Anxiety can feel like a “tornado inside the mind.” It can cause kids to lose sleep, have bellyaches or headaches. When kids are worried, they can have tantrums, meltdowns, be defiant or show other challenging behaviors. Unfortunately, while in the midst of a pandemic with everyone’s life in chaos, it is more common than not. Parents can feel overwhelmed and frustrated, especially if their child’s reactions seem “blown out of proportion.” Kids who are “smart” should know better. Why can’t they handle their feelings and worry?

I am so glad I picked up this book by Allison Edwards, LPC. I have a LOT of parenting books and I love finding those gems to recommend to my private practice clients. This one has made it in my top 10 list.

Let me tell you why.

Challenging the Notion of Smart

What is a “Smart” Kid? Is it just a child who has a high IQ and is gifted or twice-exceptional? No.

A “smart kid”, as defined by the author, has the ability to take ideas or skills to the next level. I felt the nod to different types of intelligence was especially important. A child can have gifts or natural abilities in different areas. Should we prioritize one type over the other? No.

There are times when kids with natural abilities can encounter other situations where things don’t come as easily. It can be quite a shock.

It can be really hard to excel in one area and then realize other parts of life are hard. I love how she expands upon the view of what is meant by a “smart” kid. Parents begin to make sense of their attitudes and feelings and understand the role these play in the bigger picture.

The author describes confusing reactions or behaviors that parents can begin to decipher the ‘why’

I enjoyed the straightforward way of describing common anxious reactions and behaviors in ways parents can understand. This is absolute key. When parents truly understand potential reasons their child responds in a certain way to stress, it helps parents cope.

For instance, people process emotions inwardly or outwardly. Learning what type of processor your child is and what type you are is the first step. The parent who processes things differently from their child will likely have more challenges managing a situation. This “mismatch” is just one factor, but it can be an important one.

This book has been the subject of discussion for the monthly parenting book club. And this book led to much discussion. Readers have said, “It was so eye opening for me! Reading about inward processors and understanding that this is [my son] is going to be so helpful in employing effective strategies to help him.” Yet another reader said, “I’m an outward processor and my oldest is as well. I’ve been focused on letting her share her feelings and she even asks for “chat times” so we can just talk and talk about everything on her mind. This chapter was great in helping me to see that there also needs to be boundaries and we need to shift at some point to doing some of these with feelings.”

Triggers, Default Worries and Baits, Oh My!

When I read this chapter, a light bulb went off. I am trained to ask about the ABCs of behavior and inquire about recent or ongoing stressors. I listen and look for patterns. It is important to think about where and when these behaviors occur. In doing so, I uncover the triggers.

I appreciated the use of the term “baiting” to represent what often happens after a trigger sets a kid off. The negative battles parents and child get locked into can become an endless cycle. I thought to myself, THIS is how I can describe those scenarios to families.


Because it makes sense.

So readers of my blog now, I love creating one page visuals that are practical and family friendly. I was inspired to develop one and will use it in my clinical sessions with families.

Triggers Default Worries and Baits
A practical framework for decoding the struggles and challenges parents and children face when anxiety happens. Adapted from Why Smart Kids Worry by Allison Edwards LPC

Asynchronous development and Minding the Gap

The author spends time describing the scenario of “asynchronous” or uneven development across physical development, intellectual ability and emotional maturity. One would expect a child who is 5 years of age to be 5 years old in all three areas. But you could have a child who functions at a higher intellectual ability but emotional maturity of their physical age.

This becomes a problem with smart kids who learn about topics and naturally take things to a higher level. Sometimes those kids may not have the emotional vocabulary and self-awareness to handle it.

Other topics inside:

  • How to answer those tough questions
  • What to do when you hear the same question over and over
  • Why kids don’t need to know about terrorists and more

Learn 15 practical tools to use

Sometimes kids with anxiety can “explode” or they can shut down. Sometimes their behavior can be confusing. Parents want real strategies that are easy to use, simple to remember and work.

The second part of this book has 15 tools such as:

  • Square breathing
  • The 5 Question Rule
  • “I Did it!” List
  • Naming the Anxiety
  • Worry Time
  • Overchecking

Each tool is presented with a brief description an a “use when” reminder. It is followed by a “why the tool works” to explain the rationale underlying its use. Finally, parents will read a “how to implement” section.

The Bottom Line

I HIGHLY recommend this book if you are a parent who wants to understand WHY your smart kid has so much worry. If you like to and need practical ways to support your child. The book has 244 pages and can be purchased here.

Are you ready to get started?

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Why Smart Kids Worry Book Club Pick
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I started the Parenting Book Club because I LOVE books. I also love supporting families. More importantly, I love going on the hunt for “hidden gems,” among the thousands of parenting books on the market.

Those of you who have read a parenting book know, reading it and doing it are quite different. I invite subscribers to comment, ask questions, and share the parenting highs and lows in my exclusive, private Facebook group.

**Disclaimer: The forum is not intended to replace or be a substitute for medical advice. Always share your excitement about a particular book with your pediatrician, educator, or therapist.**

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Written by

Nerissa Bauer

I am a behavioral pediatrician, consultant, child advocate and blogger. I am a wife, mommy to 2 amazing children and 2 golden retrievers. Love cooking, travel, reading, tap and creating.