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Yoga and mindfulness for stressed and anxious kids

Posted on October 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Edmondson

Life is stressful. Life during the COVID-19 pandemic is extra stressful.

As adults, we’ve had to navigate so much this year that nobody would have imagined in 2019. And our kids pick up on our stress. Plus, they have stressors of their own.

School is completely different, they’re wearing masks, and they are socially isolated. All of this can cause kids to feel stressed and anxious.

While we can’t make these things go away, we can practice some self-care strategies that make us feel a little better. We can also help our kids to learn some of these techniques. For help introducing these practices to children, I’ve created a list of books written for kids about anxiety, yoga, and meditation and divided them by recommended age.

Of course, none of this can take the place of professional help. Some signs your child might need to see a mental health professional include sudden changes in behavior, withdrawal, disinterest in hobbies, sudden onset of unexplained head or stomach aches, changes in appetite, or sleep disturbances. These are just a few things to watch out for, so if you have any concerns, please reach out to your pediatrician for advice.

BOOKS FOR KIDS AGES 3–7

Breathe like a Bear, by Kira Willey, illustrated by Anni Betts

This illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises for kids can be done anytime, anywhere, even in the car or at a desk while doing schoolwork.

Breathing Makes It Better: A Book for Sad Days, Mad Days, Glad Days, and All the Feelings In-Between, by Christopher Willard and Wendy O’Leary

This interactive story shows children the power of breath when dealing with powerful emotions.

Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

This tiny book shows how even the tiniest of kids can learn to use breathing to calm and soothe themselves.

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, by Susan Whelan and Gwyneth Jones

If you have a worrier that has trouble falling asleep at night, this book might help them put aside their worries long enough to drift into dreamland.

Hands to Heart, by Alex Bauermeister, illustrated by Flora Waycott

Young readers will learn how to move into gentle and playful yoga poses in this introduction to meditation that is led by a cast of animal friends.

Ruby Finds a Worry, by Tom Percival

This sweet story might encourage children to open up about hidden anxieties.

Unicorn Yoga, by Gina Cascone & Bryony Williams Sheppard, illustrated by Jennifer Sattler

This playful introduction to yoga guides kids through a ten-pose class and encourages them to practice yoga daily.

BOOKS FOR KIDS AGES 8–12

Calm: Mindfulness for Kids, by Wynne Kinder, M.Ed.

This book includes a variety of mindfulness activities including some crafts that support mindfulness practices.

Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More, by Mallika Chopra, illustrated by Brenna Vaughan

Written by Deepak Chopra’s daughter, this book is full of mindfulness exercises, including guided meditations for specific topics such as dealing with stress, getting to sleep, focusing on school work, and more.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., illustrated by Bonnie Mathews

This interactive self-help book guides children and parents through cognitive-behavioral techniques that are used in the treatment of anxiety.

Mindful Me: Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids, by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Stacy Peterson

These step-by-step instructions for breathing, relaxation, and meditation exercises help middle graders manage stress and handle difficult emotions.

Yoga for Kids: Simple First Steps in Yoga and Mindfulness, by Susannah Hoffman, photographs by Lol Johnson, illustrated by Kitty Glavin

With more than 50 poses and activities, this book’s simple directions and clear illustrations make it easy to learn yoga.

Rachel Edmondson

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