What To Say When You Don't Know What to Say

't know what to say

Sometimes we are confronted with situations that are so incomprehensible that we don't know what to say - and that is our response. "I don't know what to say."

So imagine what it is like for our children when they find themselves in the same position, with not only no previous experiences to draw on but also no words to express the feelings that are overwhelming them.  Whether it's surprise, anger, frustration, fear, or any of the other big emotions that swamp them from time to time, the words just aren't there.  And while, for adults, it's big life-changing things like a death, a diagnosis, a flood or fire or other devastating loss, for little ones it can be everyday occurrences such as leaving the family home, being excluded from a group activity or not being brave enough for a sleepover.

This is an excellent and important book  that should be in every parent's library or teacher's toolbox to help prepare little ones for these sorts of events, help them build the strategies and vocabulary to express their feelings and develop empathy as they negotiate big things in their lives such as starting a new school, joining a new group, or the loss of a pet.  Each page features an everyday situation that they are likely to encounter, either as the "victim" or the one reaching out, and each is captioned with a single sentence that encapsulates an empathetic and kind response as a way of dealing with it.  It acknowledges that events can evoke feelings of fear, guilt, loss, pain, uncertainty, embarrassment, being different, brave, shy, or uncomfortable, or needing to ask for help or negotiate a solution  but each of these can be overcome.

It is a dip-and-delve book in which the adult might show the child the picture, perhaps one that relates to an upcoming situation, discuss what is happening and then help the child develop strategies to deal with it or the words of comfort that might help someone else deal with it. For example, when the bullies destroy a friend's carefully constructed sandcastles, acknowledging their feelings by saying, "That shouldn't have happened to you. It was unfair," can go a long way to soothing the situation that might otherwise escalate into something larger. Teachers' notes can guide these sessions.

Although  the cover of the book depicts the idyllic freedom of childhood that we all imagine for our children, the front endpage is more realistic.  But then, the back endpage shows that a simple act of kindness can go a long way to making things right again.  

At a time when many of our little people haven't been able to have the normal beyond-family contacts that usually help them develop their social skills, building empathy and resilience can be tricky so this is a timely release to help. ---from the publisher

Recommended by:  Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, New South Wales  AUSTRALIA

See more of her recommendations:

500 Hats https://500hats.edublogs.org/

The Bottom Shelf https://thebottomshelf.edublogs.org/

Storybook Cushions https:// bit.ly/storybook_cushions


From the award-winning author of All the Ways to Be Smart, comes a warm and whimsical guide to negotiating new experiences and big emotions with empathy, kindness and words from the heart.

I'm not brave enough today. Maybe next time. You're hurting my feelings right now. Want to join in?

A warm and whimsical guide to negotiating life's little moments and big emotions with empathy, kindness and words from the heart.

From award-winning and much-loved author Davina Bell and exciting new illustrator, Hilary Jean Tapper.---from the publisher

9780734421142                               Ages 7-11

Keywords:  Social Emotional Learning, conversation, how to, shyness, bullying, worry, needing a friend or courage for an overnight stay, social situations, social skills

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