‘Think Positive’ about Dog Man
“Mom, can you read me Dog Man?”
<insert inner mom dialogue … what is it about poop and comic books?>
All my kids enjoy Dav Pilkey’s books, but recently I’m reading a lot of Dog Man with my six-year-old. He can't read it alone, so we do it together. I don’t want to police his choices too much (reading is good!), but I often suggest we read a book with a purpose (like I Can Try) then follow it with one that's for pure entertainment.
I classify Dog Man this way because it’s a graphic novel, there are poop jokes, and how could something like that be anything other than entertainment? After reading it night after night I’ve decided that I’m quite impressed and Dav and I have way more in common than I thought.
I think we are forming a beautiful friendship … he just doesn’t know it yet.
EVEN if it was for pure entertainment, laughter brings lightness. Smiling makes us feel good.Research has discovered that authentic laughter can heal, aid, and prevent a number of mental health-related issues. There are so many benefits of laughter (read the whole article here).
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Mark Twain
Doesn’t it make your mom-heart jump for joy when your kid gets the giggles … or better yet the belly laughs? It. is. the. best. In Mary Poppins there is a song about the gift of laughter: “I love to laugh (ha ha ha ha) loud and long and clear.”
If jokes like, “Me go boom boom in my panties” and “somebody pooed in my office” get the kids engaged with reading AND they are belly-laughing what a prize that is.
Entertainment value for the win.
But there is more than meets the eye at first crack (I think my humor is taking a turn for the worse now … he he he I said ‘crack’).
Dav Pilkey’s stories explore positive themes that celebrate the triumph of the good-hearted.
I want my kids to spend time with stories and ideas that build self-confidence, exchange negative thinking for laughter, and boost that positive attitude.
We improve physical and mental health and reduce anxiety when we focus on positive thoughts, use positive self-talk, practice mindfulness, and laugh.
What we feed our minds is important. We don’t want to unknowingly create a mind monster like in Little Shop of Horrors, feeding off human blood negativity.
‘Think positive’ thoughts … your mind is listening
“A mind grows by what it feeds on.” J.G. Holland
Doubt, fear, insecurity, resentment, and hate are negative. When we feed those to our minds they can breed mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Anxious minds will happily feast off the “what if’s,” division and nastiness, overwhelm, over-exhaustion, and uncertainty.
Mental health issues will escalate when we feed our minds negative self-talk and run unabated on a spinning hamster wheel of chaos and worry. Even positive people can fall prey to the lure of negative thoughts.
We need to feed the mind narratives that nourish - more positive thinking to fight the pull of gloom and doom.
“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.” Author Unknown
Love, laughter, hope, confidence, security, and peace create an empowered, positive, healthy mind and combat anxiety, helplessness, and despair.
We see it all around us - even in our kids. Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “For the first time in decades, the trend of people living longer has been reversed … more and more people are dying from despair (Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess).”
Gah! This is so sad.
The good news is that she agrees that shaping your mind can shape your life.
We need to show laughter, practice positive self-talk, mindfulness, and love instead of frowning, negativity, worry, and hate.
Your mind is listening in the same way your children are watching.
They NEED the tools to stop negative self-talk, reduce anxiety and be happy!
Positive self-talk matters
Negative narratives feed on each other too. They grow talons even if they started small.
“I didn’t walk every day last week as I promised myself” can grow to “why do I never follow through?”
It can keep growing all the way to, “I am such a loser who throws the entire package of romaine lettuce out every week, doesn’t drink enough water, yells at the adorable dog for the paw prints on my shiny dark brown hardwood that never stays clean, and I am a no-good rotten human with no friends.”
A little negative self-talk can grow limbs that lead to an overwhelming feeling that life is the actual pits and you may as well give up on all your dreams (and all the hats you wear because you don’t even know how to fashion-match anyway). Talk about self-criticism.
Now ask yourself a question. What would you say if your sweet middle child, Susie, came home from school and said, “I am terrible at math. I got a B-?”
What if before you could reassure her that a B- will not crush all her future dreams of becoming a robotics engineer she said …
- “It’s because my hair got in my eyes during the test and my hair is ugly,”
- “I am so stupid,”
- “I will never be a robotics engineer,”
- “Nobody likes me,” and
- “I can’t even score at soccer - I am THE worst.”
It would break your heart.
You wouldn’t stand for it.
We want our kids to grow up believing in themselves!
When Dav Pilkey was a kid, he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He was so disruptive in class that his teachers made him sit out in the hallway every day.
The teacher even wrote letters to his parents urging them to please put a stop to his “impudence” and drug him to cure his ‘creative streak.’
That teacher’s voice could have stopped Dav in his tracks. Dog Man may have never seen the light of day.
Positive self-talk teaches Susie to say instead, “I am proud of myself for trying, and even though I wanted to do better, I will be okay!”
Maybe Dav said to himself, “I think my imagination is awesome and I believe in myself!”
Thank goodness he didn’t give up.
Setting Kids Up For Success
I write to help kids handle their emotions and equip them with skills to alleviate everyday anxieties in their lives.
This helps grow a healthy mind and improves mental health issues.
Positive thinking will set them up for success (read more here) and build their self-esteem.
It will lead to a better life.
Pilkey is my new ally!
How to use poop jokes AND mindful mantras to think positive and grow a healthy mind:
- Allow yourself to be playful, silly, and have fun. Laughter is the best medicine. In I Can Handle It, Sebastien know that when he is mad he can “make a joke and laugh.”
- Don’t jump to conclusions … in books or life. In I Can Try, Reeny is stressed about trying new foods just like I was stressed about potty humor. She says, “Okay, I will try.” I did the same and trying changed my mind!
- Be mindful of your thoughts. We can’t control much, but we can ‘think positive.’
- Reading books is good for your mind, imagination, and it is time well spent with your kids.
- Dav Pilkey uses mindful mantras too - they just sound different. Poppy says (in I Believe In Myself), “I believe in myself!” and Dav’s Li’l Petey says, “Ya gotta be kind anyway, Papa!” Li'l Petey is supa smart.
- Learn that there can be value in poop … the poop of life might surprise you if you decide to let it!
Life With Books
My mission is to improve the mental health and emotional well-being of children around the world, one book at a time!
Our physical and mental health is improved when we read. Reading reduces stress, helps us sleep, alleviates depression, and strengthens the brain.
"Reading fiction can allow you to temporarily escape your own world and become swept up in the imagined experiences of the characters. And nonfiction self-help books can teach you strategies that may help you manage symptoms (read more here)."
How can reading in any form be negative?
Pilkey doesn't just get kids reading because of his focus on fun and graphics, but check out these quotes from one of his books:
- "Now to find out what makes Dog Man so smart ..."
- "Hmmm. He's reading."
- "Dog Man was getting smarter by the minute. So ... reading makes you smart, eh?"
- "Soon everybody forgot about reading ... and people started getting really dumb!!"
At the back of the book, Dav tells us he was told to quit drawing and sit still.
Right now, we buzz a little with anxiety, overused screens (they overstimulate us), and sometimes our overly frantic lifestyle has us telling our kids a similar story - “stop with the silly poop jokes, and would you sit still!”
Screens have their benefits too … that is a conversation for another day. This is definitely not a war on Ipads (gotta love ‘em)
I want my son (all my kids, and all the children around the world, obvi) to be exactly who he wants to be, to laugh at the things that make him laugh, and to question (respectfully) when he is told to fit a mould.
We want to raise self-confident children - not bundles of anxiety who can’t laugh at a little weenie war (hot dogs, my friends). Our positive energy and our positive thoughts will rub off.
Dav took his inability to focus and a whole lot of gumption and used his creative brain to gift-wrap more than underpants jokes into many graphic novels.
The kids are engaged.
The kids are reading.
They are laughing.
And, they are invited to wiggle a little - to find their personality and their creative edge.All of that is positive. We need as much of that as we can find!
Keeping A Positive Mindset
Dav Pilkey’s books inject the humor that meets kids where they are. But, I’ve spotted more than jokes.
In Dog Man, Lord of the Fleas there is a conversation between Li’l Petey and his Papa that is relatable … a dose of ‘think positive’ that’s fo sure:
Papa - “If you’re good, nobody cares!!!”
Li’l Petey - “Ya gotta be good anyway, Papa!”
Papa - “If you’re kind, people just think you’re weak!”
Li’l Petey - “Ya gotta be kind anyway, Papa!”
Papa - “If you’re honest, people just try to trick you!!!”
Li’l Petey - “Ya gotta be honest anyway, Papa.”
Papa - “If you’re happy, people just get jealous!”
Li’l Petey - “Ya gotta be happy anyway, Papa.”
Papa - “You can spend years creating stuff … then a big robot brontosaurus can come along … and zap it all to smithereens in two seconds!!”
Li’l Petey - “Ya gotta be creative anyway, Papa.”
Papa - “You don’t know what a rotten, horrible place this world can be. It can be so cold … so cruel … so unforgiving …”
Li’l Petey- “Papa … that’s why we need to be good.”
It feels close to home...
Child: “What is the point of following the rules when they keep changing?”
Me: “Ya gotta be respectful and follow them anyway.”
Child: “What is the point of joining stuff when it keeps getting canceled?”
Me: “Ya gotta think positive!”
Watching the news will make you feel like you’re on a negative spinning top and you’re a little too old for that sort of playground equipment so you’re feeling nauseous. And maybe like giving up on the world.
Just listen to Li’l Petey and remind yourself, “that’s why we need to be good.”
That IS why we need to be good and show our children the benefits of positive thinking!
The Right Mindset For A Happy Life
From now on, when I’m asked to read Dog Man, my inner voice and my body language will show my more positive outlook - my new perspective. My thought patterns were a little dated ... "this can't be a good book."
I looked past the surface and found the perceived negative ‘stuff’ to be 100% trumped by the good ‘stuff.’ Sitting with my baby reading is about spending time together, paying attention to what he laughs at, and the funny thing is how much I'm enjoying the easy-to-read ridiculousness.
What if I have found a secret way to reduce stress (that doesn't involve Doritos)? It's stressful to follow a script about what counts when ticking off "home reading," or wonder whether I'm giving my kids the coping skills they need to be wonderful little positive thinkers.
I'll leave you with a few simple tips:
Live life with more positive thoughts than negative
Be the family member with the optimistic outlook
Poop on that nagging negative thought (not really, but I had to throw in some potty humor after all that)
Glass half empty my butt (okay, it's coming too easily now)
Get rid of that negative energy ... including the need to impress the kindergarten teacher with your fancy home reading plan
Start noticing the power of positive in your children (celebrate the B minuses!)
Focus on the little pleasures of life
Other reasons Dav and I are now best friends:
Li’l Petey’s words in one of the Dog Man books are actually Maya Angelou’s. I dare you to find a quote of hers that isn’t positive.
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou
There is an entire chapter in one of his books about choosing forgiveness (positive) over resentment (negative).
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Carrie Fisher
He encourages kids to read!
We all need a little playfulness in our lives.
And, he is an inspiration to other kids who struggle with not fitting the mould (inclusion is key).
Just when you think Dav Pilkey is done surprising you, he shares this in the notes in the back of 'Grime and Punishment'
"Part 3 of the final chapter was inspired by this poem:
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing."
A beautiful blend of ‘think positive’
I hope I’m never so serious that I can’t appreciate some far-out silly humor especially when it makes my kids laugh.
We need playfulness in our lives and I don’t really want to create serious little people that never talk about poop.
I want to raise confident, mindful, playful, positive thinking humans who know how to speak kindly to themselves.
They should know that balancing the Dog Man’s of the world with affirmations and mantras creates a beautiful blend of positivity.
I can increase my ability to 'think positive' and grow a healthy mind by embracing the balance.
We can create superhumans in a world that can be super hard. Three cheers to Dav (my new BFF), and one big “I’m proud of myself” to me for embracing the crime-fighting dogman, poop jokes and all.
I’d love to hear what you think after checking out Dav's books!,