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  • Brittany Podsobinski

Children's books to help with fears and anxiety

About 2 months ago my 5 year old son started having a fear of being alone. It started with a specific show he had watched where he was scared of a character. We tried talking about how you can switch the channel to think about something different, or take the scary thing and make it silly instead. Unfortunately these tricks didn't help, and the fear only grew.


He tends to shut down when I try to teach him something, so I decided to switch gears and look for books that teach about fears and how to overcome them. There were so many great options, but here are the 4 I ended up buying and liking!



When Worry Takes Hold by Liz Haske is my favorite! Worry sneaks into Maya's mind one night and then gets bigger and bigger making it difficult for her to enjoy any activity- even going to school or a birthday party. I love worry being portrayed as a dreary scribble that grows in size, and also really relate to bedtime becoming "dreadtime".


Eventually Maya meets Worry's enemy, courage! And she uses her breath to help her be brave and call on courage. With the power from her breathing she doesn't try to push Worry away, but instead greets it and then uses Courage to break free from Worry's hold.


This book is full of beautiful illustrations, and great examples of how she uses her breath and positive thinking to overcome worry. I'll be reading this one daily for the time being, and we've started practicing finding courage by taking a belly breath.


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Mind Bubbles by Heather Krantz, MD teaches mindfulness by comparing our thoughts and feelings to soap bubbles. The author asks questions about the child's thoughts and feelings, and the illustrations show how the bubbles can include great thoughts and others that are really difficult. But no matter what the thought or feeling is, it will eventually POP, and new thoughts and feelings will form. Then she talks about a gift that you already own, which is your breath, and the rest of the book talks about how you can concentrate on your friendly breath and allow the bubbles to come and go. This will help you feel calm and still and maybe even happier!


My kids love bubbles so I love the comparison, and the book even includes a guided mindful breathing practice for adults to read aloud for their child.


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My Incredible Talking Body Learning to Be Calm by Rebecca Bowen explains how our bodies give us all sorts of signals to tell us what it needs. I like that it starts with bodily functions like hunger, thirst, and sleepiness since these are often easier for kids to recognize in their own bodies. Then it moves on to how our bodies feel when we're angry, scared, calm, and sad. The book recognizes that all feelings are okay, but we do have control over how we act (it specifically mentions that it's not okay to break things or hurt somebody).


My favorite part of this book is that it gives a variety of ideas for how you can get back to calm including- breathing, reading a book, taking some alone time, drawing, doing a puzzle, hugging a stuffed animal, talking to someone you trust, pretending to be on a vacation, and more! Different people respond to different calming strategies, and Rebecca Bowen gives great options for children AND adults to try. This book also includes a note for parents, educators, and others committed to helping children develop emotional wellness, and follows up with teaching suggestions, strategies for calming down, and additional activities to do with your child. It's an all around great resource!



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Too Small for my Big Bed by Amber Stewart and Layn Marlow was the first book that I bought, since our initial issues dealt with bedtime. It's a sweet story about a tiger cub, Piper, who feels like his bed is too big. His mom encourages him to try counting to 10 when he wakes up in the night, before coming to her bed. She also points out all the amazing things he's been able to do as he's getting bigger. Initially this doesn't work for Piper.


They end up having a discussion about how Piper can "feel" his mom near and that comforts him, and she tells him that she will always be near. When he wakes up that night he can feel the cool night air spreading his mom's love around him and knows she is near.


My super literal child really enjoys listening to this story, but was quick to point out that in the illustrations the mom's "bed" is right next to Piper's, and he could see her right there if he wanted. And I'm way across the house and that's too far from him (ugh!). This one didn't help us, but it's still really sweet, and I love the Tiger mom's gentle approach, and curiosity questions she uses to get Piper to sleep in his bed.


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Do you have any other book recommendations that help children deal with fear and worries?

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