Our nervous systems are designed to receive their distress. Fight or flight in them raises fight or flight in us - to get our bodies ready to fight for them or flee with them.
When they’re in actual danger, it’s a brilliant response, but ‘danger’ is about what the brain perceives.
Big feelings and behaviour are a sign of a brain that has registered ‘threat’. A felt sense of relational threat and emotional threat all count as ‘threat’.
This can happen any time there is any chance at all of humiliation, judgement, missing out on something important, felt disconnection, not feeling seen, heard, validated, not having the resources for the immediate demands (stress).
Think of this in terms of interruption, transition times, sibling arguments, coming home after a big day at school.
When the threat isn’t a true physical danger, there is nothing to fight with or flee from (except maybe siblings and instructions).
This is when the fight or flight that’s been raised in us can move us to fight with them (we might get irritated, frustrated, angry, annoyed, raise our voices) or flee from them.
These are really valid feelings and signs of things working as they should, but it’s what we do in response that matters.
Think of it this way. Brains don’t care for the difference between actual danger and things that are safe, but annoying or upsetting. They all count as ‘danger’.
Pause for a moment, and see that this is a young person with a brain that doesn’t feel ‘safe’ right now. Whether it’s emotionally safe, relationally safe, physically safe - they all matter.
First, they need to be brought back to safety. We’ll do this most powerfully through relationship - co-regulation, validation, touch.
In practice this looks like breathe (to calm your nervous system so you can recalibrate theirs), be with (validate with or without words - let them feel you believing them and not needing anything from them in that moment), and wait.
If you need to hold a boundary, add that in (‘I won’t let you …’) but don’t take relationship away.
Then, when they are calm, have the chat - ‘What happened?’ ‘What can we do to put things right?’ ‘What might next time look like?’♥️
Emma C (verified owner) –
This was recommended to me by a member of a support group for kidney kids, my son has medical anxiety whilst he’s a little too young, I love it! I work in mental health and I think this is great for adults too! Beautiful book and toy. Thank you!
Nicki A W (verified owner) –
This book gives an excellent explanation of the anxiety my 10 year old grandson is experiencing. He has named the plushie “Blue”. We are also practicing the coping strategies. Love all this material!
Peter S –
These books are truly wonderful! And the plush is my daughters favorite. (she calls him “Ang-zitty” and brings him and hands him to me or my wife to hug whenever either of us gets upset. 🙂 Thanks!
Sophie (verified owner) –
This was such a great recommendation! It really helped my daughter to better understand her anxiety and to feel more normal about it and in control of it. Thank you!!
Jodi H (verified owner) –
After discovering Hey Warrior at the library, I simply had to buy our own copy. The best explanation of anxiety for kids (and older) that I’ve found. Gentle and beautiful, without blame or shame, and it plants the seed that anxiety can be reduced, we can have some control.
Colleen M. (verified owner) –
I have experienced panic and anxiety, and I was noticing similar behavior patterns in my daughter such as withdrawal and worry. I gave the stuffy to my daughter I was a bit concerned about. I showed her how to use proper breathing using the stuffy on her stomach as suggested.
I gave the book to all three of my 6-year-olds — yes, I’ve got triplets! They love science so the thorough biological explanations of fight and flight weren’t lost on them. This is a valuable tool for all children. My greatest take-away was to continue to explain to my children that they can teach themselves when to ignore fear and when to listen to it.
Deborah Mc (verified owner) –
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and am using this book and plush toy with my young clients who struggle with anxious feelings. It is well written and so helpful to explain what is happening in their brains.
Jodi (verified owner) –
The book, plush Amygdala toy and strategies taught in the book have been really helpful for my 5yo daughter as she faces separation anxiety. Such a great concept and way to support children to understand and manage the uncomfortable feelings that come with anxiety. Thank you.
Dan P (verified owner) –
Really lovely and thoughtful book. Provides loads of child appropriate information and is incredibly insightful for parents too. 8yo daughter really liked reading it along with the soft toy.
Tracey (verified owner) –
Sent it to my nephew and he is 10. He thought the books was great and he sleeps with the plushy! Thanks for providing such a supportive, educational and comforting gift!
Sami, Xavier, and Revan (verified owner) –
Our family love this! My boys are 7.5 and 5.75 and we have been talking about their amygdala and being brave and helping soothe their over-reactive amygdalas if needed. Letting their brain know they are safe. It’s been amazing.
Mary T (verified owner) –
My 7 year daughter absolutely loves the stuffed animal warrior, she even packs it in her backpack everyday! We have learned so much by reading “Hey Warrior”. She is discovering how to be brave through this book. Thank you!!!
Jen T (verified owner) –
My 8 year old daughter really resonated with the scientific explanation of anxiety. She is so proud of her stuffy Amygdala and shows it to her friends and explains what it does. We ordered a book and stuffy set for her best friend too!
Fantastic book (and such a sweet stuffed “Warrior”)! My nine year old daughter and I have read the book together many times and she has shared it with many important people in her life.