Fear is something that we all have to deal with in our lives. As parents and teachers, it is important for us to help kids learn to address their fears, in order to conquer them and live their lives more fully. When I Was a Child: I Was Always Afraid written by Michael Cascio and illustrated by Bentley Wong, shows how parents can help kids to face common fears in their day to day lives.
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When I Was a Child I Was Always Afraid uses a peppy rhyme and bright illustrations to introduce readers to the lessons on fear that the author learned from his father. He talks about the things he was afraid of as a child, which are familiar fears for a lot of kids (thunder and lightning, dark basements, etc). His father helps him to face these fears by showing him that the scary sounds and images are all in his head. The bright and colorful illustrations show the dark and scary objects the child sees, then shows what they actually look like once his father encourages him to take a closer look. This book provides a great opportunity for parents and children to talk about what they are afraid of, and how they can face those fears together.
The author was inspired to write the book based on the lessons he learned from his father. His father encouraged him to face his fears so that they wouldn’t hold him back in his life. He wrote a poem to help him whenever he got scared, and he used that poem to teach the same lesson to his three kids. This book is the illustrated version of that same poem, and he hopes that it will help other children to learn to face their fears as well.
There are many ways that parents can use this book as a jumping off point for discussing fears and how to face them.
Make a Plan
Fear Book – The author’s father showed him how the scary things in his head weren’t so scary in real life. The illustrator does a great job of showing this in the book’s pictures. Offer your kids the opportunity to show you what they are afraid of with this printable fear book. Sign up below to receive the free printable booklet. Print out the cover page and a few of the book pages. Cut them in half between the boxes. Assemble the pages so the cover page is followed by the reminder. You can then add the “What I Am Afraid of” page and the “Facing My Fears” pages so they are facing each other, creating a two page spread. Have kids illustrate something that they are afraid of on the “What I Am Afraid of” page.
Have them explain their picture to you, then decide how to help them face this fear. It could be something concrete, like when the author’s father shows him the tree during the day. It could also be something they can visualize, just as the author thought of thunder and lightning as bumper cars. Have your child illustrate your plan of action on the “Facing My Fears” page so they can have a reminder when they are scared.
Throw Away Your Fears
Fear Monsters – This is a fun way to help young kids get rid of their fears in a tangible way. Create a monster out of an empty box or bag. I attached paper eyes and teeth to an empty tissue box. Have kids write out things that they are afraid of and “feed” them to the monster by placing them inside his mouth. My mother has always taught my sister and I to write things out when we are scared or frustrated, and I have found that it really does help. By writing out their fears, kids can get their thoughts out onto paper. Feeding them to the monster is a tangible way of removing the fear from themselves and passing it on to this imaginary creature.
Confide in a Loved One
Discussion – This book provides an opening for families to have a conversation about the things that worry them, and how you can overcome those fears. Share with your kids how you overcame a fear when you were younger, or even how you are facing a fear now! Remind them that it is ok to be afraid, but we have the tools to face that fear and overcome it. Keeping an open dialogue as a family can help your kids to face their fears, knowing that you will be there to help them.
Facing our fears is something that we have to deal with throughout our lives. Teaching kids how to confront their fears when they are younger can help them to address fear and worry later in their lives. When I Was a Child: I Was Always Afraid is a great way to start the conversation with your kids! (It is available on Amazon through the links above or through Mascot.)