6 Amazing Children's Books for Self-Regulation and Emotional Growth
The Wonder Pup Series by author Angela Murphy
1. Speak Up, Wonder Pup
"Speak Up, Wonder Pup," the inaugural book in Angela Murphy's Self-Regulation Series, offers an engaging and educational narrative aimed at empowering children with effective communication skills. The story follows Zane, a character who, prior to being adopted, primarily responded to conflicts with fight, flight, or freeze reactions due to overwhelming emotions and a lack of communicative tools. The book introduces the "I Message," a straightforward three-step technique, as a solution.
The "I Message" consists of addressing the person by name, expressing discomfort ("I don't like it when..."), and clearly stating the disliked behavior followed by a firm 'stop'. This method equips children to articulate their feelings and boundaries assertively and respectfully. Importantly, the book shows Zane's journey of mastering this technique, highlighting that it's normal not to get it right initially and emphasizing the value of persistence and practice.
Lessons for children from "Speak Up, Wonder Pup" include the significance of using words and body language to express themselves confidently and the importance of self-regulation in managing emotions. These skills are crucial for healthy interpersonal relationships and personal development. The book is an excellent resource for children, parents, educators, and counselors, offering a practical tool for building communication and emotional regulation skills. Just like Zane, readers learn that standing up for oneself is a skill that can be learned and refined over time.
2. Breathe Up, Wonder Pup
"Breathe Up, Wonder Pup," the second book in Angela Murphy’s Self-Regulation Series, takes an interactive approach to teach children about mindful breathing through visualization. The protagonist, Zane, guided by his brother Draper, learns to manage anxiety and calm his mind and body using a technique termed 'Animal Breathing.'
In this engaging narrative, Zane experiments with visualizing different animals – a snake, a horse, and a dragon – and imitates their breathing patterns. This process of 'breathing up' while picturing an animal, holding the breath, and then exhaling as the animal, serves as a fun and effective way for children to learn about controlling their breath and, by extension, their emotions. Additionally, Zane explores how to modify this technique for quieter settings, such as public places or school, by visualizing a calming presence in his life.
Children reading this book will learn to identify signs of anxiety in themselves and use the four steps of Animal Breathing to find relief. The story emphasizes that anxiety is a normal part of life and that mindful breathing is a powerful tool for everyone, not just those who experience high levels of anxiety. "Breathe Up, Wonder Pup" is an excellent resource for children, parents, educators, and counselors, offering a playful yet practical method for dealing with everyday stresses and anxieties. By the end of the book, readers are encouraged to explore which type of Animal Breathing works best for them, just as Zane discovers his favorite.
3. Listen Up, Wonder Pup
"Listen Up, Wonder Pup," the third book in Angela Murphy's Self-Regulation Series, is a captivating children's story that focuses on the essential skill of active listening. The book's protagonist, Zane, the charming Wonder Pup, embarks on a journey to improve his listening skills. This engaging narrative highlights that listening behaviors can differ among children, with some seemingly distracted actions like doodling actually being forms of attentive listening.
The story creatively teaches children four straightforward steps to enhance their listening abilities, combining humor and vibrant illustrations. As Zane navigates through these steps, the book emphasizes that active listening is a skill that grows with practice and patience. It is a journey of learning to regulate not just the ears but also the brain and body, which in turn boosts confidence and mental health.
"Listen Up, Wonder Pup" is more than just a children’s book; it’s a practical tool for parents, educators, and caregivers. It guides young readers to improve their attention and listening in a fun and relatable way. As children follow Zane's persistent efforts to become a better listener, they learn that mastering this skill is achievable with time and practice, making the book an invaluable addition to any social-emotional learning collection.
4. Talk Yourself Up, Wonder Pup
"Talk Yourself Up, Wonder Pup," the fourth book in Angela Murphy's Wonder Pup Series, tackles the critical issue of self-talk in children. The story revolves around Zane, the series’ protagonist, who learns to transform his negative thoughts into positive ones. This transformation is crucial, as negative self-talk, termed 'red thoughts' like "I’m so stupid!" or "I’ll NEVER get this!", can significantly impact a child's confidence and mental health.
Murphy introduces a simple yet effective three-step strategy known as ACT: Ask, Choose, Talk. This approach guides children to first become aware of their thoughts (Ask if it’s a red or green thought), then make a conscious choice to change negative thoughts into positive ones (Choose to shift from red to green), and finally, reinforce the new, positive thought (Talk or tell yourself the new thought). This method is not just about changing what children think, but how they think, teaching them the skill and importance of positive self-talk.
"Talk Yourself Up, Wonder Pup" is more than a story; it's a practical guide for children, as well as a valuable resource for parents, educators, and counselors. It emphasizes the need for direct teaching and modeling to help children and youth shift from negative to positive self-talk. As readers journey with Zane, they learn that changing one’s thoughts is a skill that can be mastered with practice and patience, leading to improved self-esteem and mental well-being.
5. Step Up, Wonder Pup
'Step Up, Wonder Pup,' the fifth book in Angela Murphy's Wonder Pup Series, is an innovative and engaging story that teaches children about emotional awareness and regulation. The book features the 'Wonder Pup Staircase', a mood scale that helps children visualize and understand their emotions on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest mood and 5 the highest. This visual tool, coupled with the book’s vibrant illustrations, aids children in identifying and expressing their emotional states.
In the story, Draper, the elder brother, introduces Zane, the younger protagonist, to a simple but effective strategy for managing emotions, known as the ACT action plan. This involves three steps: Ask (which step am I on the staircase), Choose (a strategy to improve mood), and Take (a step up). This method not only helps children in recognizing their moods but also empowers them to take proactive steps towards improving their emotional well-being.
'Step Up, Wonder Pup' is a valuable resource for helping children gain control over their emotions, enhancing their mental wellness and confidence. The book teaches that emotions are natural and fluctuating, and that having control over them contributes to better mental health. This story is perfect for children, parents, educators, and counselors, providing practical tools for dealing with stress and emotional challenges. As readers follow Zane’s journey in mastering these skills, they learn that everyone has the ability to 'step up' their mood and improve their emotional health.
6. Love Yourself Up, Wonder Pup
"Love Yourself Up, Wonder Pup," the sixth book in Angela Murphy's Wonder Pup Series, introduces a heartwarming twist to its readers. In a departure from the usual narrative, Zane, the younger brother, steps into the role of the teacher for his older brother Draper. This shift highlights an important aspect of self-care and mental health.
Throughout his life, Draper has been the caretaker for others, teaching Zane various skills but neglecting his own well-being in the process. Zane notices changes in Draper – a lack of energy for his favorite activities and signs of burnout – and decides to intervene. Adorning his Wonder Pup cape, Zane guides Draper through four fundamental self-care practices: Sleep, Eat, Love, and Move. Each of these elements represents a cornerstone of self-care: restful sleep, nourishing food, connecting with oneself, nature, and others, and physical activity.
This book is not just a story; it's a lesson in recognizing the balance between giving to others and caring for oneself. It teaches children the importance of self-love and how to identify and address burnout in themselves and others. With practical strategies for boosting self-esteem and establishing a self-care routine, "Love Yourself Up, Wonder Pup" is an essential addition to any social-emotional learning collection for children, caregivers, and educators. The story of Draper's journey back to self-care is an empowering message that if he can learn to love himself up, so can anyone.