Review: Understanding Children and Teens by Judy Bartkowiak (2020) @JudyBart @LiterallyPR @FAB_Publishing


The recent pandemic has turned family life upside down. Now, more than ever before, children and teens are experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, fear, and a host of other, unfamiliar feelings. This book aims to give parents and those who work with children the tools to help them overcome these difficulties and to enable them to express themselves, and to build emotional intelligence and resilience.

Children and teens are given the means to believe in themselves with unconditional love and acceptance, empowering them to achieve all they wish for in life.

Understanding Children and Teens shows the reader how to use Neuro Linguistic Programming, and Emotional Freedom Technique as well as mindfulness and Art Therapy in order to connect with children and teens to help them overcome their problems. With clear explanations, examples, and easy-to-follow exercises, this book will enable those who care for children to gain valuable insight into their world, and to understand what they are thinking and feeling.

This practical guide is aimed at parents, teachers, coaches, and everyone who works with children and teens and is informed by the author’s experiences of working with this group over the last 30 years.


I am very grateful to the author and to Helen at @literallypr for my spot on this blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. There are many reasons why I jumped at the chance to read this book: as a mum of two small people, as a former teacher who is planning to re-enter the classroom soon, and as someone who knows what it means to suffer from mental health issues, anything I can do to better understand my children, and, if I go back to work, my students, you’d better believe I am going to try it!

I only knew a small amount about NLP before reading this book, and one of the things I most appreciated was the way in which Judy breaks down the jargon and demystifies all the terms. There are a lot of acronyms to get your head around, but Judy talks you through it all step by step, and I found her explanations clear and easy to follow.

Since this book is subtitled “a practical guide,” I decided that the most useful way of approaching this review was to try out some of the many exercises provided in the book. My five-year-old daughter was a willing guinea pig – she was very excited to help Mummy with her homework for once! We started out by doing an exercise which involved drawing the outline of a body, writing down emotions, and assigning each emotion a colour. We then coloured in the outlines we’d drawn to show where we felt each emotion. It felt really good to be talking about our feelings together, and I was surprised at how engaged my daughter was in the activity. She seemed to find it very easy to assign a colour to each feeling, and she had quite a definite sense of where she felt each one.

Another exercise we tried involved creating a ‘world’ on a tray by placing objects on it that represent things or people that are important in our lives. Again, my daughter was very enthusiastic about this, and seemed to really enjoy talking me through her ‘world’. She was also very good at guessing why I had chosen certain objects when it was my turn! I definitely feel as if I learned a bit more about her through this activity.

We worked through a few more exercises, with me occasionally adapting them to make them more suitable for a young child. There is a lovely range of activities in this book, and the teacher in me was already imagining which ones I might use with which age group. One exercise involved writing down three things you wish for, and this led to a surprising insight. My daughter wished for cake (she’s five, she always wants cake), three mummies, and for her brother to be good. When we started talking about the second two (having promised to provide the first later!) it turns out that she doesn’t like it when her three-year-old brother gets upset about me paying attention to her, or when he has a meltdown and demands my attention and/or I get stressed about it. She thought if there were three of me, she might not get interrupted by him when she is having ‘Mummy Time’! Now that I know how she feels, it is something I will make an effort to look out for, to make sure she isn’t suffering because of how I’m coping/not coping with her brother’s (hopefully temporary!) three year old angst!

There were a few other interesting things that came up, but I do owe my daughter a smidgen of privacy! Suffice to say, I have already found this book incredibly useful, and I can see myself referring to it again and again. We did have a go at the tapping, which I am very interested in, but I think I want to become more confident in it myself (I have a feeling it could be very useful for my own anxiety issues) before I try it out on my kids.

I think the author is absolutely right when she states in her introduction that the mental and emotional repercussions of Covid-19 are sadly going to be with us for a very long time. It therefore seems more important than ever that parents and practitioners have as many tools as possible at their disposal for helping young people and trying to understand them. This book is a valuable part of that toolkit, and I would recommend it to anyone who has dealings with kids or teenagers.

About the Author

Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP trainer and coach as well as an EFT trainer and coach who specialises in working with children and teens.  Before becoming a therapist, she worked in market research, and then ran a Montessori nursery alongside her therapeutic work. She has written extensively on NLP. 

Understanding Children and Teens by Judy Bartkowiak is published by Free Association Books and is available to purchase here.


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