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Anxiety & Kids: Too much, too little, or just enough?

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Daughter Clinging To Working Mother's LegAnxiety in children, teens and young adults is a big issue—so big that The Family Institute’s next Circle of Knowledge event focuses on the topic. At this event, Dr. Danielle Black, Director of the Institute’s child and adolescent services, will help parents differentiate between normal worry for our children, teenagers and young adults as they face the pressures of school, sports and socializing, and more severe anxiety symptoms that may be signs of a larger issue. She will also explore how anxiety can be turned into a positive thing that can help your kids become successful.

See below for more information on this event, as well as tips on how parents can begin to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy anxiety.



We generally view anxiety as a bad thing, particularly when our children experience it—no one wants to think of their kids suffering or experiencing discomfort.

However, a little bit of anxiety can be helpful for both adults and children. It can be functional in that it can motivate us and help us achieve our goals.

But when anxiety becomes too extreme, starts to interfere with daily life and gets in the way of a child doing what he or she needs to do to achieve those goals, then the anxiety is unhelpful.

Here are a few ways to differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy anxiety in kids:

  • Your child expresses feeling anxious about a test he/she has in the morning as he/she starts to hit the books: This type of anxiety can be helpful in that it can help motivate your child to study.
  • Your child refuses to go to school on the day he/she has a difficult test or exam: This anxiety is unhealthy, as it’s preventing your child from following through on a task he/she needs to complete to excel.


  • Your child is anxious and a little scared about his/her first day of kindergarten and acts behaves sheepishly when you drop him/her off: This anxiety is healthy. Your child is facing a major change and separation from his/her parent, which can feel stressful. Both children and adults often have difficulty facing the unknown.
  • Your child cries a lot his/her first few weeks of kindergarten and/or is disruptive in class: This might be a sign of unhealthy anxiety. While the transition to kindergarten is a stressful one that may make a child feel anxious, being unable to adapt could be a sign of a larger issue.



  • Your child lists his concerns, anxieties and fears about going away to college and starts to problem-solve how he/she might cope with them: It’s healthy to talk through healthy anxieties about a transition as large as this one. In this case, your child’s anxiety will motivate him/her to develop healthy coping strategies.
  • Your child becomes preoccupied with “what if” scenarios that might occur when he/she moves away to college: This level of anxiety may be unhealthy. If your child is preoccupied with the “what if” question—a natural question during a time of transition—it might be getting in the way of the goals he/she has for the transition.

When a child’s anxiety gets in the way of the things he/she needs to do—things like learning, growing or transitioning— or prevents your child, teen or young adult from achieving goals, it could be a sign of a larger problem. Consider the help of a trained professional when anxiety begins interfering with a child’s day to day functioning, by affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and/or their willingness to try new things.


The Family Institute’s Child and Adolescent services offers support and effective treatment for anxiety in kids and teens. Visit our website to learn more.

To learn more about Straight A’s & Stressed, our next Circle of Knowledge Event that focuses on children and anxiety, visit our website and see below more information.


Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Presented by Danielle Black, PhD

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email


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