Raising a mentally fit generation – author interview

I had the pleasure earlier this year of working with teacher and guidance counsellor Kari Sutton on her book, Raising a mentally fit generation, published by Publish Central. Every time I sat at my desk to edit Kari’s book, I wished I had read this ten years ago so I had her wisdom for raising my children – her book is a powerful tool for parenting.

One of the messages that stood out for me early on was one of the lines from the back cover blurb –

Have you ever wished there was a way to build strong protective fences at the top of the cliff, so you don’t have to be the ambulance picking up the pieces at the bottom?

One of Kari’s techniques that I’ve been using with Mr 11 is the concept of the upstairs and downstairs brain. Kari explains this so well – our brain has an upstairs part where the thinking brain lives and a downstairs part where the feeling brain lives. A set of stairs connects both parts and is used to send messages. But when the downstairs brain becomes overwhelmed, the upstairs brain doesn’t make good decisions and there’s no connection between the two. Once kids understand the concept, it’s a quick reminder – ‘Goodness, it sounds like the downstairs guys are taking over. Can we remind the upstairs guys that they’re the ones in charge?’

Kari’s book is full of her passion for children’s wellbeing, her personal and professional experience, the latest research, practical tips and a wide range of activities for parents and teachers to implement for their kids and students. Kari’s writing style is equal parts informative and caring – it feels like she is holding your hand and your children’s hands all the way through.

I’ve asked Kari a few questions about her book.

KC: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KS: I’ve worked in the education field for the past 28 years, having always wanted to be of service to others and help children and their families in any way I can. That’s why I became a teacher, then a guidance counsel­lor and spent over 22 years volunteering with Camp Quality, a children’s cancer charity. For the past two decades, I’ve also had the privilege of helping raise my nephew Mitchell after my beloved sister-in-law passed away from ovarian cancer. Currently I live in Brisbane with my husband and beautiful beagle.

KC: What is your book Raising a mentally fit generation about?

KS: Just like we can help children develop their physical fitness, we can also help them build their mental fitness muscles. Raising a Mentally Fit Generation shows parents and educators how they can help their children develop positive habits of mind that sow the seeds of lifelong emotional wellbeing and positive mental health.

KC: Why did you write it?

KS: Throughout my career I have had a front-row seat watching the dramatic rise in anxiety disorders, depression and suicide affecting our kids. I’m on a mission to change the conversation about how we promote and protect our children’s mental health and wellbeing.

KC: What are you hoping parents, guardians, teachers and childcare workers will do after reading your book?

KS: I am hoping that parents, teachers and childcare workers use the common sense tips, powerful strategies and practical tools in the book to prevent problems occurring rather than having to pick their children up after things have gone wrong.

KC: What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Condensing the years of knowledge and shaping a big bunch of research and hands-on experience into a book.

KC: What was the fun part?

Working with my editor and seeing the rough manuscript turn into a polished book that I could be proud of.

KC: Thanks, Kari, it was a fun project for me, too! What does being mentally fit mean to you?

KS: For me being mentally fit means I possess the needed mindsets, skills, abilities and experience to cope with situations and challenges as they happen. I build my mental fitness just like I do my physical fitness by doing activities that foster my positive mental health – mindfulness, exercise, self-compassion, gratitude, using my strengths, having an optimistic outlook on life and making sure I nurture my social connections and friendships.

Thank you, Kari!

I strongly recommend this book as a wonderful guide for teachers and parents – it will become a dog-eared book you will turn to again and again.

Kari has lots of information at her website. Her book is available next Friday 20th November and can be pre-ordered at bookstores such as Booktopia and Amazon and through her website. She has a few special deals available as well as an offer to receive the first chapter for free.

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