It can be difficult for parents to know how to help their anxious kids.
Natasha Daniels, child therapist and author of How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler and Anxiety Sucks! A Teen Survival Guide, told HuffPost that while seeking therapy for your child can be helpful, it’s also important to remember anxiety involves the entire family.
“I think a lot of times parents think that sometimes the child needs to be treated or somebody needs to deal with the anxiety, and really it’s a family affair because anxiety loves to involve the parents, loves to include the whole family dynamic,” she said.
Just as children’s books can be a helpful resource for kids to manage their anxiety and worry, books can also be a useful tool for parents to educate themselves on anxiety and learn how to empower their kids effectively.
HuffPost spoke to psychologists, counselors and other mental health experts to get their recommendations on books for parents of anxious kids. Some are explicitly about anxiety and worry. Others teach the importance of effectively communicating with children and learning to acknowledge their emotions, no matter what they might be.
Check out their suggestions below.
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“Freeing Your Child From Anxiety”
Daniels suggested this book from licensed psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D. It teaches parents how to help their kids manage their emotions and overcome worry. (Buy here
“Helping Your Anxious Child”
Helping Your Anxious Child
was written by five psychology experts and gives parents strategies for easing kids’ worries based on cognitive behavioral therapy. Daniels suggested this title, and Muniya Khanna
, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder and director of the OCD and Anxiety Institute in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, included it on a list of recommended books at Coping Cat Parents
, a site she manages that provides mental health resources. (Buy here
“The Happy Kid Handbook”
In The Happy Kid Handbook
, licensed clinical social worker Katie Hurley offers many pieces of advice for parents, from how to teach kids to manage their emotions to why play is so important. The lessons come together to show parents how to raise a happy child. This handbook is a suggestion from licensed mental health counselor Janine Halloran, founder of Coping Skills for Kids
, which provides resources for tackling anxiety and stress. (Buy here
“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”
Educators and communication experts Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish are known for many titles about how to effectively talk to kids. In this book, which has more than 1,600 reviews on Amazon, parents learn how to respond to their kids’ feelings (including anger and frustration), how to offer praise in a meaningful way and more. Joseph Sacks, the licensed clinical social worker behind Tribeca Play Therapy
in New York, recommended it as well as its follow-up from the same authors, How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk
. (Buy here
“Helping Your Anxious Teen”
Licensed clinical psychologist Sheila Achar Josephs, Ph.D., focuses on parents of teenagers in this title suggested by Halloran. It addresses perfectionism, panic attacks, triggers for stress and anxiety, and more. (Buy here
“Between Parent and Child”
Haim G. Ginott earned his doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 1952 and became an expert in educating parents on how to communicate with their kids. He’s also often credited with coining the phrase “helicopter parent.” His best-selling book Between Parent and Child
, suggested by Sacks (who often mentions Ginott’s teachings on his blog
), has been updated and revised so more generations can learn his tactics. (Buy here
“The Opposite of Worry”
Licensed psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. is the author of the popular book Playful Parenting
. In The Opposite of Worry
, a recommendation from Daniels, he offers a similar approach to teach parents to assess their own anxieties and to guide kids through their insecurities and doubts through drawing, writing and other forms of play. (Buy here
“The Whole-Brain Child”
This New York Times best-seller from neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel, M.D., and psychotherapist Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., guides parents through much more than helping kids sort through how they feel. It teaches them about children’s developing minds and breaks down exactly why kids sometimes respond to situations with tantrums and outbursts. It’s another suggestion from Halloran. (Buy here
“Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents”
In Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents
— a suggestion from Halloran — licensed psychologist Reid Wilson, Ph.D., and licensed independent clinical social worker Lynn Lyons teach parents how to end “the worry cycle” their kid might be stuck in. (Buy here
“Growing Up Brave”
Growing Up Brave,
a recommendation from Daniels, tackles many topics like separation and social anxiety and gives parents the tools they need to make sure their kids find long-term happiness. It’s by Donna Pincus, Ph.D, who is the director of the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. (Buy here