5 Tips and Tricks for Using Storybooks to Alleviate Emotional Distress in Kids

Mother reading a storybook to her daughter to reduce emotional distress such as controlling her anger, being jealous of the new baby.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels



When your young child is in the midst of a temper tantrum, that is not the time to talk things out.


You are not ready, and your angry child does not want to listen to you. But there is a perfect time to discuss the issues so that even a toddler gains some perspective on the problem.

So, when is the perfect time to discuss “why you cannot hit your baby brother, or yell in the supermarket or refuse to accept “No” for an answer? Let a storybook do the introductions to the topic. Many storybooks will assist parents in promoting emotional growth.

Take a look at this excellent example of the genre through “I Just Don’t Like the Sound of “NO” on YouTube.

1. Advantages of Using a Storybook

It is well known that emotional outbursts high jack the thinking brain for at least 20 minutes after the outburst. No one is prepared to discuss things rationally in that heightened state – not the child and not the parent.

When you use a storybook to address the problem, the discussion is a no-blame zone. Deep down, your angry child probably has an inkling that you are really discussing his or her family, but the story format appeals to their imagination. However, they will begin to form new thoughts on a well-worn hot topic.

Since most kids enjoy hearing stories you can leverage this positive experience to tackle tough discussions.

After all, the book is only make-believe. The environment is non-treating.

Even if the situation in the storybook does not mirror your exact situation, you can discuss similar issues with your child to help them understand various social conditions “Being able to take the perspective of others, or have empathy for other people’s feelings, is a sophisticated social skill, but it is a big part of getting along, playing well with other children and maintaining friendships, and even young children can start learning perspective-taking,” according to KITS (Kids in Transition to School)

2. Making Emotional Distress all part of Life’s Struggles

Negative feelings for most toddlers carry with them extreme responses. Parents know that the key is to calm yourself down so that you can take control of the situation. Toddlers, however, usually do not feel in control, nor do they know “calming down” techniques. Both of these aspects are learned behaviors, and through storybooks, you can deliver the lessons that will last a lifetime.

3. Handle Temper Tantrums in a Socially Acceptable Way

Once again, your toddler knows nothing about generating alternative strategies for problem-solving. Much to your dismay, they rely on one of the most obvious – make as much fuss as possible to bend anyone to your demands. Storybooks can make the process of generating alternative ideas visible to your toddler.

4. Best Parenting Practices

In general, most parents do not know how to handle the emotional issues of their kids. Often they tend to fall back on what their parents did. We all know the results of those inferior techniques. There are many recent storybooks that are backed by excellent parenting strategies. This type of social storybook will not only teach the child, but it will also educate the parent. Many books also come with some forms of parental guidance for making best use of the strategies.

5. Familiar Characters and Settings Brings Acceptance

Often this type of storybook is not a singular experience. The storybook is one of a whole suite of adventures. Your kids will come to enjoy the characters in the books and with familiarity will come acceptance of the lessons that are presented.

Dealing with your Kids’ Emotions in the Coronavirus Pandemic Era

See these posts about the Coronavirus Pandemic for further information.

Kids Can: in the coronavirus pandemic

Are we there yet?  When will the coronavirus be over? 

Going Back to School   Help for Parents   

Do you want more information?

Continue to learn when is the best time to use the storybook and how to use it for maximum effect.


How can we help?

Comment on what you have read or ask a question.


Also included is a list of more than 40 social storybooks that will help you with many different family problems including the new baby, how to handle anger, and striking out.

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