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Books that help kids overcome fears

When your child is afraid, it’s hard not to feel powerless. Your instinct is to protect — and if you can’t help your child feel safe, you can feel lost yourself. There are some fantastic books for parents and kids to help children overcome their fears.

If your child has a specific fear — the dark, starting a new school, dogs or anything else — you can probably find a few books on the topic by visiting Google or Amazon. If you want general information and reassurance for a generally nervous and anxious kid, here are some suggestions.

For young kids

When My Worries Get Too Big!
For younger children, When My Worries Get Too Big! A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live with Anxiety by Kari Dunn Buron is an excellent choice. Kids as young as 4 years old can relate to the social stories and will have a way to let you know what’s going on in their heads even if their verbal skills aren’t strong enough to describe their feelings. This book was originally written for kids with developmental disorders such as autism, but it’s also great for typical kids with anxiety issues.

For older kids

What to Do When You're Scared and Worried

What to Do When You’re Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids
by James J. Crist. Just as the title suggests, this book is written expressly for kids and is designed to help older children work through their own feelings without belittling them. In the first section, kids work on developing 10 coping mechanisms for handling ordinary anxiety. The second part focuses on more serious issues such as OCD and phobias, in a way that empowers kids to involve trusted adults and get the help they need.

For teens

The Anxiety Workbook for Teens
If you are dealing with a teen who has anxiety issues, a great resource is The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry by Lisa M. Schab, LCSW. By explaining anxiety in simple terms and making teens feel that they can help themselves, Schab is able to empower teens to deal with their daily anxieties — and know when to ask for more help if needed. This workbook receives positive feedback from teens and parents alike.

For parents

As parents, we need to find as many resources as possible to help our kids. Here are just a couple of books that may help you help your fearful, anxious child.

Helping Your Anxious Child

If you are living with an anxious child, you can also do some reading. Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-By-Step Guide for Parents by Ronald Rapee, Ph.D. is an excellent starting point for parents. It offers step-by-step instructions and detailed explanations. You’ll find the answers to many questions in this book, as well as practical information and tools you can put to immediate use.

Listening to Fear

Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News by Steven Marans is geared more toward parents of younger children who may not be able to express their fears in words. If your child’s behavior has suddenly regressed — bedwetting, separation anxiety, or similar changes — this book can offer insight and suggestions for helping your child regain his former confidence.

Your child’s fears are real, and so is your desire to help. These books are a great starting place, but be sure to discuss concerns with your pediatrician and other professionals.

More on how to help your child with fear

Helping your teen deal with life fears
What to do when your child’s fear becomes debilitating
When your child is scared of animals

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