In ‘The Not-So-Friendly Friend’, a kid-friendly lesson on limits

Like many parents, Christina Furnival notices the little things when it comes to her children. Plus, as a licensed mental health therapist, she’s adept at detecting subtle changes in their moods.

So, when her young daughter returned home troubled after interacting with a playmate, Furnival still had no idea it would inspire her to write “The Not-So-Friendly Friend.”

“My parenting experiences were 100% the catalyst for this book,” says Furnival from his home in the San Carlos neighborhood of San Diego. “My daughter was having a difficult friendship with a child in preschool, and she would come home really hurt and upset to have this friend who is really loving and loving or completely the opposite and rejecting her.”

In what Furnival says is the first in a series of children’s books, “The Not-So-Friendly Friend” (PESI Publishing) aims to teach children, as the subtitle suggests, “How To Set Boundaries For healthy friendships “. Filled with poetic language and rhymes and illustrations from Roseville, Calif.-Based artist Katie Dwyer, the book centers on a young girl doing her best to navigate a friendship that even at a young age , makes her feel small and saddened.

Furnival says she often used children’s books in her therapy sessions to impart important skills to children.

“I like to use books to support a message that I’m trying to get across to them and to help them deal with whatever they’re going through,” Furnival says. “I had seen a lot of books on friendship, but a lot of them were based on social skills – how to make a friend, what a friend looks like, things like that – but I didn’t see any book dealing specifically with dealing with a mean friend.

Furnival adds that many children’s books she’s encountered have dealt with setting boundaries that often center around bullying, a distinction she is quick to point out.

“When I tried to find books related to what my daughter was going through, I really couldn’t find any,” Furnival says. “There are a lot of books that deal with bullying, but I didn’t see this kid necessarily as a bully. She was just a little human going about her own business, and it just came out in a way that wasn’t necessarily beneficial for my child.

Yet Furnival didn’t just write a book based on an anecdotal incident with his own daughter. She also began researching mental health studies, including one from the American Psychological Association which cited firm limits on bullying behavior, particularly the importance for children of setting limits at an age. early.

“There is a lot of research on setting personal boundaries and boundaries and how this is essential to maintaining healthy relationships,” says Furnival. “How it benefits your self-esteem, your self-esteem, and your ability to assert yourself.” And it’s a skill we don’t often teach kids or think we teach kids.

Help the children

Born and raised in San Diego, Furnival became a therapist after attending Vanderbilt University and later Lipscomb University in Nashville for her graduate studies. She returned to San Diego in 2011 and says she is content to be a “stay-at-home mom by day, therapist by night.” She also started a blog (“Real Life Mama Blog”) two years ago in the hope of reaching others who stay at home with their children.

“I was very focused on helping children, but after having my own children and struggling with depression and postpartum anxiety, I saw much more clearly how much support parents needed. beyond parenting and educational support methods, ”says Furnival.

Another facet of “The Not-So-Friendly Friend”, although underappreciated, is how the book could help children return to in-person learning after a year or more at home.

“Kids have completely lost training in the past year and a half when it comes to making new friends, meeting new people, and dealing with the typical challenges and issues that come with new friendships.” Furnival said.

This second book from what Furnival called his “Capable Kiddo” series of books will address the topics of fear and anxiety in young children with a focus on giving them practical tools to deal with these feelings.

“With this last year and a half with the pandemic, the subject of anxiety has been everywhere,” says Furnival, who previously titled the book “Fear Not”.

Future books in the series will address topics such as a child’s “inner critic” and possibly the topic of depression in children in general.

“The idea of ​​the whole series is that they are books dealing with social and emotional themes,” Furnival explains. “I want children, along with their guardians, parents and teachers, to feel able to overcome their challenges. Everything life has in store for them.

“The Not-So-Friendly Friend: How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships” by Christina Furnival (PESI Publishing, 2021; 46 pages)

Warwick’s presents Christina Furnival

When: 2 p.m. Sunday September 26

Or: Warwick’s, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla

Tickets: To free

In line: warwicks.com

Combs is a freelance writer.

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