Camden psychoanalyst pens story to help children’s anxieties around the pandemic
PUBLISHED: 12:08 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 24 September 2020
Paola Somaini’s light and colourful I Can See It With My Elephant’s Eye addresses fears and worries and tries “to find an appropriate way to talk about loss and death”.
Psychoanalyst Paola Somaini has written a children’s book to help primary age children deal with their anxieties around the pandemic.
I Can See It With My Elephant’s Eye uses her daughters’ drawings to help address their fears and worries “and find an appropriate way to talk about loss and death”.
The “light and colourful” story is told through the eyes of nine-year-old Carolina, who lives in Camden with her sister, parents and two cats, and likes to paint and play.
But when the virus comes, she gets angry that she can’t see her friends and feels let down by grown-ups who won’t talk about what’s going on.
Italian-born Paola usually sees adult patients at her home near Camden Square, but during lockdown she realised how the pandemic had made children anxious.
“My kids are 12 and 14 but I heard of little ones who had a phobic reaction, not wanting to go out and being scared that the world is changing around them - including their parents,” she says.
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“We were all assaulted by this unexpected shocking thing and coped in whatever ways that we could. It was hard for parents to sit down and ask ‘how do you feel?’ or to talk about death and loss to their child.
“Children have their own world of imagination with all their thoughts and worries. I felt there was a great need to open up a conversation and wondered how can we talk to children to help them process the times we are all living through - to make a space for discussion and reflection?”
When Paola sent her story to a colleague, his daughter made her own drawings about how she felt about the virus.
“It made me think ‘maybe there’s something here that kids can use?’”
Drawing on Albert Camus’ quote “the only way to fight the plague is with honesty” the book’s message is not to be ashamed to admit fear, and it helps to write about and share your worries. Carolina gives different colours to her fears and tells them to a wise elephant. By the end, her drawings also give colours to hope - a rainbow.
All proceeds from the book go to Farringdon-based counselling charity Place2Be which offers emotional support to children in schools, and Paola hopes it can also be used to generate discussions between teachers and pupils.
“A story is not a solution but it might help children find their own way of processing and interpreting this virus that they can’t see.”
I Can See It With My Elephant’s Eye book is available on Amazon as an Ebook and paperback www.amazon.co.uk/Can-See-My-Elephant-Eye and as Hardback on Lulu Publishing.
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