Ever have a child who complains about headaches or stomach aches on school days, feels sick on test days and may even cry or withdraw when faced with new situations or challenges? Or have a preschooler with tantrums and has mood swings? It might be anxiety.
Unfortunately, it is not common for kids to tell their parents, teachers or doctors that they are worried. Younger children often do not know what they are feeling. They just feel and then show us with their bodies.
I love engaging children as early as possible so they understand what those feelings are and helping support families so they can teach their child what to do. For preschoolers, labeling feelings is an easy way to do start building one’s emotional literacy. Also, helping children to realize that everyone feels this way from time to time is key. Parents can help teach children other acceptable ways of handling these negative, strong emotions without feeling guilty about experiencing them. Because it happens. Everyone feels worried from time to time. We just have to manage it.
A great book to jump-start the conversation is Dealing with the Feeling…Worried. I recently stumbled upon the Dealing with Feelings series by Isabel Thomas. Other titles include: Angry, Jealous, Sad and Shy, as well as Caring, Happy, Proud.
The format is question and answer, they are quick and easy to read. The amount of information is “just right” and in digestible chunks. Perfect for school age children to read with their parent. Examples of topics include: understanding what the feeling is, what it feels like and explanation that feelings are normal. More pages are dedicated to helping children learn how to and why to share their feelings to adults who can help them.
My philosophy is to always reach for a book to start a healthy conversation with your child. It helps to start talking about the characters and asking gentle questions about whether the child has felt similarly. Books can be referred to as needed to review content.
Helping children who are anxious or worried is important. Helping children learn effective coping skills and understanding it is ok to talk about these issues and ask for help is KEY.
Suggested Age: 5 to 7 years of age