An Illustrated Parenting Toolkit to Help Kids Build Resilience & Thrive

Spiral Up Parenting

Spiral Up to Empower Resilient Kids, written by Kim Ellisten, is a refreshing collection of mindful parenting ideas and learnt gems of wisdom to help build kids’ resilience and empower families to thrive through the early years and beyond. This unique “from one parent to another” parenting book offers busy parents and caregivers accessible, practical insights on how to talk to kids about issues affecting them through simple, relatable illustrations with guided talking points. The book has recently been chosen as Maggie Dent’s “Book of the Month”. Spiral Up Parenting is the business Kim created as a vehicle for helping spread the message and content of her book to families, caregivers, and educators of children. The Spiral Up concept is all about learning to make conscious choices in our lives and fostering more awareness in our kids to help them cope “outside the front gate”.

The passion: What inspired you to write your parenting book?

I’m a graphic designer by trade, as is my husband, and once we started our own family and our two girls began school, we found the need for explaining “how to deal with things” really came to the fore. We were keen to encourage conversations with our kids about what was real and important, so, being a visual thinker, I started drawing what we wanted to tell them. I would draw metaphorical pictures to help explain ways to deal with issues they were experiencing. We’d talk through the pictures and ask them to enter into the conversation with their thoughts and feelings – and it worked! The girls got the message and could keep the images in their heads of what to do when challenges came up.

Friends who were also parents liked the concept and started using the pictures with their own kids. For years people told me, “You should make these into a book!”. And so, eventually, after years of thinking about it, I did. My eldest daughter was an anxious child, and many of the ideas in the book really helped her cope and build her resilience, so I felt they may be helpful for other parents to try.

In writing Spiral Up to Empower Resilient Kids, my intention was to help families share and connect through having a simple, visual plan of action to navigate challenges that they could talk about and work through together.

The process: How did you find the experience of producing a book?

I just loved creating my book. I had most of the ideas from our years of parenting, so I started with writing how to talk about each one with your kids, including the idea and the explanation, and then moved on to illustrating each one. That bit was fun.

Being a designer, I really enjoyed designing the book and visualising how it would all come together. I found it was a fluid process and I had to be open to new ideas that I hadn’t thought of before. This is where I added in some reflections on what I’d discovered in my journey as a parent, as well as the photo pages with little messages I’d want to tell my kids and other parents now. The cover design went through many machinations but I’m happy with the look and feel of the final version. My family were so supportive and gave me lots of great feedback along the way which helped immensely.

Self-publishing the book has been a real learning curve, but I’ve had some expert advice and help from Julie Postance at iinspire media to bring it into the world. There’s also a lot more to the marketing component than you’d imagine! But you just have to keep finding creative ways of getting your book out there and connecting with your audience.

The innovation: What makes your book different from other parenting books?

The drawings and the metaphors. I’d say the main difference with Spiral Up to Empower Resilient Kids is that it’s not a textbook as such – it’s really a visual toolkit. It’s a mix of metaphorical “discussion drawings” covering issues and challenges your kids might have that families can talk through together. Lots of children are visual learners and respond well to pictures, so it’s a great way to get kids involved in finding solutions to their problems or worries. It also offers some of my personal experiences and perspectives on life and parenting, along with helpful tips, uplifting quotes, and photographs.

It’s an easy book to read. I’m not a parenting expert – I’m a parent, so the book has a very conversational, friendly tone. It’s also very relatable and practical, with easy-to-access ideas so you can find help with an issue quickly and easily. You can open to any page and find something simple to use without having to read a whole chapter to get the message. Parents are very busy these days, so I also wanted to create a book that was peaceful and uplifting amongst the rush of family life.

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