About Building Resilience

What is “resilience”?

Resilience is the ability to adapt and cope with stress and changes.

It is important to keep in mind that externally, there may not be any obvious life stress. Some of us are more likely to have unhelpful thought patterns that cause us internal stress, conflict and turmoil. For instance, this can be worries that we may fail, not meet high expectations of ourselves or that people will not like us.

When faced with life’s challenges, if we feel helpless, inadequate and cannot foresee any hope this can lead to anxiety, depression and unhelpful behaviours (such as comfort-eating, avoiding facing problems and not problem-solving, withdrawing from people, refusing to go to school, temper outbursts and irritability, refusal of activities such as schoolwork) or medically-unexplainable physical symptoms. To the extreme extent, some kids and adults hurt themselves or do not see any point in living.

Research suggests that building resilience in children reduces the risk of violence, bullying, substance abuse, mental illness, suicide, school dropout and counteracts the effects of social disadvantage and promotes academic performance. The Building Resilience book series rhyme to increase phonological awareness and makes it fun for young readers.

As a community, I believe that we all need to work together to educate these essential life skills. Schools, parents, health professionals, community organisations and media need to stand united to build stronger future generations. Treating emotional and social problems when they have already developed is more difficult than preventing it. We need to be teaching resilience skills to our children early in life.

How can resilience be developed?

  • Nurture independence
  • Turn problems into learning opportunities and positive lessons
  • Promote problem-solving skills
  • Learning communication, social skills, compassion, helping others

Children learn by “role-modelling” (seeing the caregivers’ behaviour) and by being actively taught and practising helpful skills, such as independence.

As caregivers, it is important to demonstrate love, kindness, warmth, empathy (putting yourself in others’ shoes), problem-solving, constructive communication, and assertiveness (rather than aggression or passive-aggression).

Praise your child for any helpful behaviour. Encourage your child to do as much he/she can independently. Break it into steps by asking your child what the next step is.

Be consistent with your rules, boundaries and expectations. This makes children feel safer.

Building Resilience Children’s Book Series

The aim of the books are to:

  • Promote mindfulness (awareness of feelings and how they relate to our thoughts, actions and situations);
  • Learn to deal with life challenges and feelings in a constructive way;
  • Encourage adults to identify their own challenges and to learn skills to help themselves and their children;
  • Promote constructive communication between adults and children;
  • Advance reading skills. Research suggests that rhyming helps to promote reading skills in young children.

The series give children, teachers and parents advice on how to deal with common situations and uncomfortable feelings. It also encourages parent-child discussion about difficult topics. There is an adult's page at the back of each book to guide adults on how to help the child with each topic.

Some topics (like certain feelings and common life events such as death) are traditionally taboo or are challenging for adults to talk about. If adults are uncomfortable talking about issues, it is even more difficult for children to discuss them or to know how to effectively cope with situations. Even feelings can be difficult to discuss for some adults. This range of books opens the communication pathways and helps children and adults to face matters without shame, embarrassment or stigma.

The books are designed to be thought-provoking and entertaining. They are aimed at 4 to 12 year old children but even adults may find them beneficial.

Each book has hidden characters in the pictures and educational activities, which add an extra dimension of fun.

To make the most of the books, it is suggested that parents discuss the book contents with the child. Thereafter, if similar feelings or situations arise in your child's life, refer back to the book characters and discuss what might be helpful in dealing with your child's situation. The more frequently this is done, your child will automatically use the strategies when faced with similar situations, in time.

About Doctor Harmony

I am an Australian psychiatrist and mother who is dedicated to build a more resilient and confident young generation. The books are based on my clinical practice as a psychiatrist and my personal experience.

Having seen many adults in clinical practice, for over fourteen years, I have seen the numerous effects of not being taught or role-modeled constructive skills to cope with life challenges in youth. When adults have not been equipped with these skills since youth, it is then very difficult for them to teach children how to be resilient. These adults themselves often struggle with reduced self-confidence, self-esteem and find it challenging coping with uncomfortable feelings or life stress. Given the growing social problems in our community (such as violence, bullying, substance abuse, family breakdown, mental illness, suicide, school dropout), I am passionate about empowering adults to acquire the skills to help their children (and themselves) to be able to cope with any life situation and emotion.

I hope to encourage children to identify their feelings, to express in constructive ways and to take positive action. By openly discussing the topics in a non-threatening and fun way, it helps children realise that other kids have similar experiences, that they are not alone and there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

As dealing constructively with uncomfortable feelings, empathy, problem-solving and constructive communication are all very abstract concepts for children to understand, but essential for building resilience, I have written the to be fun, interactive, easy to understand and easy for children to relate to. I have been pleased to hear much feedback from kindergartens, schools, parents and children which have supported this.

I hope you and your family have fun reading the books, find it rewarding and it helps to strengthen your family connections, as it has with our family.

Doctor Harmny


Would you like 30 second tips from Doctor Harmony? Check out her contributions on 30 Second Mom. Click Here

Building Resilience Books in the Media: Village News- September 2016. Click Here

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Building Resilience Series ONE

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Kanga, My Dragon of Anger

Meet Al and his pet dragon, Kanga, who roars when Al is fuming and angry. Al finds it hard to control his temper and explodes whenever he is frustrated. Find out what makes Al scream and shout. Discover how Al controls Kanga in this fun, rhyming educational book about anger and strategies to manage anger.

Can you find Kanga hiding on each page?

“Kanga, My Dragon of Anger” is one of four picture books in series one of the Building Resilience range. It is best suited to 5 to 12 year old children. However adults and children of other ages may also benefit from the books.

There are kids activity pages and an adults page at the back of the book, to guide discussion with the child about anger and the management of it.


Jo, My Sad Hippo

Al dreads seeing his sad hippo, Jo, who fills him with woe. What makes Al and Jo sad? Find out how he learns to live with Jo and how he learns to cope with sad feelings in this fun, rhyming and educational book.

Can you find Jo, hiding on each page?

Kids, try out the fun activities in the back of the book to learn more about dealing with Jo, the sad hippo.

There is also a useful adults page at the end of the book to guide discussion with children about sadness and managing it in constructive ways.


The Cat's Got My Tongue

Discover how Sal's pet cat, Matt, makes her feel nervous, shy and tongue-tied in this fun, rhyming and educational book. She feels she is all alone and struggling with Matt by herself. Is she the only one who feels this way? Find out how she learns to live with Matt and build her confidence!

Can you find Matt, hiding on each page?

Kids, try out the fun activities in the back of the book to learn more about dealing with Matt.

There is also a useful adults page at the end of the book to guide discussion with children about shyness and performance anxiety and managing it in constructive ways.


My Pet Monster

Sal’s pet monster, Worry makes her fret and nervous. She struggles to sleep, play and do school work because Worry scares her with the worst case scenario. Find out how Sal learns to live with Worry peacefully in this fun, rhyming and educational book.

Can you find Worry, hiding on each page?

Kids, try out the fun activities in the back of the book to learn more about dealing with worry.

There is also a useful adults page at the end of the book to guide discussion with children about worry and managing it in constructive ways.

Reader Messages

the most inspiring testimonials from our readers

Stephen Thompson (editor and publisher www.essteemedia.com)

What a great series. Gorgeous pictures, cute rhymes and wonderfully presented. What more could you ask for in a series of kids' books? Well. you could ask for an important message about behaviour, and maybe a note to parents about how to reinforce that message, and maybe a game or two to play. Check. The series has all that. They are not just picture books but are also handy reference books for parents ... and even adults in general. They might be set out as books for children, but there are a few tips in there that could help many grown-ups. Highly recommended for children of all ages.

Kirkus Review

Kanga, My Dragon of Anger- A book about Anger

"Young Al has a dragon in his pocket. When the boy gets angry, he says, Kanga, the dragon, “breathes fire into my head and belly”—a wonderful way to describe how fuzzy one’s thinking can get and how uncomfortable one’s stomach can feel when anger takes over... Overall, the concepts and the visualization of the dragon, are excellent and will appeal to readers who have trouble coping with emotional challenges. The illustrations are simplistic, and characters’ proportions are more free-form than lifelike, but the book’s seek-and-find aspect, which encourages children to locate Kanga on each page, will delight readers on the younger end of its target audience...Thought-provoking questions, fun activities, and insightful imagery mark this book as one that may be particularly useful in schools."

The Cat's Got My Tongue- A book about Shyness and performance Anxiety

"Matt appears in each illustration for readers to find; sometimes he’s interacting with Sal, but other times, he’s lurking elsewhere. It’s a good analogy for people with anxiety who, even when they are feeling good, wonder when uncertainty is going to strike... this book has moments of true understanding and empathy...the illustrations...have plenty of color and child-friendly appeal...the book’s fun activities, such as a maze and a word search, should engage young independent readers."

Jo, My Sad Hippo- A book about Sadness

"In this installment, sadness is shown in a slightly positive light: “it’s okay to feel sad sometimes,” offers Sal. “You can even learn from it or help others.” Activity pages encourage children to draw their own sad moment. A word search and maze are also included in the back, along with notes to parents with tips on how to help their children deal with too much sadness...may help some young children develop empathy."

My Pet Monster- A book about Worry

"A girl discovers that worry can be a good thing—as long as you don’t let it control you...Harmony introduces a rare concept for a children’s book: that Brave and Worry aren’t enemies, but a team: “Worry tries to keep me safe from harm, / But Brave will tell me when to truly listen to the alarm.”...the concepts here will be very familiar to young readers, and learning a coping mechanism to address one’s fears is valuable. Worry hides on every page of this book, even after Brave shows up, and his tentacles will be a delight for young readers to find. They also work as a metaphor: the tentacles never grab Sal in a frightening way, but the idea that worries can wrap themselves tightly around a person will be clear. Activities at the end of the book encourage children to draw their own version of the Worry monster, and a page for parents offers tips on how to comfort a child overtaken by worry...This volume... will likely be useful for school counselors who want to recommend titles to youngsters struggling with anxiety"


Loved it! The message is obvious but not condescending. The build up to his anger will be exciting to the child as they love reading about naughty children/dragons, and will be happy to see AL find his way at the end. Drawings also are simple and not over the top. A very honest way to speak to a child and explain the impact of feelings on others. Looking forward to the rest of the series. Way too cheap!


The kids loved your "educational" stories and pictures. I'm sure they came away with some new strategies for dealing with the everyday issues that all children encounter. Can't wait for more books in the series.


I was referred to these book by a very close friend. This is an interesting series of books and is very different to all the children's books I have read. Apart from the interesting and captivating illustrations, the books deals with emotions that we see in our day-to-day living. It explores it further than other books I have seen. They try to provide a solution on how to overcome these emotions. Personally, it has been very helpful to my kids as they can relate to the animal characters when the emotions surface in daily life. For example, when my 4 year old son said to me that he will walk away, count to ten and keep saying the word "Zen". I would highly recommend this book to all parents with young kids as I firmly believe it will help them manage their emotions better when they grow up as an adult.


This is a tremendous book for children. After reading it, I feel it deals with the problems of anger in children in a very easy to understand way. Having been a nanny for many years and found teaching children about feelings and anger can be difficult. This book explains these feelings very well. It will be loved as all children love rhymes. The illustrations are wonderful: childlike, colorful but informative.

One of the great things about the book is the section for children to complete. The parents page was helpful for adults to understand the child's feelings and problems. It gave useful tips for dealing with anger.

If this is the feeling I got from the first book of the series, I can't wait for the future books.

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