Review By HUYEN MACMICHAEL
Making good choices is not an easy process and takes practice. Feelings of ambivalence and indecision can strike adults as well as children so this book is a useful tool for parents to help children make thoughtful decisions. It is laid out simply with the feet expressing a desire to do something, the head addressing the second thoughts, and a solution for several different situations. The story addresses several social scenarios such as jumping into a pool as well as playing video games and anger management. The author Eileen Cooley has represented Freudian concepts of the Id (instinctual pleasure principle), Ego (conscious thought with realistic ways to satisfy the Id’s self gratification with an effort towards long-term benefit versus harm), and SuperEgo (the perfectionistic conscience). The feet want to do something (Id), the head brings up reasons not to do it (SuperEgo), and the book character’s rational decision and reasoning to make the best decision (Ego). The repeated sentence pattern and uncluttered, yet colorful, collage-style illustrations make it easy for young children to read. My six year old picked it up and read it on her own. I love that the illustrator, Jill Dubin, portrayed characters of different ethnicities.
Initially I was not so impressed with the simplicity of the book (which was provided as a review copy). But reading it again and thinking about the subtle role-playing for children to work through impulses and come to a well-thought out decision, I find that I’ve revised my opinion; Why Do My Feet Say Yes When My Head Says No is an invaluable tool and quite genius! No wonder it earned a gold Mom’s Choice Award in 2011. Kids (and many adults!) struggle with impulse control or poor choices and books rarely address a process to make better decisions as clearly as this book demonstrates.
While my inner therapist is rejoicing at the cleverness of this book, my parent-self is aware that just reading the book is not enough to teach children to stop, think, and make good choices. That comes with practice and parents will need to discuss thoughtful decision-making with the child and how to apply the lessons from the book to life situations. This book offers an entree and guide for parents (and therapists) to help children put good decision-making concepts into action. Keep this book handy the next time your child plays video games rather than math assignments, writes on the wall, or hits their sibling. I hope Cooley and Dubins create a few more for a series of these (perhaps one geared towards teens, and one towards adults?) because there sure are a lot of decisions to make!