Piggie Bear Has The Power To Empower Our Children
Oct 31st, 2017 by Jane NobleMara James, the founder and CEO of ELF, knows exactly what it feels like when feelings and emotions are out of control. Mara was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in May 2014 and began a somewhat scary yet incredible journey into the murky world of mental health. The manic thoughts that were racing around in Mara’s head have now been transformed into a clear vision of what needs to be done to help others with mental health challenges, particularly children.
A Child At HeartThose of you who have met Mara know that she is a child at heart, with a youthful spirit and playful, enthusiastic energy. During her manic episode she felt driven to write and could not bear to be parted from a pink cuddly pig. When someone commented that it looked more like a bear, that was the spark that inspired her to write a children’s book and create a friend for them called Piggie Bear.
Enhances Coping Skills
Cuddly and cute though Piggie Bear is, she is far more than that! Piggie Bear can be a lifeline for young children who are experiencing overwhelming emotions, anxiety, stress and depression. Terri James PH.D, a clinical psychologist says: “This story can help children enhance their coping skills in a fun and loving way.” There is nothing preachy about the book and it provides very simple, practical tools that children can use to calm and comfort themselves.
It’s OK to Be DifferentThe fact that Piggie Bear is neither pig nor bear immediately conveys the message that it is OK to be different and to love yourself just the way you are. Children are very sensitive and astute. They are like sponges with mega antennae that pick up signals and ideas from everyone around them. The more positive reinforcement they hear and receive during their earliest years, the better they will be able to cope with the natural challenges of life that lie ahead. Piggie Bear tells children they are amazing and perfect just the way they are. This is a very empowering statement and something we all need to hear and believe every single day.
Mindful Breathing Provides Children with a Practical Tool
There are some days, however, when children may not feel amazing. Children do not understand why they feel worried or frustrated or sad and can feel overwhelmed and out of control. Piggie Bear puts a name to these emotions and shows children how to breathe deeply and mindfully, slowly filling the belly with air and exhaling through the mouth, in order to induce a feeling of calm. One of the first things someone usually says to a person who is getting agitated or angry or emotional is - just breathe. However, breathing into the top part of the chest rather than the belly can actually increase anxiety. Mindful breathing helps everyone feel more at peace and has been shown to increase motivation and attention. Yoga has become hugely popular in the US, particularly in California. Many young mothers do yoga on a regular basis but I wonder how many have thought to pass on what they are learning to their children?
Some Tender Loving CareWe all want and need to feel loved. Imagine being able to give yourself some self love to boost confidence and release feelings of wellbeing any time of the day or night. Piggie Bear teaches a big self hug to create warm, fuzzy feelings inside. Something as simple a giving oneself a hug has been shown to release oxytocin, known as the love hormone, and be an antidote to depressive feelings.
Practice Makes Perfect
Studies show that the brain is strengthened by positive early experiences and is most receptive while the neural pathways are still flexible before the age of approximately eight years old. Piggie Bear’s story is not one to be read once and put aside. Used on a daily basis, Piggie Bear’s simple yet powerful teachings can build resilience and will start to feel so natural that eventually children will turn to these coping skills on their own. You may need to reach out for professional help for your child, depending on the nature of his or her particular struggle, but creating some special Piggie Bear time together is an excellent bonding, learning and healing experience.
Piggie Bear’s Main Teaching Points
It is OK to be different. You are amazing just the way you are. Deep, mindful belly breathing can help you feel calmer and more incontrol. Love yourself unconditionally and give yourself a huge hug every day.