As a new wave of emotional wellbeing books for children hits the market, meet Clare Shaw, an author of therapeutic stories covering tricky subjects such as bereavement.
Clare writes from her own family experiences, her first book Sometimes: My Daddy’s Gone Away with Work, was borne from her husband being deployed overseas for six months and a need to help her children. Having lost her brother when she was just 11, leading to years of mental health problems, her subsequent titles, Love Will Never Die: Helping children through bereavement and At Times I Get These Feelings: Helping children with emotions, naturally followed.
Having written Sometimes initially for her own children, Clare never expected to publish but friends pressed her to do more with it. Having written it from the child’s perspective, she soon came to realise that it was quite different to anything else on the market. Giving the child space to write their own thoughts, a packet of tissues and an envelope to store “special things”, it really is a unique keepsake to help any child through their parent being away. And, because it’s not just Daddy who has to go away, Clare also wrote Sometimes: My Mummy’s Gone Away with Work. Both books have become a much loved resource amongst services families, and more, all around the country!
Her latest title, At Times I Get These Feelings, published in November 2018, has been written to support children with their emotional wellbeing. Naturally, children can struggle to identify and deal with strong emotions and this can lead to behavioural outbursts that can manifest themselves as long term mental health issues. The book allows children to understand that being different is acceptable, gives pointers on being kind and offers ideas on how to stay calm when angered.
Another subject so often treated as taboo is bereavement. Yet Clare has managed to tackle this head on and is making great changes to children’s lives around the country. Children who do not work through their grief following a sudden or close loss, can go on to have emotional problems as they go into adult life. Something Clare knows all too much about.
Clare’s book, Love Will Never Die: Helping children through bereavement, was written following her own experience of losing her brother when she was so young. As Clare first started to research child bereavement she discovered that around 112 children are bereaved of a parent in the UK every day, and felt her own experience could be put to good use. Clare was told that the majority of books written for children on the subject are metaphorical, often leading children to miss the point. Something was needed that addressed the subject directly but in a way children can understand. Clare has managed to do this with absolute perfection.
All Clare’s books, written from the child’s perspective, have pages of activities, and areas where the child can express themselves freely, making them truly personal journals that the child can keep forever. All the techniques used within the books came from school ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants), teachers and Educational Psychologists, and are tried and tested methods.