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Anxiety in kids seems to be a real problem today; recent research from The BookTrust, the UK’s biggest kids reading charity, suggests that as many as 60% of kids aged 8-11 feel stressed, sad or worried at least once a month.
Our fast-paced world; full of screens, and social media is taking its toll, and it is increasingly important to help our kids to find coping mechanisms and ways to relax. Alongside this, nearly 40% of children this age find it hard to talk about their feelings. Kids anxiety comes in many shapes and forms; my own experience as a parent has shown me that even the confident, sporty child, can be worried about friendships, food, and even what people think about them. It is so important to give your kids the time and the space to help them share their fears with you.
Reading is an important way to achieve this, so read on both for help on kids’ anxiety and…
Keep reading for a chance to win a fabulous bundle of books to encourage reading from The BookTrust.
How to use reading to help anxiety in kids
As parents, anxiety in kids can be difficult to tackle, so here are some ideas for helping to talk to our kids about tough subjects. Let’s get them to open up and use reading as an important aid to sharing their emotions.
1. Add reading time to your routines
Setting aside a specific time to read with your children, as part of your daily routine, can really help them to feel safe and secure. This can offer them a suitable time for them to raise any concerns that they may have with you.
Giveing your kids this space to chat and read with you as part of your positive bedtime routine, should also give you the added benefit that your kids won’t suddenly decide to tell you EVERYTHING five minutes before they are due to go to sleep *which is usually what happens in our house* 😂.
2. Create a reading nook for you and your kids
When you set aside the time to read, it’s important to also think about the SPACE you are reading in as well. Make it comfortable, welcoming and easily accessible to your kids, any time of day. You might want to read as part of the routine with them, but if you provide a space with a selection of books, that’s cosy and cute, your kids are much more likely to read on their own. Providing a good reading nook within your kids bedrooms can do wonders for your kids reading habits, as well as helping to ease their worries. It provides a safe place for them to retreat; to think and chill.
Our reading space quickly became the place I would always find my kids when the house suddenly went eerily quiet…. No bad thing of course, as usually with kids, when it goes quiet, you know you could very well be in serious trouble. 😆
3. Use the stories to help them share
There are some AMAZING books out there that tackle anxiety in kids. Books about specific issues; such as school anxiety, or general ones which discuss worrying and how to help manage anxious thoughts.
One of our favourite books is Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook.
This is a fabulously illustrated picture book, which takes a wonderfully light-hearted look at worries and anxiety in kids. It is adept at using humour to help kids to understand what it happening to them, and develop ways to cope with those worrying thoughts in their head. It also offers help for parents and teachers too in reducing the severity of childhood anxiety.
Having books like this one on your shelf makes it easier for kids to understand their intrusive and anxious thoughts, and gives you the perfect opportunity to share and chat to your kids about them. Sometimes dealing with anxiety is as simple as creating a good space and time for your kids to talk.
4. Make reading their friend; highlighting the importance of friendships in sharing
Using all of the above strategies, should help your children to realise that reading can become their “friend” when they are tackling their anxieties. It is safe. It makes them feel secure. It helps them chill. And it enables them to discuss things with you. Friendship is an important tool in the battle against childhood anxiety. Helping kids to understand the importance of reading as their friend, and the need for them to be a friend and develop good friendships in their lives will also help ease their anxieties.
In addition, friendship worries can even become of source of anxiety for our kids. Anything that raises the topic, and helps them share thoughts, increasing their understanding of how to be a good friend, and to develop healthy friendships is an excellent way of helping the anxious.
We have developed some friendship bookmarks to use while you are reading with your kids – just to keep your place within the book to help highlight the importance of being a good friend, and having strong friendships.
Why not use them to discuss friendship worries, and to emphasise how important reading is in sharing their feelings with you and others? BookTrust has an excellent reading list for kids about friendship, which is a great place to start. In particular, the book Ruby’s Worry is an excellent way to show that “a problem shared is a problem halved.”
5. Set up a worry tree
Sharing worries after, and during reading is a wonderful idea, but sometimes kids what to DO something with those worries. Once you have sat down with them and chatted to them about their anxieties – why not “get rid of those worries” by writing them down and placing them in a printable worry tree?
Once your children have chatted about their anxieties through the books you read with them, and the special reading time you have added to their routine, pop those worries on an apple, and place them into the tree. This way kids have “dealt with” their worries. Both the act of sharing, and writing them down, can really, really help your kids to let those worries go.
Try it and see! 😀
If the kids like the worry tree, and it helps them – we do have some other wonderful ideas and activities for helping kids with their worries. How about trying mindfulness as a parent, or even a bit of mindful coloring for yourself and your kids together? This is another wonderful way for you to bond with your children while doing an activity you both enjoy.
Join in the #TimeToRead Twitter party to win book tokens
We really hope you like these ideas – do come and join us for the Twitter Party that The BookTrust are hosting on September 19th, 2019 at 8-9pm with the #TimeToRead hashtag. Emma Kenny, the ITV This Morning Psychologist will be there to answer questions, and there are also book tokens to be won.
Another chance to win an amazing book bundle from The BookTrust
Because we love you all, and really want to encourage you to read, we are also giving away an amazing bundle from The BookTrust with some fantastic books. Plus there are goodies to help encourage kids to read. We’d LOVE you to take part. All you need to go, as always, is fill out the Gleam widget below to be in with a chance of winning. The closing date for this competition is 14th October at 11.59pm. Get a wiggle on! The usual terms and conditions for the giveaways on our site apply.Win a kids book bundle from The BookTrust in celebration of #TimeToRead
This book bundle includes the following:
- The Cave, by Rob Hodgson,
- There’s a Tiger in the Garden, by Lizzy Stewart,
- Who is Happy? by Hannah Tolson, and
- You Mind is like the Sky, by Bronwyn Ballard.
As always, it is a pleasure having you with us on the site. Do check out the other articles we have on reading and kids anxiety too:
- Download our reading certificates for your kids, so encourage them to read EVEN MORE on their own, as well as with you,
- We also have bronze, silver and gold reading certificates for you to print out too,
- To help motivate kids to reading, we have some free reading worksheets, and finally
- Why not pop some posters encouraging reading into your reading corner? Every little helps!
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