Editor, momstown Guelph
So, how can we help our children? We, as parents, see our children suffering with social and emotional disorders more and more, and often are not aware of the severity of these debilitating conditions, and therefore feel less than competent to help them overcome them.
Childhood anxiety and related disorders (like depression) are very real emotional disorders in our society today and are increasingly on the rise.
Some studies have found that 41% of preschoolers with an anxiety disorder are still impaired by the condition 4 years later. (Kluger, 2011) So while many kids can outgrow or overcome an anxiety disorder, in other cases it will not go away on its own.
The month of April acknowledges the impact that stress has on young people (Stress Awareness Month). April also honours children's book authors by recognizing them on International Children's Book Day.
I am a published author only due to my perseverance in helping our children and our family to cope with the negative effects of childhood anxiety disorders. Here is a bit of our story.
A number of years ago, my firstborn was in Grade One at school, and having quite serious somatic complaints before going to school and during school. The last day that I took her to school, was the first part of January, and it was a fiasco! I was having some trouble getting her to go to school at the time, but never did I imagine, that particular day, to carry out a Grade One child to the van, and have her proceed to try to jump out of the moving vehicle. She DID NOT want to go to school. After some discussion, she was later said to have severe separation anxiety, and school refusal. My second daughter followed suit in her Grade 4 year.
It was so hard on them, and our family during that time. I soon realized, as our daughters were in the process of healing, that anxiety is and can be a serious issue in young children.
In amidst the chaos, I decided that since there did not seem to be many available resources for children with anxiety disorders, hence, as an advocate, I would do my own research and write my own book.
I wrote this book for other families who had a child with an anxiety disorder, in order that they did not have to feel alone in their struggles, but, that they, as their child’s first teacher, could help their child through the anxiety and get them on the road to healing. Anxiety can be debilitating, and does get worse, if a child does not build up resiliency to it.
My book is entitled “The Sheepish Lamb” and provides suggestions and activities on how parents and children can work together to overcome their fears, and to build confidence in the face of adversity.
Since writing this book, I have had parents call me, asking advice on how they, too, can help their child in his/her anxiety. I am quick to give them a free copy of my book, as I am empathetic to their struggles and emotional turmoil. When I see a broken heart, I feel compassion to help to heal it.
In light of International Children’s Book Day, I wanted to showcase my book, as well as other phenomenal books and resources, in order that parents everywhere who have a child who is struggling with anxiety (it is heart-wrenching!) can know that they are not alone in their trials, and that there are ways that they can help alleviate fear and stress in your child. I know that it is not easy having a child with severe anxiety, and that there are resources and ideas that can help you to help your child and your family.
I have also found several other children’s books that I have found helpful when my daughters were suffering with anxiety, as well as websites and popular child psychiatrists and speakers who specialize in childhood anxiety.
I went the extra mile, and have also became a facilitator for an Anxiety Resilience Training Program (School-Based) called ‘Fun Friends’. It is a wonderful program, and, as an EA in the school system, now, a few years later, am just now seeing the benefits of this program, as they have presently been introducing it throughout some of the schools in the community. School professionals are just now seeing that childhood anxiety is a real problem for children of today’s society.
If your child or a child you know suffers with anxiety, please know that there is help available!
Again, as a bit of an expert in coping with childhood anxiety, I have left a few links for local anxiety resources and centres, that you may find helpful.
CHILDHOOD ANXIETY BOOK LIST (from our momstown sponsor 'Scholastic Canada') and OTHER RESOURCE MATERIALS:
The Kiss Box
by Bonnie Verburg Illustrated by Henry Cole
A reassuring story about separation and love.
In this soothing love story between mother and child, Mama Bear offers various vessels to contain their love while they are apart, but none seem right. It's not until Little Bear suggests that they make each other a Kiss Box filled with a hundred kisses that they are able to stay connected, no matter where they are.
100th Day Worries
by Margery Cuyler Illustrated by Arthur Howard
When Jessica's teacher tells everyone in class to find 100 things to bring to school for their 100th day, Jessica starts to worry. She wants to bring something really good. but what?
Children will find their anxieties reflected in Jessica's worries and appreciate her creativity under pressure.
Ready for Anything!
by Keiko Kasza Illustrated by Keiko Kasza
At first, Raccoon thinks a picnic with his friend Duck sounds like fun, but then he has second thoughts. All sorts of bad things might happen. Luckily, Duck knows that even though they can't plan for the unexpected, there's no reason to be afraid. Full color.
Will I Have a Friend?
by Miriam Cohen Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Every child has a first day at school, and this is the story of Jim's. His day begins with a lot of worries and wonders about his first day.
Chester the Brave
by Audrey Penn Illustrated by Barbara Leonard Gibson
Little Chester Raccoon, the beloved character who has helped so many children with issues in their lives, learns the meaning of bravery and a way to overcome his fears.
The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper, Nancy M. Leak
Here is the story of a little raccoon who confronts the first day of school and needs reassurance. Mother Raccoon finds an unforgettable way of communicating the message that everyone most needs to hear. The perfect book for any child taking the plunge into school, endearing illustrations are as soothing as the simple story.
Bear's Loose Tooth
by Karma Wilson Illustrated by Jane Chapman
This gently comic tale, part of a series of stories about a lovable bear, addresses familiar childhood concerns about losing teeth.
Jibberwillies at Night
by Rachel Vail Illustrated by Yumi Heo
Rachel Vail and Yumi Heo team up for the much anticipated follow-up to Sometimes I'm Bombaloo.
Katie Honors is back! Katie loves playing with her friends and snuggling with her family, but sometimes at night she's afraid. For Katie, her fears and worries take the shape of Jibberwillies, creatures who fly through her bedroom at night. Luckily, Katie's mom knows just what to do.
A Boy and a Turtle: the Child's Visualization Book. Lori Lite, $15.50
Bubble Riding: a Relaxation Story. Lori Lite, $18.50 (ages 5-11)
The Affirmation Weaver: a Believe in Yourself Adventure. $17.95 (ages 5-11)
Please Explain "Anxiety" to Me! Laurie Zelinger & Jordan Zelinger, $25.50 (ages 5 and up)
Using simple explanations of the biology of anxiety and practical solutions, this charming story will help children and their parents understand how to manage anxiety responses.
WEBSITES (also from our sponsor 'Today's Parent'):
MY BOOK INFORMATION:
The Sheepish Lamb: Story and Parent Resource Guide for Helping Children Cope with Anxiety and Related Disorders Paperback – March 10, 2010