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A children's book that empowers readers to combat anxiety

Elizabeth Hartford has spent years as a social worker, guiding kids of all ages through hard times. Her new children's book helps kids build their own resiliency.

NORWAY, Maine — Life has changed for most of us through the pandemic, especially for kids. Sports programs; school gatherings; even in-person learning have all been impacted, but all are things that are easier to manage for those kids who have a higher resiliency. 

Elizabeth Hartford has spent years in social work, working with kids through anxiety, depression, or just difficult moments in their lives. 

"When kids are anxious they often will act out or they will shut down completely. It leads to a lot of school phobia. I dealt with that a lot. Also a social phobia," Hartford explains. She says it's harder for kids to deal with those emotions because they aren't taught early on how to regulate their emotions or their bodies.

Through her work, Hartford has learned tools that help build up resiliency in children. They are tools, she says, that should be introduced as early as possible. She's included some of those tools in her children's book, The Bear and the Chair.

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"We aren’t necessarily taught about our central nervous system and how our bodies relate to the world and how we relate to each other through our bodies," Hartford explains. "I think the younger we are to learn about our central nervous system and how it works as a mammal, as a human, as an animal -- because we are all built the same way, we just have different experiences."

Her story follows a troupe of bears who learn how to cope with difficult situations by sitting in a chair. It reads in part, "Breathe in through your nose," the old chair says softly. My heart is about to beat out of my chest, and I squeeze my eyes closed tight! The steady calm chair continues, "Isabelle, breathe in through your nose, 1... 2... 3...4." So, I do.

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"We can learn the tools that will help us understand how to regulate anxiety or depression or anything else that comes our way, if we can understand how our bodies actually work," says Hartford. 

To learn more about The Bear and the Chair, click here

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