Anxiety can be crippling. It can stop you in your tracks and paralyze you, send you into a fit of anger, or even make you physically sick. Imagine going through that as a child who has no idea what is happening or why.
Children experience anxiety and nervousness more often than parents might think. Understanding that sweaty hands and an upset stomach may be related to their upcoming test or that the angst they are feeling about making a new friend could be causing their headaches does not come naturally.
Children need a trusted adult to teach them how emotions manifest into physical sensations so they can understand when they are feeling anxious and what they can do to help decrease that anxiety. There are many different kinds and causes of anxiety and nervousness.
Below are a few of the books that have helped me explain different forms of anxiety to my five-year-old son, who struggles with anxiety.
Although these are all written so a young child can comprehend them, they can also be used to help older kids understand what they’re feeling:
Anxiety around making mistakes
Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parker
Anxiety around fears
It Will Be OK by Lisa Katzenberger
The Scaredy Squirrel Series by Melanie Watt
Anxiety around their ability
I Can Handle It! by Laurie Wright
I Knew You Could! A Book for all the Stops in your Life by Craig Dorfman
Anxiety around emotions
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia
Anxiety around separation
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
Each of these books is a great tool to get the conversation started, but the most important thing each story teaches children is that other people feel anxious and nervous too. This lets them know that it is natural and they are not alone, which is crucial to helping them comprehend and conquer their fears.
Stacie is the editorial assistant of Calgary’s Child Magazine and mother of a delightful daughter and silly son. Her days are filled with playing in parks, creating crafts and keeping up with the chaos. She thoroughly enjoys supporting, connecting and informing parents through interesting stories like this one.
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