How The Little Tiger with the Big Temper came to be...
we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Holding my book for the first time was a pretty damn exciting moment. I would like to share why this book means so much to me and why I hope you will love it too.
As I always say, 'a lotus grows in a swamp' - it's the most challenging times that have led to my most significant growth in life. I experienced prenatal depression before my twins were born and that's when I fell into mindfulness and meditation in a big way. After experiencing a transformation in my wellbeing, I knew those were skills I wanted to teach my boys, but I didn't know how.
I wrote The Little Tiger with the Big Temper when my boys were around two years old. I was struggling with temper tantrums, meltdowns and big feelings by the double and frankly, I wasn't always coping very well.
(My boys were about 2.5 years old in this pic. This photoshoot was nuts. They leapt from the furniture and stripped off their clothes. I think the photographer decided he did not want kids that day! LOL)
Anyway, I feel so energetically bonded with my boys that what they feel, I feel. So, a lot of the time I wasn't the calm guide through the chaos, I was freaking out with them! I wanted to role model the calm and self-regulation skills that I wanted to teach them, but I'd be so focused on 'making the screaming stop' that I would forget to consider if there was an unmet need beneath their behaviour. You know... like are they tired, overstimulated, hungry, thirsty? I didn't always come from a place of empathy, despite being what people might call an empath.
None of the other 'strategies' I fell back on worked. I would 'shush them' (not validating their feelings), or 'distract them' (teaching them to distract themselves from their state of emotion). I'd count to 10... and then what?! I went to a seminar by a parenting expert who told me to put them in 'time out' and in desperation I tried that a couple of times, only to feel guilty because shunning a small child for emotions they are not able to control is far from ideal.
I do NOT subscribe to the old philosophy that children should be seen and not heard. My children are my gurus and they've taught me so much in their short time on this earth. I wanted my boys to grow up knowing they could be themselves around me and tell me anything.
I knew I was a good mum, but when they were in a heightened state I felt like a failure. This parenting gig is tough! We know what we don't want to do (yell, scream and tantrum), we know what we can't do (smack our kids), but nobody ever outlined HOW I could consciously nurture their feelings at the same time as keep myself calm.
So, my head began to simmer on all the things I had studied in positive parenting, conscious parenting and mindfulness courses and it dawned on me that I could combine these learnings into a strategy that would help. My approach worked a lot of the time and I desperately wanted to share it with other frustrated parents. But how?
Then it dawned on me: adults reading a children's book was the perfect learning opportunity for both! I could do something that I believe was a 'world first': a children's book that was crafted as a tool for both parents AND kids.
We talk about how we want our children to have the benefits of mindfulness, like emotional literacy and self-regulation, BUT if we aren't modelling it to them our children will not learn. What we do matters most. Brain research indicates that ages 0-3 are the most important in a child's brain development... yet we hit the 'terrible twos' and boom, are we really our best selves while dealing with that? 🤔 I KNEW better and I wanted to DO better. Age 2 to 7 is the best opportunity to lay the foundation for a holistic education, so in my mind, these were the years to create a safe space for loving connection, emotional literacy and communication skills. And in doing so, just maybe it might do something to help stem an epidemic of anxiety children in the Western world are facing.
The first draft of the book came to me very quickly; it was as though I 'saw' the whole thing. But it took a LOT of refining. I wanted to write in rhyme not only because it's fun, but also because rhyme becomes an 'earworm' - that would help parents and children remember the tools outlined in the story.
"It's OK to have this feeling and it likely won't last long.
It doesn't make you bad, nor does it make you wrong."
Once the draft was finally completed, I designed the book illustrations and layout, hired an illustrator and set out to fundraise $5,000 on Kickstarter. I eventually raised almost $10,000 to bring this book to life. And finally, The Little Tiger with the Big Temper is ready for the world.
(This was when I FINALLY got the book. Yes, there were a few pandemic holdups. FYI: they are still wild and crazy and I wouldn't change it - except for at bedtime. Oh my...🙄)
The feedback has been incredible. It is my greatest pleasure to hear from parents, relieved that they 'have a strategy' and 'coping tools' for those seriously challenging parenting moments. And when people tell me their kids say it's their 'favourite book ever' I'm moved to tears. The hard work is paid off by knowing that people love it as much as I do. It's a privilege for me to have it in daycares, schools and homes. Thank you to everyone that made it a reality and also to those that are keeping the dream alive by supporting it now.
xo Je t'aime