cover image Parenting Anxious Kids: Understanding Anxiety in Children by Age and Stage

Parenting Anxious Kids: Understanding Anxiety in Children by Age and Stage

Regine Galanti. Sourcebooks, $17.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-72827-302-0

Psychologist Galanti (Anxiety Relief for Teens) delivers a cogent manual for helping children cope with anxiety. Emphasizing the need for children to face the “things that they fear unreasonably,” Galanti contends that kids who aren’t encouraged to confront the sources of their anxiety learn to cope with discomfort through avoidance, which can backfire (for instance, she suggests that driving a kid to school because they feel anxious about riding the bus can worsen their distress if they later have to start taking it). Galanti tailors her strategies to six age groups, from toddlers to college students. She recommends that parents teach toddlers to identify their feelings by playing “emotional charades” (making exaggerated expressions and having a child guess which emotion is being portrayed), and suggests that expressing confidence in preschoolers’ abilities will help them push through discomfort (“I believe in you”). Much of the advice addresses how parents can avoid passing on their own anxieties; for instance, Galanti encourages parents who feel compelled to do their child’s homework for them to consider what fears of theirs drive this behavior and whether those worries are reasonable. Galanti’s straight-shooting tone complements the uncomplicated advice. It adds up to a thoughtful handbook on how parents can prepare children to handle emotional distress. (Jan.)