Book review by Marion May

Bounce Back How to Be a Resilient Kid 

By author, Wendy L. Moss, PhD

Audience: 8-12 year olds

Published by the American Psychology Association (Magination Press) www.apa.org/pubs/magination

ISBN: 9781433819216 143381921X

R is for Resilience. B is for Bounce Back How to Be a Resilient Kid

Stressful situations like—arguing with parents, friends or teachers, enduring disappointment, feeling excluded, or being anxious about a test—can trigger strong emotions in children and make it hard to cope with day-to-day life. However, people of all ages can bounce back from setbacks and become resilient, if they learn how to understand themselves, examine their emotions and practice strategies to help them through tough times, according to author and psychologist, Dr. Wendy L. Moss, book, Bounce Back How to Be a Resilient Kid. “Some people seem to bounce back automatically,” Dr. Moss explains, “but the truth is resilience is not something you are born with and, it can be learned.”

Why Bounce Back jumped out for me

From the moment I picked up Bounce Back… I couldn’t put it down. With its friendly tone, unpretentious language, quizzes and familiar story scenarios, at no point did I feel the author was talking down to me or preaching from a self-help soapbox. Through self-awareness quizzes, reflection exercises, stories and strategies, Dr. Moss teaches readers that, through self-discovery, they can learn to how to react differently, manage their stress and become more resilient.

Although the book is intended for children aged 8 to 12, I found myself absorbed in the scenarios, quizzes and advice—examining my own fall-back reactions to tough situations and thinking of better bounce back strategies I could use in the future.

Throughout the book, children are encouraged to: reflect on their own and others’ behavior, understand their emotions, respect and speak kindly to themselves and others, understand what situations are within or outside of their control, gauge their reactions to stress, think of solutions themselves and consult trusted adults for help and guidance.

Step One: Get to know yourself

While this book is packed with nuggets of wisdom, what I liked most was Dr. Moss’ appreciation for children’s lack of life experience and her down-to-earth advice. For instance, in Chapter Two: Getting to know yourself better, she explains, “The truth is that you probably don’t spend much time thinking about what you feel, why you react the way you do, and what strategies you use to deal with stress. That’s OK.”

With its cheerful and spacious layout, colourful headings and a dotted line that playfully bounces the reader through the book, I think children, young teens and parents will also enjoy the book’s graphic appeal. It’s an easy afternoon read and could easily be used to lead a group discussion—at home or at school—with children about resilience. Young teens would probably enjoy reading the book independently while younger children would benefit from guided reading with an adult.  

What resilience does…and doesn’t mean

Bounce Back is a short, 112-page book that begins by exploring what resilience actually means. It points out that everyone faces challenges during their lives and asks readers to think of strategies they have used to get through tough times. “Resilience,” Dr. Moss explains, “means you can bounce back from, or deal with difficult times, new situations, unexpected changes or other experiences that cause you stress. It does not mean that you don’t feel pain or that everything goes away. If you can find ways to handle difficult situations today, you are more likely to feel more confident that you can handle future tough times without feeling totally overwhelmed.”

Resilient people learn ways to work around or overcome stress and according to Dr. Moss, the three important steps to becoming resilient are:

Step One: Know yourself and what makes you happy or stressed

Step Two: Learn strategies to help you get through stressful times

Step Three: Use these strategies in your life

In the book’s ten progressive chapters, the reader learns to:

  • Appreciate what it means to be resilient
  • Get to know themselves better
  • Understand their emotions
  • Coach themselves with self-talk
  • Calm themselves when they are upset
  • Deal with decisions, disappointments and new challenges
  • Recognize when situations are within—or outside of—their control
  • Negotiate, compromise and navigate social conflicts
  • Cope with, or adjust to, serious sources of stress, and
  • Ask for help and guidance

Each chapter concludes with a review of Key Points and a brief Summary that set up discussion for the next chapter topic.

Scaling the stress: What kind of rock is this?

In Chapter Three, Understanding Emotions, readers are introduced to the question, “What kind of rock is it?” The question prompts readers to ask themselves if the issue they are facing is a pebble, a small rock, a large rock or a boulder. Comparing a stressor to a rock, suggests the problem can be quantified and managed. In my opinion, visualizing a problem as a thing can also help to alleviate its weightiness.  Once you know the size and seriousness of an obstacle you are facing—you can figure out which resiliency strategies you need to use to tackle it.

Dealing with boulder-sized obstacles

Chapter Nine: Coping with Unchangeable Situations candidly deals with “boulder” type situations such as divorce, physical disability and death. Dr. Moss stresses that, while you cannot control these situations, “you can control how you deal with them—and you can learn resiliency skills to help you bounce back and deal with these tough times more easily.”

Conclusion

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Its positive approach and message of encouragement is: with self-awareness, kindness towards ourselves and others, hope, support and understanding—we can all bounce back from just about anything.

About the author:

Wendy L. Moss, PhD, ABPP, FAASP has her doctorate in clinical psychology, is a licensed psychologist and has a certification in school psychology. She has practiced in the field of psychology for over 30 years and has worked in hospital, residential, private practice, clinic and school settings.

Other books by Dr. Wendy L. Moss:

  • Being Me: A Kid’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Children Don’t Come With An Instruction Manual: A Teacher’s Guide to Problems That Affect Learners (coauthor, with Donald A. Moses, MD)

Have a comment on this post or topic you’d love to see us write about? Let us know by commenting on this post or by writing directly to Marion at marion@theopendoor.ca

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