Browsing through Amazon, you can’t help but notice the wide selection of self-help books for adults. From spirituality, to relationship coaching, you’ll find a huge variety of books that cover the gamut of challenges you may be experiencing and need some help with.
What most of us haven’t discovered yet is the huge library of self-help books for kids that convey powerful messages and teachings that will build a strong foundation for lifelong social, practical, physical, spiritual and emotional connection.The world can be a stressful and complex place for our little ones. Yes, even 7-year olds experience anxiety, grief, pain, and other adult emotions we think are only reserved for us. And as parents, we don’t always know how to help them cope (and we’re also dealing with our own piles of poo at the same time, which makes it even harder!). According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, almost one third of kids suffer from stress that manifests physically in the form of headaches, stomach aches, and more.
With my daughter’s recent obsession with Geronimo Stilton books, it’s hard to get her to read anything else. But she’s grown extremely fond of the books I listed below as they seem to answer a lot of her questions about life and help her cope with unfamiliar emotions and anxieties related to growing up, in a way that helps kids relate and understand.
What I really wasn’t expecting when I started reading these to her a few years ago, is how much they would help me as well. They explain adult concepts in a very simple, fun and playful manner, and sometimes we don’t always have time to read a 276-page book on how to be mindful or kind, but somehow a 32-page book where a panda teaches you about mindfulness helps you cover the basics!
So this holiday season, instead of putting more toys under the tree that your kids likely don’t need, give the gift of teaching them (and yourself!) about kindness, mindfulness, happiness, confidence and self-love with some of our favourite books below. Like I always say, it’s much easier to teach them now when they’re young instead of trying to fix them when they’re older!
1 - Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda - Lauren Alderfer
“True happiness comes from bringing all your attention to whatever you are doing right now.” Wise words from a panda! In mindfulness teachings, we often talk about the “monkey mind”, and this is an entertaining story about a monkey wanting to learn to be more mindful and happy like the panda. It teaches kids (and adults) that the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet, and to bring our minds to the present.
2 - No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully - Sarah Marlowe
This is an engaging story about a child learning to mindfully eat an apple. With beautiful illustrations, this book encourages children to carefully and attentively look, feel, smell, taste and even listen to food they eat so they can appreciate the experience of eating. This is a very useful book if you have a picky eater at home, or simply a playful way to teach kids to be present, slow down and enjoy every moment.
3 - I Like Myself! - Karen Beaumont
This silly but empowering book introduces you to a sassy little girl who is totally in love with herself. She accepts herself for who she is, inside and out, regardless of what anyone says or thinks. There’s definitely a lesson or two in there for us as well!
4 - Beautiful Girl: Celebrating the Wonders of Your Body - Dr. Christiane Northrup
With sexual harassment charges cropping up everywhere and the rise of the “Me too” movement, it is more crucial than ever to read this book to both young girls to teach them how valuable and perfect their bodies are, the importance of treating themselves with gentle care, and how changes are just part of growing up.
Beautiful Girls is a lovely book with a simple but important message: to be born a woman is magical, and carries with it gifts and powers that must be recognized and nurtured. Dr. Northrup believes that helping girls learn at a young age to value the wonder and uniqueness of their bodies can have positive benefits that will last throughout their lives. I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Northrup in person at a conference 2 years ago and asked her to sign my daughter’s book, which makes this book even more special to me!
5 - I Think, I Am!: Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations - Louise Hay
“Your thoughts create your life!” This is the message that Louise Hay shared with the world for close to 30 years before she passed. With this book, kids can learn and understand the powerful idea behind affirmations and that their thoughts and words do have a major impact on the world they create around them. Within these pages, fun illustrations and simple text teach kids how to make the change from “negative” thoughts and words, such as worry, anger and fear, to those that are positive like joy, happiness and love.
6 - Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids - Carol McCloud
This heartwarming book encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love by "filling buckets”. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well-being of others and ourselves.
7 - It's Not What You've Got: Lessons for Kids on Money and Abundance - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
The lessons in this beautifully illustrated book are valuable for children and adults alike: money does not define who you are, it doesn’t matter what others have, and you have the power to get what you want as abundance is real and comes in many forms. Internationally renowned self-help author and speaker, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, wrote this book to help children build a positive perspective on money that will last throughout their lives. Through mantras, rhymes, images and powerful questions, You’re Not What You've Got approaches the topics of money and abundance in a positive, spiritual way, rather than being a how-to-manual on spending and saving for kids.
8 - Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs: A Tapping Solution Children's Story - Alex Ortner
It’s tough to explain a scientifically-proven method like emotional freedom technique, more commonly known as “Tapping", to children, but this book does an amazing job at simplifying this age old, powerful healing modality. The fun descriptions and illustrations show you and your child how to use this technique to overcome stress, anxiety, negative emotions, and much more. The tapping points are described creatively as Super Eagle Eye Point, Lion Cry Point, Dragon Fire Point, Wolf Point, and more, and kids will have a blast howling, hugging, thumping on their chest and acting like a monkey, while they learn how to use tapping to help themselves.
9 - A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles - Thich Nhat Hanh
Created by global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, A Handful of Quiet presents a completely unique and creative meditation technique for children. Using four ordinary pebbles, the meditation explained in this book is a playful and fun activity that parents can do with their children to help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and help children deal with difficult emotions. My daughter’s mind goes a mile a minute and doesn’t seem to slow down at bedtime. I’ve done the pebble meditation a bunch of times with her and it’s a very powerful meditative exercise to help calm her mind and ground her.
10 - Peaceful Piggy Meditation - Kerry Lee MacLean
A great book that introduces kids to meditation and its benefits. It teaches them that when they feel mad, anxious, frustrated or sad, all they need to do is to find a quiet spot, sit and breathe.
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