Taming The Wild Things


Helping Anxious Kids and Their Parents

January/February 2013


Despite huge gains in knowledge about the neurophysiological and psychological roots of anxiety, as well as the billions spent each year on psychotropic medications meant to assuage anxiety, Americans are more anxious than ever. Anxiety disorders—OCD, phobias, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety—are by far the most commonly diagnosed disorders in America, especially among the young. More than 30 percent of children up to age 18 receive one of these diagnoses at some point, and anxiety symptoms are the primary reason parents seek out a mental health professional for their child.

Why are our children so anxious and getting more so? At first, the epidemic of childhood anxiety disorders seems puzzling. After all, we live in the age of “helicopter parents” and ubiquitous child professionals—teachers, counselors, therapists—all trying their best to shield children from feelings of fear, insecurity, uncertainty, or discomfort. Professionals and parents alike seem to share the sentiment that allowing children to feel afraid is tantamount to neglect, like not getting kids vaccinated or withholding antibiotics when they’re ill. We seem to regard a child’s anxiety as a kind of infection, caused by an “anxiety bug” of some sort. As soon as this “pathology” surfaces, we feel we must immediately remove all sources of the pathogen. If the child is afraid of school, keep her home. If he’s afraid to sleep alone, don’t make him. If…

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9 Comments

Monday, January 14, 2013 3:45:47 AM | posted by leticia tayabas
Excellent tips and very enjoyable article. Thanks a lot

Monday, January 14, 2013 7:30:18 PM | posted by Rebecca
You rock, Lynn Lyons! Thanks again for smart and practical tips for parents.

Monday, January 14, 2013 10:44:10 PM | posted by Cara Mccormack
Absolutely fantastic article. Always can benefit from reading what other practitioners are doing in the field and their successes. Inspiring ! Thank you .

Cara McCormack
LMHC Intern

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 2:19:01 AM | posted by Christine
Lynn's use of humor and fun put anxiety in it's place.
Excellent article. Many will benefit from these great ideas.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:50:09 PM | posted by Peter Battis
Great stuff, Lynn! You do a good job of conveying the way you capture his attention, reframe and turn upside down his assumptions and patterns while relieving his grim outlook with humor.

Thursday, March 21, 2013 7:43:51 PM | posted by Jerry Gilmer MA
I loved this artical, nice practical tools and ideas. I have stated the same with many of my cases over the years, learn to deal rather than avoid only. Thanks for the ideas and homework assignment. I would like to know how to see your "Worried about your Worrier: Creating Calmer Kids in a Stress-Filled World," as I work with traumtized children within the CPS system.

Saturday, June 14, 2014 5:39:27 PM | posted by Lynda Leslie
What a helpful article this was, especially for young children. Any thoughts about teens? Lynda Leslie, LCSW

Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:28:14 PM | posted by Susana Martinez
Thank you so much! Your article is so clear and your tips are wonderful!

Sunday, March 27, 2016 9:59:13 AM | posted by Janice
Someone has mentioned your game in one of the comments. Is this something for purchase? I have watched another video by you some time back and I just purchased your book on Self-hypnosis for Children and I love your insight and helpful suggestions! I work in a middle school and have worked in the past with elementary school kids as a school counselor. Once retired from school I plan to use my LCSW to work with children and their parents specializing in anxiety, depression and trauma using an attachment lens and family systems approach. Brain science is supporting so much of this work that is being done today and so are amazing therapists like you! Thanks so much!! janice

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