Helping the Anxious Child and Teen

Teddy Bear

A little anxiety in normal in the face of new people and new activities. When anxiety keeps your child from activities or intrudes on family time, it’s important to understand how best to respond to your child and provide support. Parents often find it difficult to reassure the anxious child. This is natural, because you cannot change the anxious person’s perception.

Anxiety is best approached by developing strategies:

  • Distract yourself with pleasant thoughts and activities
  • Use play and laughter to keep worries away and make the body strong
  • Set a specific, short time each day for worrying
  • Tell the worry to wait for worry time
  • Write the worry down and put it in a special place until worry time

Anxiety_Helping_Your_Child_Cope is a parent information sheet from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Recommended Books

What to Do when you Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner, PhD

Helping your Anxious Child by Ron Rapee

Treatments that Work (series): Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic workbook & Mastery of Your Anxiety and Worry workbook and other titles. 

My Anxious Mind by Michael Thompkins &Katherine Martinez (for teens)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective way to address anxiety. Therapists may use workbooks like Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic: Workbook by David H. Barlow & Michelle G. Craske for older teens and adults.

You and Your Anxious Child by Anne Albano, PhD

Local Resources

The San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy in the Rockridge section of Oakland, CA is one resource. Their number is 510.652.4455.











About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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