Today we bring you a review by Sarah from The Puffin Diaries, of the book Banish your Self-Esteem Thief by Kate Collins-Donnelly
This book aims to teach young people, from aged ten, to use cognitive behavioural therapy to build positive self-esteem. The book can be used by a parent or a practitioner with the young person and is a combination of segments to read and activities to carry out.
We have had this book some time, over a year, however we have used the book on and off through out this time. One of the main reasons for this is that we’ve accessed sections of the books which have I have considered age appropriate. So whilst my son at ten could access the first three chapters, which explored the concept of self esteem, he seemed less able to grasp the concepts of following chapters which delve deeper into how self-esteem develops. We have however returned to these sections at a later date.
The book is highly interactive and easy to follow, making a logical progression for the reader, building on one idea to the next. It was easy to break into smaller sections, which suited my son, as whole chapters include quite a lot to digest in one sitting for a younger child. That said my son asked on a number of occasions if we could work together from the book. He enjoys the one to one time and also the opportunity to explore himself with someone that feels safe by his side.
My son particularly enjoyed designing his own self-esteem vault, where you keep safe all the positive beliefs you have about yourself, from the self esteem thief, who you can also draw your own version of.
There are activities and parts of the text that are much more suited to teenagers than young adolescents. For example, there are case studies from older children which include incidents of self harming. I think this is particularly important to take into consideration when dealing with children who have suffered early life trauma and have a younger emotional intelligence than their physical age. My own son struggled a little with some of the list of emotional labels unable to differentiate between words like, embarrassment and shame or sadness and a low mood.
Another good reason to work in small sections was that reading about all the bad things you feel about yourself as you tick a long list of words you agree describe you, can be upsetting in itself. Sometimes I’d see we need to switch mode so that a dark mood didn’t stay with my son.
As the parent or teacher it is worth reading through to the end first and finding sections you can turn to and use to create positive endings to your sessions. There are some deep breathing and relaxation exercises which we introduced earlier than the progressive stage in the book because they were enjoyable to use.
So in conclusion, this book is a really thorough and useful workbook to help young people understand how their own self-esteem works. I do consider the whole book suited more to teenagers, however I found there were sections that can still be useful for those younger. My own son is turning thirteen soon and I’m sure he will ask me again if we can look at it again.