A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children and teens on understanding and managing emotions to build their emotional intelligence.
Whether you have a preschooler struggling to name how she feels, a tween wrestling with newly complex emotions, or a teenager who needs to find ways to incorporate her emotional life into adult decision-making, parents can do a lot to help kids navigate their emotional world. But sometimes, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Fortunately, there are some great books out there to help parents and kids learn about their feelings and how to express them appropriately. In this blog, we’re sharing our favorite books that help kids name, tame, and manage their emotions — including five age-sorted sections focused on emotions in general, sadness, anger, worry, and books for parents. These books for toddlers to teens are funny, poignant, and heartfelt, but most importantly, reassuring that no matter what you’re feeling, you can come out the other side.
How Are You Feeling?: Naming And Expressing Emotion
The first thing kids need to learn to do to have a healthy emotional life is name what they’re feeling! But as any adult can attest, emotions are complex and sometimes confusing, especially when several of them interact. And even once you’ve named an emotion, you still have to express it in an appropriate way so that you can get the support that you need. These books help kids, tweens, and teens learn how to articulate their emotions to the people they love.
There's a lot to learn with these colorful avocados from Learning Resources! Each of these four avocados pops apart to reveal a hidden color and a pit that spins to display two different emoji-style faces. Kids can build their emotional literacy and understanding of social cues as they identify faces that are happy, angry, sleepy, and more! Plus, since the avocados are sized for little hands, manipulating them helps kids build fine motor skills. This set comes with four pop-apart avocados and a storage crate.
Some kids may find it helps to get hands on while they express their emotions, and they'll love this toy and book set. Read the Scrambled Feelings storybook while you play with six eggs with facial expressions representing different emotions. Solving the eggs’ problem in the story will require sharing their feelings and working as a team, which provides a great lesson for kids in the value of expressing how they feel.
This unique book from beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss’ provides a concrete way for children to talk about their emotions. Each mood is matched with a color: black days are mad and loud, yellow days are busy and buzzy, green days are cool and quiet. And, of course, some days include a bit of everything! This charming, reassuring, and beautifully illustrated concept book is available in both paperback and board book editions, so even the youngest children can enjoy.
Help your children learn to label, identify, and control their emotions with the See My Feelings Mirror from hand2mind! These shatterproof, kid-safe mirrors have 6 different snap-in-place emotion slides. Kids can practice identifying their own emotions in the mirror, model the faces they see on the slides, and more! Along the way, they'll be learning important lessons about empathy, emotional regulation, and self-expression. With four starter activities included, this set is the perfect choice to help kids understand how they and others feel!
Meilin Lee has a lot of feelings, like any teenager. Unlike most teenagers, though, she turns into a giant red panda when she gets too excited! Inspired by Disney and Pixar's film Turning Red, this box set comes with five fun storybooks, each focused on one of the big feelings that comes with growing up: Confident, Lonely, Angry, Embarrassed, and Excited. These feelings can seem complicated or even overwhelming, but as Mei learns, they're totally normal — and everyone feels them sometimes. With adorable artwork throughout, this fun box set is sure to be a hit.
Help your child develop a more nuanced understanding of emotions and moods — and a deeper sense of empathy — with this card game from Game On Family! To play, kids match 24 cards featuring diverse kids demonstrating individual emotions with 24 cards depicting social scenes that can prompt those emotions. As kids go beyond the simple emotions of happy, sad, and mad to explore more nuanced ones like disgusted, shy, and kind, they'll get a better idea of what those emotions look like in themselves and in others.
Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness...our hearts can feel so many feelings! And those emotions often come with physical sensations, too — happiness might make you feel like you can take off into the sky, while sadness might make you feel heavy and slow as an elephant. In lyrical language, this book introduces toddlers to a wide variety of emotions. Kids will enjoy the playful illustrations and the die-cut heart that travels through the whole book, reminding them that they can find their emotions everywhere.
From silly to angry to quiet and sad, this little girl goes through them all...and is reassured that moods come and go, and that it’s okay to feel what you feel. An interactive page at the end that asks “How do YOU feel today?” comes complete with a wheel that allows you to change the expression of a face’s eyes and mouth. This light, fun book is written in exuberant rhyme that lends itself to being read aloud.
Kids may find it easier to express emotions with a prompt. This set includes 35 cards to encourage kids to talk about everything from day to day frustrations to major emotional issues like grief, trauma, and anxiety. It’s a great way to get kids feeling comfortable talking or to prompt a broader discussion about emotion, and adults sharing their own answers to prompts like “I feel scared when...” will show kids that everyone has these feelings sometimes.
When 11-year-old Riley moves from Minnesota to California, it means some big adjustments — and a bumpy road for her emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust drive Riley's actions, but when they end up out of balance, things quickly take a turn for the worse. As Riley struggles to deal with her feelings, Joy learns that as Riley grows older, her emotions will become more complex, and that the other emotions (even Sadness) have their place. Each chapter of this unique book offers a retelling of the film Inside Out from a different one of Riley's emotions, creating a unique, funny, and meaningful look at emotional health.
Once kids hit their tweens, emotions start to become more complicated: not only are there more shades of emotion to experience, but rapidly changing bodies and minds also lead to erratic and sometimes upsetting moods! This book from the American Girl Library focuses exclusively on the new emotional intensity many tweens are experiencing. Tweens will learn that their feelings are normal and how to reach out to loved ones for help when they’re struggling, as well as getting a reminder that it’s still important to express emotion appropriately. Pair it with The Feelings Book Journal to give her a hands-on way to explore her new emotional life.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and Get Along with Others
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and Get Along with Others
Life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated – and those feelings are perfectly normal. But sometimes, especially during adolescence, it can feel like your emotions are spinning out of control. If your teen is finding her intense emotions interfering with school, relationships, and her overall happiness, check out this workbook from the Instant Help Solutions series for teens. As teens work through the steps in the book, they'll learn techniques from dialectical behavior therapy to help teens manage their emotions and express them in healthy, positive ways. Knowing she can handle whatever feeling wells up will give her new confidence to handle anything that life throws at her.
More Than Feeling Blue: Sadness and Depression
Whether it’s a passing moment of sadness or a stretch of clinical depression, kids need to know that it’s okay to be sad — and that it is possible to come through sadness and find happiness again. These books will help kids express and understand their sadness.
The imagination of a family member that can draw you out when you're feeling sad. In this book, which was inspired by Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, Virginia wakes up one day positively wolfish: she growls, she snarls, and she hides in her bedroom and refuses to come out. It’s not until Vanessa begins painting Bloomsbury, Virginia’s marvelous imaginary place where everything is perfect, that wolfish Virginia can transform back into a little girl. With its evocative illustrations from Isabelle Arsenault, this book works as both the story of a single bad mood, or as an allegory to help kids understand depression.
There Was a HoleNew!
There Was a HoleNew!
Lily has a hole in the middle of her chest — and she doesn't know how to get rid of it. The whole sucks away all her joy, and can't be filled, not even with cake and ice cream. It makes her angry and it makes her sad, and even Daddy can't stop it from growing. Then her friend Thomas tells her a secret: he has a hole too! He's put patches on his, and helps Lily make her own: patches that represent time with friends and family, love from pets, quiet time in nature, and even music that helps. "If I patch it completely, will I still remember?" asks Lily. "You won’t forget,” Thomas reassures her. "But things will get better." Author Adam Lehrhaupt has crafted a gentle and thoughtful story about grief and healing that will help children understand that recover doesn't mean leaving behind the one you love.
Sometimes, the reason for sadness is easy to understand. Art-loving Emily is struggling with her feelings after her parents separate. She remembers that when the artist Picasso was sad, he painted only in blue; maybe Emily needs to have her own Blue Period. This picture book in four parts follows Emily’s journey through the complex emotions a child feels when her family changes forever. Kids will enjoy seeing how Emily’s art expresses her emotional landscape as she grieves, accepts, and finally adapts to her new situation.
Loved ones may know just the trick to help you feel better when you're feeling sad! Juna loves collecting treasures in empty kimchee jars with her best friend Hector — until the day he moves away without even getting to say goodbye. Juna’s older brother, Minho, sees her sadness and gives her small gifts hoping to cheer her up, including a cricket. But it’s not until Juna’s vivid imagination takes her on a cricket ride to Hector’s new bedroom — complete with a kimchi jar still on the windowsill — that she’s reassured enough to be ready to make new friends. This whimsical and dreamy story is sure to prompt conversation.
It's important for kids to know that, even if they never forget a loss, they can find peace with it. Dani's first days in school are brightened by a new friend... and then Ella moves away. Dani finds the loss of Ella makes all of the every day hurts we all experience feel even worse, and wonders if she’ll ever get over feeling sad about her lost friend. Fortunately, she remembers that, even though she was deeply sad after her mother died, she eventually moved through her grief, remembering her mother but still feeling happy again. This early chapter book handles difficult subjects with a gentle and optimistic touch, perfect for reassuring kids that they can make it through their own struggles.
Illustrations can also help older kids capture feelings they can’t express in words. This exquisite picture book targeted at older readers begins “Sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to...” As the story continues, evocative collage images depict a variety of imaginary landscapes ranging from subtly off-kilter to deeply oppressive. On each page is a single, glimmering red leaf, but how can the girl pick up on that hint of hope when things around her are so dark? When she finally returns to her room, though, a red tree is growing, ready to reinvigorate her. This beautiful metaphorical book can provide a new way for tweens to talk about emotions that can seem indescribable.
If you've read The Care and Keeping of You, you already know a lot about caring for your body — but your mind and spirit need care too! In this new book from the American Girl Library, you'll learn important skills for long-term happiness: how to focus on what really matters to you, how to bounce back after a setback, how to find calm inside, and how to connect with the people you love. It also shows how you can make your happiness "contagious." Friendly, accessible advice and stories from real girls just like you remind young readers that happiness doesn't just happen; it's something you can learn.
Negative thinking habits can lead teens to develop a distorted view of themselves and others, leaving them feeling anxious, angry, and sad. Fortunately, it's possible to learn to recognize these habits — whether it's the "I can't" habit, the "zooming-in-on-the-negative" habit, the "mind-reading habit", or any of the other common negative thinking habits — and develop more helpful ways of thinking that can help teens gain perspective, resiliency, and self-confidence. Psychologist Mary Karapetian Alvord and writer Anne McGrath provide sections addressing the emotions and bodily sensations that are commonly associated with each habit. Filled with real-life examples, the guide gives teens a step-by-step action plan on how to take control of their thinking and their lives.
Adult sometimes wave away teens' feelings of sadness or hopelessness as "just a phase." But there's a difference between a passing sadness and something more serious, and since 20% of teenagers show symptoms of clinical depression, it’s important to provide them with resources if they feel sadness is becoming overwhelming. This workbook focuses on making small changes to improve your mood, as well as helping teens know when they may need to seek counseling to help them through. Dealing with these feelings is difficult, but teens will feel better knowing that there are things they can do to make themselves feel better.
Teens become more aware of the challenges and difficulties our world has to offer — and that can lead to a "negativity trap" where you feel increasing stress and even start to doubt your own capabilities. Fortunately, there are plenty of strengths for you to develop in yourself and others! In this workbook, you'll learn to identify positive characteristics that can build your self-confidence and help you keep an optimistic attitude — and learn how these traits can help you give your life meaning. With a realistically positive attitude, you'll be able to accomplish dreams you didn't know were possible... and even some you didn't know you had.
Ready To Blow: Frustration and Anger
Sometimes things that go wrong don’t prompt sadness: they make you bubble up and explode instead! These books help kids get to grips with the ferocious emotions of frustration and anger.
For many kids, learning to self-soothe when they get angry can be a challenge. Amelia is an expert at soothing her giant, fuzzy friend's floor-shaking tantrums...but when Amelia loses her cool, it’s Nilson who has to step up and help her calm down. In the last picture, parents and kids alike will giggle when it’s revealed that Nilson is actually an average-sized stuffed gorilla, perfect for cuddling when Amelia is upset.
Little Dump Truck is "the happiest member of the construction crew" and everybody knows it! But today is not a good day: she gets dirt blown in her face, her tired gets punctured, and a flock of birds mistake her for the bathroom! Her coworkers brush off her bad mood — "Shake it off!" they say, and "Ignore it, you'll be fine." But before long, she's Little GRUMP Truck... and she's passing her bad mood on to the rest of the crew by dumping on them (literally and figuratively)! It's not until she closes her eyes and takes some deep breaths that she's able to turn her mood around. This funny and accessible story helps kids (and parents) understand how to understand and manage their feelings, even when they're grumpy ones.
The feeling of anger or frustration running out of control can be downright scary for kids. Katie’s temper makes her feel like a totally different person, and Bombaloo, who uses fists and feet instead of words, is a frightening person to be. Fortunately, firm but caring people in Katie's life ensure that Bombaloo gets both the time to calm down and the love that she needs to turn into Katie again. And once that happens, Katie knows she can find ways to make up for the mistakes she made.
It's important for kids to learn how their temper affects others. Emily’s ferocious tiger temper results in a lot of damage whenever she gets angry or frustrated. But when her Granny visits, she lets Emily in on a secret: she has a tiger too, but one that knows how to control itself... something that results in more happy days than angry ones. Emily is intrigued, and a day of hard work taming her own tiger ends in a magical night, with Emily and Granny’s tigers playing together. This metaphorical look at the importance of taming anger is sure to be a favorite.
Bigger frustrations require more complex techniques to soothe! In this story, a girl’s grand design turns into major frustration when she can’t make her project turn out like she envisioned. She ends up smashing at her invention, and finally exploding with rage (“It was not her finest moment.”) But while she is tempted to quit, a long walk with her dog provides the calm — and the new perspective — she needs to make something truly magnificent.
Kids also need to learn to draw the line between anger that’s out of control and anger that’s justified — and appropriately expressed. Millie begins her story a little too far on the mild side — people don’t listen to her, or notice when they’ve done something that hurts her feelings. But when she decides that the solution is to become fierce, Millie ends up swinging too far the other way and ends up acting downright monstrous and mean. When she’s confronted with the consequences of being too fierce, Millie finds a happy balance: nice enough to apologize, but fierce enough to stand up for herself.
Learning to control and express your emotions doesn't come easily for all kids — especially when frustration or anger makes them feel like they want to blow! In this engaging workbook, kids will use playful activities to learn the essential skills they need to manage angry emotions. Kids will practice breathing and movement excercises to help them feel calmer, reframing methods that help them rethink what they're angry about, and problem-solving techniques to find good resolutions to situations that make them mad. They'll also learn social skills that help them interact with family members, friends, and teachers when big emotions threaten to take over. This positive, encouraging book will build skills kids will use for a lifetime.
Learn to calm your Mad Dragon with this game full of useful tips! Mad Dragon plays like UNO, with players racing to get rid of their cards. With this fast-paced therapeutic card game, kids can learn to control their anger in the moment, practice 12 effective anger management techniques, understand what anger feels and looks like, learn that they have choices about how to express anger, and much more. As kids play, the cards will prompt interesting discussions and get them talking about strategies that work for them. It's a unique option to incorporate anger management techniques in a playful way!
Anger on its own isn't bad: that spark of anger can provide the warning and motivation to change something that's not right. But when anger flares up, kids can feel like it is too big and too fast to stay in control. In this book from the What-to-Do Guides series, kids (and their parents) learn a series of cognitive-behavioral techniques that calm anger without suppressing it, so that kids can learn effective ways to deal with the things that make them angry. Encouraging examples and fun illustrations engage kids in the exercises, and empower them to take charge of their anger and channel it to achieve their goals.
When you're angry, you don't think the same way you do when you're calm, and you may do or say things that you regret later — but if you understand how to express your anger in a healthy way, you will feel more in control. This book helps tweens recognize the physical signs of anger, and also provides examples of the kinds of things you might thoughtlessly say or do when you're angry, both in person and through text or social media. Then, it provides tips for how to calm anger, whether you're just recognizing your rising emotion or you're already in the thick of an angry outburst. With its accessible and encouraging advice, this book will give kids confidence that they can manage their anger.
During the teen years, many kids need to revisit the causes of their anger and frustration — as well as the ways that they express those emotions to the world. This workbook, now newly revised and updated, provides ten-minute worksheets to help teens understand their triggers, control their emotions, and express their feelings in a healthy way. For any teen who’s feeling like she’s losing her cool, this book can provide strategies to feel back in the driver’s seat.
But What If: Fear and Anxiety
There are a lot of unknowns in life, and kids in particular may feel decidedly unprepared to handle them. These books will help kids understand how to use a feeling of anxiety and fear as a way to prompt appropriate caution and planning, rather than allowing those feelings to overwhelm them.
We all worry sometimes: maybe it's because of the dark, or someone who seems mean, or even the news on TV. This new book from beloved author / illustrator Todd Parr is here to reassure preschoolers that they can take control of their worries! After letting them know that everyone worries sometimes, Parr offers helpful, kid-friendly strategies they can try, from imagining themselves as a superhero to talking to the people they love. With colorful illustrations that will make kids giggle, this book reminds kids that worries will come and go, but you can find ways to comfort yourself — or ask for the help you need.
When Ruby first meets the Worry, a yellow scribble with a furrowed brow, it's so small that she barely notices it. But over time, it gets bigger and bigger — and it starts draining all the other colors from the page. Before long, it's so big that the Worry keeps Ruby from doing the things she loves. Then one day, she sees a boy at the playground with a blue-scribble Worry of his own... and when she talks to him about it, she discovers that talking about your Worries can help keep them manageable and small. This kid-friendly story is an excellent way to talk to kids about anxiety and worry while highlighting that there are ways to seek support when you need it.
When Worry sneaks into Maya's mind, it seems like nothing can stop it from growing bigger and bigger, until it shadows everything that Maya does and leaves her alone in the dark with her fear. In this metaphorical story about dealing with worry, kids will see how Maya's Worry (represented in the illustrations as a tangled scribble) keeps her from enjoying even the simplest things in life. Then, when Maya learns belly breathing, she discovers she can summon her Courage, represented by sparkles, which helps her overcome her worries — even if it doesn't completely dismiss Worry for good. This encouraging and empowering read will help worriers and non-worriers alike.
The little girl in this story has always had a tiny friend called Fear: a small, white creature with an uncertain smile. But when her family immigrates to a new country, Fear gets bigger and bigger, growing with every uncertainty and every moment of confusion. Fear also tries to change the way she sees the world, telling the girl that she'll always be lonely and afraid... but this little girl is stronger than even her biggest Fear, and when she sees past Fear to discover a willing friend, she discovers that everyone has a Fear — and that talking about your fears can help overcome them. This empowering story encourages kids to recognize that fear is natural and understandable, while also realizing that fear doesn't have to control their lives.
Cora is constantly plagued with nervous questions — the Whatifs! These sneaky little creatures like to make her worry about everything, from little things — what if my crayon breaks? — to big ones — what if my dog runs away? Backstage before her piano recital, Cora is particularly plagued with Whatif worries. Fortunately, her friend Stella reminds her that not all Whatifs are negative, and by turning her Whatifs around, Cora is able to get out on stage... and even recover when she hits a wrong note. This charming picture book introduces real-life cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in a playful way, perfect to reassure kids that they can thrive even when the Whatifs loom!
Wemberly is one of those kids who worries about everything from spilling her juice to whether a snake could sneak in through the radiator, and school brings its own host of worries — including whether she'll find a friend. Fortunately, a sympathetic teacher introduces Wemberly to another nervous new student; soon the pair are not only comforting one another, but discovering that there's too much fun to be had at school — and with new friends — to spend all your time worrying. Kids will empathize with Wemberly, and watching her overcome her fears will encourage them to see how they could do the same.
This story provides a more metaphorical look at overcoming fears. When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family’s house, they’re all terrified...except for Small, the youngest, who chases the rapidly shrinking dog throughout the whole neighborhood. By the time they get back to the house, Small’s courage has shrunk the dog enough that it fits through the cat door, and the Hopes agree that he doesn’t seem so scary after all — and invite him into the family. This book will remind your Mighty Girl that many fears seem larger than life, but once faced, can quickly become part of the daily routine.
For kids who find their fears and anxieties become an obstacle to day-to-day life, the story of Wilma Jean will offer reassurance that they're not alone! Wilma Jean worries so much that she wakes up feeling sick; all her brain seems to do is spit out more scenarios to worry about. Fortunately, when Wilma lets the adults in her life in on her fears, they're able to help her find solutions, including dividing her worries into things she can control and things she can't, and picking a "worry hat" she can put on when she needs a minute to think about her worries — and take off as a reminder that she can leave her worries behind. By the end, Wilma Jean discovers that her worries are manageable and adults learn ways to help kids with anxiety.
As kids get older, they can start to learn techniques to manage their anxiety. This interactive self-help book designed to guide kids and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalized anxiety. Parents of younger children can read it aloud and discuss the concepts with their little worrier, while older kids can use it independently to better understand and manage their fears. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. The techniques described in this book will help your child take control.
Some kids love being in the spotlight — and others wish they could disappear! In this book from the What-To-Do Guides series, kids who often feel shy or anxious when they're the center of attention, along with their parents, can explore the underlying emotions that drive those fears. Then, they'll learn child-friendly strategies based on cognitive-behavioral principles that will help them manage their worries, gradually increase their comfort zone, and feel ready to step into busy social situations! Full of interactive activities and child-friendly explanations, this self-help is perfect to build kids' confidence so they can join in the fun.
It's normal to worry about everything, from the little stuff ("Does my hair look silly this morning?") to the big stuff ("Mom and Dad are arguing again.") Sometimes, girls even worry about the fun stuff, like going to a slumber party or trying an exciting (but tough) new activity. Fortunately, there are ways that you can learn to take charge of your worries so that you can overcome fears, stay calm, and feel confident. With quizzes, proven techniques, and advice from real girls, this book will help you take on your worries so you feel in control.
For older kids, it can feel like Worry is smarter than they are, always shifting places and somehow coaxing them into doing things that make things, not better! Fortunately, there are ways that kids can outsmart worry, even big-deal Worry that seems to pop up no matter what they do. Dawn Huebner, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating anxious kids, crafted this guide for kids aged 9 to 13: those in-the-middle kids who are too old for simple strategies but not quite ready for guides for teens. Accessible, matter-of-fact language helps kids shift from logically understanding their worries to taking the steps they need to overcome them, once and for all.
Do you ever realize you're saying cruel things to yourself — things you would never say to one of your friends? With so many changes going on in a teen's life, it's easy to be overly critical, but those negative thoughts can add stress and make you struggle with your mental health. In this book from the Instant Help Solutions series, psychologist Karen Bluth teaches exercises that you can use to counteract your inner critic and discover the self-compassion that will help you reach your goals. With these techniques, you'll learn self-care skills that can help you achieve your goals — now and for the rest of your life.
If your teen is finding herself paralyzed by anxiety and worry, this workbook can help. When you’re a teen, it can seem like there’s a lot to worry about: friends, school, parents, and the upcoming transition from high school to the world beyond. This workbook provides tools for understanding and managing your worry, as well as for understanding when you should seek additional help for your anxiety. Teens will appreciate the encouraging, positive tone, which reminds them that the don’t have to feel trapped by their fears.
Growing Emotions: Parenting for Emotional Awareness
Parents can do a lot to teach their kids how to manage their emotions! If you’ve been looking for parenting guides to help coach your kids to understand and control their feelings, these books are sure to help.
As kids develop emotional maturity, they integrate the two aspects of the brain: the logical mind, which is capable of advance planning and thoughtful decision-making, and the emotional mind. In younger kids, the emotional mind holds sway, which is why frustrations, fears, and disappointment can lead to tears and tantrums. With the twelve strategies in this book, parents can help kids take the emotionally overwhelming moments of their lives and use them as an opportunity to foster emotional understanding and integration, helping to reach a happy and mentally healthy future.
Parents are quick to teach kids intellectual skills, but sometimes it's easy to forget that emotional skills are just as important: kids who are emotionally intelligent have more confidence, less nerves in school, and healthier relationships. This book provides a five-step emotion coaching process that helps kids develop the strategies they need to identify and manage their own emotions. Starting with teaching parents how to respond to their children's emotions, and then moving to guiding kids to come up with their own solutions, the authors provide an excellent framework for supportive parenting that still encourages emotional independence.
Anxiety is on the rise, but for girls, it's an epidemic: the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55 percent from 2009 to 2014. So what can parents do to help girls growing up in this stressful time? Psychologist Lisa Damour starts her new book explaining how to change the conversation about stress and anxiety, so girls understand when these feelings can benefit her — and when they need to be addressed. Then, she talks about the steps adults can take to help shield girls from the pressure our culture puts on them in many areas of their lives. Fans of Damour's best-selling book Untangled will be delighted to get more of her helpful, reassuring advice in this excellent guide to supporting girls through today's challenges.
Teaching kids about their emotions means providing space for emotions that many parents think of as negative. Richard Weissbourd argues that parents’ focus on their children’s happiness — and the corresponding emphasis on personal satisfaction over empathy — results in children with a fragile sense of self and a fear that anything other than contentment is a sign of failure. By teaching kids to view themselves as part of a larger community, Weissbourd shows that kids — and their parents — can grow to be kinder, more emotionally intelligent people.
One of the nearly universal unpleasant emotions that children experience is fear and worry; from the monster in the closet to speaking in front of the class, it’s a rare kid who's anxiety-free! And as many parents discover, logic and reassurance often don't work, leaving them at a loss for how to help their kids. Lawrence J. Cohen, the author of Playful Parenting, shows parents how lighthearted parenting techniques — including lots of emphasis on physical play — can help kids and their parents overcome everything from temporary nerves to ongoing fears.
Helping kids overcome anxiety is harder if you’re an anxious parent — or if you’re getting worried that your child worries so much! Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons show parents that they can break the cycle of anxiety in this book, which identifies some common anxiety-enhancing patterns and provides advice on how to change your responses in ways that foster courage and confidence. By following their advice, parents will not only model confidence for their kids; they'll also learn to become more confident themselves.
Today's kids are often higher achieving than ever before — but they're also experiencing record levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. And yet some kids seem to thrive rather than burning out — and Dr. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and the author of the bestselling UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, wanted to find out why. She discovered that there are seven character traits — confidence, empathy, self-control, integrity, curiosity, perseverance, and optimism — that help kids bounce back from challenges and succeed, and be happy, in their lives. Better yet, these are traits that we can teach our kids at any age! This must-read book will help parents and educators teach kids these skills so they, too, can thrive.
Depression among teenage girls is on the rise, and it doesn't always look like we expect: explosive emotions, back talking, and experimenting with sex or drugs can all be signs of depression. In this helpful book, Dr. Lisa Machoian helps parents understand the mixed messages that face our girls, and learn what they can do to help them build resilience and make decisions that foster their physical and mental health. By doing so, we can help them identify these feelings, rather than carrying them into adulthood. When a girl in your life needs help, this book will help you recognize it — and now how to provide it.
Of course, for some kids, behaviors really do reach the point where outside help is needed, but how can parents and educators recognize the line between the typical teen and one who needs urgent attention? Lisa Boesky wrote When to Worry to help parents decipher the difference. Boesky’s compassionate and reassuring guide highlights several different problem behaviors, including spurts of sadness or anger, anxieties and fears, rulebreaking, and potentially destructive behaviors like a focus on dieting or substance use, and helps adults determine whether they’re severe enough to justify outside intervention. For most parents, working through things as a family is enough, but for those teens who need specialized assistance, this book can be a literal life-saver.
With a little help, every girl can learn to understand and manage her emotional life in a healthy way — and who knows? Having these conversations may help you deal with emotions that you still find tricky as an adult. No matter what, talking about emotions with your Mighty Girl is sure to bring you closer. You can't help but feel good about that!
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more Mighty Girl books about emotions, visit our Emotions & Feelings section.
- For books about maintaining emotional well-being, visit our Mental Health section.
- Journaling can be a great way to manage and explore emotions. For a variety of resources about journaling, including The Feelings Book Journal and our most popular journal, Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms, visit our Writing / Journaling section.
- For parenting books about how girls' feelings grow and change, check out our Physical & Emotional Development section.