Mental health is extremely important. As a mom living with bipolar disorder, it’s also important to me on a very personal level to teach my kids about mental health.
Books for kids about mental health help make these conversations a part of our everyday routine.
“Mommy is feeling a little stressed right now, so let’s do a calm activity, please.”
“Daddy doesn’t feel very patient today. Please give him some alone time.”
“Being angry is okay. How do we deal with our anger?”
“It looks like you’re feeling overwhelmed? Why don’t you take some time to calm down in your room?”
“Your friend may have been acting out in class today because they’re dealing with things we don’t understand. Maybe they have a hard time listening or understanding instructions. You shouldn’t allow someone be mean to you, but try to be compassionate and understand why they act that way. Ask the teacher for help if you need it.”
Even when my kids were toddlers, we had similar conversations. They were certainly simpler but effective all the same.
Solutions then might have been, “let’s talk about your feelings” or “stomp your anger away.” Despite their simplicity, though, they were meaningful.
Incorporating these discussions into our daily conversations and bringing into our home more books for kids about mental health has created the foundation for good mental health habits.
Books for Kids About Mental Health
These are some of my favorite books for kids about mental health. Books have been incredibly helpful in making mental health conversations part of our norm.
We read about it together, conversations and questions often follow, and my kids continue to revisit these lessons later.
Sometimes I can even overhear my older two discussing things among themselves using the skills I’ve taught them. Truly, there is little more wonderful than that.
From top to bottom, left to right:
- I Can Handle It
- Listening to My Body
- The Monster Who Couldn’t Decide (The Worrywoo Monsters)
- How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids
- The Way I Feel
- The Pout-Pout Fish
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
- No Means No! Teaching children about personal boundaries, respect and consent.
- In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
- The Angry Dragon: a children’s book about a Dragon Who Learns How To be Patient for Ages 3-5
- Calm-Down Time (Toddler Tools)
- The Very Frustrated Monster (WorryWoo Monsters)
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
- Nobody’s Perfect: A Story for Children About Perfectionism
- Mr. Worry: A Story about OCD
- Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book
How to Encourage More Emotional Self-Awareness
Emotional awareness is key to managing my own mental health. So it’s natural for me to want to encourage that to develop in my own children.
A few ways to encourage more emotional awareness in kids:
- Teach your child to meditate and self-reflect.
- Encourage your child to ask questions and form hypotheses.
- Ask your child why they reacted a certain way; create a discussion around the “why.”
- Rather than tell a child to calm down, talk about the emotions they might be feeling and coach them toward a solution.
- Be an example yourself and deal with stress and overwhelm calmly.
- Teach solution based approaches to everyday problems.
- Talk out loud about your feelings and work through conflict constructively.
Recently, I also came across an article that spoke to the sensory system, the interoceptive system, that plays a huge role in that.
I learned that this amazing body system essentially controls how we feel and perceive our internal state, including things like hunger and emotions.
According to Raising an Extraordinary Person, these interoception activities for kids can improve “interoceptive awareness may reduce meltdowns and challenging behaviors, and improve self-regulation.”