Big Feelings

Big Feelings

From Elizabeth Seeliger

We are raising money for the initial production costs of an interactive children's book / web app. These resources are essential for kids who have trouble identifying, labeling, and navigating their big feelings.

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Where did the idea for this book / web app come from?

When Sylvie was adopted at age two, she knew one word in Cantonese.  Although her hearing is typical, before she ever attempted her first word in English, she was using more than 70 signs.  When she did finally get brave enough to try to produce English words, it was a three word sentence, "Up mama please."  She had needs and was desperate to make them known.  However, while her English vocabulary was growing, so were the intensity of her tantrums. Communication only develops in the context of relationship, and she had missed out on years of social language and experience that comes from having a primary parent. 

One of the most bewildering parts of parenting Sylviah was attempting to navigate the big feelings that sometimes come with an extremely dysregulated nervous system that often accompanies the sort of trauma history she has.  Things I assumed would make her happy seemed to scare her. Things I thought would make her sad would initiate rage. Things I assumed would scare her made her shy.  This book / web app is designed to facilitate dialogue between children and the grown-ups in their lives about the world of feelings and emotions.  To make hidden, internal experiences visible and external so that they can be looked at and talked about and paired with additional feeling words that make clear the complexity of human emotion.   

Why a book and a web app?

Sylviah helped me craft the sentences in the book so that she could be seen and heard in her authentic experience of going to birthday parties, playing with friends, going to school, learning to master a new skill etc.  She loved to engage with the peel and stick Emotisnail Tiles.  Books are accessible in a classroom or other group setting.  I love books. For all of these reasons and more, Big Feelings needs to be a physical book.  

While the experiences represented in the book are broad and relatable, the web app will allow the flexibility to empower families to input their kids unique experiences so that their child can feel represented as well. Teachers could input sentences reflecting classroom behaviors and the feelings they might elicit.  The online format will also allow us to feature the emotion words in three dimensional American Sign Language, featuring young children signing.   

How do you know it is a valuable resource?

Using this book with Sylviah transformed our relationship.  I mean it!  Her anger and frustration dissipated as I was able to understand how she actually felt.  Feeling scared, rather than excited about a birthday invitation wasn't wrong or right. It just was her experience.  However, without this tool, her knock-down, drag-out tantrum that happened the night before the party would never have been connected to her internal experience of the upcoming party that I had assumed she was excited about. It grew the complexity of her emotional intelligence. She could begin to demonstrate that she could feel more than one way simultaneously.  She could be disappointed AND angry.  She could be excited AND scared.  Maybe most importantly she LOVED this book.  She would initiate reading it over and over again.  She would go and get it when she was struggling to be understood.

I interface with a variety of professionals in my work.  I have shared the single copy of the book I have with others.  The feedback from early interventionists, adoption specialists, teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing, speech language pathologists, mental health professionals, preschool teachers and parents has been incredibly positive,  with many people asking where they can order a copy.  The single copy of the book has been with a mom who asked to keep it for a while to use with her young son who had recently been adopted.  Two years later they were still using it and reluctant to give it back:)  

How can you help?

If you think that these resources belong in the world so that other kids can benefit, please help me raise the money to get it launched.  Forward this campaign to colleagues, friends and families.  Because this project was literally created out of love, it is important to me that we give back to those who donate to the get this project off the ground. Donations of ANY AMOUNT are appreciated! However, we have included donation bonuses for amounts greater than $25.  See below for details. 

Big Feelings Donation Bonus Descriptions

$25 Emotisnails Coloring Pages

$50 Emotisnails Coloring Pages & Stickers

$75 Big Feelings App access

$100 Big Feelings App and Book

$175 Complete Big Feelings Teachers Packet (includes 25 coloring pages, classroom poster, book and web app access)

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