I’ve seen the signs of anxiety off and on in each of my highly sensitive boys – and definitely this year as we went back to school. I decided to find as many stories for children about anxiety as I could find. But I realized that stories weren’t enough – especially for my older son; I felt that a different perspective would be better for him. And my boys are developmentally at different places. I really wanted to find real-life actionable strategies in addition to stories for children about anxiety in order to help kids at every age to identify and then find strategies to conquer and ultimately to normalize anxiety.
Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. It’s a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics–suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren’t. Family financial stress can exacerbate these issues, and studies show that girls are more at risk than boys.
In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2 million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily function. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health.
(Teen Depression & Anxiety: Why The Kids Are Not Alright)
Stories for Children About Anxiety: Ages 5-9
Learning to deal with anxiety is an important step in a child’s healthy emotional growth. Conquering fears, and not avoiding them, is the lesson imparted in this David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety. David could not stop thinking about the basket he had missed at the end of the big game. He was worried that he might do it again. He was worried that his team mates would be angry with him. He was worried that his parents would not be proud of him. He was also worried about an upcoming math test. In fact, David was worried a lot. “Should I quit the team?” he asked himself. “Should I be sick tomorrow and miss the math test?” Luckily, David finally confided in his parents and school nurse, both of whom gave him support and techniques for controlling the “worry beast” within him. Delightfully illustrated, it focuses on a very real and essential topic.
Adults think of childhood as a carefree time, but the truth is that children worry, and worry a lot, especially in our highly pressurized era. Is a Worry Worrying You?? addresses children’s worries with humor and imagination, as hilarious scenarios teach kids the use of perspective and the art of creative problem-solving.
Pebble meditation is a playful and fun activity that parents and educators can do with their children to introduce them to meditation. It is designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that touches on their interconnection with nature. Practicing pebble meditation can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and can help children deal with difficult emotions.
A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles is a concrete activity that parents and educators can introduce to children in school settings, in their local communities or at home, in a way that is meaningful and inviting.
Can Sebastien handle his problems? Of course he can, with the help of a mindful mantra from I Can Handle It (Mindful Mantras)! He could try something silly, or he could try something funny! Chances are whatever his problem may be, he can handle it. Help your child learn to handle with difficult emotions along with Sebastien, and provide a tool for lifelong confidence!
Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate and our kids need help. I Can Handle It (Mindful Mantras) equips children with a necessary skill in order to alleviate everyday anxieties that arise in their lives. And because teachers and parents have such a difficult and important job, this book includes a resource for both.
Do you find yourself worrying about almost everything? Do your worries seem extra large? MJ knows the feeling. She’s a big worry wart. Visit with MJ as she learns how to take off her “The Worry Glasses: Overcoming Anxiety” and take control of her anxiety.
Meet Bubble Gum Brain and Brick Brain: two kids with two VERY different mindsets. Bubble Gum Brain likes to have fun adventures, learn new things, and doesn’t worry about making great mistakes. Brick Brain is convinced that things are just fine the way they are and there’s not much he can do to change them, so why try? When Bubble Gum Brain shows Brick Brain how to peel off his wrapper, Brick Brain begins to realize just how much more fun school…and life… can be! This creative story centered on growth mindset teaches children (and adults) the valuable lesson that becoming is better than being, which can open the door to a whole new world of possibilities!
This book translates anxiety from the jargon of psychology into concrete experiences that children can relate to. Children and their parents will understand the biological and emotional components of anxiety responsible for the upsetting symptoms they experience. Please Explain Anxiety to Me!: Simple Biology and Solutions for Children and Parents, 2nd Edition (Growing with Love) gives accurate physiological information in child friendly language. A colorful dinosaur story explains the link between brain and body functioning, followed by practical therapeutic techniques that children can use to help themselves. Children will:
- learn that they can handle most issues if they are explained at their developmental level
- understand the brain/body connection underlying anxiety
- identify with the examples given
- find comfort and reassurance in knowing that others have the same experience
- be provided with strategies and ideas to help them change their anxiety responses
- be able to enjoy childhood and to give up unnecessary worrying
Did you know you can stretch and grown your own brain? Or that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain learns? Just like how lifting weights helps your muscles get stronger, trying new things without giving up strengthens your brain.
This fun and engaging introduction to the anatomy and functions of the brain will empower each young reader to S-T-R-E-T-C-H and grow their Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: A Growth Mindset Book for Kids to Stretch and Shape Their Brains!
Braden was so excited for his upcoming Championship baseball game! The night before he dreamt of that moment, the oohs and ahhs of the crowd as he scored the game-winning run! But imagine his surprise when he woke up to pouring rain and NO GAME! This, coupled with some events at school that don’t go his way, send Braden on an overreaction tailspin! In My Day Is Ruined!: A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking (Executive Function), we watch Braden recover from his overreacting tendencies and practice the tips of flexible thinking that his teacher and mom have taught him.
What Do You Do With a Problem? — New York Times best seller? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.
Strategies: Children’s Stories About Anxiety: Ages 8-12
As children grow older, and they have learned to identify and name anxiety for what it is, it’s important that they begin to develop some strategies to help them manage these tough feelings throughout their day. That’s precisely what books in this age group are aimed at!
Each of the 75 unique sensory-rich projects in The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day will help kids navigate the most challenging times of day. Whether they struggle to get out the door in the morning or hate to sit for homework, this is the book for you. Kids will be begging to clean their room, their dinner plates and more with exciting activities such as:
· Magnetic Morning Routines to help kids visualize their time and tasks to stay on track
· Race to the Finish Dinnertime Gameboard to help even the pickiest eater find foods they like
· Seated Silly Busters so even the wiggliest kid can get their work done
· Weighted Snake Lap Buddies to calms fidgety legs and minds
· Calming Glitter Slime to squash big worries
· No-Sew Weighted Blanket to ensure a good night’s rest
· … and so much more
The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day puts the power into kids’ hands to understand themselves, discover their superpowers and have an awesome day, every day.
“What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)” is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalized anxiety. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. It includes a note to parents by psychologist and author Dawn Huebner, PhD.
In Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids, Casey, the fourteen year old narrator, knows just what it’s like to be miserable. It started slowly: backing away from birthday parties, avoiding the Fourth of July fireworks, leaving before the end of movies. By second grade, stomach aches and tantrums before school seemed as common as strawberry jelly on toast. Then, just before her fourth grade chorus concert—as her mom was braiding her hair—Casey puked. No concert. No post-concert ice cream with her friends. Only a night filled with tears. Everything changed that next morning. Casey and her mom had had enough! The days of being timid were over.
They got mad and decided then and there to solve the puzzle called worry. Casey expresses a serious commitment to the task, but couples it with feisty, irreverent humor, as she releases a gaggle of characters and their stories. The narrative offers cautious kids (and their sometimes worried, often frustrated parents) a realistic guide for stepping into the new and scary experiments that arrive at each developmental stage, right up through the teen years. Will her frightful encounter with the snarling dog keep her forever from walking to the bus stop, or the ominous storm clouds end her fun at the water park? Will an asparagus-dog with cheese get her into the clubhouse-building project? Can you really talk to your worry like it’s a squirrel? Will Lindsey’s coaching to “loosen up and scream” actually help her handle the scary-but-awesome one-minute and fifty-two second Yankee Cannonball roller coaster?
Today’s children are stressed—they need coping tools that are fun, informative and memorable. Cool Cats, Calm Kids is a practical, humorous guide to relaxation and stress management for children ages 7-12. Cats–with their “nine lives”—have learned “nine secrets for keeping cool and calm,” including #1: Take Catnaps (“Learning to Relax”); #3: Hiss…Puff Up! (“Stand up for yourself!”); and #9: Hang in There (“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…”). In Cool Cats, Calm Kids cats are teachers, sharing their own techniques for relaxation and assertiveness. Includes an “Adult Purr-spective” section for parents, teachers, counselors.
In A Boy and a Bear: The Children's Relaxation Book, a young boy encounters a polar bear while climbing a snow-covered mountain teaches children relaxation techniques to reduce stress, prepare for sleep, and improve self-confidence.
Children love to turn self-doubt into self-belief. Children relate to the dolphin in Affirmation Weaver: Children Increase Self-Esteem, Improve Self-Confidence While Decreasing Stress and Anxiety. as the sea creatures show him how to believe in himself. Watch your child increase self-esteem and build inner strength as the sea creatures weave a web of positive statements. This positive thinking technique can be used to bolster self-esteem, manage stress, accomplish goals, and increase optimism. This encouraging story will bring a smile to your face and give your child a tool that will last a lifetime.
Beyond reviewing the causes of stress, Ready . . . Set . . . R.E.L.A.X.: A Research-Based Program of Relaxation, Learning, and Self-Esteem for Children! equips children ages 5 to 13 years old with tools to overcome anxiety through the use of music, muscle relaxation, and storytelling to promote learning, imagination, and self-esteem. This fully researched program is used across the country by teachers, counselors, parents, and medical professionals as a preventive tool and intervention strategy. The 66 scripts focus on the following themes: R=Releasing Tension; E=Enjoying Life; L=Learning; A=Appreciating Others; X=X-panding Your Knowledge.
What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection aims to help kids who struggle with self-confidence and a fear of making mistakes, being self-critical, and purposely aiming low. Using cognitive-behavioral approaches, this interactive book is a complete resource for educating, motivating, and empowering children to cope with mistakes so they can explore new territory without fear.
Sea Otter Cove: A Relaxation Story Helping Children to Decrease Stress and Anger While Promoting Peaceful Sleep is a story that teaches children how to use diaphragmatic breathing to calm down, lower stress, and control anger. Children love to experience belly breathing with the playful sea otters and sea child. This self-calming breathing technique can help your child to self-soothe, relax, and manage anger.
Children love to experience belly breathing with the playful sea otters and sea child. This effective, self-calming technique also known as diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing can have a positive impact on your child’s health. Focused breathing can lower stress and anxiety levels. It can be used to decrease pain and anger. Delightful characters and this easy breathing exercise encourages your child to slow down, relax, and fall asleep peacefully. If you have enjoyed the classic story for younger children entitled A Boy and A Bear, you will love Sea Otter Cove. This story is ideal for older children or those with a longer attention span.
Sea Otter Cove is also featured on the Indigo Ocean Dreams.
From a dread of spiders to panic attacks, kids have worries and fears, just like adults. What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids is a book kids can turn to when they need advice, reassurance, and ideas. They’ll find out where fears and worries come from, practice Fear Chasers and Worry Erasers, and learn to seek help for hard-to-handle fears they can’t manage on their own.
RJ’s back in the sixth installment of award-winning author Julia Cook’s very successful The Best Me I Can Be Boxed Set: I Accept You As You Are!, I Am Generous!, I Am Responsible!, I Can Cooperate!, I Show Respect!, I Tell the Truth!, I'm a Good Friend!, I'm in Charge of Me! series, Thanks for the Feedback... I Think? (BEST ME I Can Be!). This entertaining story follows RJ as he goes about his day doing the things he enjoys, such as blowing bubbles, playing soccer, and hanging out with friends. But when a couple of friends give him compliments, he just isn’t sure how to respond! As RJ continues through the day, he hears from his teacher and parents that while there are many things he’s doing very well, there are also some things he needs to work on. His first reaction is to argue and make excuses. RJ learns what it means to receive positive and negative feedback, and how to respond appropriately to that feedback.
Stress and behavioral disorders are common in children. Young people are increasingly bombarded by marketing campaigns, school and peer pressure, and the stress of adults around them. Mindfulness and meditation can help children recognize and cope with such pressures, gently releasing bad feelings and giving them simple tools to deal with tensions and stresses. In this practical and inspiring book, Lorraine Murray shows parents, teachers, and youth workers how to lead fun and peaceful meditation sessions with children.
Calm Kids: Help Children Relax with Mindful Activities explains a variety of approaches, from meditations around daily activities for busy families, to ideas for group “quietness” sessions in school. She provides fun, tactile rhymes for toddlers to help calm them before bedtime, and suggests ways to help teenagers reduce anxiety. She goes on to explain how these methods can help children with ADHD and those on the autistic spectrum, offering a range of case studies.
Normalization: YA Stories With Anxious Characters: Ages 13+
One of the innate struggles with anxiety is the feeling that one is alone. It can be really helpful for tweens and teens to read stories about other kids their age struggling with similar issues.
*PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THE FOLLOWING STORIES MAY CONTAIN TRIGGERS AND DEFINITELY DEAL WITH MATURE SUBJECT MATTER. YOU MAY CONSIDER READING THESE BOOKS WITH YOUR CHILDREN OR SUGGESTING THEM AT SCHOOL.
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops in Finding Audrey and it helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
Theodore Finch, of All the Bright Places, is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .
In It's Kind of a Funny Story, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.
At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn’t brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
In The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver Quartet), Ruby Oliver begins seeing a therapist after suffering from panic attacks. She has tons of guy problems, friend problems, and parent problems. This book is such an interesting look into social and societal stressors that cause young girls to suffer.
I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety,” “Trauma of the Week” — no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.
The Nature of Jade is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can’t quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she’s trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That’s why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that’s where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.
His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian’s cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she’s in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.
“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Sixteen-year-old Solomon in Highly Illogical Behavior is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there? Solomon is the answer.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, sitting through Star Trek marathons with him and introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their walls fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.
17-year-old Arman Dukoff can’t remember life without anxiety and chronic illness when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says.
Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman’s not sure, but more than anyone he’s ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.
The retreat compound in The Smaller Evil is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he’s failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.
And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.
As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he’s always trusted the least: himself.
Books To Help Teens With Anxiety
‘My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic‘ outlines a simple and proven plan to help you understand and deal with your anxiety and panic. It is full of simple-to-use tools and strategies that easily fit into any teen’s busy routine.
Until you have lived it – you will never understand anxiety’s insidious moves. Anxiety Sucks! A Teen Survival Guide is short and to the point. You are welcome. Have them read it. Practice it. Repeat. Kids don’t want to read long, boring books on anxiety. In my practice parents will often ask for book suggestions. I provide them. They buy them. The kids never read them. Trust me, I know. I ask the kids. I finally decided to write my own book that is short, to the point and offers a death blow to the anxiety dictator living in their head. A book I know kids will be able to get through in one or two sittings. A book that will teach kids how their little dictator rules their mind and tricks them into making their anxiety grow. And finally, a book that will help them develop mad skills to counterattack their dictator and show him who is boss. Every kid being bullied by anxiety should be armed with the skills this book provides. Every parent raising an anxious kid should read this and gain insight into what their kids are going through each day.
Teens today are more stressed than ever. Whether they face problems with school, friends, parents or all of the above, teens need help. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, the most widely used and popular anxiety therapy among clinicians, 101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety: Simple Tips, Techniques and Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Panic Attacksoffers dozens of beneficial quizzes, activities, tips and illustrations to help teens:
• Identify the most common anxiety triggers
• Learn essential skills to prevent anxiety attacks
• Redirect risky behavior, including substance abuse and self-harm
• Understand the options of therapy and medication
• Overcome the spike-and-relapse cycle
From mindfulness meditation and the repetition of positive mantras to diaphragmatic breathing and nature walks, the activities in this book both calm the body and keep thoughts from spiraling.
If you’re a teen, you’re probably experiencing stress. And is it any wonder? You’re juggling schoolwork, friendships, and countless other activities. You get endless messages every day—texts from your friends, advice from your family and teachers, images from television, social media, and advertising about who you could and should be. Sometimes you just need a place to unwind and be yourself!
A Still Quiet Place for Teens: A Mindfulness Workbook to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions (Instant Help Book for Teens) can be that place. It is a place of peace and calm within. In this workbook, mindfulness expert Amy Saltzman offers a comprehensive program to help you manage daily stressors and challenges in your life, whether at home, in school, or with friends. Using proven-effective mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques, this book will help you be fully present in the moment, cultivate kindness and curiosity toward yourself and others, and find constructive ways of dealing with the pressures of being a teen. (Amy Saltzman also offers A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions which is fabulous for tweens!)
Worrywarts are characterized by chronic anxiety, enslavement to out-of-control thoughts, and haranguing themselves to a degree that triggers FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Smart worriers take control of their worry by creating a time and place to do the work of worry, objectively studying their behavior to better understand how to worry effectively, and practicing flexible thinking rather than rut thinking. Smart worriers look for solutions, including partial solutions, and accept what can’t be changed, challenge their worries, practice making under-reactive statements that defuse anxiety rather than fuel it. The Worrywart's Companion: Twenty-One Ways to Soothe Yourself and Worry Smart offers a smorgasbord of tools to help readers become smart worriers, including deep breathing and muscles relaxing exercises, practicing deliberate belly laughing, saying a prayer, doing a good deed, taking a walk, rocking oneself, counting details to keep one’s mind off of the worry, and more. When smart worriers finish the work of worry, they purposefully soothe themselves so that they can move on to other activities. The Worrywart’s Companion helps disquieted readers integrate soothing activities into their daily lives to keep worry-provoking anxiety in check.
If you struggle with negative thoughts and emotions, you should know that your pain is real. No one should try to diminish it. Sometimes stuff really does suck and we have to acknowledge it. Worry, sadness, loneliness, anger, and shame are big and important, but they can also get in the way of what really matters. What if, instead of fighting your pain, you realized what really matters to you—and put those things first in life? If you did that, maybe your pain wouldn’t feel so big anymore. Isn’t it worth a try?
Stuff That Sucks: A Teen's Guide to Accepting What You Can't Change and Committing to What You Can (The Instant Help Solutions Series)offers a compassionate and validating guide to accepting emotions, rather than struggling against them. With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to prioritize your thoughts, feelings, and values. You’ll figure out what you care about the most, and then start caring some more! The skills you’ll learn are based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Yes, there are a few written exercises, but this isn’t a workbook. It’s a journey into the stuff that sucks, what makes that sucky stuff suck even more, and how just a few moments each day with the stuff that matters will ultimately transform the stuff that sucks into stuff that is just stuff. Make sense?
Promoting Mindfulness For Kids, Tweens, Teens & Families
The first time I heard this quote – it seemed so simple and so perfectly genius! So one of the best ways to keep anxiety at bay or to minimize it is to engage in a mindfulness practice which keeps the past and the future at bay. These are terrific ideas for focusing on mindfulness both individually and as a family.
Be Mindful Card Deck for Teensoffer you 50 ways to be present to your life as it is actually taking place. These cards help you be in the here and now with less thinking about the past or worrying about the future. You can use these daily mindfulness strategies when you re feeling anxious, moody, angry, or just need to relax.
Perfect to manage your everyday stressors: School demands, worry, sadness, problems with relationships and difficulties paying attention and focusing.
Teaching and incorporating mindfulness into your family or classroom is easy with the Growing Mindful card deck featuring 50 unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness & curiosity. Perfect for all ages!
The Self-Compassion Deck: 50 Mindfulness-Based Practicesoffers 50 mindfulness-based practices for use at home, in the classroom, or therapy office. Commit to these easy, yet meaningful exercises in kindheartedness and gain a deeper appreciation for yourself and your life.
The practice of self-compassion has been proven to:
– Improve well-being
– Regulate emotions
– Reduce depression and anxiety
Indigo Ocean Dreams is the 2nd CD/audio book in this children’s series. Like Indigo Dreams, this 60 minute CD/audio book is designed to entertain your child while introducing them to relaxation and meditation techniques. Indigo Ocean Dreams offers longer stories and variations on the same techniques found on Indigo Dreams. Ideal for older children and as step two for those already familiar with Indigo Dreams.
Four new stories explore breathing, visualizations, muscular relaxation and affirmations. Children follow their sea friends along as they learn to manage their own anger, stress and anxiety.
Lori Lite also has Indigo Dreams: Kids Relaxation Music Decreasing Stress, Anxiety and Anger, Improve Sleep, Indigo Teen Dreams, Indigo Teen Dreams: 2 CD Set Designed to Decrease Stress, Anger, Anxiety while Increasing Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness (Indigo Dreams), Indigo Dreams: Teen Relaxation Music; Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation-Guided Meditation/Relaxation Techniques decrease anxiety, stress, anger, Indigo Dreams: Rainforest Relaxation Decrease Worry, Fear, Anxiety, Improve Sleep, Well Being and Creativity, and Indigo Dreams: Garden of Wellness.
Be More Present.
The Mindful Doodle Book: 75 Creative Exercises to Help You Live in the Moment combines the benefits of mindfulness and the intuitive expression of doodling to help you relax, find focus, and creatively express emotions through spontaneous artmaking.
Mindful doodling is fun, calming and deeply moving. Grab a pen or pencil and explore the 75 doodle exercises that draw on emotions, thoughts, hopes and sensory awareness.
The Mindful Doodle Book is a therapeutic tool that mental health clinicians can use directly with their clients, but anyone can find this doodle book meaningful and useful to navigate a hectic world.
I am a firm believer that exploring your creativity at any age is the gateway to awareness (mindfulness) and authenticity in who you are. Here are 50 Creative Things to Do When You Aren’t Creative.
Playing games is a great way for kids to develop their focusing and attention skills and to become more mindful. Mindful Games Activity Cards: 55 Fun Ways to Share Mindfulness with Kids and Teens help parents, caregivers, and teachers cultivate these qualities at home or in a school setting. The games develop what Susan Kaiser Greenland calls the “new A, B, C’s” for learning and for a happy and successful life: Attention, Balance, and Compassion. In a playful way, the games introduce kids to breathing practices and techniques for developing focus, concentration, and sensory awareness, and identifying and self-regulating emotions, among other skills. They include “anchor” games that develop concentration; visualization games that encourage kindness and focus; analytical games that cultivate clear thinking; and awareness games that develop all of these qualities and give greater insight into ourselves, others, and relationships. The deck contains 55 5X7 illustrated cards, each devoted to one game or activity, and comes in a sturdy, beautifully designed box.
While this book was written for children who have experienced serious trauma and are withdrawn and closed off, it is really effective with children aged 5-17 who have acute depression, anxiety or behavioral difficulties. 101 Mindful Arts-Based Activities to Get Children and Adolescents Talking offers a compendium of therapeutic activities that will help children who have endured painful abuse to open up, so that they can learn to express their feelings and therapy can be directed towards their individual needs.
From useful techniques for bridging memory gaps to using masks for self-expression, the innovative activities use mindfulness, art and play to help children feel relaxed and responsive. The activities require very little preparation, and use only everyday items that are easy to access and can be used time and time again. Case studies throughout offer a helpful demonstration of how the activities work in practice.
Even though these Mindful Games: Sharing Mindfulness and Meditation with Children, Teens, and Familiesare written for kids, they can be just as fun and transformative for adults. Greenland encourages parents and caregivers to develop their own attention, balance, and compassion and explore the universal concepts that she presents. She points out that as caregivers, our own mindfulness has a powerful effect on everyone in our lives, especially our children. They notice when we’re calmer, more composed, and more joyful, and learn by our example.
Mindfulness—the quality of attention that combines full awareness with acceptance of each moment, just as it is—is gaining broad acceptance among mental health professionals as an adjunct to treatment. This little book is a very appealing introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) contains eleven practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Included with purchase is an audio CD with guided meditations, voiced by Myla Kabat-Zinn, who along with her husband, Jon Kabat-Zinn, popularized mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as a therapeutic approach.
Faster than a speeding spitball, more powerful than a playground bully, able to breeze through homework and finish nightly chores in a single bound, it’s Master of Mindfulness—here to conquer stress, worry, and any trouble that comes your way!
Do you ever feel angry, disappointed, or stressed out about family problems, school, bullies, or trouble with friends? If so, mindfulness can help. Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stressis a unique and empowering book written for kids by kids, with cool illustrations and tips that show you how to be confident, get focused, stay calm, and tap into your own inner strength so that you can be your own superhero—no matter what life throws your way!
Childhood is supposed to be a carefree time, but the truth is that all kids have stress—especially when dealing with difficulties at school, at home, or with friends. Sometimes things happen in life that are hard, and you can’t stop thinking about them or you react too fast. You might be mad, sad, irritated, embarrassed, anxious, jealous, or even disappointed with yourself when things don’t go the way you would’ve hoped. And when you’re really upset, it’s hard to make good decisions—you may end up doing something that you regret later or that gets you into trouble. You could probably use some help—and fast!—but where can you turn? This book will give you the skills you need to bring up your own superpowers by showing you how mindfulness, like stopping to take a few deep, mindful breaths, can help you calm down and deal with things differently.
Other Strategies to Help Kids & Moms With Anxiety
Please know that anxiety is a biological process that does necessitate medicines for some people. Always make sure that you consult with your physician or other medical professional before utilizing any remedy which you have not fully researched or that you do not fully feel comfortable with. I am not a physician – I am just a mom with my own anxieties and as such, I’m not qualified to render medical advice. But these are things that have either worked for me personally (Yes, I suffer from anxiety.), have been recommended to me by either a nutritionist or a physician, or they come from a source that I trust (friends who are well versed in these things and use these supplements themselves.).
There are several natural methods for minimizing or eliminating anxiety including:
A diet high in nutrient density and low on the Glycemic Index seems to work the best – helping to really stabilize blood sugar. Eliminating sugar may not be as difficult as you think. If this sounds like it’s going to be a huge lifestyle shift and you want some help – I really, really recommend some meal planning help. This one is my favorite because you can customize it for each member of your family, it provides you all the recipes, the shopping list – really everything you could need.
By far, my FAVORITE book on this topic is Cure Your Child with Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments, by Kelly Dorfman. Kelly examines various behavioral challenges and becomes a nutrition “detective” to determine whether their is something in the current diet that needs to be removed, or whether there is something missing from the current diet that needs to be added. Kelly also does personal consultations and I have worked with her for years. She is truly amazing and passionate about what she does.
We started using some of these supplements as a result of our consultations with Kelly Dorfman. Among others, she recommended Pure Formulas. So this is where we obtain all of our supplements. All or many are dye free, gluten free, vegan, allergen free or any other alternative that you may want.
Some of the most common common supplements recommended for anxiety and worries are: a fish oil high in EPA (as high as you can find), ashwaganda, kava root, 5-HTP, GABA, Magnesium, and a good vitamin B Complex.
Scientific research backs up the fact that various essential oils can promote feelings of calm and security. We’ve used our favorite essential oils in our home for several years now and the difference is palpable.
Lifestyle (exercise, meditation / mindfulness, rest, creativity, music, and support)
See some of my favorite book and game recommendations above for meditation and mindfulness. There are also some great apps that help kids of all ages through guided meditations.
- Common Sense Media’s Meditation Apps for Kids
- Simple Practice’s 10 Anxiety, Relaxation & Mindfulness Apps for Kids
- Goop’s Calming Apps for Kids
- Anxiety.Org’s Best Gift Apps for Parents to Give Anxious Children
- Coping Skills for Kids’ 16 Apps to Help Kids with Anxiety
- Zones of Regulation is a Terrific App
- I’ve also recently found Mighteor. I have not tried it yet, but I have discussed the program with its representatives. The inventors are associated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard:
At Boston Children’s Hospital, our team watched kids struggle with stress and emotional control every day. In 2008 we assembled a team of experts in psychiatry, neurology, and child development to create a new, scientifically validated tool designed specifically for kids and their families.
I love so many of the suggestions above. My personal favorite app is Headspace. It has a section for kids and it’s divided into appropriate age ranges. And I love it for me too!
Finally, being read to is soothing. I can’t always read to the boys, but I can let them listen to a favorite book on Audible!
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And almost last, but definitely not least, I’ll add in musical suggestions. I’ve seen first hand the power of music to impact mood at a very primal level when my mother went into the inevitable decline of Alzheimer’s. She was non-verbarl, but she could recall, hum, and tap her toes to all of her favorite pieces of music. Music is deeply embedded into the most reptilian parts of our brains.
There are many YouTube channels with encouraging and/or relaxing music for children. One of my favorites is from Nancy Kopman – and it’s lovely in it’s simplicity and because it’s memorable for kids. I just love “Breathe In, Breathe Out.”
I can go a step further and recommend several courses that address worries and anxiety. My friend Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures has created an amazing course for parents of worried children – with plenty of one on one and group support offered throughout. It’s called The Worries Workshop – and I strongly recommend that you check it out. Because she does offer so much support, it isn’t always open for registration. But click on the The Worries Workshop link and you can get more information each time the course opens. This course focuses on your child’s worries or anxiety and offers you training and information galore to help them.
If, instead, your problem is your own anxiety (*raising my hand here*) and that anxiety tends to show itself as anger – my friend Amanda at Messy Motherhood (f/k/a Dirt & Boogers) is a trained therapist and has made the lives of so many families so much happier and calmer. She has developed two AMAZING courses called “Mama’s Anger Management” and “Mamas’s Best Self.” Again – there is a ton of one on one support available and group support in each of these courses as well. If you want to check Amanda out, she offers several free products: You can get a free copy of one chapter from her book How to Be A Happy Mom or you can get her amazing 50 Ways to Calm Down in the Stress printout completely free.