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‘All Aboard’, by Catharine Nimon

All Aboard: A Children’s Book About Facing Challenges And Building Resilience

All Aboard is the inspiraall-aboard-book-review-1tional story of a ship named Feelings that goes on an adventure to Treasure Island. Essentially, it is a guide for keeping focused on our dreams and desires that are within our reach, and offers encouragement for overcoming challenges that come our way.

This story contains many important lessons to pass on to our children. It teaches children that they are the captain of their own ship in life and they have the power to explore a world of possibilities. What makes this book unique, is that a blank space is left for the name of the captain so that each child can be the captain as they read the book. This approach personalizes the reading experience so each child can really feel that they are part of the story.

The book encourages children to trust their own feelings to reach their goals. We also learn how important friends are in supporting our endeavors and that it is okay to rely on others for help.

There is a section of the story about a storm approaching, which represents challenging times that we all face. However, the captain and mates know and trust that the storm will pass and they will move on. This reminds me of many struggles that we face, including anxiety.

Throughout the adventure, we hear about the characters trying to make it to Treasure Island. Although much of this story is left up to our own interpretation, I can only imagine that Treasure Island represents our happy place. The goal is to take on challenges to eventually attain happiness.

As a wonderful learning tool for a variety of age groups, this book really opens the door up for discussion with our children about feelings, goals, and overcoming challenges they face.

Finally, beautiful watercolor illustrations, painted by the author herself, provide the imagery for the storyline.

Using This Book To Teach Resilience

Life has ups and downs. No matter how hard we try, we can’t shelter our children from all the negative and sad moments that will come their way. We can, however, help them to build resilience so that they will be able to weather the storms more easily and avoid major stress and anxiety. If there is something I truly need to work on, it is building my own resilience. By recognizing this now, I hope to provide my children with effective tools so that they have a stronger sense of resiliency throughout their lives.

What Is Resilience?

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress. It is important because it is the human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by the adversities we face. When children are resilient, they are braver, more curious, more adaptable, and more able to obtain happiness and success. Additionally, resilience can help cushion us from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression because it improves our ability to cope, according to Mayo Clinic.

How Resilience Changes The Brain

During stressful times, our body prepares for fight or flight when the amygdala in our brain causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and surges of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone). Stress can also cause the prefrontal cortex section of our brain to temporarily shut down. This affects attention, problem solving, impulse control, and regulating emotion. Resilience helps activate the prefrontal cortex and calm the amygdala. When we practice resilience, positive physiological changes occur that start to reverse the impacts of stress on our body.

Ways To Build Resilience In Our Children

Fortunately, resilience skills can be learned at any age (yes, even we parents can improve!). Positive relationships and environments that support healthy cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development give children the foundation to develop into a resilient individual.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, identifies the seven “C”s of resilience in his book A Parent’s Gide To Building Resilience In Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings. He also offers the following tips that parents can use to build each characteristic:

Competence: Knowing that you can handle a situation effectively.

  • Help children focus on their strengths through exercises like goal setting.
  • Empower children to make their own decisions.
  • Avoid comparing your children to each other.

Confidence: Belief in one’s own abilities.

  • Focus on the best in each child.
  • Clearly express their best qualities, such as fairness, integrity, persistence, kindness.
  • Recognize when your child has done well.
  • Resist pushing your children to take on more than they can realistically handle.

Connection: Developing close ties to family and community to ensure a safe support system.

  • Express to your children how much you love them unconditionally.
  • Build a sense of physical safety and emotional security in your home.
  • Allow your children to freely express their emotions.
  • Address conflict openly as a family.

Character: Developing a set of morals and values to determine right from wrong.

  • Help others by doing acts of kindness.
  • Avoid hateful language and stereotypes.
  • Read positive books together.

Contribution: Understand the importance of personal contribution to your community.

Coping: Learning to cope effectively with stress to be more prepared for life’s challenges.

  • Model positive coping strategies to your children.
  • Guide your child to develop positive and effective coping strategies.
  • Incorporate mindfulness, exercise, optimismcreativity, and play into their routines–all have been proven to help children better cope with stress and sadness.

Control: Realizing that we can control the outcomes of most of our decisions.

  • Help your child understand that life’s events are not purely random and that most situations occur as a result of someone’s choices and actions.
  • Make discipline about teaching, not punishing or controlling.

About The Author

Catharine Nimon is an artist, illustrator, writer, teacher, and health practitioner who discovered at an early age that art was her passion. She has studied the arts throughout her life, including with many well-known artists from around the world, and participates in and leads art guilds. Her art includes many private collections in the United States and abroad. Her latest creation is a dream book that is a compilation of illustrations and short quotes for both adults and children to enjoy. Through her healing work, she has helped numerous people. This mother of five and grandmother of ten enjoys guiding children to develop their self expression, creativity, confidence, and self empowerment skills.

To learn more about Catharine’s work, please email her at m_nimon@yahoo.com or visit her on Facebook.     

*This post was sponsored by author Catharine Nimon.

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