From children having a terrifying nightmare that sends them running into their parent’s room all hours of the night to being scared to go to school because they will have to read in front of the class, parents want their children to have confidence and overcome their fears.
Reading a bedtime story to your child can help them settle down and relax before going to sleep, and it can improve their sleep quality. It can also provide a safe space for children to explore fears, uncomfortable situations, and it helps them learn ways to cope with their emotions.
According to the Children’s Library Lady, through books, “children can explore different aspects of their fear, helping them understand and process their feelings and learn new ways of coping with fear.”
Children’s fears can range from unrealistic to practical. We’ve all probably had a nightmare at one point that there was a monster under the bed, which is a common but unrealistic fear. On the other hand, some children might be afraid of wild animals, which is very realistic.
No matter your child’s fears, it’s okay for them to be scared, but we don’t want our children to be held back by it.
Another benefit of routinely reading a bedtime story is it can also build emotional intelligence.
“Many skills, like empathy and kindness, can be difficult to teach because they are best learned through experience,” states the Reading Partners organization. “Reading exposes children to stories and characters that can help them learn traits of empathy. By connecting to book characters, children can learn how to relate to others.”
A local mother, Brooke Thomas, published the book Wimps of the Wild to help children build emotional intelligence and to provide a guide to face their fears.
Thomas is a mother of three children and talks about the importance of children conquering their fears. Living in the Rocky Mountains, she wanted to write a children’s book to help kids face their fears, specifically related to animals.
“I really love animals, but I’m also kind of afraid of them, especially in the wild. I’d love to see them, but I’m also terrified that something is going to happen,” Thomas says. “I’ve appreciated that kids should be allowed to be scared but encouraged to continue to learn about animals.”
Children who haven’t been exposed to different kinds of animals might feel anxiety or other emotions related to fear when going to the zoo, meeting a friendly dog, or seeing a wild animal in nature. Wimps of the Wild is a perfect book for children in Colorado because we are surrounded by wild animals. From hiking on a trail and spotting a rattlesnake to exploring the National Forest and hearing wolves, our children will likely encounter some kind of animal.
It’s okay for children to be a little scared of animals or think some are icky, but we still need to have empathy, compassion, and kindness for them, Thomas says.
One of the leading experiences that contributed to Wimps of the Wild was when Thomas went to India to meet her husband’s family. When she met his family, she realized they had a very different relationship with animals than what she’d been exposed to in America.
“[For example] dogs are only working animals. They’re not allowed inside, and you don’t interact with them. You throw food to them over the fence,” Thomas says.
When Thomas first met her husband’s relatives, she had a little dog with her that she took everywhere.
“They were terrified of her, and she was like 10 pounds and harmless,” Thomas says. “I appreciate that people have different opinions. But I didn’t realize that a grown adult can be so terrified of this small, harmless animal.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a fear of animals is one of the top three most common phobias.
It’s important for children to be exposed to animals at a young age so that the fear doesn’t affect their daily life. So, next time you’re looking for a new book for your child, pop online and snag a copy of Wimps of the Wild, an early middle-grade adventure story. The book can teach compassion, kindness, and bravery as the main characters face their fears.
About the Book
In the book, Wimps of the Wild, three kids go on an adventure to save baby alligators, even though they’ve been told that wild animals are dangerous.
“The last thing scaredy-cat Izzy wants to do is sneak baby alligators into her house. But when her friend Joey begs her to save the gators’ lives, will Izzy face her fears and find enough compassion and courage to rescue the babies?”