Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 41
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
When the World Feels Scary, We Turn to Books and More
The Children’s Book Review
The world can be a scary place, no doubt about it. The older we get, the scariness of our reality can become more and more evident. Add on being a parent or caregiver, and that reality is amplified even more. As much as we wish with all our hearts and souls that we could, we cannot promise our children that scary things won’t happen to them or around them—an extremely harsh reality for parents and caregivers to face.
In uncertain times, we often want to do anything to help our family and those around us feel more secure, safe, and loved. Here are a few tips on instilling more love in your family when the world around us needs it the most. Because like Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Acknowledge all Feelings
Whether your child knows the extent of what is happening around them, encouraging them and providing space for talking through and acknowledging all feelings is essential. Doing this will help them learn to feel and work through ALL the feelings. There are no wrong feelings—there are feelings that make us uncomfortable, but remind your children that this will pass. Teach them to breathe through the discomfort and talk through it. Often, children just need to be heard; feelings are not problems to be solved; they need to be acknowledged, identified, and worked with.
Work on teaching your child strategies for working through some of the more complicated feelings, such as anxiety, deep sadness, anger, and so on. Teach your child to talk through these feelings and provide strategies to work through them, such as breathing mindfully and with intention, taking a walk, or asking for a hug. Model aloud how you work through big feelings, too.
Tackle a Project
When the world feels scary, it is understandable to feel anxious. When feeling anxious, doing something with your hands can be helpful. Encourage your child to work on a puzzle, build with some legos, tackle a gardening or arts and crafts project, play a board game, make bracelets, do art, and so much more! Giving the hands something to do can help decrease anxiety and even a slight distraction from all that might be running in your little one’s busy brain and heart. Know when it’s time to move on from acknowledging and discussing feelings and time to channel that anxious energy into a little hands-on project for a much-welcomed distraction.
Write In Your Gratitude Journal
When feeling complicated feelings, writing in your gratitude journal can be helpful. Whether writing about things to be grateful for or simply writing whatever comes to mind, it helps ease anxiety and process all that is running through your mind. Model writing in your journal and encourage your kiddos to do the same. If you still need to start a gratitude journal, no problem. Check out our article Literacy and Gratitude: How to Promote Literacy and Instill Gratitude for tips on how to get started on a gratitude journal for kids and parents!
Be a Bucket Filler – Acts of Service
When feeling devastated and discouraged about the world around you, try to think about how you can bring happiness to others. From simple hidden love notes to your family, grabbing special books at the library while they’re at school, or making their favorite meal, these are simple ways to fill their buckets. If you can go beyond that, see how you can help others by raising money for causes that are important to them or writing letters of encouragement to the military or elderly. For more ideas on how to serve others as a family, check out our article Ways to Spread Love and Grow Literacy Skills.
Revisit your Favorite Books
Reading favorite books almost always brings comfort. When everyone feels a bit out of sorts, I’ll encourage them to grab their favorite book, no matter how many times they’ve read it, and we’ll curl up in our book nooks or as a family to let the familiar words and characters cover us in peace and warmth. It’s simple but effective, and if we can nurture our hearts, then we can do our best to nurture others, especially when the world feels extra scary and complicated and needs it the most.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is a favorite I revisit often.
Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. When the World Feels Scary, We Turn to Books and More was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.