I am a firm believer that you can never have too many therapeutic children’s books! Andrea Dorn, LSW, the author of the Mindful Steps series, agrees with me. She was kind enough to chat with me about her books and her clinical work.
1. To start off, can you tell me a bit about your professional background and clinical work?
I have a bit of an eclectic background. I originally graduated with a music degree, and after a bit of an early mid-life crisis, I discovered my true calling was in the helping profession. I’ve been in social work for about 10 years now and have worked with a wide range of populations of adults and children of all ages. I am trained in a variety of trauma therapeutic styles (TF-CBT, EMDR, DBT) and I find those perspectives, in addition to mindfulness and attachment theory, guide much of my clinical practice and my writing.
2. I love your series on teaching kids mindfulness! How did you get into this niche?
Thank you so much! I’ve been independently studying mindfulness since it was introduced to me in graduate school (much too late in life if you ask me!) and it is something that has positively influenced my life in so many ways.
My journey to becoming an author, and specifically in this genre was really born out of wanting to find resources for my own children that concretely, yet gently introduced concepts that were common to childhood development. We went through a year of pretty big changes and my oldest son was struggling; however, he began thriving when we talked about exactly what to expect in these transitions and even more-so when we talked about these expectations consistently. The developing brains of children truly benefit from clear and simple instruction and expectations. This idea, paired with my clinical background, inspired my desire to create resources to help children build independence and confidence in learning new skills and handling life working through transitions using concrete step-wise approaches. As I began to explore the idea of writing a series that focused on these changes, I was intent on introducing mindfulness into the series as a way to support early development of this skill. I hope that my books can help children and caregivers alike in learning and using new skills to effectively navigate changes and challenges in their lives with mindfulness and connection.
3. Tell me about your latest book, Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me?
My newest book is a mindfulness how-to guide that is designed to simply introduce kids aged 2-12 to the basic concepts of mindfulness in a concrete and engaging way. Mindfulness is a fairly abstract concept for children to understand, however, is a crucial skill to learn to develop social/emotional skills like self-regulation, decision making, and emotion management. Calm and Peaceful Mindful Me includes a gender-neutral character (who happens to have the same name as your child) and, like all of my books, it includes mindfulness exercises for children and their caregivers, a letter to caregivers, and tips for developing a mindfulness practice with kids. Also included are open-ended process questions throughout the book. Though optional, they were included to help personalize the reading experience, spark open-ended conversations with children, and build and strengthen the parent-child relationship. My goal in writing this book is to make mindfulness more accessible to children and families. It is my hope that in reading this book, children will be introduced to this skill in a fun and engaging way and begin to develop a foundational understanding of mindfulness and self-awareness on which to grow and develop over their lifetime.
4. You also offer supplemental resources to your books on your website – can you tell me about those resources?
Yes! I have an ever-growing library of mindfulness resources that I have created. Some of these resources coincide directly with my books (for example, there are potty training charts to go with my mindful potty book), however, some are just simple exercises and coloring sheets (like breathing exercises) to further practice mindfulness with your kiddos. I’m adding new handouts all the time!
5. I also love your meditation songs (found on the resources page linked above)! How did you come up with those?
Wow! You do your research! Like I mentioned earlier, my undergraduate degree is in music. I love music and believe it is such an important and useful tool for engaging and teaching children. When I started this series and decided to include short child meditations in each book, I knew putting these short rhymes to music would be the perfect way to marry my passion for my writing with my passion for music. I’m hopeful parents and kids will listen to the songs to help facilitate greater comprehension and recall of the skills discussed in the books!
6. What other projects do you have that you’d like to talk about?
I’m working on several other Mindful Steps Series books at the moment, but I’m excited to partner with PESI publishing again to publish my next book, a grief and loss how-to guide for kids. Childhood bereavement is anything but predictable and concrete, however, in order to address the chaotic and confusing time that comes with grief and loss, my newest book will attempt to bring some structure and healing to this difficult process.