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Book Review: Neon the Ninja

Neon the Ninja: Activity Book for Children who Struggle with Sleep and Nightmares

Anxiety is one of the most common challenges for young people today.  While some stress, tension and anxiety can be a normal part of life, anxiety can grow and become difficult to manage.  One aspect of anxiety I frequently see in children is sleep trouble – trouble getting to sleep, bad dreams, and even nightmares.  Anxious thoughts can arrive at bedtime making it harder to go to sleep, which in turn can create conditions for the anxiety to get stronger.  Tired brains are more likely to be sensitive to worries and children can end up feeling stuck in a tired, anxious cycle.

Just like all aspects of anxiety – telling children not to worry won’t help.  Children need acknowledgement, connection and support to make sense of the bad dreams.  They need to learn how to feel calm and relaxed at night.  Neon the Ninja has become one of my favourite books because it helps the ‘big people’ in a child’s life understand what is happening and actively support their young person.

Parents, Caregivers and Professionals will greatly benefit from this book, as will the young people in their lives.  Neon the Ninja is engaging from the start with a fantastic story to hook young people in to thinking about nightmares differently – as something that they can outsmart and keep away.  The story at the beginning sets the tone of being supportive, informative, and empowering and quickly normalizes the experience of bad dreams and nightmares.

Overall, this book is thoughtfully sequenced and set out, it contains accessible information and advice for Adults using the book (including how to individualize the approach for each child and theoretical underpinnings), it includes considerations of nightmares in the context of developmental and relational trauma and contains loads of practical tips.

I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to read more of Karen Treisman’s work.  

Reviewed by Dr Leonie White from Key Skills in Family Therapy

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