Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Book Review: Repair for Kids
Children's materials are hardly my forte, and this book was somewhat difficult for me to get through. As the subtitle suggest, the book is not really in a linear format; it acts as a sort of a series of different strategies for getting a child to talk about being sexually abused. Only it doesn't. The book is really aimed at getting a child talking about their emotions, presumably one who isn't talking very much because of a situation of sexual abuse. I mean, that's my guess. It really could be applied towards getting a child talking about their emotions in general. It uses a model called REPAIR, which also stems from the book's title. In implementing the REPAIR model, the first step: R for 'Recovery' - has to make the assumption that the child is broken. Indeed, many of the early mentions in the title speak of the child needing to be 'fixed.' I wasn't really a fan of using this type of metaphor for a child, especially because the book reinforces the idea that nothing is wrong with them over and over again. It gives a mixed signal; the child is broken, but nothing is wrong with them. I think that can lead to confusion from the child who has definitely already suffered enough. Using the REPAIR model, the child is also compared to a stepped on garden plant (p.16). If you take care of the plant, talk to it, etc. it can be REPAIRED! the book tells us. I have a problem with comparing abused children to stomped on flora, especially if I'm expected to read this idea aloud to the child as the text intends.
The author includes a guide for adults using the title towards the beginning. One of the steps includes encouraging a child to talk about natural language, i.e. penis, breast. So it becomes confusing for me when you read on in the book and the text seemingly avoids using this type of language. I think a child might feel more comfortable using natural language if the words were spoken by an adult administering the program or stated in the text itself first. Ideally, both would probably be key. This at least gives the child a point of reference so they can feel more comfortable speaking this way. I also think the title should have a little bit more of a guide for adults at the beginning. It encourages adult to speak to children 'on their level of language' ... but gives no tips or hints how. Several generalized statements like this throughout made me feel frustrated while reading. I ultimately cannot give this book a completely low rating because of the activities that are included. Several of them are good and even clever at getting the child to talk; some are just 'write down your feelings' exercises, while others give multiple choice questions. Many would probably get a child's creative process going which would no doubt get them talking and, ultimately, feeling more comfortable with the adult administering the program. If you can take one thing from this text, take the activities. I think if a child isn't talking, and you need to try to get them to tell you what's happened, these activities can help accomplish that. The workbook format with fun, colorful pictures throughout are also a nice touch. This gives a child the ability to do the activities independently which is good for the intended range of ages 6 to 12.