Puppy Mind is a picture book for adults and children that follows a young boy whose mind is like a puppy – always wandering around and distracted.
As the mum of a seven-year-old energetic boy, who I feel I’m always asking to focus or sit still, I was interested in reading this book with him.
The author compares the young boy’s mind to that of an untrained puppy’s. The young boy in the story sets about learning to gently train his puppy mind to heel to the present moment, rather than it wandering into the future or past.
My son liked the illustrations by Jim Durk, who also illustrated the Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas the Steam Engine books.
He had some initial difficulty grasping the analogy that the boy discovers his mind is like a puppy. He was more interested in the relationship between the boy and puppy, and what the puppy was getting up to.
However, it did start some interesting discussions that helped me understand my son better. He explained to me that he can relate to the boy feeling frustrated by all the things demanded of him and, in particular his frustration at the noisy kids in his class!
He easily picked up the concept of taking three deep breaths and showed me how to do this, and the importance of saying kind words to himself when discouraged.
Reading the book together was good as I could see how it could become a family project, with parents and children committing to practising the techniques in their everyday lives and discussing how it went.
The book itself is quite simplistic but is intended to generate questions. This process is supported with a discussion guide for parents and teachers.
We tend to over complicate things in life, so it’s nice to think there are so many benefits from such a simple action as following our breath to ground ourselves.
Reviewed by Kim Higginson, Information Resources Specialist at the Mental Health Foundation