Interview with Jessica Bowers, Well-Being Writer
This year Storytime is turning 7, and to celebrate we are holding a new competition for our readers. We love coming up with themes for our competitions – and receiving thousands of amazing and creative entries from our readers!
This year, the theme we have chosen is happiness, emotional health, and resilience. In our new Happiness Is… contest, readers will get to think about what really makes them happy and send in pictures of what happiness looks like! Needless to say, we’re looking forward to receiving many bright and inspiring pictures from you all! The winning illustration will feature in Storytime magazine next Spring!
We believe that taking care of our minds is very important for kids and adults alike, so we have created a special Happiness Is… activity pack to inspire you and get you ready to draw your entries! To come up with really good activities and bring all the important information to you, we obviously needed help from an expert consultant!
We reached out to the wonderful Jessica Bowers! She is a well-being writer, an experienced counsellor, psychotherapist and all-round lovely person! Jessica has provided awesome content for the Happiness Is… pack. She has shared great tips and exercises to get everyone tuned in with their emotions and ready to draw! You can download the new Happiness Is… competition entry form and activity pack HERE
And there’s more! While working together, we realised that emotional wellbeing is really important, and we decided to make it a regular part of Storytime! That was why we created a brand new section called My Mind Matters! From October, Jessica will be using this section to introduce ideas and activities about emotions, coping skills, and ideas that will help kids (and adults!) to communicate effectively about what they are feeling.
After all that we have been through in the past 18 months, we really wanted help our readers to stay healthy and happy. It’s our 7th anniversary and this is our little gift to you! We hope that you enjoy the Happiness Is… contest, the activity pack, and the new My Mind Matters! section. And now…. Let’s find out a bit more about the wonderful work Jessica does!
- How did you become involved in child psychology and counselling?
I have always loved working with, and spending time with children, and I have always worked within caring professions – it has given me a huge amount of professional satisfaction. When I embarked upon my counselling and psychotherapy training over 10 years ago, I just knew it would be a life-long love and passion. I have 3 young children, who have hugely inspired my journey as a well-being writer.
- You are a counsellor, psychotherapist and parent. What practical advice would you give to parents and carers when discussing emotions with their children at home?
Discussing, sharing and expressing feelings as part and parcel of everyday family life would be my key piece of advice. Normalising feelings like anger is hugely important, as it takes the shame away from experiencing them. Conversations might not always go perfectly, and we don’t always know what to say – but those difficult conversations are really important.
- And for teachers? In your experience, what is the best way to communicate about emotions in the classroom?
Similarly, using emotional literacy as part of everyday conversations with children. When reading books, teachers can ask how characters might have felt during a part of the story; engaging in discussions around naming and expressing feelings in positive ways.
- We are very happy to have you onboard as our Judge for the Happiness is…competition! It was great fun developing the activity pack together with you. What should our readers look for inspiration when trying to draw “happiness”? What will you be looking for in the entries?
I am so thrilled to be on board and excited to see all the entries. I am sure that all of the children will draw from their hearts and from their passion – those entries will stand out I’m sure! I write from my heart; I guess that is what I am looking for!
- From October, you’re also writing a new section in Storytime called My Mind Matters. Can you tell our readers a bit more about it? What ideas do you want to introduce in this new section?
I am so very excited about this. I want to develop children’s emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and understanding of mental health issues in an accessible way. I want to offer tips and insights about expressing emotions, building resilience and self-care. I hope that both children and parents find it helpful!
- We have bonded with you over our mutual love for stories and rhymes! What is the importance of stories in helping children to navigate through life and emotions? Do you think they are important tools for parents, carers and teachers too?
They are such an invaluable tool! Stories, like the wonderful ones in your magazine, deal with many different issues in a three-dimensional way; bringing them to life. Stories and illustrations can really deepen our understanding. They also bring us together and show us that we are not alone in the challenges we face.
- And talking about brilliant stories…. Your new book Fantastic Fin Faces his Fears has just come out! Tell us a bit more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! Fantastic Fin is a children’s picture book aimed at 4-7-year old children. It’s a rhyming story, where Fin embodies different characters and animals to build his courage and resilience and face his fears. There is a fear fact file at the back to help children, and tips for parents and carers too. My passion for writing exploded during lock down, and my inspiration was my oldest son Finlay, who is now 8 – he needed help and support with building his courage when he was younger, and I used these ideas with him. I was also a little girl who had huge feelings, and I would have greatly benefited from some insight and understanding about this – so I guess I am also writing for that little girl too!
– Sounds great! Where can readers find your book?
It is available from Amazon and you can find details about it from my website: www.jessicabowers.co.uk. You will also find a free 17 page activity and teaching resource pack there too, linked with the themes in the book.
- One of the many amazing things you do to support children’s mental health is running ‘Get Active With Emotions’ and workshops in schools. How did you start doing this, and what has the reaction been like from pupils?
My ideas to create these workshops were an extension of my writing during lockdown – I think there is a gap in schools for such workshops which develop children’s emotional well-being, and I have created workshops which strike a balance between being fun, engaging and informative. I am very excited to start delivering these from September 2021, and I am looking forward to gaining some feedback from schools, to help me develop more in future.
- What is the importance of caring/working on/ being aware of well-being from a very young age? Is there such a thing as too early to talk about emotions?
We look after our children’s well-being from birth (and in the womb), where we respond to their emotional needs as part of supporting their healthy development as a whole. As they start talking and from around 3, we can start to help little ones name their feelings, and model ways of expressing and managing them – so I think it is never too young to start.
- You have recently started to share some content on social media – and they are great! We know those nuggets of inspiration can be really welcome when someone is having a difficult day! How has the engagement been? Do you have any plans to develop it further? Are you doing any podcasts soon? What other ideas and projects should we look out for from you in the future?
Thank you – It took courage for me to start sharing my poems and insights, but I am pleased I have. I really want to educate and inspire others to look after their mental health and well-being and I have had such a positive response from those who follow me. I will continue to post these as well as develop more children’s resources and activity packs. I am also continuing to publish my collection of well-being picture books – next comes Fab-filled Frankie’s Huge Heart (inspired by my daughter) who will be supporting children with separation and loss. I am also developing one of my workshops into a book to support children with expressing their emotions – using the concept ‘Let the Rain Fall so the Sun can Shine!’ where FALL is an acronym for ‘feel, act, listen and learn and let go’ – I feel very passionate about it. Andrew Whitehead (www.since6.co.uk) the amazing Illustrator of Fantastic Fin has created some lovely visuals to engage the children with the concept.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.