Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions {Don’t Let the ANTS Steal Your Happiness}

Children sometimes need guidance on the proper way to deal with their emotions, especially when it comes to negative thinking patterns. That's why I really enjoyed Dr. Daniel Amen's latest picture book release, Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions, which touches up on this subject in a fun and inventive way.

Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions; Don’t Let the ANTS Steal Your Happiness, written by board certified child psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, playfully encourages children to correct their negative thinking patterns in order to live happier and healthier lives. Comical illustrations bring the story alive as our main character, Captain Snout, reveals the super power questions that can rid us of our automatic negative thoughts (ANTS) and lead to accurate and truthful thinking.

The Washington Post called Daniel Amen, MD the most popular psychiatrist in America and Sharecare named him the web’s #1 most influential expert and advocate on mental health. Dr. Amen is a physician, double board certified psychiatrist, television producer and ten-time New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Medical Director of Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa and San Francisco, California, Bellevue, Washington, Reston, Virginia, Atlanta, Georgia and New York, New York.

Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions focuses on the book's slogan, "Don't Let the ANTS Steal Your Happiness." Now you may be looking at the cover with the anteater superhero and thinking, okay so why would ants want to steal the happiness of children? You may also be wondering why "ANTS" is in all caps. You see, this is actually just a fun play on words. While ants (the insect kind) are portrayed as the enemy in the fictional portion of this story, "ANTS" is actually an acronym for "Automatic Negative Thoughts." The book includes a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to help guide and educate kids with effective ways to deal with challenges and negative thoughts. 

The story begins with the Pennypepper children. They really want a puppy and their parents agree to let them have one, as long as they can gather up the supplies needed in order to take care of it. The children decide to put together a car wash in order to raise funds. While excited and eager to get started, they soon realize the car wash isn't as successful as they had hoped it would be. Instead of brainstorming ideas on ways to make it more of a success, they start blaming each other and even themselves, finding all kinds of faults as to why things aren't working out the way they want. It's Captain Snout to the rescue to fix things, but not in the way that you think. Instead of just automatically making things right, he offers the kids a big lesson in changing those negative thought patterns to positive ones. 

Captain Snout goes into detail to explain the many different types of ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts):

The All or Nothing ANT: The kind of thoughts that use words like "never" and "nothing" to describe the problem. Ex. We will never make any money!

The Just the Bad ANT: The kind of thoughts that always see the bad in something, rather than the least bit of good.  

The Fortune Teller ANT: The kind of thinking pattern where one automatically assumes something is not going to go right. Thought words usually starts with, "We will never..."

The Mind Reader ANT: Similar to the Fortune Teller ANT, except this is the type of thinking where someone automatically assumes what another person is going to think. 

The Blaming ANT: The type of thought pattern where blame is always put on someone else.

Throughout the book it's explained that in order rid of these negative thinking patterns, you just have to refer back to the "Amazing Super Power Questions." These are "Is that true? Are you 100% it's true?" Once the children learn this and input their negative thoughts into these questions, they soon realize that the ANTS want nothing more than to steal their happiness, so they go back to the drawing board and find solutions to make their car wash a success, and it works!

I really appreciate the theme of this book and how the author using a fictional story to bring light of how important it is to not let bad thoughts steal our joy. This is a wonderful way to teach children such a very important lesson and help them come up with ways to prevent negative thinking patterns from taking over their mind. Although this is not necessarily a Christian themed story, I did find that it parallels what God tells us about trusting Him and not letting the enemy lie to us or take over our way of thinking.