Book Review: "Pocket Mommy" Addresses Separation Anxiety
by jenn gay
Pocket Mommy, a children’s book by Aila Malsk and Zayan Verma, deals with separation anxiety. Interestingly, Zayan, the boy in the story, is seven years old and the coauthor of the book. Young Zayan is afraid to go to kindergarten. His mom creates a “pocket mommy” for him to bring to school to help ease his fears.
I have worked as a children’s librarian and nanny for 22 years. I enjoyed this book. I felt like it portrayed honestly how a young child would feeling heading off to his or her first day of school. Think back to your first day in pre-k. Were you scared? Excited? Each child handles the new frontier of matriculation differently. For some children this is an easy transition and for others (like Zayan) it is frightening and difficult.
In the book, Zayan’s mother tells him to focus on one thing at a time, whether that be eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, or otherwise. I think this is a tactic that could work well with kids who are uneasy about heading off to school and feeling overwhelmed by all the new sights, sounds, and smells. I also loved that Zayan’s mom did not get upset that her son was nervous; she was clear and patient and dealt with his anxiety head on.
Zayan’s mom uses cardboard and a photo of herself to create a “pocket mommy”, or a pocket-sized cutout of herself for her son to bring with him to school. The author gives directions in the back of the book explaining how readers can make their own pocket mommy. Every night when the boy returns home from school they talk about what the pocket mommy saw at school. Children sometimes have trouble sharing details about their day. I thought the idea of using the pocket mommy as a starting point for a conversation was a great way of getting the child to discuss his day.
The pocket mommy really helps the child in the book. Zayan begins to make friends at school and enjoys his days more. After awhile he no longer needs to take the cutout to school at all.
This book would be good for nannies to have in their collection, especially if they work with any shy or timid children. I think it would especially help a nanny who is new to a family in cases where a child may be having trouble separating from Mommy or Daddy. A nanny can also put her own twist on this idea and create a “pocket nanny” if the charge has a difficult time transitioning from nanny to parent at the end of the day.