With over 15 years’ of experience supporting children and their caregivers, we are often asked to recommend resources that help improve a child’s emotional wellbeing.
At KidsXpress HQ we have all benefitted greatly from these recommendations, having the right, book, podcast or video can be a game changer. During lockdown, we commenced an unofficial KidsXpress ‘bookclub’ on our staff WhatsApp group and the titles gushed in. From the latest scientific resources in the field of psychology to our favourite recipe books to helpful videos for our kids, we shared everything and anything that we found helped us, our families, our communities and of course the kids we support.
And because ‘sharing is caring’ we thought we’d extend this to all our friends in the KidsXpress village. Come back each month to discover the weekly 3 picks for what to read, what to watch and what to listen to.
Read: Written by award-winning science journalist Maia Szalavitz & renowned child-psychiatrist Dr Bruce Perry, ‘Born to Love’ explores the crucial role empathy plays in our lives. The authors explain how empathy develops, why it’s essential both to human happiness and for a functional society, and how it is threatened in the modern world.
Watch: ‘Here out West’ intertwines eight distinct interconnected scenarios set in Sydney’s western suburbs. Consisting of stories from nine different migrant communities, the film does a great job exploring themes of kinship, community, race and class.
Listen To: In “Not Alone – My Inner Critic”, Amy talks about her experiences with anxiety, depression, body image and exercise addiction as a young woman – and how connecting with professionals who are the right fit is at the heart of a healthy recovery.
Read: In his book ‘Change your Brain, Change Your Life, author and neuropsychiatrist Daniel G. Amen shares techniques to lessen anxiety, fight depression, curb anger, boost memory, sharpen your focus, and deal with the feeling of being stuck.
Watch: It’s not often Hollywood gets the issue of mental illness right, but the 2012 film ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ does a fairly good job of realistically depicting bipolar disorder. Check it out on Netflix on your next night in.
Listen To: In this ‘Parental as Anything’ episode, Maggie Dent talks to adolescent psychologist, Dr Kaylene Henderson, to give you all the tips you need to help you and your child adjust to their first days and weeks at school.
Read: ‘The Stress-Buster Workbook for Kids’ by child and adolescent psychotherapist, Katie Hurley contains 75 evidence-based strategies, activities, and scripts to help children navigate the stressors of everyday life, overcome challenges, and build self-confidence.
Watch: The 2010 film ‘Rabbit Hole’ starring Nicole Kidman. It’s not often that Hollywood depicts trauma and trauma recovery with such realism and this film is an exquisite portrait of the gut-wrenching topic of losing a child.
Listen To: Developed by the NSW Dept. of Education, this podcast explores the importance of creative arts in the early years including early childhood plus the first few years of school.
Read: ‘Cory Stories is a children’s book about living with ADHD’. Cory tells readers that sometimes kids make fun of him and he isn’t sure why. But readers also learn that not everyone can be good at everything, and that’s ok. Ideal for ages 6-11.
Watch: ‘The Healing Powers of Dude’ is a Netflix show which follows an 11-yr old boy who suffers from social anxiety disorder and gets an emotional support dog to help him through it. The series does an excellent job championing various disability issues across its 8 episodes.
Listen To: This podcast by Emerging Minds looks at how working within a narrative therapy framework can support connections and resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. It focuses on people being ‘double-storied’, and how looking at only the problem means we can miss the strengths and knowledge people come with.
Read: Pilar’s Worries is a children’s story book that’s great for kids aged 4-8 yrs who experience anxiety. By using smart coping techniques, like positive thinking and talking with her friends, Pilar is able to overcome all her fears. A great addition to your child’s reading list that helps them develop resilience and empathy.
Watch: Starring Zach Galifanakis and Emma Roberts, ‘It’s kind of a funny story’ is a Hollywood approach to psychiatric care that’s more comical than any real-life scenario, but the film helps normalise the fact that sometimes people need this level of support. Definitely worth watching.
Listen To: This podcast series breaks down the complexities of why children refuse to go to school, identifies symptoms and behaviours, and shares school refusal intervention strategies that educators and parents can use to work together to help kids get back to the classroom.
Read: After several months of lockdown, book club groups are flourishing and moving to Zoom, Twitter and Instagram to bring readers together. Read this article from Edutopia which shows you how to create your own online bookclub!
Watch: Inside Out, the Pixar animated film that took the world by storm for the way it moved viewers young and old to look inside their own minds. It also includes some fundamental messages about our emotions, which is no coincidence given consultants from the University of Berkley’s Greater Good Neuroscience Centre were heavily involved with the film.
Listen to: The ‘On-Call Empath’ is a weekly podcast that’s geared for empaths, highly sensitive people, and trauma survivors. Each episode features a guest who is an expert in their field of study and who shares their own traumatic experience to inspire listeners. Topics include resilience, PTSD, trauma, narcissist abuse, recovery and more.
Read: The children’s book, “How Big Are Your Worries Little Bear?” which does a great job emphasising the importance of sharing our thoughts and feelings when we’re worried about something. It’s ideal for children aged 6 – 10 years and may be particularly helpful for children showing signs of anxiety relating to the current lockdown period.
Watch: This short YouTube video on how art therapy can help restore emotional health and wellbeing for children who’ve been impacted by trauma. Importantly, art therapy is about the process, not the end product. If you’ve ever wondered how art therapy works, this video is a good starting place for learning more.
Listen To: Parenting podcast by family psychology expert, Professor Matthew Sanders. In this series, produced by the University of QLD, Prof. Sanders provides practical strategies that will help parents overcome the challenges of these exceptional times. There’s no playbook for parenting in a pandemic, but this podcast series comes pretty close.
Read: ‘It’s OK Not to Be OK’ by Dr Tina Rae. The book acknowledges and explores common mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety. It talks about why they happen and aims to help young people develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them.
Watch: ‘We All Have Mental Health’ is an animation designed to give young people aged 11-14yrs a common language and understanding of what we mean by mental health and how we can look after it. A good one for the teens in our life.
Read: ‘The Invisible String’ by Patrice Karst is a great book for helping children to cope with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. The book’s success lies in its very simple approach to overcoming loneliness, separation, or loss with an imaginative twist that children easily understand and embrace. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Watch: Mikki vs the World is an ABC TV series for pre-teens that helps give them the vocabulary to embrace and maintain their own mental health. When we can identify and articulate our “feels”, it’s easier to manage challenging emotions and connect with others for help if needed. Definitely one to watch with the pre-teens in your life.
Listen To: This Emerging Minds podcast on the topic of post-separation parenting helps parents to separate or divorce in a way that supports their children. It focuses on the role of communication and understanding the child’s perspective. There are also lots of key messages for practitioners about positive parental separation.
Read: ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by psychiatrist, Bessel van de Kolk. A bookshelf staple for all of us working in the field of trauma reparation, Bessel explains how trauma and its resulting stress harms us through physiological changes to body and brain, and that those changes can persist throughout life.
Watch: A short animation from the Welsh Public Health Authority on how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can damage health across the life course and the roles that different agencies can play in preventing ACEs.
Listen to: TiLT Parenting Podcast with Dr Chris Kearney, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology. In this episode, Dr Kearney talks about school refusal – what it is, why it happens and most importantly of all, how to handle it. Definitely worth listening to if school refusal is an issue for your child.
Read: – ‘Finn’s Feather’ was written by Australian children’s author Rachel Noble and is about a little boy grieving the loss of his brother. Noble was inspired to write this heart-warming tale after the loss of her own young son. Our therapists use this book to support children referred for support in coping with the loss of a sibling.
Watch: – ‘ReMoved’ is an incredibly immersive story through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl taken from her abusive household and put into foster care. It puts you as far into the shoes of a foster child as a piece of visual storytelling can, capturing every emotion and bringing awareness to a very real issue.
Listen to: – Child trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry, joins presenters Dr. Hanson and Forrest to discuss the incredible impact of childhood experiences, the fuzzy distinction between trauma and stress, and what we can do to heal from those experiences. Definitely one to listen to – especially if you work in a child protection role.
Read: – In 1938 Eddie was arrested by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz where he faced unimaginable horrors. Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day and now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’.
Published as he turns 100, this is a heartbreaking but hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.
Watch: – When we experience trauma our bodies may become rigid, holding in the tension or they may become floppy and start to feel like we are not really in control of them. This video features a live musical example of how the Trauma Tapping Technique (TTT) targets areas of the body where trauma is often stored and encourages awareness and blood flow to these areas.
Listen to: – In this episode of the Creative Classroom Podcast series, John Spencer interviews Jed Dearybury who is a passionate advocate for integrating play into every aspect of school. ‘The Power of Play for All Ages’ is ideal for teachers who are looking for ways of incorporating play based learning into the classroom, curriculum and across school culture in general.
Read: This book by Elizabeth Gilbert (of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ fame) challenges us to embrace our curiosity and our creativity. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work or just want to make your everyday life more fulfilling, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with inspiration.
Watch: Renowned addiction expert and physician Dr. Gabor Maté talks about addiction and the belief that there’s no such thing as an “addictive personality” or addiction being a “disease.” Instead, it originates in a person’s need to solve a problem: a deep-seated problem, often from our earliest years that was to do with trauma.
Listen to: – In this podcast episode, Australian parenting author and educator Maggie Dent talks to self-regulation expert and professor of psychology, Dr Stuart Shanke to discuss how parents can identify their child’s breaking point before it happens and how we can help our children to manage their emotions.