By Dawn Huebner, Illustrated by Bonnie Matthews
Magination Press, $15.95, 80 pages
As an adult, it is difficult enough to deal with anxiety, worry, fear and stress. But imagine a child facing those same feelings. How scary! Dr. Dawn Huebner is a clinical psychologist based out of New Hampshire. In order to help children facing anxiety, she has written What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety.
Dr. Huebner’s note to parents and caregivers gives a brief introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which she uses throughout the guide. She defines anxiety and suggests ways parents can help in the process of relieving it. Huebner outlines the activities that children will explore when using the guide. It is a good intro, but the power of her book is in the pages meant for children.
Dr. Huebner has structured her guide in a chapter book/workbook format so it is something that kids have already seen at school. Concepts introduced in a new chapter build upon those featured in the last chapter. Huebner uses similes (i.e. This is a tomato plant. Your anxiety is a like a tomato plant). Bonnie Matthews’ whimsical illustrations are more funny than scary.
Dr. Huebner seamlessly works in CBT techniques. Kids who have difficulty articulating their troubles have the opportunity to draw worries. One chapter encourages kids to set a timer to limit “Worry Time.” Why not make a “Worry Box” to store your worries in until “Worry Time” arrives. Another chapter focuses on talking back to the worry bully and finally coming up with other things to do instead of worrying (like sports, meditation, playing with an animal and recognizing the good in yourself). This book takes ideas that are overwhelming for a small child and presents them in manageable chunks. It is the first step to saying goodbye to anxiety!
Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin