Picture Books Part 2-The Foundation of Bravery

15 Apr

Your Anxious Child: Emails to Parents Edward H. Plimpton, PhD


Picture Books Part 2-The Foundation of Bravery


Sitting on the living room couch, a parent reads a picture book to his or her young child. A small body cradled and attentive to the unfolding story-one of life’s pleasurable moments. Quietly and without fanfare, an important conversation is transpiring about how to grow up and be safe. And the following books charmingly begin this conversation: The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, and Pouch, by David Ezra Stein. Children will outgrow these books, but the question gets repeated at each stage of life in more complex and subtle ways. 


For children to actively engage the world, they must be able to affirmatively answer the question of whether they will be safe and their needs will be met. Without an affirmative response, children will be more oriented toward protecting their bottom line of simple survival. In other words, to tolerate the experience of anxiety, there needs to be some foundation of security or safety and at a young age this especially involves a sense of connection with a parent or caregiver. In The Runaway Bunny, the little bunny is asking this question to its mother in a series of challenges. 


Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.

So he said to his mother, I am running away.

If you run away,said his mother, I will run after you.

For you are my little bunny.


The little bunny suggests a variety of ways he may run away and to each possibility the mother creatively answers how she will be there to catch him. Eventually the little bunny is reassured and can settle down and eat a carrot. 


In Pouch, the baby kangaroo is more confident of his mother and   goes off exploring the world.  When the tension becomes too much, it runs back to its mother with the cry of “Pouch,” mirroring the behavior of many  young children.

With its mother as a constant source of security, the baby kangaroo gains more confidence to explore the world. 


And how does this relate to your anxious child who has perhaps outgrown these books? Successfully overcoming anxiety involves incremental steps and building the internal resources to tolerate the tension that may go along with this process. And it starts with the foundation of safety that starts without fanfare on the living room couch. 

copyright@edward plimpton

2 Responses to “Picture Books Part 2-The Foundation of Bravery”

  1. weight loss January 7, 2015 at 1:40 am #

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