Life can be difficult at the best of times, for children growing up and for the parents parenting them. It can often be a minefield of emotional traps. Maree Watkins's The 1st Family Feelings Guide is a fun way to get through these times. From anger and anxiety to jealousy, from happiness to the sadness of bereavement, Watkins offers the parents common family scenarios to explore and resolve with their children which puts emotional interactions and relationships in perspective and makes them, where possible, surmountable. Using the ‘Freaky' family as an average westernised family, Watkins creates scenarios for each keyword from ‘A' for ‘Afraid' to ‘Z' for ‘Zero-tolerance' which illustrate how problems arise, how they affect us, how they can be dealt with and how they might be avoided in the future. This is a valuable book for families dealing with daily family life as well as those trying times all families experience. ‘'Many children today are emotionally illiterate; they don't know how to name let alone express their emotions. This book richly fills a long overdue gap for both children and the adults who raise them." Dr Gillian Smale, M. A. (Clin. Psych.). D. Phil.
It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce the author of this Feelings Dictionary, Maree Watkins, to you, the readers. I have known Maree for the past six years, first as a postgraduate Masters student and later as a fellow psychologist. Maree married Dale Watkins in 1988 and they have two adult children. Maree taught primary school children for many years until 1990, when, wanting to be at home for her two young children, she left full-time teaching and did part time remedial teaching until 1998. As a mother, Maree became interested in the emotional needs of children and wanting to work with families struggling emotionally. To this end she embarked on a long academic journey towards a Masters degree in Psychology. During 1999 she completed her Honours degree in psychology and also the FAMSA training for counsellors while doing voluntary work with children at the Protea Place of Safety. Thereafter she enrolled for a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology and registered as a Counselling Psychologist in 2004. Currently she works as a Counselling Psychologist in private practice. Maree believes in the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive environment for children at home - a ‘soft-place for them to fall', as well as a place with age-appropriate demands. Maintaining a balance between these two aspects is crucial in order for children to become well-adjusted and secure in adulthood. She feels strongly about relating to children with empathy, respect, unconditional positive regard as well as the need for healthy and age-appropriate boundaries, rules and limits, implemented kindly and yet firmly. These conditions create a sound foundation for children to blossom and grow freely and at the same time learn sensitivity and consideration towards others. She enjoys expressing herself in writing and finds much joy and pleasure in being able to integrate her creativity and writing with her training as a psychologist to make a meaningful contribution towards developing families through this dictionary - and finds it fun doing it, too!
Professor Chris N. Hoelson Department of Psychology Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Port Elizabeth 2007
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