Minding Me: ‘I can breathe long and slow to calm my busy mind’

New illustrated book provides positive affirmations for children

After several years during the pandemic where children were constantly being told what they couldn’t do, a new beautifully-illustrated book of positive affirmations will remind them of everything they are capable of.

Although the idea for The A-Z of Minding Me came about before Covid, its message has never been more relevant, co-authors Tracey Flynn and Niamh Gogan say.

The book’s simple style, illustrated by Kerry O’Callaghan, provides opportunities for children to discuss and connect with their feelings, with messages such as, “I can adapt to change and try new things”; “I can breathe long and slow to calm my busy mind”; and “I can feel lots of different emotions, and know my feelings come and go”.

The co-authors met seven years ago when Flynn, who is a primary schoolteacher, was teaching Gogan’s daughter. “We started to talk about the power of language and how important it was in the classroom,” Tracey explains.


The authors wanted to “help children connect with themselves and put language on those connections”, she continues.

Gogan, who is accredited in therapeutic play skills and undertaking an MA in creative psychotherapy, says the book can be “a parenting tool for in the moment learning. If a child comes in and says ‘I’m bored ...’ and you take the book out and you can be like ‘oh I can invent’ and that might prompt a lovely connection piece where a parent and child create a game together”.

Flynn says she recognises the power of “I can”, both as a mother and in the classroom as a teacher. “It gives children the permission, ‘I can cry. I can feel’. I think people feel when they hear ‘you can, or I can’ that it’s all positive ... but it’s giving children the permission to feel, to cry, to giggle, to be happy, to express, to be themselves, which is really important, especially after a time when we’ve been telling children all the things they cannot do for so long.”

The book is not designed to be read from cover to cover. “It’s a dip in dip out,” Gogan says. “Different children will find different things, at different times, out of different pages.”

The A-Z of Minding Me by Tracey Flynn and Niamh Gogan, illustrated by Kerry O’Callaghan, will be published by Gill Books on September 8th priced €16.99

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health and family