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Flipping the Script and Creating Magic with Colleen Olinski

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Life during the pandemic has been hard. We all know this but can easily miss the long-term impact it’s had on us, and especially on our children. It’s common to believe that kids are so resilient, so they’ll be fine, but the reality is… they’re enduring a pandemic with considerably less life experience than adults! Life experience develops resilience!

This is one of the reasons I wrote Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure! I wanted to create a book that would give kids and parents tools for navigating big feelings, while simultaneously normalizing feelings and emotional regulation.

However, I’ve seen a change in my own pediatric occupational therapy work. A few years ago I primarily supported families and children to navigate tantrums, manage big but common feelings, and address impulsivity. Today, a couple of years into the pandemic, I see the impact of trauma on children and how that influences how they show up in the world.

One big piece that has made this pandemic a traumatic event is the separation and isolation we experienced within our communities and families. I’ve learned that separation to this degree is experienced in our bodies as a threat to our survival… we need belonging and connection.

This is one reason I was so excited to meet Colleen.

Colleen has worked with children of all ages in a variety of settings for the past two decades. She has spent 12 years as a preschool teacher at a Yale University-affiliated early learning center. She is a certified elementary school teacher who has worked as an educator and a special education tutor in both urban and suburban school districts. An advocate for all children, Colleen has a deep respect for childhood and believes that children are capable of incredible things. She is a mother, dreamer, avid storyteller, and lifelong learner. And now, she’s also our friend.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Colleen Marie Olinski, a recent TEDx speaker and the author of A Wolf Named Elvis, agreed to an interview with Joe Bauman, educator and illustrator, and me. Now I get to share it with you.

In our interview, she shares how A Wolf Named Elvis was born during the pandemic with a desire to continue to support kids, even though everyone was still isolated from one another at home. It hit her—we’re kind of like wolves in a pack… except we were now like wolves separated from our pack. What if a wolf pup were to get separated from his pack? What feelings would come up? How would he work through those feelings?

Drawing on her experience in education, and as a mama navigating her little pack and those big feelings at home, she created A Wolf Named Elvis, a book about ​​how a wolf pup uses his separation from the pack to flip his own script, manage big feelings, and create his own “magic” on a journey to self-discovery.

In our conversation, Colleen, Joe, and I also discuss

  • how to empower kids to feel their big feelings and stay connected,

  • how to teach kids to flip their scripts into a supportive message, and

  • how to use children’s books to help kids create their own magic

I’m so excited to share this conversation with you. Not only was it encouraging to me as a pediatric OT and author educating parents on emotional regulation, but I know it will be an affirmation and resource for the work you’re doing with your child, no matter your role with kiddos.

Watch HERE to sit in on the conversation with Colleen Olinski, Joe Bauman, and me.

Here’s to helping kids (and their adults) navigate big feelings, flip scripts, and create our own magic!


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