Recommended Books for the Anxious Child

In an earlier post about help for the anxious child, anxious teen, and anxious parent, I discussed building your toolkit and building your child’s toolkit of strategies to help cope with anxiety. I focused on learning breathing techniques and then teaching them to your child or adolescent in order to provide you, your child, and/or your teen with the foundation and starting point for your toolkit.

In my clinical practice with young children, school-aged children, and teenagers, I often recommend to my clients and/or their parents different books that can support and reinforce the work we do together. These books about anxiety are helpful resources that can enhance learning and the therapeutic process. I thought I would share five recommendations for young children and school-aged children that you may want to check out for yourself. In another post, I will share my recommendations for anxious teenagers and parents.

For the Young Anxious Child (approximately age 4 to age 8):

1. In my recent collaboration on A Spot of Blue with author Elaheh Bos, your child meets Owl, a beautiful and happy bird who becomes increasingly anxious and worried when he finds a blue spot on his body and cannot seem to shake it off. As the worries grow, so does the blue spot until poor Owl becomes all blue. Owl then shows your child several ideas on how to get rid of those pesky worries that are getting in the way of his fun night. At the end of the book, your child is reminded of these coping strategies (including deep breathing) and he or she is taught other ways to deal with anxiety.

A spot of blue

2. For young children with anxiety, behavior control problems and/or autism spectrum disorders, the book When My Worries Get Too Big! is a helpful resource that teaches a simple relaxation strategy using a 5-point stress scale. Your child will learn to identify when they are a “1” or “2” on this scale, which is feeling calm and relaxed. Your child also learns what happens inside their minds and bodies when worries become bigger (a “4” on the scale) and too much (a “5” on the scale) and then how to return to a “1” on the scale. Your child can create their own scale at the end of this book.

When My Worries Get Too Big!

For the Anxious School-Aged Child (approximately ages 8 to 12):

3. Based on cognitive-behavioral principles, What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dr. Dawn Huebner, psychologist, is an excellent book that teaches you and your child how to contain worries and limit the hold they have over you, externalize the worries so you can take back control, and distract yourself with activities because you are less likely to worry while you are having fun. I have recommended this book many times to children and parents and have received very positive feedback!

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)

4. Another one of my favorite recommended books by the same author, Dr. Dawn Huebner, specific for children who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is entitled What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kids Guide to Overcoming OCD. This book explains what is OCD and teaches cognitive-behavioral techniques in a child-friendly way that can easily be put into practice. You and your child learn about OCD’s tricks (i.e., what Dr. Huebner calls “Sound the Alarm”, “The Maybe Game”, and “The Disappearing Just-Right Feeling”) and importantly, how to conquer them.

What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)

5. I also really like the book by psychologist Dr. James J. Crist, called What To Do When You’re Scared & Worried: A Guide for Kids. In this book, children learn about different types of fears and worries, where they come from, and various coping strategies Dr. Crist cleverly refers to as “fear chasers” and “worry erasers.” The second part of the book talks about more severe anxiety problems including phobias, Separation Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, OCD, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Throughout the book, he provides examples of various children’s experiences of anxiety.

What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

Parents may find that reading these books with their children will give the whole family some additional anxiety coping tools. You may also want to check out my web resources page for parents for more helpful strategies and my Recommended Books for Parents page.

Have you discovered other resources for anxious children that you like? Please consider sharing them.

I always welcome your feedback and comments.

Best wishes,
Dr. Stephanie