Tim Walker. Mental Health Clinician
The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a children’s book and is a great example of using mindfulness and flexible thinking, individually and as a family, to manage anxiety or other challenges.
A young girl, Sophie, and her mum are surprised when a tiger knocks on the door and asks to come in. Naturally this is an unexpected and difficult disruption!
Rather than avoiding or resisting the tiger, the young girl and her mother offer it some tea. In fact, the tiger eats and drinks absolutely everything in the house!
The more food the tiger needs, the more she offers him. The girl and her family make room for the tiger, and finally it leaves. The girl, her mother, and later her father when he gets home after work, and after being told about the tiger and all he did and ate and drank decide to accept the disruption the tiger has bought to their home and normal routine.
Whilst not written about anxiety and mindfulness, this story might be a helpful way to draw similarities between a disruption in our lives and anxiety to young children.
The tiger is representative of all the changes that need to be made to accommodate anxiety and it’s challenges. Rather than pushing the tiger away, pretending like he doesn’t exist, or trying to get rid of him, Sophie and her mother invite the tiger in, sit with him, and problem solve the consequences of his visit.
In the same way, it can be important to help young children understand that all feelings come, and then go again.
Nothing remains forever, not even joy or happiness that we might wish did. Instead, sometimes we need to invite hard or challenging or unwelcome feelings in, so that we can sit with them, and problem solve how to manage.
After all, pushing our feelings away or down never really resolves them.
The book is free here in PDF format:
There is an audiobook version on YouTube, with some related activities for children: http://www.lovemybooks.co.uk/the-tiger-who-came-to-tea
Adults or teenagers interested in how this relates to mindfulness practice might like to read this article about inviting our emotions to tea. https://www.tarabrach.com/inviting-mara-to-tea/