Author’s Note :: I am not a clinician. I am the parent of a happy, sweet, empathetic, sometimes nervous child who found that reading these books to him before a new class, major events, or big changes, made him feel less nervous and more confident. (Affiliate links are included below.)
Find Their Calm: My Favorite Reads For Nervous Kids
In the world we live in, I think it is safe to say we all have some anxious tendencies. As adults, we may not always have the answer, but we can usually talk ourselves down, speak with a spouse, express our feelings to friends, book a massage, or book a therapy appointment. However, our kids are not as mature and obviously do not have the ability or money to book a 1-hour self-care appointment. But what we all can do with our kids is, read.
Not all types of anxiety are created equal. Not all anxious people, or even children, have a diagnosis that follows them. They could be anxious and nervous but not truly diagnosed by their physician. Does your child get a stomach ache when they get nervous? Does your child cry when they are nervous about something new? Does your child refuse to walk to a new class that they have never been before? Does your child fear heights or water? Does your child ask “what if this happens” more than once a day? Is your child so worried that they get in their own way of being a kid? If you answered yes to any of these, I highly recommend you read books on anxiety to your child.
Cue books on feelings and emotions.
These are MY TOP 9 BOOKS that my son and I read pretty regularly, more so on a “bad day.”
- Wemberly Worried – By Kevin Henkes: Wemberly worries about everything: losing parents, shrinking in the bathroom, etc. Everyone around her tries to convince her that there is nothing to worry about and Wemberly is not convinced. She worried about her first day of school, worried about feeling comfortable, and worried about being made fun of. Once she meets a new friend who is very similar to her, she begins to feel less worried. This book teaches you that if you are feeling a certain way, others may be feeling that way, too.
- Belly Breathe – By Leslie Kimmleman: This book teaches kids the technique of belly breathing, being able to relax, and be calmer. It also helps kids how to relieve tension and improve their concentration. I find myself performing these breathing exercises when I am feeling nervous, anxious and/or stressed.
- The Worrysaurus – By Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton: Similar to Wemberly, this book provides reassurance and offers fun illustrations to help calm the anxious butterflies in their tummy. With the help of his mother, the main character finds a way to soothe his butterflies and chase away all of his fears. This book really allows you to help your child find happiness in the moment.
- Happy – Sad Today- Lory Britain, Ph.D.: This book portrays to your child that it is ok to have mixed emotions. That it is ok to be excited and nervous at the same time. That is okay to be angry and sad at the same time. Join this young girl in exploring her many-layered emotions and help your child realize t is ok to feel multiple feelings at one time and that it is okay to express them to someone who makes them feel safe.
- The Anxious Ninja – By Mary Nhin: This is probably one of my son’s favorite books. It helps to cultivate self-confidence, helps your child deal with difficult emotions and helps to prepare them for the challenges of life. It teaches you and your child the 3 R’s method: Recognize, Relax, and Refocus. Whenever a new situation arises, I bring the 3 R’s up to my son and he immediately smiles.
- A Little Spot of Emotion Box Set – By Diane Alber: I love this whole set of books (Anger, Anxiety, Confidence, Happiness…etc) but let’s focus on A Little Spot of Anxiety. How big is your child’s anxiety spot? Is it small – if so, it is okay because sometimes worrying helps to protect them. Is it too big and makes you them not feel so great – then you will want to address it because we don’t want the child to miss out on things that are super fun. This book also teaches some breathing techniques and other calming exercises. “From the tip of my finger to the middle of my palm, I can do this. I can be calm”.
- Speak Up, Wonder Pup – By Angela Murphy: This is another one of my son’s favorite books. Not only does it teach your child how to stand up for themselves in a calm manner, but the main characters name is the same as my son’s – Zane. Confidence is a big part of mastering anxiety. Increasing confidence in your child can help relieve anxieties in some situations. As with anything, there are right ways to take up for yourself and there are wrong ways. This book teaches your child how to stand up for themselves and feel confident and calm in doing so.
- Don’t Feed the WorryBug: A Children’s Book About Worry – By Andi Green: There is also a matching plush doll that you can purchase along with this book. As the author mentions, everyone worries, it happens, but the key is not to let those worries aka the WorryBug grow to the point it ruins your day. There is a whole series of “WorryWoo Monsters” for a variety of emotions that all children feel.
- I Can Do Hard Things – By Gabi Garcia: This book is all about positive affirmations for kids. It helps your child connect with their thoughts and realize that they have some control over their inner thoughts. Ensuring your child feels safe in expressing their feelings is a huge parenting win. This book truly helps children feel safe and confident in their own mind.
Happy (CALM) Reading!