How to deal with a child’s anxious thoughts and worries? 1 Common Question Parents Ask. Practical advice from Dr. Donna Pincus

How to deal with your child’s anxious thoughts and worries?

Help your child to learn to challenge her anxious thoughts and negative projections and worries, and replace them with a more positive and accurate outlook. It will lead to gaining a great deal of self-control. At the same time, coach yourself.

Dr. Donna Pincus, the Author of Growing Up Brave

Question: Will my child’s anxiety go away naturally or does he/she need treatment?

This is an excellent question, and one that is commonly asked by parents. Many childhood fears are normal developmental phenomenon. Fears tend to rise and dissipate at predictable ages in a child’s life. For example, a child might develop a fear of the dark at age 4, which dissipates by the time the child is 6. In addition, it is normal for children to feel fearful of loud noises when they are very young (See our page on “Fears, Phobias, and Anxiety”).

However, no matter how old your child is, if he or she is experiencing a fear that is beginning to interfere with aspects of his or her functioning, such as academic functioning, social functioning, or family functioning, then these fears may warrant treatment. Very often, successful short-term therapy can help to alleviate your child’s fears and help your child return to healthy functioning. If you are unsure whether your child’s fear is normal, or whether it is interfering in his or her life, it may be a good idea to consult with a psychologist to determine whether your child could benefit from treatment.

Question: I’m an anxious person also. Is it possible that I gave this anxiety to my child?

Although research has shown that anxiety may be heritable, there are many other ways that fears may be acquired. For example, your child may have a more anxious, inhibited temperament, which may make him or her more vulnerable to feeling anxious. Further, fears are often acquired through the media, through modeling from others, etc. Fears might also occur after children have experienced some form of trauma. So, although you may feel you are anxious, it is not likely that you simply could “give” an anxiety disorder to your child. There are ways that you may interact with your child, however, that may function to increase his or her anxiety. It is important to examine such factors with a trained professional.

Question: I have one child who exhibits a lot of anxiety, whereas my other child does not seem anxious at all. Why did this occur?

It is very normal for different children to have different temperaments. Some children are more outgoing, and seem to be impervious to feelings of anxiety, whereas other children may always seem to be anxious. It is possible for more anxious children to learn skills to help manage their anxiety better so that they can fully participate in all activities, do well in school, and not be “held back” by their anxious feelings.

Donna B. Pincus, Ph.D is an expert on child’s anxious thoughts and worries. 

Associate Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University and Director of the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. Dr. Pincus has focused her clinical research career on the development of new treatments for child and adolescent anxiety disorders. She has received numerous federal grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop new treatments for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders and their families, and has over 15 years of clinical and research experience working with youth with anxiety and related disorders. To read more about Dr. Pincus visit her web here.

Dr. Donna Pincus is the author of over eighty peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, as well as the author/co-author of several books, including Growing Up Brave: Expert Strategies for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear, Stress, and Anxiety 


Dr. Donna Pincus website, Growing Up Brave book, and frequently asked questions.

Written by Anna A. Block

Anna A Block is an educator, entrepreneur, and a mother of three little girls ages 7 and under. She believes in a beauty and power of ordinary, daily mundane. It is where the magic happens and memories created for a lifetime. And, it takes only 20 minutes of "pure" time to tell a story, play, read, talk, make or learn something together. Anna is fluent in English, Ukrainian, Russian, and is learning Hebrew. To know more about Anna, visit her website: AnnaABlock.com or read about her on About Us page.


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