Children are being encouraged to banish their negative feelings – with the help of a cartoon duck, elf and hare.
Retired college lecturer and therapist Sue Hughgonson has turned author to create fictional characters for a book and game to help families through tough times.
Sue is a long-time advocate for children’s mental health and wellbeing. She decided to put her years of experience into a self-help book after being approached during lockdown by parents seeking advice on their children’s anxieties and fears.
The result is The Adventures of The Rainbow Surfers, an illustrated story featuring the three characters in a magical land in the skies. While the book is a fun read, Sue says it contains powerful messages that can be helpful for children struggling with negative feelings.
She said: “It made me really sad to hear so many children were suffering with their thinking in lockdown.
“I knew what many needed in fact was better thinking to help them feel better. So, I wrote this book. It’s a really powerful tool to help children to think and feel better.”
Sue said the book was about empowering children to realise they are in control – as the thinker of the thoughts – and they can change their perspective.
She said: “Your brain processes thought, it doesn’t make thought.
“Children have a thought, which creates a word, which creates a feeling.
“Once they get that they get a little lightbulb moment. They get this big smile on their face and they say, ‘I can choose’. If they don’t like the thought, they’re free to jump to another one.”
Sue said she’s already seen positive results from early users.
“One little chap had lost his dad and it helped him. Although he has to grieve, he got more sense out of his thinking. It’s ok to be sad, but maybe not sad all the time. He figured that out himself. With him doing that, his mum changed as well.
“I don’t want to see anyone suffer. When you stop for a minute and think, no one can make you feel sad. It’s our perception that makes us feel sad through thinking, because the thinking is creating the feelings.”
The book is intended for any young person, aged five to nine, who may need help due to stressful or anxious situations, including family break ups.
Sue, who set up a Windermere therapy practice after retiring from lecturing, said: “As a therapist, I saw adults who had trauma from childhood from their parents’ divorce that was still affecting them.
“We can’t change the circumstances, but we can help them choose how they view those circumstances.
“It’s very sad mummy and daddy have broken up. However, someone can say ‘I choose not to be sad all the time if I change my thinking and know how to do it’.
For Sue, writing and publishing the book has been a labour of love and a chance to raise money for a charity close to her heart, Made By Dyslexia.
“I was labelled at school as ‘stupid’. When you get a belief on the back of that word it alters your whole life, it’s horrendous.
“I think I was 20 years old and a friend of my husband’s said he thought I was dyslexic. As soon as I found that out I was – ‘BOOM’. I got O Levels, A Levels, a teaching certificate and went into teaching.
“You change the label, you change your identity. It’s hugely powerful.”
I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. AMANDA MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE HER ONLY CLIENT AND HOLDS YOUR HAND TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH