Managing emotions: Book gives parents, children new tools

August, 2016 Posted in People
Sharing Peanut’s feelings
Author Jenifer Trivelli
reads from Peanut and
the BIG Feelings
Stayton Public Library
515 N First Ave.
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 11 a.m.

By Mary Owen

A Salem counselor who has worked with youngsters with “big feelings” for about a decade has turned her experiences into an educational children’s book.

Jenifer Trivelli is a social-emotional educator and parenting coach for her company, Wisemind Educational Services.

“In the last few years, I started noticing that I would go through a similar sequence with the majority of my clients, not only the kiddos but the adults, too,” Trivelli said.

“I would excitedly share this blend I put together from emerging fields, like interpersonal neurobiology and mind-body psychology, with my friends and colleagues, and they really started encouraging me to put it in a book. I wanted to be able to give all the kids and families access to this information that I had discovered.”

Trivelli took the next step and self-published an illustrated guidebook for children titled Peanut and the BIG Feelings, which offers adults a tool for helping children learn how to manage their emotions in positive ways.

Trivelli will speak about the book and the neurobiology behind the techniques at Tuesday, Aug. 2, 11 a.m. at the Stayton Public Library. She is also available to speak to private groups, organizations, schools and libraries. The book is available on

Trivelli said she has seen the book help parents and children have better relationships.

“It opens the door for conversation, where there was once frustration and misunderstanding,” she said. “It normalizes the experience of dealing with big feelings and provides tools that get kids and their parents on the same team.”

Teachers and other professionals have found it helpful, too, she said.

“As I have been doing readings in classrooms, I have seen it open up class-wide discussions about how we all experience these big feelings at different times and how we can support one another when that occurs,” she said.

In the back of the book is an intervention manual that gives more details on the science behind the story and information to take individuals or groups of children through the activities.

“Peanut is my daughter’s nickname,” Trivelli  said of her choice to name her lead character, a compilation of “every kiddo I’ve had the honor of working with in this way.”

Trivelli believes the name “Peanut” makes the story more accessible to a broader range of children and families than using a gendered name.

“Many of us understand that taking a deep breath can help a big feeling calm down,” she said. “It’s often not often a tool we think of on our own when we’re already at a nine or 10 with our feeling intensity. And we are adults!”

The book offers four strategies based on the science of neurobiology and how people’s systems work, she said.

“They’re also strategies that are aimed at shifting the state of the body from activated to a state of balance, versus more traditional cognitive strategies which aim at trying to convince a person with limited access to their thinking brain to think differently,” she said.

“It’s a new way of looking at emotional regulation.”

A certified Yoga-Calm instructor, Trivelli teaches yoga for kids and works privately with families, couples and children who want to have closer relationships.

She holds a master’s degree in counseling and is currently working on what she views as “the next developmental step in a series,” she said.

“I have a 13-year-old co-author, and we are writing a book aimed at young teens,” Trivelli said. “It will feature much of the same science and strategies, while offering additional strategies for that population. We are both excited to reach this part of the population with tools and information we have ourselves found so valuable.”

Trivelli credited her partner, who has three teenage sons, and others, including wellness coach Sharon Roemmel, for helping her to illustrate and write her book.

“I almost enjoy sharing my journey writing the book as much as I do the book itself,” said Trivelli, a mother of two children, 6 and 8. “I think it’s a great message to kids to give something a try, even if they don’t think they have the skills to do it.”

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