Children who understand emotions are more likely to act kindly toward others. They're also better able to express themselves, helping others understand their own needs. Fear and worry are particularly tricky emotions. We all, young and old, have a tendency to mask fear with anger or worry with aggression. Understanding these difficult feelings and learning to cope with them is a lifelong undertaking.
Begin today with these five wonderful picture books.
Parents, you can prepare yourself for a variety of big conversations with the book Dealing with Disappointment: Helping Children Cope when Things Don't Go Their Way by Elizabeth Crary. Though the title focuses on disappointment, this book is full of practical tips to help a worrying child put that fear and uncertainty to rest.
Also, for older children looking for a great chapter book on this issue, check out the series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood. These creative stories are full of mystery and endless lessons in courage and bravery.
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner (Magination Pr, 2005) Ages 6 and up.
This is really a 'coping with worry' handbook, overflowing with examples and activities to get kids thinking about how to handle their worrying. I found this useful for my oldest daughter, who is especially prone to worry.
The Scariest Thing of All by Debi Gliori (Walker Childrens, 2012) Ages 3 and up.
This book is wonderful for very young readers. Pip the rabbit is afraid of lots of things—until he gets lost in the woods, right in front of the Scariest Thing of All! But when Pip confronts his fears, he finds courage in the most unlikely of places: inside himself.
A monster that eats darkness stew? This is a fun, rather silly book with an endlessly big-hearted conclusion. You can start a big-hearted conversation about that "empty feeling" the monster was so concerned about, and explore many other big ideas about fear, darkness, friendship, and hope after reading this wonderful story.
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett. Boston (Houghton Mifflin, 1981) Ages 4 and up.
Jan Brett beautifully illustrates the story of Fritz, a pony excluded from the group of beautiful horses within the walled city. Fritz becomes a hero when he rescues the children of the city. The adventures of Fritz provide many opportunities to talk about the loneliness of exclusion, and the value of personal fortitude over superficial beauty.
Grandmother Stories: Wise Women Tales from Many Cultures by Burleigh Muten ("The Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid") (Barefoot books, 2006). Ages 4 and up.
This treasury is wonderful. I've mentioned it in detail before (click here for the post). This collection of stories has been a favorite in our house for years. The story "The Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid" has captured Little Miss 5's imagination. Whenever she talks about something frightening, she parrots the woman in this story. "But I am not afraid," she declares, squaring her shoulders and jutting out her chin. In the story, the woman teaches us that brains and patience are all the tools we need to solve any problem and overcome any frightening situation.