Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help (Book Review)

smart kidsSince I’m thinking a lot about this “worry” topic, especially as it pertains to parents and kids, this book popped out at me when I was at the library. So, I read it and reviewed it, and here it is. I would love to know what you think–do you think we are creating a society of worried kids? Is there too much information they are bombarded with? If you live with a worrier, how do you help him or her? Please share below!

Why Smart Kids Worry: And What Parents Can Do to Help
By Allison Edwards, LPC
Publisher: Source Books

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—at a much younger age. This is the premise of Allison Edwards’s, a licensed professional counselor, book, 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 implement today 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 number-one 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 this 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 may 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 plus 2 is 10. A smart kid thinks 8 plus 2 equals 5 plus 5. She also explains “gifted” and the seven types of intelligence.

Buy Why Smart Kids Worry here!

But this is not a book to determine whether or not 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 one 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 two is the extremely useful part of this book, where Edwards presents fifteen 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 where children breathe in and out and hold each step for four counts.

Other tools include Worry Time, which allows your child 15 minutes to be allowed to worry over something before 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 is also 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 University.

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.

Share what you think or what has worked (or hasn’t) for you!


  • I might check this out. My daughter is five and does show some anxiety and perfectionism as well. She has a few nervous habits, like picking at her fingers and biting her nails, as well as twirling her hair. She is very bright and I wondered about a correlation between intelligence and anxiety. She will mull over a topic for awhile. I don’t know if a fifteen minute worry session would help, because I could see her internalizing it instead of verbalizing. I’m trying to do what I can. She’s at a school that meets her needs, she’s interested in music and has started violin, and she’s going to start soccer because she really wants to do that as well. She has lots of down time and unstructured time. Often she chooses to read, which is why we thought music and running around would be good outlets for her energies. I was actually awake last night thinking about this very topic and how I could help her!

    • Rose: this book (which I found at the library) might be able to help. And it has several different methods so you can find one that works for you and your family. I recommend checking it out. And it sounds like you are already on top of it, which will help your daughter!

  • Lol, well. This sounds like me. I’ve always been a worrier. It started when I was a kid, but has turned in to more full-blown anxiety issues in my adolescence. I’ve given myself hives over it and made myself sick. I’m not sure if it’s to do with me being a “smart kid” or if I’m just unnaturally hard on myself, but alas, it happens. It’s good to know I’m not alone, though, and I’m hoping that all this anxiety is something I’ll eventually grow out of. Very interesting post, thanks for this, Margo :)

    • Grace: I wonder if WHAT IF? would work good for you. I can’t remember if this was actually in the book or not but I do this myself. So, when you are worrying, you ask yourself WHAT IF? about the worst case scenario. So like with my house: What if something is found during the inspection that I didn’t know about? The worst thing is: we will have to pay to fix it.

      Is that something to deal with? Yes, but worrying about it really won’t help me deal with it and the worst case scenario really isn’t the end of the world. (Although that would really suck! :) I use What if a lot. Just a thought.

  • OMG, I need to read this book. I actually had to quit the gifted program at my school and do sessions with the school counselor b/c I wasn’t making perfect scores on the gifted homework (like I had on the regular classroom homework). I remember one time the counselor told me she wasn’t going to give me a gold star for the week, to show me that I would survive if I wasn’t perfect. When I left her office, I was thinking, “What did I do wrong? I don’t understand.” I was in first grade and just such a perfectionist that it was harmful to me.

    • WOW! I wonder if that was the recommended procedure for dealing with a perfectionist, a smart perfectionist. . . I remember one time in elementary school I got sent to the principal’s office for hardly doing anything (don’t even remember what now) and someone said to me, you have to learn that your actions have consequences too. I was like: Okay, but I hardly did anything here. And I remember the principal (Mr. Lewis!) saying: Why are you here again? I guess adults have good intentions, but . . .anyway, I think the book is really helpful, useful–I got it at my local library.

  • What great timing for this book review! I’ve been worried about my oldest possibly having anxiety, so I’m thinking it would definitely be worth checking out. Thank you!!

    • Thanks for checking out the review, Katie, and I hope it helps. 😉

So, what do you think?