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An Interview With Melissa: Co-Author of Bravery Grows

An Interview With Melissa: Co-Author of Bravery Grows

An interview with Melissa: The Co-Author of Bravery Grows

We sat down with author Melissa, an author who has recently published a very special book called "Bravery Grows" with co-author Daisy Geddes. Bravery Grows is a special book about children dealing with anxiety. Embedded throughout the story are tools and strategies utilised by therapists to support children in overcoming their anxiety and worry. When childhood anxiety is increasing dramatically, Bravery Grows provides a blueprint for parents of struggling children.

 

 

1. Can you tell us about yourself and what inspired you to write Bravery Grows?

I am a clinical psychologist specialising in treating childhood anxiety disorders and a mother of three kiddos. Writing a children's book has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. There are so many lessons and words of wisdom that can be gleaned from a well-told story. As a therapist, I often refer parents to books to support their children in identifying characters with similar struggles. It is incredibly helpful for children to listen to a story and relate to parts of the character's journey. It can spark discussion and guide the development of problem-solving skills.

2. Can you tell us about the central character and how your experiences with patients informed the story and character?

Our central character is a young girl named Aria, who was inspired by the many children I have supported over the past 10+ years who present with a specific type of anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. Similar to my patients, Aria is a wildly confident and chatty girl at home; however, when she is at school or in other situations, she loses her words. The story highlights that while she is unsure about why her words are unable to come out, she desires to be confident like she is at home in other situations. When Daisy Geddes, the co-author, and I wrote the book, we wanted to portray the challenges my patients' experience, and share some of the therapeutic language and techniques we teach parents to support their children to overcome their anxiety and build their brave muscles.



3. What are your top 3 practical tips for kids to strengthen their bravery muscles?

  1. Normalise. Everyone has their own bravery to grow! Humans, especially anxious ones, tend to overemphasise how easy things are for others when they feel challenged. This magnifies their difficulties and makes mountains out of molehills. Promoting the understanding that everyone has challenges that need to be addressed can help children feel like they are not alone and that growth is possible.  
  2. Set goals. Discuss with your child what area they want to grow and share what you would like to work on too! For example, is it learning to ride a bicycle, speaking in front of the class, running for student council, swimming laps in the pool, trying out for the basketball team, learning to read, or meeting new friends? Once a goal is established, what steps are needed to work towards it? Remember, we can do hard things! 
  3. Be realistic and flexible. If it was easy, it wouldn't be a goal that needs to be targeted. Progress isn't linear; expect setbacks and celebrate the small wins. As caregivers, we need to model for kids and share that obstacles are par for the course! Overcoming challenges means we are growing and building our brave muscles. 

 

4. What role do you want to see this book play in the world?

We aim to launch Bravery Grows globally to increase awareness about child anxiety and to highlight how to develop a growth mindset by taking small steps to create positive change. We hope to have the book in schools, classrooms, and bookstores available in multiple languages someday soon. The beautiful illustrations and overarching message that "everyone has bravery to grow" is applicable to all primary-aged children. Aria's specific challenges are related to her anxiety and how it may present in school or social situations. There is a child like Aria in every classroom. 

 

5. Which other books do you recommend to teach kids about themselves (emotion, anxiety, body etc)?

There are many different books that are fantastic for children to learn about emotions and focus on healthy social-emotional development. My current faves are the Magical Yet, What Do You Do With a Problem, What Do You Do With A Chance, the Invisible Boy, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, The Most Magnificant Thing, and Something Else. All of these books have a main character who faces a challenge and grows to overcome it, just like Aria!  




You can purchase Melissa's book here!

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