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Ten-Year-Old Fearful of Everything

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 10-year-old daughter is complaining of being afraid of "everything." She says she is afraid of the kids at school who tease her, she is afraid to be upstairs in our home if we are downstairs, she loves to go to her grandparents but is afraid to leave us. She likes to read outside under a big live oak, but is afraid if the dog is not with her; the list goes on and on. I have tried to explain that everybody is afraid of some things, but that you can't let fear rule your life. I don't know if this is normal for an only child who is very smart. I don't know if I am responding the best way to help her. Any insight would be appreciated.

A: Researchers have agreed for some time now that kids of your daughter's generation have been exposed to far more anxiety-provoking information than past generations. It's all around them in all forms of media. Kids also may take the fear they associate with one particularly disturbing incident and allow that to be generalized to many other situations, some seemingly harmless from an adult's perspective.

We have to understand the origin of our children's fears, empathize with them, but help them not to become fearful of everyday and novel situations. A sense of control and an action plan are necessary to provide anxious kids with the knowledge they can do something about their fears. Two excellent books that will help you come to more of an understanding of your daughter's anxieties and fears and assist you in helping her deal with them are: Triumph Over Fear, by Jerilyn Ross and Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child, by Katharina Manassis. If you feel these fears are compromising your daughter's day-to-day abilities to function at an optimal level of health and comfort, a consultation with a talented child/family therapist could be most useful.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


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