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How to help anxious children cope with worries

A therapist provides tips for children who excel but worry.

"Why Smart Kids Worry" "Why Smart Kids Worry"

Plotting out what steps to take next can be a great trait in children.

But for many youngsters, this might cross the line into crippling anxiety.

Therapist Allison Edwards addresses this in her new book, “Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help.”

For kids who excel intellectually, she says, the burden of worry can be overwhelming.

Edwards gave Metro some tips for over-anxious children:

Square breathing

Teaching your child this breathing method is useful in the early stages of anxiety. Breathing relaxes the body, counting takes their mind off fear, and it’s a simple tool they can take anywhere.

Worry time

Setting aside 15 minutes a day for a child to express their worries is useful for children who repeat the same fears or talk incessantly about their anxieties. Worry times gives anxious minds a boundary and awareness while satisfying the child’s need to be heard.

Naming the anxiety

Finding a name for your child’s anxiety, like Worry Walter or Scary Sally, help children who are overcome with fear and feel like something is wrong with them. Putting a name to their fear helps your child gain control and normalizes their anxiety.

Over checking

Instead of waiting for your child to come to you, go to them. Changing the dynamic around your child’s anxiety is most useful for children who are afraid of being alone or overly dependent. Their natural disposition toward independence will have them pushing back but also conquering their fears.

Brain plate

Using a paper plate, outline the areas of your child’s life and then fill in only what is “on their plate” for today, to help children who are overwhelmed by future events and fear of tomorrow. The Brain Plate helps them relax and focus on the present.

 
 
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