what i tell myself first

A US military veteran and former police officer, new author Michael A. Brown has seen his share of crises and violence, but the realities that hit him the hardest these days involve children and young people who don’t believe in themselves.

Roughly 25 percent of all U.S. students say they have been bullied, while thousands experience issues associated with low self-esteem, from eating disorders to depression, with long-term effects on their lives. They often feel alone, and so do their parents, feeling as if they have nowhere to turn.

What I Tell Myself FIRST: Children’s Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem, released in October, promises to help change that with an innovative, social-emotional approach aimed at encouraging children to accept and love themselves. With text by Brown and colorful, engaging illustrations by Zoe RanucciWhat I Tell Myself FIRST uses Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to help children up to age 14 connect their feelings to words.

“I hope to teach a sense of self-love as well as self-acceptance,” said Brown, who is scheduled to appear Friday [Nov. 22] from 4 to 6 p.m. at The Looking Glass Bookstore in Oak Park, Ill.

The 28-page book gives children and parents concrete language to reframe sometimes negative self-beliefs about issues ranging from truth-telling, listening, and change to popularity and resilience: “If I’m not right, that’s okay. I won’t always be right. Failure is a part of success if I learn from failure.” “I am great at some things. I am good at other things. I am not good at some things.” It also gives children simple yet effective words that reflect the importance of looking out for themselves: “I must make myself what I NEED to be to make myself what I want to be.”

Brown, a father of four, is an anger management specialist, nonviolent crisis intervention instructor, and criminal justice educator. He understands that positive self-esteem helps young people try new things, take healthy risks, and solve problems for a healthy, confident, and productive future.

“Providing a framework for both parents and children to help build sturdy lives and happy homes is my goal,” he says. “We must not wait until they suffer attacks on their self-esteem.”