To be fair to this little Worrysaurus, he has a point when it comes to British summertime weather & planning picnics! Putting that to one side, this is a sunshine picture book whose soothing rhymes gently explore anxiety & share coping strategies that warm the heart.
Many children with developmental trauma worry terribly about all sorts of things & struggle, as the Worrysaurus does, with uncertainty. Their parents & carers are well versed in ensuring structure, routine & predictability, to help their child to cope. All children worry, but a traumatised child’s anxiety can be especially big & overwhelming. When you have had bad, sad & scary things happen in the past & from an early age, it shapes the brain & central nervous system & processing of experiences. It sensitises to danger & preoccupies with keeping safe – even when there isn’t any danger there at all. It manifests itself in phobias & obsessive-compulsive behaviours. How important then to help a child recognise what is happening in their body – the physical manifestations of anxiety. To help them stay grounded in the present & not be pulled into the ‘trauma timehole’, responding as thought they are back in those frightening experiences again.
When a lizard friend inadvertently triggers Worrysaurus’s already overactive reptilian brain, he gets butterflies in his tummy, chattering teeth & his legs turn to jelly. The illustrations darken & he looks smaller on the page. Recalling his mummy’s kindly words, he reaches into his tin of happy things & these help chase his fears away. Therapeutic parents might not move to reassurance quite as quickly as this mummy – knowing there is value to staying with difficult feelings & providing an empathic narrative to make more sense of them first. But this is a picture book to open conversations & provide opportunities to weave such narratives in, along with exploring the use of transitional objects, fiddle toys & affirmations to help a child know they are held in mind.
For little ones who struggle to stay open & engaged, we need lots of ways to help them trust that they can be in the moment & feel the warmth around them without fear or need to hide. The Worrysaurus is one such story, giving hope that perhaps one day the only butterflies will be the ones outside.