Easing Anxiety in Kids with the What If Monster

Help kids talk about their worries with this thoughtful activity based on Jonathan James and the What if Monster!

I was an anxious kid. I worried about everything - going to school, making friends, participating in sports, you name it. My mom was (and still is) amazing at helping me work through my worries and allowing me to have a full and happy childhood. All kids deal with worry and doubt, and I want to make sure that when my kids have worries that I'm able to help them as well as my mom helped me. I've found a wonderful resource for talking with kids about anxiety and I've added an activity to help get kids talking more and worrying less.

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

I started with a wonderful book, Jonathan James and the What if Monster.

I wish I had this book as a child. It deals with childhood worry in a gentle, thoughtful way. The What if Monster plagues little Jonathan James with worry and doubt, and sneaks into his thoughts as he navigates the normal fears of childhood such as making new friends and trying new things. But in the end, Jonathan overcomes the What if Monster and realizes that new things can be wonderful!

My boys love Jonathan James and the What if Monster.  With all the new transitions they are facing now - preschool, potty training, big boy beds - I wanted to be sure that they had a resource to help them verbalize their worries. So I decided to make our own What if Monster who could eat up all our worries!

We have an awesome monster pillow in our playroom that works perfectly as our What if Monster, because he has a mouth that can eat up all our worries.

Since my boys aren't writing yet, I made a worry card for them to let him eat. After we read Jonathan James and the What if Monster, I ask them if there's anything that they are worried about. Then we "feed" all our worries to the monster pillow.

Now our worries are safely tucked away, and we can now talk about all the wonderful "what ifs" that might happen, just like in the book. This is a wonderful way to get kids talking about the "what ifs" that are weighing on their minds.

Older kids can make their own worries by drawing or writing their own worry cards and feeding them to their monsters. Sharing their fears through talking, drawing, or writing helps them to express how they feel and provides a wonderful opportunity for dialogue. As a nervous child, I always found that having a safe way to express my worries always made me feel more secure and ready to face them.

Want more great books for kids with anxiety? Check out this list!

Do you have a young child who is dealing with big emotions? Here's another great activity to help children deal with emotions from Playground Parkbench.

How have you helped your children deal with worry? Leave a comment or message me on Facebook - I'd love to hear your ideas!

I'd love to hear from you! To get in touch, message me on Facebook or Instagram, or send me an email.