Author helps smart kids deal with anxiety

Author helps smart kids deal with anxiety

We live in an age of worry and information. So it's only natural that many kids are having adult worries — about war, money, careers, college, etc. — at a much younger age.

This is the premise of a book by Allison Edwards, a licensed professional counselor, titled "Why Smart Kids Worry and What Parents Can Do to Help."

Regardless of the title or whether you feel like you parent or know a "smart" kid, this book is actually helpful for any child who worries excessively or suffers from anxiety. These could be worries over schoolwork and tests, death and divorce or world problems like global warming and terrorism.

Edwards presents information in an easy-to-read, logical order, focusing her case on smart kids, why and how they worry — and real tools parents can use to help them.

She offers examples, charts full of information that really pack a punch and case studies of children who have suffered from worry.

In the introduction, she states, "Anxiety is the No. 1 mental health issue among children in the United States, and it has held that spot for over a decade."

She goes on to explain that her book provides information and tools adults need to help children, specifically if parents have a smart child.

She also writes, "As you will see in this book, smart kids think differently than regular kids, and you must parent them differently."

So how does she define "smart" kids? She states that smart kids have the ability to take ideas and skills to the next level. They might not always do well in school, but they are able to think outside the box and create solutions to problems.

One example she gives is an "average" kid thinks 8+2=10. A smart kid thinks 8+2=5+5. She also explains "gifted" and the seven types of intelligence.

But this is not a book to determine if your child is smart. This is a guide to help a child who suffers from anxiety learn tools to get a handle on worry and become a functioning adult.

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is full of information about parenting a smart child full of worry and why it's important to understand your child and the type of anxiety he or she has. Part 2 is the extremely useful part of this book, where Edwards presents 15 practical and simple-to-implement tools to help children.

Examples of these tools are square breathing, which helps kids calm down when they are in an anxious moment. She shares when to use the tool, why it works and how to implement and practice it. Square breathing is a strategy of breathing in and out and hold each step for four counts.

Other tools include worry time, which allows a child 15 minutes to worry over something before he or she has to move on; the five question rule, where children can ask five questions about the same worry in a day; the "I Did It" list to help them focus on accomplishments instead of worries; and more.

Edwards has worked with anxious kids and their parents in her full-time private practice. She also is a registered play therapist and an adjunct professor in the Human Development Counseling program at Vanderbilt University. She received a bachelor's degree in education from Northwest Missouri State University and a master's degree in counseling from Vanderbilt.

The resources and advice in this book are invaluable to parents who are worrying themselves over their children and want to find a way to help them.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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