About two minutes into “Like You,” a new mindfulness podcast for kids, creator Noah Glenn asks listeners to say “I like me.” You think it’d be pretty simple, right? Well, not exactly when you’re not feeling like your best self and you’re battling a mean round of writer’s block. But I think that’s the point. Saying “I like me” amidst all of the feelings that we feel and all of the obstacles that we may face encourages kindness towards ourselves and ultimately to others—and the earlier that is learned, the better.
“I think if you can teach a kid to identify feelings, understand their feelings, and also understand that other people are going through the same things, that it’ll lead to people that have a healthier opinion of themselves and the people around them when they are grown,” Glenn said.
Glenn is an award winning filmmaker, owner of creative production company Perpetual Motion, a musician, a husband, and father of two girls, ages 3 and 6—and all of those roles have worked in tandem to bring him to where he is now. The native-Arkansan, reborn-Memphian’s work in audio engineering, movie-making, non-profit project management and more gave him the skills, but it was his family, his fondness for the late Mr. Rogers, and his own self reflection that fueled his passion.
“Someone once gave me the advice to looking for something that makes you angry or sad about the world, and then figure out what you can do, based on your experience and your skill set, to do something about it,” Glenn said. “Between news stories I’ve seen about child mistreatment, being a father who’s re-experiencing childhood growth through my daughters, and seeing that there’s a gap in addressing social and emotional development in children’s media, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to go in, career wise, and I figured I’d start things off with a podcast.”
With only seven episodes released, “Like You,” has already worked it’s way through life lessons like listening to your body, learning how to relax, growth, and “Cooling Your Hot Chocolate,” otherwise known as practicing patience and remaining calm when think you’re about to reach your boiling point.
Between the similarities in mission and messaging, Glenn is picking up where Mr. Rogers left off in a modern day way— by establishing a connection through imagination and repetition that kids can take heed in at anytime. Like most episodes, Animal Feelings, starts off with Glenn saying, “Find a place to listen where you feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes we close our eyes and use our imagination, and other times I might ask you to say something out loud. You can imagine we’re two friends, sitting together; I can talk to you, and you can talk to me.”
From there, a genuine conversation ensues that ignites imagery and focuses on a variety of exercises that encourage empathy above all things.
“I think if you can teach a kid to identify feelings, understand their feelings, and also understand that other people are going through the same things, that it’ll lead to people that have a healthier opinion of themselves and the people around them when they are grown.”
“I’m using resources like books filled with mindfulness exercises for kids, and various blogs and other podcasts that I find helpful,” Glenn said. “I do feel like adults have a hang-up when talking about things like mindfulness as a practice—and then when you start talking about social and emotional development, and early childhood development, some people’s brains go to behavioral therapy and all the things you’d want to have a therapist for. I’m not doing therapy. I’m not diagnosing anything. I’m not trying to help a specific child work through a specific problem to a specific outcome. I don’t even have it all figured out, myself. I’m just a parent who is trying to figure it all out like all parents are.”
And, though I’m not a parent, nor a child, I’m still grappling with these things and growing—and could benefit from living life more empathetically. Be it when waiting for my morning coffee in the long line at Starbucks, when my dog decides to chew everything in sight, or when a friend of mine hurts my feelings and we try to address the situation—there’s something that can be learned when you take a step back and examine the feelings that are universally felt.
“A lot of the frustrations that kids and parents go through just have to do with learning how to talk about things,” Glenn said. “As parents, you don’t want your kids to be angry, or sad, or any of those emotions that we associate as negative emotions, but, you know, that’s impossible for us to eliminate. If we teach our kids not to talk about it, to bottle it up, then that’s not gonna solve their problems. But if we talk about it, and they learn that those feelings are normal, that other kids feel them, that adults feel them, and that they don’t last forever, then maybe they’ll learn that we’re not so different, after all.”