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My Friend Frilly

A picture book empowering young children to look at their fears in a new perspective.

Welcome to some behind-the-scenes information that will enable you, as an adult reading My Friend Frilly with a child, help young readers get the most out of the Frilly Analogy. Essentially through this analogy we show children that, when humans are scared, they often show the three key behaviours of the cute little Frill-necked Lizard when he’s scared – which is most of the time. In relating the scary behaviours of other children and even adults to the behaviour of a rather ridiculous little lizard, we enable the child to see them in a new, less threatening, perspective.

We suggest you explore some of this only after the child has made a connection with Frilly and is reading the book for the second or third time.

Frilly is small and defenceless. If the child hasn’t seen a live frilled-neck lizard, explore examples from your everyday life to illustrate his lack of size. Perhaps you have a kitten, a guinea pig – or a dog that Frilly could walk right underneath. Maybe there’s a baby in the house and Frilly’s even smaller than that!

Storytelling offers a comfortable way for children to explore emotions like fear. You can engage the child by asking them to consider what might frighten Frilly and then encourage them to share some of their own fears.

It’s important to remember that talking about tough feelings can be challenging. If your child has trouble pinpointing things that scare them, you can reassure them that it’s normal to feel afraid sometimes, even for adults. The adjacent page shows a real-world example of something that might appear scary to a child. By all means, discuss others. For example, you can share some of your age-appropriate fears or have your child’s favourite plush toy ‘tell a story’ about being afraid.

You might like to ask the child to think of good places for Frilly to hide. Consider places in the outback where Frilly lives, as well as places where Frilly might hide in your home. Would Frilly be good at playing hide and seek. Relate Frilly’s hiding places to the adjacent images of children hiding. Point out that, like Frilly, children need to be really quiet when they hide. Perhaps ask the child why Frilly might be pretending to be big and scary?

Relate the actions to the child on the opposite page in the book and share the idea of pretending – some people pretend to be big, loud, and scary when it’s really they themselves who are scared. You can invite your child to pretend to be Frilly trying to be big and angry, and pretend along with them, with your hands on your hips, standing on your tiptoes, and putting out your frill! Then ask them if the frilly behaviour reminds them of anyone they know. Relate it to the adjacent page.

You might like to ask your child where Frilly went to feel safe. Do they think there might be other safe places for a lizard in the outback? Where would they tell Frilly to go?

Relating Frilly’s actions to the child on the opposite page, explore where the child feels most comfortable and safe. You might like to talk about the idea of people being a safe place and, with the child, identify as many trusted adults as possible who represent safety. Give them assurances that one of those adults will always be there for them, when needed. Encourage them to tell one of those people when they feel scared.

This and the adjacent page are opportunities to have more fun with the child, recalling simple events that appeared to be scary but actually weren’t.

Examples might be a fear of shadows that turned out to be harmless; noises in the night that were only the family pet; seeing a mouse; thinking a smudge on the wall was a spider. Talk about how Frilly might have responded to these events and how he might have felt when he realised there wasn’t any danger.

Relate his reactions to those of the children on the adjacent page.

This is another opportunity to reinforce safety messages and assess the child’s wellbeing, and whether there is something they have reason to find fearful.

Important Information

If anything your child says makes you aware of problems you don’t feel comfortable addressing please seek professional help – in the form of a child psychologist, school counsellor or other specialist in child behaviour.

A final note

Some families (and even some workplaces) have found the concept of “Frilly Speak” really useful. Terms like How’s your Frilly going – or You look like you’re doing a Frilly, can really put things in perspective and be a lot of fun. Give it a try at home!

And don’t forget to Google funny frilled-neck lizard videos with the child. Kids and adults alike just love their antics and it’s a great time to relate these back to the messages in the book.