Lifestyle

Pet project: how a dog’s life can help children

  • Nose for a story: paediatric psychologist Tina Arorash and her Tasmanian labradoodle, Boris (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Paediatric psychologist Tina Arorash is one of several local authors signed up for The Bermuda Book Festival next month (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Paediatric psychologist Tina Arorash is one of several local authors signed up for The Bermuda Book Festival next month (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Nose for a story: paediatric psychologist Tina Arorash and her Tasmanian labradoodle, Boris (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

It all started one ordinary Tuesday evening ...” So begins Tina Arorash’s tale of a well-meaning but misunderstood dog and his owner.

Tired, Tass jokingly asks Boris to clean up the kitchen; she wakes from a nap to a room full of bubbles.

At its heart, Oops — To Feeling Good is about “how misunderstandings often occur between children and adults when a child has misunderstood the directive or has missed the context of the adult’s request”, Dr Arorash said.

Her work as a paediatric psychologist gives her insight. In that role, she is often tasked with helping young children identify and find solutions to “big feelings” that overwhelm them.

“The writing has actually been burst out of the work that I do,” she said. “I started writing children’s books that are intended for the child to read with their caregiver — a parent, a grandparent, any caregiver in the child’s life.

“The book is about how to manage feelings when they show up, typically big feelings. It’s also to help children understand the feelings of others. It’s intended for children between the ages of three and seven to help them deal with emerging feelings where the children don’t have experiences with them so much.”

Her book is one of several that will feature at the Bermuda Book Festival next month. Ticket proceeds will benefit The Reading Clinic, of which Dr Arorash is a board member.

She published Oops — To Feeling Good last April.

“It’s a silly story about how to get it back to good again after an ‘oops’,” said Dr Arorash, who named Boris after her own Tasmanian labradoodle.

“Adults often get angry and children are dumbfounded, so it’s about helping children see problems as an ‘oops’ rather than something they should feel bad or ashamed about.

“It’s definitely based on the work I’m doing every day. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to reach more children and to help them learn some of these building blocks before they need me?’

“I’m really just trying to help families communicate better, to slow things down. Everyone is always rushing, always hurried.”

The story idea “started with a silly muse and kind of streamed in”, said Dr Arorash, who “always wanted to be an author” and is already at work on other books.

“I have Oops — To Feeling Good on the waiting room table and [children] insert themselves in the story. I intentionally used an animal; children readily identify with Boris because he’s not human. But I don’t think you have to be a child to identify with Boris trying to please Tass, to helping but not helping in the way intended.”

Parents have said the book has been useful in helping them remember to look at situations from their child’s point of view.

“I’ve had a lot of good feedback, a lot of personal messages on Facebook,” Dr Arorash said.

• Oops — To Feeling Good is available at The Bookmart at Brown & Co and on Amazon. The Bermuda Book Festival takes place on April 6 from noon to 5pm at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Admission is free. Tickets for author talks and readings are $10 per person and available at ptix.bm