• Kristina Cherep

How The Hundred Acre Woods Is A Safe Place For Kids With Anxiety

Society can be a scary place for a little kid with anxiety. Why do I say this? Because I was one of those little kids. I sometimes felt that the world was too big for me growing up. I felt this the most during school and also during times spent with people who weren’t my immediate family. My thoughts felt lost in the world I was trying to understand and process. The problem was, the world didn’t necessarily look out for kids like me. At least not as intentionally. Overall, I was considered a “good kid” who worked hard and rarely misbehaved. I was very shy mostly because I was afraid of talking in certain situations. Why should I be a kid to look out for and monitor when there were kids misbehaving all the time? They needed extra monitoring. Not me.

Thankfully, times are starting to change and anxiety is starting to become more understood and accepted. I am happy to be a part of this movement by writing a children’s book about kids like me. This is not to say that all kids who struggle with anxiety are understood and identified. However, I would like to think more kids nowadays are identified and receiving more help to manage their anxiety better. This is not to say anxiety was never addressed when I was growing up. It was just hidden and not so obvious. It was hidden in The Hundred Acre Woods.

I’ve always loved Winnie The Pooh and I think I actually appreciate it more as an adult. There are so many beautiful and impactful quotes found within. There are also so many different kinds of complicated yet beautiful characters found throughout. They all have their stories and their flaws. I mean, don’t we all?

I was recently asked who my favorite Winnie The Pooh character is (because I’m deciding to make my nursery somewhat Winnie The Pooh themed). The first character who popped into my head to be my favorite was Piglet. However, the conversation continued to their favorite being Tigger before I even answered. This changed my response because I felt weird picking the anxious little pig who was scared of everything. Why wouldn’t I pick the goofy and fun one?! I instead said Pooh Bear was my favorite even though he really is my second favorite. Pooh Bear was/is my second favorite I believe because he’s the perfect kind of friend an anxious person needs.

In a perfect world, I would’ve spoke my mind and said Piglet was my favorite. I didn’t though, well because of my anxiety. Which is so ironic. I didn’t want to be put on the spot for why I chose Piglet when picking the other more goofy ones were a no brainer. I want to give Piglet more justice though now that I’ve had time to think about it and appreciate his character more.

I never really found Piglet as being weird for being afraid all of the time because I think I related to him the most. However, I feel like people who don’t struggle with an anxiety disorder probably see Piglet differently. Which there is nothing wrong with that! I always found Tigger to be odd because he was so carefree and that was just not me or a lifestyle I understood. That’s the beautiful thing about The Hundred Acre Woods. It’s full of characters who are all so different from one another, but supportive of one another. Kids and adults can probably find at least one character they can relate to.

( I can list out all of the characters and how they relate to different personalities and disorders found in society, but I won’t. There are so many articles like this written by psychologists and they fascinate me! Google them once you’re done reading this post if you’re interested 😉 )

Who I relate to the most is Piglet because of his extreme anxiety. He was definitely portrayed as a character with an anxiety disorder. Most of the times he was debilitated by it too. However, he did have such a supportive friend who I think every child who struggles with anxiety deserves to have. That’s Pooh Bear. When Piglet struggles with his anxiety, Pooh Bear helps him manage it instead of letting him stay debilitated. He holds Piglet’s hand and helps Piglet fight through his anxiety. He allows Piglet to fight through his anxiety by being understanding of why Piglet might be anxious about something. This allows Piglet to show and display his strengths such as being crafty and a good problem solver. This strength actually is because of his anxiety. He thinks about every possible problem that may ever happen all day long. Since he thinks about every possible problem, he’s most likely thought about every possible solution to every possible problem. Once Piglet is able to stop being debilitated, usually thanks to Pooh, he’s able to live and be more functional!

I believe The Hundred Acre Woods is a safe place for a kid with anxiety because it not only has a character to relate to, but it also has a support system that each of those kids deserve. Pooh Bear hopefully lets them see that there are people who will be accepting of their anxiety and big thoughts. It also shows that once you fight through your anxieties, your strengths will shine through. Getting help just once doesn’t ‘cure’ your anxiety, which is what the Winnie The Pooh books share. There’s not a cure for anxiety, but there definitely are tools and resources to help manage it.

To my future son, I hope you feel safe no matter what Winnie The Pooh character you’re most like. There’s someone hidden in there for you. You’ll not only have those hidden gems, but also those intentional conversations about whatever you deal with. I hope you feel safe and understood in our world, just like you would be in The Hundred Acre Woods.

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