Books to help children with anxiety (2-12yrs)
The best books to help children with anxiety are reassuring and approachable and give children ideas and practical strategies for managing their worries.
Children who are worried or anxious don’t always find it easy to express those feelings in words. Reading storybooks together with children is a great way to open up discussions and introduce new ideas in a safe and gentle way. You could do that with any story that features a character who worries but there are also some brilliant books specifically written for this purpose.
Some children find more directive nonfiction books helpful too – like workbooks or books that explain anxiety and offer concrete tips.
Here are my favourite books to help children with anxiety (ages 2-12yrs):
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Story books to help children with anxiety
All My Treasures by Jo Witek is a storybook designed to boost young children’s happiness by encouraging them to focus on finding joy in simple things. In essence, it’s a simplified gratitude exercise for little ones. It could be really useful in prompting a discussion about what makes your child happy and helping them to focus on the positives. Especially good for building up a happy bank and returning joy in play for very young children who find themselves in difficult circumstances. (2-4 yrs)
The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright is really gentle and soothing in tone. It’s perfect for starting a discussion about how anxiety feels physically and for introducing vocabulary around that fluttery butterflies feeling we get when we are anxious. The sweet illustrations and rhyming text make it a lovely read for all children – whether their worries are big or small. Out of all the books to help children with anxiety in the younger age range, this is my top pick (you might also like The Wobblysaurus if you child is a bit nervous rather than a worrier). You might also (2-5 yrs)
Ruby’s worry by Tom Percival is a great story to read if your child has small nagging worries. And especially if you think your child has a worry but they aren’t willing to open up about it. It has a light touch and is reassuring and sweet. While you read it, you can talk about why Ruby is worried, what that feels like and what Ruby (or your child) could do about it. (3-7 yrs)
When it comes to books to help children with anxiety, The Huge Bag of Worries (by Virginia Ironside) is a must-have for all home bookshelves. All kids worry sometimes – whether it’s concrete concerns like school tests or vaguer fears about death and separation. Through a simple story and familiar-style illustrations, this book offers concrete strategies to help children manage their worries. By having a designated ‘worry time’, children are encouraged to let go of their worries for the rest of the day. It’s a practical book to help children to identify their worried feelings. And reading the book together will help parents and children talk about those difficult feelings in a constructive way. (7-11 yrs)
|If you want a demonstration on how to use storybooks to get to know what your child is thinking or feeling, watch our 10-minute video on Using Story Time to understand your Child Better.|
Workbooks & mindfulness strategies
This is part of the Relax Kids series and each page contains a simple animal meditation for parents to practise with under 5s to encourage mindful awareness. Young children need really concrete imagery rather than abstract concepts, so encouraging them to pretend to be an animal in order to stretch their bodies and bring awareness to their breath is really effective. Wonderful for a goodnight routine too. Older children can create their own story meditations using When I’m Feeling (also by Marneta Viegas).
Pickle the monster has lots of worries. A Little Monster’s Guide to Mindfulness (by Emily Snape) follows along as Pickle learns about mindfulness and practises different mindfulness techniques. Simple, but very effective and beautifully illustrated. For children who are nervous rather than worriers, take a look at A Little Monster’s Guide to Positivity too. (4yrs+)
Find Your Calm by Gabi Garcia is a wonderful way to introduce mindfulness to slightly older children and encourage them to start practising some simple techniques for easing anxiety. It is a really empowering book to read as a parent because it lights the way for talking to your child calmly and effectively about their anxiety and what they can do when they feel panicked or overwhelmed. The exercises slip neatly into the narrative and help children understand the physical side of anxiety and how they can calm themselves. (5-10yrs)
Hannah Sherman’s Mindfulness Workbook for Kids: 60+ Activities to Focus, Stay Calm and Make Good Choices is a great choice for older children and contains exactly what it says on the cover. The range of idea mean that you and your child should be able to find something that works for them. (8-12yrs)
Despite the slightly flippant-sounding title, Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Poppy O’Neill is a comprehensive and practical guide for 7-11 year-olds on overcoming anxiety. It uses cognitive behavioural techniques delivered through engaging activities and interspersed with tips and inspirational statements. It’s an activity book so your child needs to be ready and willing to engage with it. (7-11 yrs)
If I have missed out any of your favourite books to help children with anxiety, let me know in the comments below!
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*This is not a sponsored post – these are all books to help children with anxiety that I have personally chosen to recommend. It does however contain affiliate links which means that if you click through from this post and buy the book, I receive a few pennies from Amazon (see Disclosure Notice for more info).