Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kids Guide to Managing Anxiety by Dawn Huebner is a very clever book. It takes something very intimidating and breaks it down into an easy to understand and relatable phenomenon. From there it has excellent strategies for successfully taking down your worries. Personally, I was a child worrier actually I still am a worrier but it is much more under control now. I found the examples of worries in this book to be very relatable to my younger self’s concerns. I also really appreciated the wide variety of example worries in the book it added an interesting perspective and helps make it so all worriers can find an example they relate with.
The techniques in the book are based on actual therapy techniques and encourage children to work with their parents in overthrowing their fears. I find this to be very important my own worries grew into an anxiety disorder and this type of help enables parents and children to recognize when being a worrier has gotten out of hand and professional help is needed as well as give the child background information on and experience with the therapy they may undertake. For children who are able to conquer their worries with this book these techniques are still very helpful in establishing a lifelong habit of dealing with concerns in a healthy manner. Additionally the parental involvement helps bring families closer together and build the child’s trust that their parent’s support even when their worries may be embarrassing so seem trivial to others. My own experiences with my worry, therapy, and anxiety and the family support I received through it made me really appreciate this aspect of the book.
The book begins with recognizing how one becomes an expert at worrying. This includes a scientific explanation of the flight or fight response, the safety behaviors that protect us from danger, and how false alarms and false safety behaviors create worry loops. For those of us who sometimes have “silly” worries it really helps show how a bad experience can create these concerns and that you don’t have to be embarrassed there is still a scientific explanation for where it came from. Once you know where your worry came from the book details different strategies for using evidence and logic to outsmart your worry as well as strategies for being prepared for worries and accepting uncertainty. The book concludes with using exposure to worries or the possibility of worries to stop false safety behaviors and vanquish your worries. While this can be an intimidating process the book uses fun and reassuring language and cool and goofy artwork to keep the book feeling comfortable. I believe middle grade readers will find it easy to relate to and as entertaining as it is informative. Further I believe that while it is a bit young for older readers they could still find it to be a useful resource without being overly juvenile. The author is very good about keeping things simple without every feeling like the book is talking down to the reader. Overall I think this is a great resource for any type of worrier and a solid addition to a middle grade library.
For the record this is an expanded version of my review on Goodreads and I was given early access to this book for the purpose of review. I requested access to this book because of my interest in youth materials and my own experiences with worry and anxiety.