‘Angry Me’ equips kids with healthy coping skills

“Angry Me,” by Sandra V. Feder. (Groundwood Books/TNS)

Anger. Like it or not, it’s an emotion we all wrestle with — and children are no exception. In fact, with sayings like ‘terrible twos’ and ‘acting like a child,’ it seems that they’re especially known for their tempers. But when you consider how young children are only starting to find the vocabulary to voice their needs and desires, it makes sense that some feelings would be hard to control. When you’re that new at expressing yourself, who wouldn’t get frustrated?

That’s why it’s so important to teach children that they aren’t alone in struggling with big emotions. If parents and teachers acknowledge children’s feelings, kids will know that they’re being heard and their experiences are valid. That’s where Sandra V. Feder’s “Angry Me” (Groundwood Books) comes in; thoughtful and compassionate, this gentle read sympathizes with children and provides them with a myriad of ways to self-regulate.

WHEN STRONG FEELINGS THREATEN TO SPILL OVER

“I get angry,” our young protagonist says as she glares into the mirror. Her hand balled in a fist, a furrow in her brow, the reader can see she’s serious. We follow her as she encounters annoyances both big and small: a playmate stealing her toy, her father eating the cookie she was saving, her classmates socializing without her. All that anger builds up until she feels like she could explode with it. What’s a mad little kid to do?

It turns out that there are a couple different techniques she can use to calm down. Sometimes, she finds that using her words does the trick. Other times, she tells us that “it’s not my words that help, but someone else’s.” And occasionally, our protagonist admits, she doesn’t cool down at all. But even with these hiccups along the way, she knows that working through her frustration helps her improve her mood. “Anger comes from deep inside and bursts out,” she says. “But then, it’s gone. And then, I have room for a new feeling. One that feels much better.”

A COMPASSIONATE GUIDE TO HANDLING EMOTIONS

With the growing popularity of gentle parenting, society is recognizing the importance of teaching children how to communicate their feelings in a healthy way. With straightforward language that young readers can understand, “Angry Me” speaks directly to children rather than lecturing them, showing them the benefits that they’ll gain from practicing emotional regulation. Rahele Jomepour Bell’s textured, eye-catching illustrations skillfully guide the reader through the story as the protagonist struggles and ultimately succeeds at working through her anger, encouraging young readers to follow her lead. Instead of focusing on perfection, this book acknowledges and affirms children’s emotional struggles and gently provides them with an outlet for that frustration.

The result is a more realistic — and ultimately more promising — depiction of how practicing emotional regulation benefits both the child and their family. By introducing these techniques to kids from an early age, they’ll be able to learn how to self-soothe that much faster. Parents looking to take the first step will find “Angry Me” to be the perfect addition to their child’s bookshelf.

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Tribune Wire

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