Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help

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Overview

Why does my child seem to worry so much?

Being the parent of a smart child is great—until your son or daughter starts asking whether global warming is real, if you are going to die, and what will happen if they don't get into college. Kids who are advanced intellectually often let their imaginations ruin wild and experience fears beyond their years. So what can you do to help?

In Why Smart Kids Worry, Allison Edwards guides you through the ...

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Overview

Why does my child seem to worry so much?

Being the parent of a smart child is great—until your son or daughter starts asking whether global warming is real, if you are going to die, and what will happen if they don't get into college. Kids who are advanced intellectually often let their imaginations ruin wild and experience fears beyond their years. So what can you do to help?

In Why Smart Kids Worry, Allison Edwards guides you through the mental and emotional process of where your child's fears come from and why they are so hard to move past. Edwards focuses on how to parent a child who is both smart and anxious and brings her years of experience as a therapist to give you the answers to questions such as:

•How do smart kids think differently?
•Should I let my child watch the nightly news on TV?
•How do I answer questions about terrorists, hurricanes, and other scary subjects?

Edwards's fifteen specially designed tools for helping smart kids manage their fears will help you and your child work together to help him or her to become more relaxed and worry-free.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Therapist Edwards brings profound insight into the minds of gifted, anxious children in this parent-friendly handbook which combines explanations for odd behaviors with practical tools for helping children navigate their fears, learn self-soothing techniques, and learn to function in a scary world. She explains the asynchronous development of smart kids, in which intellectual ability exceeds physical age, while emotional maturity tracks physical age or lags behind it, leaving children who take a concrete, literal understanding of what they see, hear, and learn, and expand it through higher-level thought processes into fears about topics like death, finances, terrorism, and natural disasters. She advises parents to direct their children away from the triggers of tough topics in family discussions and from the media, giving them only the information that directly affects them, and redirecting their craving for intellectual stimulation into less emotionally charged projects. Fifteen tools for parents and children to use together—like “Square Breathing,” “Worry Time,” and “Naming the Anxiety,” which include explanations of when to use the tool, why it works, how to implement it, and what to expect in response—offer practical approaches to teaching coping skills and emotional competence, and will work well for any child with anxiety. Parents will be comforted by Edwards’s analysis, which frames children’s worrying as a manageable challenge. Agent: Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli, Jet Literary Associates. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
As a psychologist who works with children, I can honestly say this will be one book I will be adding to my borrowing library for parents to read. I have already recommended it to several of the families I am currently working with. Well worth a read for parents as well as professionals.

Therapist Edwards brings profound insight into the minds of gifted, anxious children in this parent-friendly handbook...Fifteen tools for parents and children to use together offer practical approaches to teaching coping skills and emotional competence, and will work well for any child with anxiety. Parents will be comforted by Edwards's analysis, which frames children's worrying as a manageable challenge.

As a parent with anxiety as well as a child with anxiety, this was a really great manual...The combination of information as well as practical use make this book something that will help a wide array of families searching for help.

This light, well-organized guide from licensed professional counselor and play therapist Edwards (Vanderbilt U.) offers parents suggestions for helping their children to overcome anxiety stemming from precocious intelligence.

This light, well-organized guide from licensed professional counselor and play therapist Edwards (Vanderbilt U.) offers parents suggestions for helping their children to overcome anxiety stemming from precocious intelligence.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402284250
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 172,394
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Allison Edwards is a Licensed Professional Counselor and registered Play Therapist with specialized training in working with children, adolescents, and families. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Northwest Missouri State and a Master's degree in couseling from Vanderbilt University.. She is an adjunct professor in the Human Development Counseling Program at Vanderbilt University, and she maintains full-time private practice with children of all ages.
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Five-year-old Thomas is worried about death. He is afraid his parents are going to die, along with his grandparents, his dog, and his best friend. "Mommy, I'm scared," Thomas says each night before bedtime. "What if you and Daddy die while I'm sleeping?" Although Thomas is in kindergarten, he's reading on a fourth-grade level. He is well liked, has lots of friends, and comes from a stable home. "I don't know why this is happening," his mother says. "He doesn't know anyone who has died. I don't allow him to watch scary movies. He's only five. How can he already be worrying about death?"

After receiving a B on her last math test, eight-year-old Cassandra worries she won't get into college. "I used to get all A's and now that I'm getting B's, I'll never get into college." Cassandra's mother is dumbfounded by her daughter's remarks. "We don't talk about college at home. I don't expect A's. I don't understand why she's worried about something ten years from now."

Eleven-year-old Madeline worries her parents are getting a divorce. "I heard my parents fighting last night and I'm scared they're getting a divorce. Sarah's parents got divorced last year and now she only gets to see her dad on the weekends." Madeline's mother and father have no intention of getting a divorce and are frustrated by Madeline's reaction to their small argument. "Madeline's always taking things to the next level," her mother says. "I can't get her to understand that sometimes parents fight. It doesn't mean we are getting a divorce. I don't know what to do."

Anxiety is the number-one mental-health issue among children in the United States, and it has held that spot for over a decade. It also happens to be the number-one mental-health issue among adults in the United States, so it's apparent the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

We're an extremely anxious nation.

What happens between childhood and adulthood? Are the anxious adults of today the product of the anxious kids of the '50s, '60s, and '70s? Will the anxious kids of today become the anxious adults of the future? Research tells us the human brain is most malleable in childhood, and as we grow older, our brains become less likely to change. What is relatively simple to change for a five-year-old is difficult to change for a fifty-five-year-old.

As a psychotherapist, I see this time and time again. I might see a severely anxious seven-year-old, and after giving the parents some tools and working with the child for a short period of time, the child improves remarkably. Then I see a severely anxious middle-aged adult, and the situation looks very different. Things move much slower. They are much harder to change. That's because the negative patterns have existed longer, and they've seeped into the cracks of everyday life. Quite often, issues that could have been remedied in a person's childhood become large obstacles in his or her adulthood.

The best time to help an anxious person is during childhood. Before patterns become too ingrained and self-esteem is too low, kids (and their parents) need the resources to turn things around.

This is what this book is intended to do: give parents the information and tools they need to help their children with anxiety. Specifically, to give the parents of smart kids what they need to help their children. As you will see in this book, smart kids think differently than regular kids, and you must parent them differently. We'll get into the definition of smart later, but for now it's important to know that smart kids worry about different things than regular kids, so you must be prepared to handle the fears they bring to the table.

I suspect you have a child who is smart, talented beyond his years, yet troubled by advanced-level fears he or she is unequipped to handle. Your child has likely asked you questions you don't know how to answer, and your child may seem more advanced than you remember being at the same age. He is processing new information so quickly you can't seem to keep up.

While a vast number of smart kids struggle with anxiety, there have been very few books that directly address this issue. There are a variety of books about raising smart children, as well as books about how to parent anxious children, but virtually no information on how to raise a smart and anxious child. This book fills the gap. With the case studies, practical information, and parenting tools included in this book, you will be able to help your bright, precocious child be happier and more equipped to handle his anxiety.

Most books out there focus on how to "fix" your child's anxiety rather than on how to connect with your child during anxious moments. This book is different. The information and tools included in this book are not intended to make your child's anxiety go away; rather, they are intended to help your child channel his anxiety. In a "fix it" world, we are often searching for the next thing that will make it all better. When we try to "fix" kids, we send the message that they aren't good enough. When we help them accept the part of them that worries and help them channel their anxiety, we empower them. It takes only a brief look at the retail and diet industries to realize that quick fixes don't last. Quick fixes often put us at a worse place than where we started.

That being said, your child's anxiety can greatly improve if you commit to becoming the kind of parent your child needs during anxious moments. That does not mean rescuing your child or solving problems for him; it simply means understanding the way your child thinks and applying the right tools to help him be more independent. Your child will ultimately need to be able to process fears on his own, and when you provide a safe, nurturing environment while setting appropriate boundaries, you allow him to do just that.

How to Use This Book

This book is divided into two parts. Part One is designed to give you the information you need to parent your anxious child. It explains the minds of smart kids and the effects of anxiety on children. Part One will also help you determine what kind of anxiety your child has, along with how he or she processes it. Most importantly, Part One will help you determine what tools will be most effective for your child. It is very important to read Part One in its entirety so you will have the information you need to successfully implement the tools in Part Two.

Part Two contains fifteen tools to help you parent your anxious child. The beginning of Part Two explains how to go through each tool, but it is important to keep in mind from the outset that more is less when it comes to using the tools. Instead of going through the section saying, "Oh, that'll work! That'll work too. I'll try that!" take some time to think about what will truly work best for your child. There is no rush in implementing the tools. It's more important to understand and be patient when selecting the tool that will work best with your child.

A Final Note

I have had the privilege to work with hundreds of anxious kids over the past ten years. Each child helped me learn, not only professionally, but also personally, and I value each child I've had the joy of working with. The case studies I use in this book are real cases; however, the identities of the children have been protected. I changed the names and genders of the children but kept the ages consistent to make the developmental stages applicable. I also use "he" when referring to both genders as a way to keep the language simple and consistent.

This book will help you understand your child in a new way. It will also give you tools to transform your parenting and, as a result, transform the way your child deals with anxiety. Ultimately, I hope that from reading this book, you develop a deeper connection with your child. Regardless of what your child faces in the upcoming years, you will have the knowledge and tools to help him navigate whatever comes his way.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Part One: How Smart Kids Think

Chapter 1: The New Definition of "Smart"

Chapter 2: Understanding Your Child's Anxiety

Chapter 3: How Children Process Anxiety and Why It Matters

Chapter 4: How to Address Your Child's Anxiety in an Age of Worry

Chapter 5: Where Intelligence and Anxiety Collide

Chapter 6: Why Your Child Doesn't Need to Know about Terrorists

Chapter 7: How to Answer "Is Global Warming Real? When Will I Die? Can a Tornado Hit Our House?"... and Other Tough Questions

Chapter 8: What Anxiety Leaves Behind

Part Two: Tools

Tool #1: Square Breathing

Tool #2: Worry Time

Tool #3: Changing the Channel

Tool #4: The Five Question Rule

Tool #5: "I Did It!" List

Tool #6: The Marble System

Tool #7: Giving Your Child a Role

Tool #8: Structuring the Unstructured

Tool #9: Blanket Tool

Tool #10: Over Checking

Tool #11: Naming the Anxiety

Tool #12: Brain Plate

Tool #13: Run Fast! Jump High!

Tool #14: The Worry Expert

Tool #15: Feelings Check-In

Conclusion

Checklist of Anxiety Symptoms

Think Sheet

Acknowledgments

About the Author

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2013

    Helpful and a quick, easy read.

    This book gave me some insight into my son's behavior and some excellent tools to help him overcome his worries. We're starting with square breathing and we'll be trying out a few other appropriate tools.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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