Gilbert is a groundhog and the main character in this innovative book. He struggles with feeling and expressing his emotions, which causes him to feel incomplete in his heart and anxious in his body. Through a wise, old oak tree, Gilbert learns how to breathe deeply, but that isn’t enough. He also has to learn real tools for releasing anger, fear, and sadness so these emotions do not get stuck in his body. He realizes this is the only way to feel like his authentic self.
Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog is an essential tool for parents, educators, child and family therapists, and other caregivers of children. It is to be read time and again, and the techniques are to be put into practice. The breathing technique will help calm the nervous system, oxygenate the brain, and create a safe feeling in the body. Once the body feels safe, the whole brain can fully engage to respond in a healthy manner to situations instead of impulsively react.
When a child feels threatened, their reptilian brain takes over the central nervous system and they go into fight or flight mode. If really scared, they may go into freeze mode. Discharging this energy is necessary to prevent trauma responses later in life. Stomping one’s feet, yelling into a pillow, and marching around can help a child stay out of freeze mode, keeping them present and engaged instead of in a dissociated state. If children learn such skills, they can be used for the rest of their lives.