Type the phrase “is childhood anxiety on the rise?” into any search engine, and you probably won’t receive a single “no”. Instead, the headlines look like this:
The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders
The Rising Epidemic of Anxiety in Children and Teens
Childhood Anxiety Steadily On the Rise Since the 1950s
Steadily on the rise.
It all sounds very serious, and the sad part is that it’s true. Childhood anxiety IS on the rise. There are many factors, from lack of play and sleep to increased school stress and time spent online. One book I read said that children are actually more intelligent in each generation, and intelligent people can easily tend toward anxiety.
There are no simple reasons for childhood anxiety, and as parents, this can make us feel helpless.
As I’ve discovered (and is verified by all the books I’ve read on childhood anxiety), one of the best things you can do for your anxious child is to talk about it. Your child likely doesn’t know how to talk about her anxiety, or doesn’t want to talk about it, which can be frustrating for you.
HOW CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT ANXIETY CAN HELP
Children’s books have long been a go-to for helping parents talk about difficult topics with our kids. (Don’t believe me? Try talking about the birds and the bees without a book in hand!)
Picture books help:
- Open up a topic of conversation.
- Help your child know they are not alone in their struggles.
- Give your child words for her struggles so she can verbalize them to you when she’s overwhelmed.
- Give you helpful words and phrases to use with your child.
As you can see, the impact of the book goes far beyond simply having a sweet bedtime story. Picture books are a powerful tool for your family.
WHY *CHRISTIAN* CHILDREN’S BOOKS?
There are SO many books in the general market on anxiety, worry, and fear. They’re not bad (in fact, many are very helpful!), but for the Christian parent, they’re missing a crucial element: God.
Christian picture books will help:
- Give your child a secure faith foundation on which to lean, because he will learn that God is with him. Always.
- Help her develop perspective on her struggles, because we know that God has plans that are beyond our understanding.
SHOULD CHRISTIAN TALK ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS?
Childhood anxiety still seems to be a very taboo topic among Christian circles, likely because we have a false expectation that God will make all our struggles go away. We don’t want to admit that our kids are just as vulnerable to the worries of the world as any other child.
But until we start addressing this issue openly in Christian circles, our kids won’t be freed from debilitating anxiety. Because, while he doesn’t make all our struggles go away, our kids need to know that God IS with them in all of it, guiding them, and even sometimes completely healing them.
Fear and anxiety shouldn’t be a taboo topic amongst Christians of any age – the Bible says “do not fear” 365 times! If the Bible needs to remind us of this every single day, clearly it’s an issue that is as old as time.
Let’s look at an example of how the Bible can help give your child a faith foundation and perspective. In this video, I do an imaginative retelling of Matthew 14:22-33, which is the part where Jesus and Peter walk on water. Watch the video yourself, or do this activity with your child.
Now, answer these questions:
- Where was Jesus when Peter was afraid? Where is Jesus when YOU are afraid?
- What did Jesus do for Peter? What does Jesus do for you?
- Can you trust that Jesus is God? If so, how does that help you?
Do you see how Jesus can help your child? I hope you found that incredibly powerful. I even found myself moved as I listened to the edited video. 😭
God is so good. And picture books are a helpful and fun way to introduce God to your children.
Christian picture books often have parent pages in the back of the book as well, which will give you tools (like the Bible story above) to help your anxious child.
(Oh, and picture books aren’t just for little kids either. In fact, I think a well-written children’s book will connect with my own heart just as much as my preschooler’s heart!)
Let’s move to the list then!
NOTE: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that this ministry receives a small commission when you purchase through my link. I only share products I love and use myself!
5 CHRISTIAN PICTURE BOOKS FOR AN ANXIOUS CHILD
1. It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change
This book has hundreds of 5-star reviews, and for good reason. It’s adorable and truthful. Lysa TerKeurst is a well-known speaker and doesn’t hide the fact that she has had many times of fear of change. Read my full review here.
2. Quinn’s Promise Rock
This is my own book, which just released. In the story, Quinn shares her worries with her father. As they fly through the night, he uses cues from nature to teach her powerful truths about God’s presence.
This book also comes with a simple activity you can do with your child to help her really take home the message of God’s comforting presence. The book is great for all kids who need to know God’s love but has an even deeper meaning for those struggling with anxiety and worries.
3. Firebird: He Lived For The Sunshine
My 4-year-old adores this book, although I’m sure he hasn’t quite connected all the theological dots yet. In it, Firebird is constantly annoyed that God lets the rain take the sun away. One day he flies above the clouds and realizes that the sun was always there. The implication in this book is that God is always there, even in the painful times of our lives. Read my full review here.
4. Zoe’s Hiding Place
This is a cute book that will appeal to early elementary kids. I love that this book reminds parents to have good listening ears when our kids are worried. So often we find it easier to dismiss our child’s fears because it’s inconvenient for us. This book does a good job of explaining the lies that our worries tell us, and compares them to truths from the Bible.
My only concern with this book is that it’s a trifle moralistic, insinuating that Zoe would experience less worry if she just listened to her teacher better.
The part I actually liked best about this book was the parent pages at the end. The book was published by CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) so the parent tips are quite extensive.
5. Anxious Abby
I discovered this book recently, and think it’s a really great addition to the list because it’s geared at elementary-aged kids. The text and illustrations are both well done, and anxious kids will easily identify with the main character, Anxious Abby. I love how the author shows specific anxiety themes (depicted as cute little monsters) hopping into Abby’s backback as she worries.
You can learn more about the author (a Christian child and family therapist) and see a book sample on her website.
So there you have it! 5 books that can help your child build a firm foundation of faith that will help them through their anxiety, worries, and fears.
I had a hard time finding a lot of books in this specific niche (likely because of the informal taboo surrounding mental illness in Christian circles), so if you know of more Christian children’s books that fit this topic, please leave a comment or send me an email so I can update the list!
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