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Calm-Down Time (Toddler Tools) Board book – May 1, 2010
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My main reason for taking off the star is that the expressions are very subtly drawn on the faces of the kiddos who are feeling sad or mad. This isn't a big deal for many children, but for our son, who is considered lower functioning on the Autism spectrum, it really is. He needs to see more obvious facial expressions associated with emotions in order for him to connect the pieces on it.
As with the other book we purchased, Little Monkey Calms Down (which I totally, totally loved and it did a great job with having very "readable" emotions on Monkey's face), some of the calming strategies are useful for him, some are not. I do like that as an alternative to hugs, it mention that he can give himself a squeeze around the chest. Currently we provide squeezes to help calm him down, but I think its a great way to open the door to helping him realize he can do that for himself too. I like that it mentions having a quiet space, because sometimes he needs to get away from noise to calm down, and I like also that it mentions it's ok to rock back and forth to self calm. Generally when you have a kiddo on the spectrum, people like to discourage the rocking. But I've got to tell you, the rocking is better then a massive melt down, and definitely much better then the self-harming, so in this house, that's not a hill I'm personally wanting to die on at this time. But if you do have a kiddo on the spectrum, you can mention rolling back and forth on a yoga ball as a rocking type substitute that may give a similar soothing input. Our little man generally prefers that one himself, actually.
Overall, I think this is a well done book, but I think it would be more effective for kiddos who have certain disorders or disabilities if the emotions were less subtly portrayed. And many of these kiddos are going to be in the target market for this kind of book, as they often have greater difficulty regulating themselves then a normally functioning child of a similar age. I am personally thinking about using some felt tip pens and marking up the expressions a little to make them more readable to him, since we've already purchased this book. But if you haven't purchased it, and your kiddo has trouble reading emotions, you may wish to start with something different.
It loses a star because I really can't figure out what they were doing in terms of rhyme scheme or rhythm. Your average toddler-targeted book has a rhyme scheme or at least a sing-songy rhythm. This book does too, but only in fits and starts. The opening two pages rhyme just fine. The third and fourth pages rhyme, but with a longer phrasing. I *think* the fifth/sixth pages are *supposed to* rhyme, but it's a stretch. Eventually you get down into the part about the child finding a calm down space and the rhyming/rhythm is completely haphazard - sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. This may seem like a silly thing to yank a star over, but it makes reading aloud a bit stilted, jerky, and more complicated than it needs to be.
Regardless of my hang-ups over rhythm, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with a young child with temper management difficulties (heh - I guess that means everyone). It's accessible to them and makes sense to them, teaches them a real-life calming technique, and best of all, it actually does calm them down.