The world can be a scary place for the best of us. And living in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong sometimes makes it even harder for our growing and maturing kids. Friends leaving the city, moving to a new school, and losing a pet or a loved one are just some of the significant stressors that may affect children. Not to mention the growing pressures of schoolwork, fitting in with your peers, the growing influence of social media, and all the rest. We’ve researched some of the top books that will help your kids cope with anxiety and stress a little better. This list has been curated specifically to feature authors who have a mental health background or degree, as well as according to reader reviews.
A lot of frustration in toddlers and younger children (aged below 5) often stems from the fact that they have difficulty correctly identifying their emotions and communicating their needs. For a little extra support, turn to the bestselling The Colour Monster: A Story About Emotions, where a little girl kindly helps an adorable monster figure out what each feeling means. Also check out The Colour Monster Goes To School - all about tackling school nerves. Another bestseller about socio-emotional learning for this age group is The Boy With Big Big Feelings. Elizabeth Cole's series, I Am Stronger Than Anxiety and I Am Stronger Than Anger are also of noteworthy mention here. Another series worth mentioning is the Big Bright Feeling series, and specifically Meesha Makes Friends and Tilda Tries Again which aim to start the conversation about positive self-worth.
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Now that the kids are going to the "big" school, a whole new set of worries can present itself. Specifically new school jitters and separation anxiety - and we've got great recommendations to tackle those anxieties. With over a million copies sold, The Invisible String perfectly illustrates the unbreakable bond between child and caregiver and will surely assuage the deepest of fears. First Day Jitters is another classic beloved by parents and teachers alike and even comes with a Certificate Of Courage. The Whatifs, written by an elementary school teacher, tells the tale of Cora, a little girl who is constantly worried about everything and is a beautifully illustrated picture book. And for the ultimate book to battle bedtime fears, Benny Goes To Bed By Himself has been written by Dr. Jonathan Kushnir who is a clinical psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) expert. A great book written specifically for girls aged 6-11 in mind is Braver, Stronger, Smarter: A Girl’s Guide to Overcoming Worry & Anxiety and is written by Sissy Goff, a counsellor with extensive experience working with girls and their families. For kids who are going through selective mutism, psychologists Dr Melissa Giglio and Daisy Geddes have addressed this in their debut book Bravery Grows.
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For books that illustrate and display the practical side of coping with stress and anxiety, this list is great - from picture books to specific CBT techniques. For the younger ones (aged around 5-9), When Harley Has Anxiety is a fun CBT skills activity book (with more than 45 different activities that will help conquer worries) that you can complete with your child and written by Regine Galanti who is a clinical psychologist and has a PhD in anxiety and OCD in kids and teens. Dawn Huebner is also another author whose name is worth remembering - she is a PhD, psychologist, parent coach, and the author of 14 books including the bestselling What To Do When You Worry Too Much as well as What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck (which helps with OCD) and What To Do When Your Temper Flares (deals with anger). These books are primarily geared toward children aged 6-10. By the same author, Outsmarting Worry (geared towards tweens and teens) is also a great book that teaches practical coping skills. Looking After Your Mental Health teaches coping skills in the face of specific situations including divorce, eating disorders and depression.
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Anxiety Relief For Teens comes highly recommended and is also written by Dr Regine Galanti; it addresses specifically teen worries like getting good grades, keeping up with social media and maintaining relationships and friendships. Sissi Goff, with her book Brave: A Teen Girl's Guide to Beating Worry and Anxiety specifically talks about teen girls worries and will support your daughter in dealing with those negative thoughts. As the name suggests, a very practical book would be The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry and has been recently revised for our times. More of a self-help book, My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic comes highly recommended as well by parents.
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