• Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Arts and Culture

Talking Up the importance of helping children cope with life

SETTING AN EXAMPLE: Farid Haque

By: Manju Chandran

FARID HAQUE’S BOOKS SEEK TO ‘DEVELOP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE FROM A YOUNG AGE’

by ASJAD NAZIR

WITH Covid-19 disrupting family lives globally, teaching children emotional intelligence is more important than ever and according to experts, a vital life skill that needs to be passed on.

Talented writer Farid Haque spotted the need for this and has produced an interesting children’s book series titled Talking Up, which has inspiring stories designed to encourage emotional development. The books are easily accessible to children, but also provide parents with a way to discuss challenging subjects with them.

Eastern Eye caught up with Farid Haque to discuss the Talking Up series, how to help develop emotional development in kids, key advice for parents and the effects of lockdown on children.

What would you say first connected you to writing?
I write in order to draw awareness to important issues. Aside from Talking Up, I have written the book Good Hacker, Bad Hacker. I was inspired to write this when my older daughter’s email got hacked at a young age, and the book teaches younger audiences about the dangers of the internet and being hacked.

What led you to writing the Talking Up books?
I saw a gap in the market when it came to books focused on teaching children and parents about emotional intelligence, particularly books written by south Asian males. In a cultural context, speaking about your feelings is often brushed aside and not considered very important. I wanted to change this and create more awareness of the differences that exist between all of us.

Tell us about the three books?
Each book focuses on key subjects, such as racism, anger management and responding to different emotions. The series aims to inspire and encourage emotional development in children from a young age, which will equip them throughout their lives. Each short story has an underlying message that can help give them moral guidance in understanding issues such as bullying, integration, physical disability and emotional control. These books have focused on the key topics of emotional growth such as self-management, self-awareness and social awareness.

What inspired your use of animals as characters?
I felt animals would be child-friendly and engaging. Using fictional
characters like animals is also a great medium for getting important messages out.

Are the books aimed at any particular ages?
The books are aimed at younger children, aged from four to seven, as developing emotional intelligence is something that should be inculcated from a young age. However, the topics in these books are also relevant for older children as well.

How important is it to encourage emotional development in children?
Emotional intelligence is increasingly recognised as a key trait for success and well-being, but few people possess it. Recognising how you respond to different scenarios and being able to manage emotions is critical. It is also so important to be able to pick up on the emotions of those around you and respond appropriately.

Do you think inspiring emotional development in youngsters is even more important during lockdown?
A year into the pandemic, lockdown has been a stressful experience for everyone, with schools being shut, children having to adapt and family members being impacted by Covid. Parents have also been forced to juggle childcare duties along with their work, and changes in our moods impact our children. Furthermore, children pick up on the stress, uncertainty and changes that we are going through, and it will inevitably cause them to get anxious or act up at times. In terms of the pandemic and how it has impacted all of us in many different ways, it is even more critical to ensure that children are resilient, flexible, and able to navigate their way through rapidly changing situations. So, it is important to help your child develop emotional intelligence as early as possible and even more so in today’s climate.

What other ways are you hoping that these books will help children?
Aside from being a learning tool, I hope these books can give children some comfort if they are facing issues such as bullying or isolation at school, and even struggling with lockdown and help them understand that things will become better. It is also my aim to help children develop characteristics such as empathy, self-awareness and inclusiveness by reading the Talking Up books. In short, I hope these books can serve as a source of enjoyment as well as education.

What piece of key advice would you give parents?
My key advice to parents, who are struggling with childcare duties more than ever now would be to communicate openly with your child. This will encourage them to trust you and also understand your emotions. Speak to them about how you have felt at different points in your life and about how to treat others with consideration and respect. Children learn by example and parents are the biggest examples that children follow.

What are your future hopes with this book series?
Through writing these books, my aim is for young children to learn how to understand differences and create strong relationships in order for us to move towards becoming a more compassionate and understanding society. I want to get this message across to a wider audience through a range of mediums and an animated series is one way that this can be achieved.

What can we expect next from you?
My goals are to have Talking Up reach a wider audience and hopefully add more titles to the series.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by my work and the people around me. I am also motivated by the idea of contributing to a fairer and friendlier society and helping educate young minds.

Has writing these books helped you in any way?
Writing these books has helped me reflect on my own emotions and behaviour. There is room for improvement in all of us and I often revisit these books myself. The process of writing itself is therapeutic and Talking Up has helped me understand and handle my own emotions better.

Why should we pick up the books?
These books are not just for young children. Schools and parents can also enjoy and benefit from them. If you want to help your child develop emotional intelligence and make sure they are aware of important issues, the Talking Up series is a great tool to help with this. Reading the books together is also a great way to spend time with and educate your child.

Eastern Eye

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