Using books in times of uncertainty – help for children and teens

Today’s blog has been written by the brilliant Phoebe Crook, Assistant Psychologist at Headspace Guildford

In the current circumstances you might have more time on your hands. Whilst it is okay to watch the TV to distract yourself, it might be useful to try other avenues of distraction. A simple and effective distraction technique is reading a book. Reading a leisure book, either by yourself or with your child, will allow you to escape, switching off your brain to the current worries of the world and instead focus on a world that is not filled with uncertainty.

Books can also serve another purpose during these uncertain times and they can be used as an educational tool. Specifically, your child might be feeling emotions such as anxiety, anger, frustration and loneliness. It is perfectly okay that they feel this way, their whole world has changed and suddenly they are home for the near future without their normal schedule. Your child might feel isolated and that they are the only one experiencing these emotions but by using a book your child can appreciate and understand that the emotion they are feeling is normal and experienced by others. Initially your child might not be able to identify if they are feeling anxious or angry or stressed out so a book can help to visually represent what an abstract emotion looks like. Your child might realise that physical symptoms or facial expressions are part of that emotion. Books can, therefore, help to name feelings and emotions for child. By explaining the emotions in a story format, it allows children to have a narrative and understanding of what of the situation is and an understand why that situation is happening. After reading the book your child may start to recognise that they are also experiencing that emotion and by identifying that emotion you can then work together to problem solve ways of overcoming or managing that emotion.

Linked below is a list of books that are great at explaining a wide range of emotions and feelings that children might be experiencing.

Children aged 13-18 years

  • Stuff That Sucks: Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can. Ben Sedley
  • Mind Your Head. Juno Dawson, Dr. Olivia Hewitt, Gemma Correll
  • Quiet the Mind. Matthew Johnstone
  • Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry, and Panic. Jennifer Shannon
  • My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic. Michael A. Tompkins, Katherine A. Martinez, Michael Sloan
  • I Had a Black Dog. Matthew Johnstone
  • Can I tell you about Depression?: A guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. Christopher Dowrick, Susan Martin, Mike Medaglia, Paula Dowrick
  • The Teenage Guide to Stress. Nicola Morgan
  • Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens. Earl Hipp

Children of all ages

  • What’s Going On Inside My Head? Molly Potter, Sarah Jennings
  • Healthy for Life: Self-Esteem and Mental Health. Anna Claybourne
  • How Not to Lose It: Mental Health-Sorted. Anna Williamson, Sophie Beer
  • Worry angels. Sita Brahmachari
  • All Birds Have Anxiety. Kathy Hoopmann
  • Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid’s Guide to Managing Anxiety. Dawn Huebner, PhD, Kara McHale
  • Ruby’s Worry. Tom Percival
  • Questions and Feelings about: Worries. Ximena Jeria, Paul Christelis
  • Me and My Fear. Francesca Sanna
  • Sometimes I feel Sad. Tom Alexander
  • How are you feeling today? Molly Potter
  • Mindful Me: Exploring Emotions: A mindful Guide to Dealing with Emotions. Paul Christelis, Elisa Paganelli
  • Feeling Angry! Katie Douglass
  • Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with Events in the News. Dawn Huebner, PhD, Kara McHale
  • If All the World Were… Joseph Coelho, Allison Colpoys
  • The Colour Thief: A family’s story of depression. Andrew Fusek Peters, Karin Littlewood, Polly Peters
  • The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself. Kara Simpson, Ali Redford

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