Remember how I told you guys that until very recently Schizz and I had quite possibly the only TV-phobic child in the United States? Leo was absolutely terrified of television from approximately age 2 1/2 until very recently– so recently, in fact, that I hesitate to say that this phase is truly over. (Side note: I just told friends last week that my boys had outgrown croup. Yeah, well, they haven’t. I’m hoping to avoid another jinx here, folks!) We believe that Leo’s TV phobia was the result of several combining factors including his sensory processing disorder, overexcitabilities, and the fact that he’s a worrier by nature. For what it’s worth, I’ve since learned that extreme sensitivity to movie themes is not unheard of among the gifted population. Thank goodness for those online gifted communities!
In recent months, we’ve been able to enjoy television as a family for the first time ever. We have enjoyed many a movie night without *any* drama. We’ve even –gasp!- enjoyed a dinner picnic (which is a nicer way of saying TV dinner) here and there. It’s been glorious.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Leo what has changed for him. Why is he able to watch movies and shows now, whereas just a few short months ago he was scared silly?
Using Books to Overcome Anxiety
And do you want to know what his answer was? Books. Books helped him overcome his anxiety. He prepared himself to watch various movies by reading the books. It removed the element of surprise and also explains why he’s always informing us what is about to happen at any given moment.
So, as I sit here tonight, snuggled up with my croupy and feverish crew watching Shirley Temple as Heidi, I am so thankful that Leo read this book while we were on vacation recently. I am thankful even though he just shared, “T! Seuss! Don’t worry! Heidi will help teach Klara how to walk and Klara and Heidi will be friends and live together at the end! And Heidi’s grandfather won’t be so crotchety anymore!” I’ll happily take the movie spoilers over extreme anxiety and oodles of drama.
And just on the off-chance that there is some other TV-phobic child out there like ours, I will share a few other titles that Leo has credited with helping him overcome his TV anxiety.
Books for little worriers
As a school psychologist, I am a huge fan of bibliotherapy. As such, I have oodles of books on worry and mindfulness. I always tuck a couple into Leo’s Worry Basket because he cannot resist a book and he gains so much through reading about pertinent topics. Here are some worry-related books that we have in our library:
- Calm-Down Time (Toddler Tools) by Elizabeth Verdick
- David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety by Anne Marie Guanci
- Don’t Feed the Worry Bug (A Children’s Book About Worry) by Andi Green
- Don’t Panic, Annika by Juliet Clare Bell
- From Worrier to Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Fears by Daniel B. Peters
- Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wollf
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide To Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner
- Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload by Jennifer Veenendall
I use yoga and meditation myself, and I have used it with students in the past, and so I’ve tried to use it with my own children in the past. My attempts were unsuccessful – due in large part to attention- until just recently. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying introducing my children to mindfulness. They now request a relaxation story before bed each evening. It’s not uncommon for one member of our party to be so relaxed during that story that he drifts off to sleep for the night. Here are the mindfulness and meditation books that are in our library:
- A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud
- Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover
- Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean
- Peaceful Piggy Yoga by Kerry Lee Maclean
- Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh
- You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Tae-Eun You
- The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime: Tales of Compassion and Kindness for You to Read with Your Child – to Delight and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja
So, tell me… How have your children overcome challenges? Have you ever used books to help your children overcome anxiety? Do you have a kiddo who is overly sensitive to themes? Share your stories here!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
~Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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