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  • Writer's pictureKim Gibson, MS, ATR, LPCC

Book Review- A book to help children who worry about making mistakes

“Beautiful Opps!” by Barney Saltzberg

A torn piece of just the beginning! Every spill has lots...of possibilities!

A torn piece of just the beginning! Every spill has lots...of possibilities!

This book is really enjoyable. I highly recommend this book if you know a child, between the ages of 4 - 8, who struggles with trying new things and worries about making mistakes. This small board book is interactive and engaging. Young kids will enjoy lifting the flaps and exploring each page. The book starts with a torn piece of paper and instead of getting upset over a tear in the paper, the author, Barney Saltzberg, turns that tear into a mouth for his happy green alligator. The message throughout the book is that a spill or a smear shouldn’t ruin your day. Every “opps” is an opportunity to make something beautiful. Mistakes can sometimes feel like failures. But this book proves that mistakes can be an opening for an amazing new idea or creation.

I have used this book with a few of my clients when I felt like it would be a helpful way to begin exploring the pressure to be perfect and the desire to have things always go just right. I’ve also used this book in group art therapy sessions to explore initial resistance when resistance occurs. At the hospital where I work, clients are encouraged to try my art therapy groups; in response, clients will often state, “I’m not an artist. I don’t think I should be in art therapy”. When I hear those words, I respond with compassion & relate to the underlying fears. I imagine what it is like to be in a place where you don’t feel like you belong and you are not sure what will happen next. I offer reassurance and kindness. I get it. I always let clients know they do not have to try art in my group sessions. They are welcome to watch and learn from others, they can journal, they can meditate, they can join in the discussion part later, they can create a collage- sometimes cutting out pictures from a magazine is an easier task; one that takes the pressure off. Or if a client wants to try using the art materials, I’ll suggest creating a squiggly line and then making that line into something. Anything. That can be a fun, no fail, safe introduction or reconnection to one’s ability to be creative.

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