogue between children and their caregivers, and gives space for families and therapists to tailor the story’s message to each individual child. Plus, “Be Mindful of Monsters” provides subtle opportunities for adults to relate the book to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing children to explore and express their feelings about the current situation. This book is available in English and Spanish (Mandarin and Hebrew coming soon).
Therapeutic Message: In the story, Ezzy learns coping strategies based around Mindfulness metaphors rooted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Although Mindfulness is extremely beneficial for children’s emotional wellbeing, the idea of accepting uncomfortable emotions rather than pushing them away can feel very challenging. The goal of “Be Mindful of Monsters” is to demonstrate how mindfulness works and why emotional acceptance is necessary, even if it’s hard. Getting children to understand mindfulness requires helping them to change their entire relationship with their thoughts and feelings, from one of judgement and resistance, towards one of support and acceptance. Furthermore, the idea of moving through difficult emotions by allowing oneself to feel them, rather than push them away, can seem counterintuitive to many children. “Be Mindful of Monsters” overcomes this hurdle by showing emotional dynamics through narrative and metaphor, rather than explanation. The story can be split up between multiple readings with activities done along the way to drive the messages home.
The “Mindful Monsters Therapeutic Workbook” can be used on it’s own or to accompany the “Be Mindful of Monsters” storybook. It features over 100 pages of interventions, worksheets, coping skills, coloring pages, crafts and more. The E-Book versions of both are perfect for telehealth sessions.