Did you know that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children?
Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. (via Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
I learned years ago that anxiety issues can be generational, due to environment and/or genetics and that the chances of me having children with anxiety disorders were much higher, due to the fact that I was diagnosed with my own.
Because of that, I’ve tried really hard to be prepared for helping my children with fears, worries, and anxieties, as they arise. It’s also forced me to understand the importance of taking care of myself and my own anxieties so that I can set a good example, and fully acknowledge the challenges that they face in working through it all.
Even if you don’t have anxiety issues, it’s possible your child, or a child in your life is, or will, deal with one: one in 5 children will develop a mental health issue.
One of the best things for helping children with anxiety is talking. There is something about putting a voice to your worries, and speaking them aloud that is therapeutic, especially when a trusted adult is listening.
That’s why children’s books on the topic are so great: you can read them together and talk about them. They allow you to share what has worked for you and openly discuss a shared emotion.
Sharing your own journey with your child, in an age-appropriate way, doesn’t make you look weak to your child. Quite the opposite: it helps your child see that there is hope and that someone does understand them.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of 13 books for helping children with anxiety – books that you can read with your children, and also some books and a few other resources for you to read on your own so that you can also feel empowered to help your child handle their anxiety.(since writing this post, I’ve also created a compilation of books for teens dealing with anxiety.)
Books for Children
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)
An excellent interactive book written for children, that will help your child feel empowered to do something about their worries and anxieties.
Written by a clinical psychologist, this book was conceived after she saw a need for practical take-home help for the children she was seeing in her office.
Worries and fears have a way of getting bigger and bigger when we don’t talk about them. For children, with their big imaginations and difficulty understanding real vs. unreal, this can begin to feel huge and insurmountable.
This book illustrates this well, and also shows children how problems can begin to feel more manageable when talked about and shared with parents and other trusted adults who can help.
Common worries are humorously, yet effectively illustrated throughout this book, making it both relatable and entertaining for children.
Children will also learn techniques for working through their worries, through creative problem-solving. This book is great to read together and discuss the various fears that your children are experiencing and how they could be handled.
Sea Otter Cove: Introducing relaxation breathing to lower anxiety, decrease stress and control anger while promoting peaceful sleep
Deep breathing is very important for overall health and well-being, but many children do not know how to properly breathe, especially when anxiety starts up.
The charming characters teach children how to relax through breathing, and encourage children to use the techniques to help fall asleep.
Little Mouse has many fears, and each one is described throughout this beautifully laid out, mixed media book. There are pages that fold out, and the child is encouraged to list and draw their own fears, as Little Mouse has already done.
Because of the layout of the book and the use of technical terms, it is a book for younger children to have read to them by an adult, or for older children.
By the author of Sea Otter Cove, this book also helps promote proper breathing and introduces children to calming techniques that can help a child through times of anxiety and worry.
Both the boy and the bear demonstrate good breathing habits, and reading this before bedtime will certainly have a positive effect on sleep.
This charmingly illustrated book, is excellent for children who struggle with feelings of panic and panic attacks, it teaches skills that children will find useful.
There is a repetitiveness to the text that is calming, and children will be able to see themselves in the situations that Annika finds herself in and starting to panic, and learn from how she calms herself each time.
Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite authors for children. His ability to write about and portray the unique personalities of young children make his books enjoyable to read and relatable for children.
Wemberely is a mouse who worries about everything, and by the end of the book, she is beginning to realize that much of what she worries about, has no cause for worry.
This book is designed to help children feel more in control of their worry, and their ability to manage and work through it.
It also is good for guiding children to be able to identify their anxiety and what is causing it.
A great resource for older children, this book is broken down into parts that help give children methods and tools for dealing with their anxiety, while also explaining some of the more serious problems involved with anxiety and the need for counseling, in some children, to help work through it.
This is a book children will be able to refer to often.
This book is written for children with autism, who are also dealing with anxiety.
Self-calming techniques and a number rating scale, for identifying levels of anxiety are some of the many techniques presented.
Books for Parents, Teachers and Caretakers
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias
From the book:
Anxiety is the number one mental health problem facing young people today. Childhood should be a happy and carefree time, yet more and more children today are exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, from bedwetting and clinginess to frequent stomach aches, nightmares, and even refusing to go to school.
Parents everywhere want to know: All children have fears, but how much is normal? How can you know when a stress has crossed over into a full-blown anxiety disorder? Most parents don’t know how to recognize when there is a real problem and how to deal with it when there is.
In Freeing Your Child From Anxiety, a childhood anxiety disorder specialist examines all manifestations of childhood fears, including social anxiety, Tourette’s Syndrome, hair-pulling, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and guides you through a proven program to help your child back to emotional safety.
No child is immune from the effects of stress in today’s media-saturated society. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are treatable. By following these simple solutions, parents can prevent their children from needlessly suffering today and tomorrow.
I’ve written about this book before, and I can’t say enough good things about it. This is a book that you read with your child. But the neat things is that there is a section for the adult, and a pull out section for the child that explains the same things you are reading in ways that the child can wrap their head around.
It’s been a great tool for helping us help our children, all of whom deal with anxiety, fears and worries on various levels.
–Anxiety And Kids: When To Worry About An Anxious Child
–7 Ways to Help Anxious Kids
–Mighty Moe – an anxiety workbook for children
–Sensitive Children Who Develop Significant Anxiety
–Anxiety in Children: How Parents Can Help
–Children and Teens with Anxiety (via Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
Be sure to also check out our post with books for teens dealing with anxiety.
This is the 15th post in a 31 Day Series: 31 Days to Peace: Finding inner peace for anxiety and panic attacks. Start from the beginning here.
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