© Michelle Chan
May has a special place in my heart, as it is both Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. With all that has been happening in the United States and around the world lately, I purposely chose May to publish my first children's book. During this special month, I wanted to gift others a book that touches on both of these topics. So please, join me in celebrating the month of May by reading this book with me and sharing it with others who may benefit from hearing its messages!
When I was just starting in my therapy career as a new graduate straight out of my masters program, I worked for a non-profit agency. The non-profit agency specialized in the care of children, teens, and their families. I found myself repeatedly talking to clients about the need to set boundaries. It was through these constant discussions that I realized how many children and teens were missing these important life lessons.
One day, while I was spending quality time alone with my God-daughter, we had a talk during our car ride. She was in elementary school at the time, and I found myself trying to teach her about boundaries in a way that she could understand and wouldn't potentially scare her. So, I used the analogy of an invisible bubble. We talked about how there was a bubble around her. That the bubble’s size changed depending on where she was at, who she was with, and what she felt inside. She was definitely a smart cookie, because even as a young child, she was able to understand how the bubble was meant to protect her and let her know when she should ask for help!
While that conversation happened quite a few years ago, and my God-daughter is now a teen, our conversation about the bubble stuck with me. So last year, when the memory of this conversation popped up in my mind (again), I again wished how more children could be taught this same message. I tried looking online for a book that talked about setting boundaries in this way for my young clients, but no matter how much I searched, I just couldn’t find it. And slowly, my wish of spreading this message led me to the idea of writing a children’s book myself. I wanted to create a story that was not only fun to read and enticing to look at, but also shared some important messages.
Details, Details, Details
"My Invisible Bubble" is a 8”x10” rhyming children’s book with illustrations that are beautifully detailed and colored. The main character in the book is an Asian American little girl, and she is surrounded by characters of different ethnicities. It was important for me that this book feel inclusive and representative of the wonderful world we live in. As many of us know, representation is so important, especially for young children.
Throughout the book, the little girl wears many different outfits, so that young children know that there are many aspects and dimensions to each of them, and that it is more than okay to show that to the world!
This book was born out of a labor of love and a deep desire to make sure that as many children as possible hear the messages this story has to share. This story is a wonderful way for parents, caregivers, teachers, and/or therapists to start a conversation with children about identifying their feelings, learning to trust their own instincts, expressing their needs, and setting healthy boundaries with others.
As many of us know, being able to set boundaries with others is an important way of being self-aware and for self-protection.
This is a great book to be read again and again by caregivers to young children, to allow them an “in” to having ongoing conversations about boundaries.
At the core of it all, it is to help children build a foundation in which they know their feelings are valid, and what they need to feel safe should be respected. May this also be a reminder to adults and caregivers that children’s needs should be taken into great consideration and care.
"I have an invisible bubble around me;
It protects me wherever I go.
Even though you can't see it,
It is always there, I know."
-Michelle Chan, LMFT
© Michelle Chan
When your toddler or young child is crying and tantruming, be patient with them and help them figure out how they're feeling. Are they frustrated? Are they sad? Are they scared? Are they angry? Far too often, parents think that their child is being "disobedient" or "manipulative" to try to get what they want. But really, they just don't have the words to express themselves and/or the coping skills to help them cope in a more socially acceptable manner. By crying and tantruming, they are trying to COMMUNICATE to you that they are having a difficult time and feeling strong emotions that they need help with, from you.
© Michelle Chan
[Warning: This post may be triggering for some parents/adults, especially those who may have experienced trauma or abuse as children.]
A lot of times, most parents and adults forget how difficult growing up can be. So instead, most of us do a quick flashback of our childhoods, remembering a general sense of it being happy and/or easy. But what if we really sat down and thought about about our past experiences in more detail? Let's be honest, who has the time, or want to make the time, to think that far back? However, if we are to truly understand the children in our lives and be empathetic towards their struggles, we need to take time to reconnect with our own inner-child.
If some thoughts are already surfacing, you know what I'm talking about. However, if you're sitting there rolling your eyes or scoffing, would you mind taking a little trip back to the past with me for just a few minutes?