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There's Science in Here!

The best way to read Timbi Talks to a child is to be as close as they are comfortable with. And, even if the child can read on their own, adults should read the story with them the first few times to be sure they understand the key points of the book. See outline below. (Items 1-4 are adapted from NACoA's  Tools for Kids.)

  1. The affected parent did not choose the disease, but the disease changed them, and they can behave strangely and be scary. (pp. 2-5, 8-10)

  2. The child is not alone in their situation. There are many other children who have a parent who struggles with addiction. There is comfort in knowing that this isn’t the only time this situation has occurred, and there are professionals who know how to deal with it. (pp. 6-7)

  3. You and other safe adults in the child’s life are available to listen and hear them. (p. 12)

  4. The child did not cause the disease and is not to blame for the parent’s behavior or circumstances. The egocentrism and magical thinking that are developmentally normal for young children contribute to their sense that anything happening around them results from them and their behavior. The adult can point out that the child behaves independently at times, and reinforce the fact that grown-ups always do. (p. 13)

  5. Timbi labels emotions throughout the books. Labeling negative emotions has been shown to diminish their intensity and duration.

  6. Lacking adequate vocabulary to verbally process challenging events, the child will likely experience the trauma in their body in some way. Timbi tells them they can learn to listen to their body and be more in control of their reactions: (pp.14-15)

  7. The emotions and feelings the child is having are perfectly natural in the circumstances. They are an automatic response to the situation, but the child can begin to be in control of them. Emotions have been shown to be fleeting; it is rumination about them allows them to persist. The goal is to disrupt the rumination. Awareness is the first step of gaining control. (p. 22)

  8. Finally, the child can remember/learn that they are: (p. 23)

    1. Good—this is not their fault.

    2. Lovable and loved—you are present and there for them.

    3. Strong and resilient—practicing and acquiring the skills presented in the book will help.

The inside back covers of both Timbi Talks and Timbi Colors have an easily accessible list of skills and practices the child can work on—with caregiver encouragement—to continue fostering a sense of agency and control in their lives.

Janet Hellier, MS MHC

About Timbi Talks

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