Self-Help Shelf: From helplessness and worry to healing

By Sarri Gilman

If I could give everyone on the planet one book right now, it would be Verbal First Aid.

This book is written for parents, but I believe every adult could benefit from the tips on how to listen and say things that are truly helpful, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. What we hear and say about COVID-19 has triggered much anxiety.

This book by Judith Simon Prager, Ph.D. and Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT shares ways to talk about the coronavirus that could be more helpful to children and to one other. The authors are experts who have trained first responders, health care professionals, and disaster teams on what to say and how to say it.  They give examples of what to say and what not say and how tone and body language need to match the words.

The book is based on this formula: “What you think = How you feel = How you heal.”

We are faced with so many experiences and parents often wonder how to calm and soothe. The authors share how to tailor your words to specific age groups. Parents will find many familiar situations reviewed such as: nightmares, a broken bone, needing stitches, rushing to the hospital, bedwetting, car accidents, an ill family member, and bee stings to larger more devastating experiences, like hurricanes and bombings.

The authors make us aware of words that are missteps and how to say things that are true and helpful. These aren’t clichéd or words that we outgrow. The book teaches you how to think about your words to talk about the situation-at-hand honestly and choose words that move us from panic and helplessness to healing.

You will be able to apply the lessons in this book to the coronavirus. The words we say to children, teens and one another during this pandemic will have a lasting impact on how we cope and how we recover in the long term. This book teaches us what to say during experiences of fear, anxiety, or pain. After you learn the principles in this book, you will be using soothing words with adults too. We all need some words of comfort.

Do you have Band-Aids at home? If you think Band-Aids are useful, you’ll love this book.

If I was able to give you one book to read from the Self-Help shelf, it would be Verbal First Aid. It is filled with words we all need to hear right now.

Sarri Gilman is a licensed marriage and family therapist in practice since 1986. A Whidbey Island resident, Gilman is an author, speaker and community leader. She presented Good Boundaries Free You at TEDxSnoIsleLibraries 2015.


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