When my petite was only 3 1/2 she was expecting her new little sister. She was used to her routine, wake up, eat breakfast, go to preschool, come home eat dinner, bath, books, bed. When I was 33 weeks pregnant I went on bed rest. As much as we talked about what was going on in a three year old appropriate way my little one worried and fretted. Her routine and basically world had drastically changed. We did our best to reassure her that I was fine and that her sister was fine – giving her fun new jobs, taking mommy’s blood pressure and listening to her sisters heartbeat with the doppler were all fun new activities for her.
For some it might seem silly for a little kid to be worried, they don’t have jobs, bills to pay, “real life” concerns. But anytime life changes happen, new babies, moves, new school, any shift to their “normal” routine sometimes worries and anxiety set in.
We decided to think about how else we could talk about her worrying and fretting. We wanted to use books to showcase feelings and how she wasn’t alone and it was okay to feel worried and anxious.
Since our daughter was only three at the time we chose to use picture books and when discussing books we read we would always ask about her feelings – hoping that this would help our girl to gain some new vocabulary that she could use to talk about how she felt.
Wemberly Worried – This book was by far the best book we could have read with our daughter. She loved Wemberly and the cute story that Kevin Henkes creates. It is about a little mouse who worries about everything, literally everything. She worried all the way to school until she meets a new friend. Her new friend is also a little worried too and Wemberly and Petal become fast friends and her worries seem to fade. Of course sometimes it’s not that simple, but this gives your petites a chance to see that others worry too and that it is okay.
Ready for Anything – by Keiko Kasza two pals Duck and Raccoon have plans to go on a picnic that is put on hold while Raccoon thinks of just about every possible fearful outcome to their perfect picnic…dragons, killer bees and lightning. However, Duck is quick on his feet and thinks of all the amazing things that could happen instead. The illustrations are adorable and the two friends work through the fretting and end up having a fantastic time together. if maybe just a little more prepared for all possible outcomes.
The Way I feel – by Janan Cane; this is great book that I’ve used many times with students as well as with my own petite. It is so helpful for children to be able to identify and use words. Often times we only get the outcome of feelings – hitting, yelling, crying or what have you, with this book the illustrations are fun and help children, even really small ones relate and learn the words to describe how they feel.
Scaredy Squirrel – this was one of the first books we bought for our daughter, long before she was even born. Melanie Watt is hilarious in her writing of this squirrel. You will be laughing the entire time. The things squirrel is worried about seem a little silly, but sometimes what we worry about may seem silly to others.
Kissing Hand – a classic story, written by Audrey Penn, that belongs in everyone’s collection. A sweet story about Chester who doesn’t want to go to school, he would rather stay at home with his momma. A great story to talk about how your little ones feels when they go to school. This story also helps to build confidence in your anxious petites.
Llama, Llama Misses Mama – Another touching story, written by Anna Dewdney, about a llama who is anxious about going to school and unsure that his mama will come back. I think that this book could be used to have conversations about meeting new friends at school and how it can be fun. Llama doesn’t want to play when he first gets there because he is so anxious, but by the end of the day he is having a great time.
I think that simply reading these books would be beneficial to anxious and worried petites, but I think the conversations that you could have while reading are going to be the most important part. I personally have used these stories to have my daughter identify the feelings the characters are either talking about or showing through their actions and the illustrations. It helped, she learned some new words and could relate to some of these characters.
If you have other book recommendations, I would love to hear about them and add them to my library list.