'Understanding the Monster in My Mirror' and '*Understanding the Monster in your
Child's Mirror*' are books with a very powerful metaphor at their centre, conveying
something of the fear, hurt, distress and terror that developmental trauma can leave in its
'Understanding the Monster in My Mirror' written directly for the child, and
'Understanding the Monster in your Child's Mirror' written for parents and carers,
acknowledges, without minimizing, the difficulties children can experience, whilst also
holding hope that growth and healing is possible.
Catherynne M. Valente, a fiction writer and poet, suggests that 'Monsters almost always
are culture's way of working out their fears and are thus inherently incredibly interesting
Many parents caring for children with developmental trauma can attest to the power of
the traumatized child's more personal monsters. It is hard to hold on to curiosity (C), to be
interested in a child's view of themselves as monster in the face of the behavioural
challenges being experienced. No wonder parents can end up perceiving their own
Finding a way to hold on to our compassionate interest is what we need to do, however, if
we are to sit with a child and help them to work out their fears. Alongside curiosity,
acceptance (A) and empathy (E) are our biggest tools to do this. Life as a child with
developmental trauma is often hard, in parenting these children, we share the challenges.
We can however, also provide a dose of playfulness (P), allowing children to discover
moments of joy in a relationship, helping to diminish the monsters that try to convince
them that relationships are to be feared.
A very wise theologian, Henri Nouwen, with an intuitive understanding based on his own
experience, once wrote: 'When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means
the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or
cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender
hand.' This is what this book invites us to do.
PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy, Hughes, 2017; Golding 2017) can
help us to find the warm and tender hands that allow parents to provide their children
with an experience of a safe relationship, within which they learn that their inner life is
okay and that parents are not afraid to connect with it. The children can share their view
of the monster and discover the unconditional love that they have needed so much since
Understanding the monsters experienced by the children means sitting with all the
uncomfortable and frightening things that they are experiencing, not trying to wish them
away, but accepting that this is how they are feeling.
As we sit with children, the power of the monsters will diminish, and as Isabel and Darcy
Rose help us to understand, we can help the children over time, to see themselves as we
see them, not a monster but children, vulnerable, brave, courageous, and beautiful to their
'Someone who has experienced trauma also has gifts to offer all of us - in their depth, their
knowledge of our universal vulnerability, and their experience of the power of compassion'
Darcy and Isabel Rose certainly epitomize this. Their honest sharing provides us with the
gift of 'Understanding the Monster in My Mirror' and 'Understanding the Monster in your
Child's Mirror'. They are books that get to the heart of how children with developmental
trauma so often see themselves and helps to guide children to look in the mirror and see
something very different, with the acceptance and help of their parents, and other caring
adults in their lives.
Written in two parts, the first part 'Understanding the Monster in My Mirror', will help
the children to realize they are not alone, and that others can help them if they can be
brave enough to accept this.
Part two, 'Understanding the Monster in your Child's Mirror' adds theory, alongside ideas
drawn from personal experience, to help parents and carers alike to join the children on
their journey of self-discovery. I hope that with the help of these books many more
children will be able to look in the mirror and see themselves behind the monster of their
Only then will their imagination truly take off and allow them to reach the heights that
they have always been capable of (Kim S Golding, 2019).