A debut guide for children with anxiety problems provides an animal tale and an interactive workbook.
This manual by two child psychiatrists—based on their therapeutic treatment program—has a straightforward design: eight chapters of “Leo the Lion’s Story of Bravery” and eight corresponding workbook sections. Leo is nervous about speaking to other animals because he fears that they will make fun of him. With the help of his mother, he uses stress-reducing techniques such as Spaghetti Arms and Toes (progressive muscle relaxation), Balloon Breathing (abdominal breathing), and Imagery. Then, in Bravery Club, he learns about his “Sneaky Fears,” portrayed as two snarling, smelly jackals. His teacher explains: “Your worst fears, these wild and scary beasts, need to be tamed.” In time, Leo exposes their tactics—telling falsehoods, exaggerating, and showing only bad things—and begins to think courageous thoughts instead. Soon he discovers that he can also employ a “Feeling Thermometer” to recognize and reduce negative emotions. In the final chapters, Leo and his new friend, Ellie the Elephant, practice what they’ve learned in order to overcome their fears. The workbook precisely matches the clever story and includes application activities like practicing stress-reducing methods, drawing “Sneaky Fears,” and deciding what steps to accomplish on the “Bravery Ladder.” There are also several invitations to draw “body scans” of how readers feel when experiencing different emotions. Benoit and Monga have done an excellent job of presenting evidence-based, anxiety-reducing techniques in a way that is both creative and comprehensible. They utilize simple language, adequate repetition, and memorable metaphors, making the guide’s message crystal clear to young children. The vivid and expressive digital drawings by Reyes (Story Bird Dance and the Snowbird Ballet, 2016, etc.) also aid the audience because they deftly illustrate the tale’s plot and emotions. The principles in these pages are universal for anyone battling anxiety, and the workbook allows readers to personalize the story and become “the boss” of their bodies and brains. Parents of children plagued by anxiety should be especially grateful for this volume because of the understanding, tools, and hope that it offers.
An invaluable therapeutic resource aimed at kids.