We speak to child behaviour expert Chrissie Davies about her first children's picture book on helping parents talk to kids about the importance of understanding their brains. She gives tips on 'brain care', in this Q&A with Natalie Moutafis.
Chrissie Davies has more than two decades of experience in advocating for and understanding children with challenging behaviours. Says Chrissie: ‘When we truly understand that children don’t see the world in the same way as adults, and we teach them how to keep their brains happy and healthy, we understand that this is really the most important parenting tool we will ever need.’
What inspired you to write the book?
As an experienced educator, I am sure you can understand that I have read a picture book or two, to children over my long career. I know that certain concepts are challenging for children to grasp and that using storytelling is a compelling way to explain these.
Love Your Brain is a gentle way to help kids learn about the importance of self-care and looking after their brains. I want families and educators to use the book as a tool to draw children into conversations about growth mindset, acceptance, inclusion, and neurodiversity, as it is essential for children to understand themselves and to develop an identity.
What age is the book best suited to?
The book is geared towards primary school-aged children. The main character, Little Brainiac, is based on my daughter, who was seven-years-old when I wrote the book. I could see how engaged she was with the concepts, and the text is relatively simple for kids to read independently.
The book is not really a story, but more a ‘how-to’ guide for kids to understand what brains need to be healthy. The key to getting kids on board with anything is empowering them with the knowledge and skills aimed at their level, so they can be independent and take responsibility for their brains and behaviour.
Is this book for parents of all children, or just neurodiverse children?
Absolutely! Love Your Brain is for all parents and carers. Anyone who lives with kids, cares about kids, or works with kids, will find this book an excellent resource.
I suggest it for neurodiverse families because it is ideal for opening conversations with children about diagnoses and differences. Often children diagnosed with autism or ADHD are segregated or bullied for their behaviours. Teaching all kids that our brains are the reason we all behave in certain ways is an excellent step in teaching them why we are all different and find some situations challenging.
I think the book’s concepts will also help create more empathy, understanding, and inclusion for kids who might be different from them.
What do you hope children and their grown-ups take away from the book?
The critical message for adults reading the book is that children do not learn how to behave by being told what to do. They need to be taught in age-appropriate ways why they might behave in a certain way.
By focusing more on emotions and feelings and empowering kids to understand how to keep their brains happy and healthy, they are much more likely to onboard the concepts that make sense to them. By practicing the key things mentioned in the book like ‘feeding your brain’ and ‘giving your brain lots of sleep,’ children begin to understand what self-care looks and sounds like.
The concepts really encourage adults to take a more heart-centered approach to raising kids and developing positive social and emotional skills vital for life.
Any tips for incorporating 'brain care' into already busy daily schedules?
- Talk about brains – DAILY! Incorporating the phrases from the back of the book will help you feel more comfortable and will normalise brain care and brain talk within your family or classroom.
- Model healthy brain care yourself – kids are much more likely to learn and understand the concepts if the adults around them also love their brains. Try modelling healthy habits like drinking water and saying kind things to and about yourselves and your brains.
- Choose family activities that make your brain feel great: pump the music, walk on the beach, and visit nature often!
About the book and Chrissie Davies
Chrissie Davies is affectionately known as ‘The Child Charmer’, with parents, carers and educators drawn to her positive approach to understanding and raising children in the modern world.
Love Your Brain is written by Chrissie Davies and illustrated by Lou Pennisi, available now from Chaos to Calm Consultancy, RRP $27.50.
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