When it comes to personal development books for kids and teens there is nobody better then Gavin Oattes. I loved his previous book, Brill Kid: The Big Number 2.
This time he has published a book aimed at teenagers with the aim of leaving them motivated, energised and reassured that nobody has life all figured out.
A Head Full of Everything is split into 8 chapters with an introduction called ‘The Bit Before The Beginning.’ I love how Gavin speaks directly to the reader in a friendly tone with language that teens would find relatable. He also shares his experience of being a teen, which is a great way of connecting with the reader. He comes across as compassionate and non-judgemental, something which teens aren’t always the recipient of.
The first chapter starts off with the reminder that there are 7 years of being a teenager to cope with, and everything that comes with it, such as peer pressure, social media and expectations. In all honesty, I don’t think that I could be a teenager now, but having a personal development book aimed at navigating those 7 years would be a great help! It’s like having a friendly reminder that life doesn’t have to be hard and that we understand the struggles of being this age.
Data based on a survey of 2,395 British teenagers aged 13 – 19 found that 27 per cent of British teenagers surveyed said they felt ‘nervous, anxious or on edge’ most or nearly all the days of the previous fortnight (source mentalhealth.org.uk). These teens are often dismissed as being hormonal and very little compassion is given when there are so many coping strategies to support them.
Gavin shares his own experience of childhood anxiety which then developed into fear and explains the physical symptoms that he experienced.
He goes on to empower the reader by reminding them that they are allowed to step outside of their comfort zone and succeed in life regardless of fear. All too often we take on the labels which have been given to us; shy, introverted, emotionally-led, and this leads us to question ourselves down the line.
The way he simplifies confidence made me call my daughter over to give her reassurance. She’s confident on stage, but when it comes to the classroom she lacks confidence and will often say that her confident or extroverted peers will do better in life because they aren’t shy. Gavin highlights how having a lack of confidence often results in that child working harder to be seen as an equal, so in other words, more of a growth mindset or perfectionist.
The book is so uplifting and mirrors the language that I use with my daughter, especially in relation to following her dreams.
As a teenager my dream was to be a journalist but my school careers advisor shut that down pretty quickly by saying that it was too competitive, especially for females. That limiting belief stuck with me for years. If only this book was out then, maybe my 16-year-old self would’ve thought “Sod it, I’m following my dream, I will succeed.”
This book is aimed at teens, but I found it helpful even as a mum of two who sometimes struggles to be visible online due to confidence issues and imposter syndrome. I’ll be taking on Gavin’s tips as well as using them to guide my daughter from pre-teen to teen.