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Anxiety in Children: How I Set My Son AND My Daughter Free from Child Anxiety

Anxiety in children can be a major challenge for both the child and the parents. Child anxiety can take many forms and be very strong or weaker, only appear in certain situations or being a constant factor in the life of the child – and the family.

Anxious girl

Anxiety in children can be a real challenge for a child and for the whole family

While every child is different, and the anxieties they feel are just as unique, anxiety in children is an issue that many families struggle with. It is estimated that around five percent of all kids suffer from child anxiety.

Anxiety can be seen in kids of every age, from three to four years of age to teens of the cusp of adulthood. Sometimes it is a fear of being separated from the parents, sometimes it’s an anxiety and muteness around other children, sometimes it can be a general anxiety that’s hard to pin down.

In any case, it can be much worse if it goes untreated until the child grows up. What was child anxiety can become a serious problem with difficult anxiety disorders and depression.

Because the anxiety can influence many important parts of a child’s life, and is often connected to social situations, finding a way to reduce its power and influence is an important task for a parent who sees that the child is not enjoying his or her childhood and life because of anxiety.

But in many cases, it is possible to reduce the power of anxiety in children to the point where it no longer has an impact. That was the case with my kids, and that’s the reason I made this website.

My Own Story

My name is Ann, and I’m a mother of three.

My two oldest kids struggled with child anxiety before I was able to help them conquer it.

My son’s seventh birthday was ruined because of his anxiety, and my daughter was turning into an unhappy girl with bad separation anxiety.

I tried many ways to free my son and daughter from their anxiety, but nothing seemed to work.

Anxiety in children is a bad thing in itself, putting a terrible damper on a happy, careless childhood. I saw first hand how it seemed to suck the joy out of my own kids.

Our Journey

On this page I want to tell you how my husband and I were able to set our kids free from their crippling child anxiety.

In one case it was a long process, in the other case it was not. My youngest has never had any trace of anxiety at all.

I know that many parents are worried about their children being anxious, but there are ways to help your kids get rid of their anxiety. I want to show you the way that worked for me and my children. Maybe it will work for you, too!

Justin

When my oldest child “Justin” (not his real name, but the one I’ll use to protect his anonymity) was about five, we started to notice that he seemed reluctant to make contact with other kids his own age.

Justin with his face blurred to protect his anonymity.

Justin doing schoolwork. I have blurred his face to protect his anonymity.

This was new, because up until then, he had been just as active and happy exploring the world as every other boy. He loved to play with other kids his own age or even older, and when we were outside in the yard, we would sometimes have to go get him from the yard of a neighbor, where he would be happily chatting with any kid or adult present.

Once, at a camping site with several other campers, we lost track of him for a few moments, but we soon found him at the other side of the field, a hundred yards away. He was perched under the camping chair of an elderly lady, preparing to jab a plastic fork right up at her wide behind. Of course, she didn’t know that he was even there. Luckily, we were able to get him before any scandal erupted!

So our boy didn’t seem to be the shy or anxious type. Of course he would sometimes be afraid of the dark, and would occasionally cry if we left him with others for a few hours, but these were normal reactions that every kid has.

No Apparent Reason

As far as we could tell, nothing terribly bad happened to him around the time he turned five, but we did notice him becoming more clingy and anxious when we left him at daycare or when we suggested he play with other kids.

I suppose things could have happened to him that we still don’t know about, because sensitive kids can sometimes be easy to scare or make fearful, and kids can be cruel to each other. But he was such a happy kid otherwise.

A Shy Boy?

Justin became more and more shy with other children, often preferring to play by himself or with a few people he already knew, always older ones. Some shyness is normal in kids, for a limited time, but Justin seemed to be getting more reserved and reclusive.

Drawing with anxiety

My son drew this picture of himself playing soccer while he was struggling with child anxiety. Notice the uncertain lines, the half-hearted coloring, the large empty spaces, and the lack of detail. This was not drawn by a happy kid. (The white rectangle in the sky is where he wrote his name - I have taken it out to protect his anonymity.)

He would sometimes have outbursts of anger that seemed almost without reason, difficulties falling asleep, and he seemed to worry more than usual. At the same time, he was usually a trusting kid with people he knew.

More Worries, Less Joy

But he wasn’t as happy as he used to, and we could see that he worried about things. When we asked him what he worried about, it was usually about something in the future, like if we were expecting visitors or something special that was going to happen at school the next day.

My husband and I didn’t worry much about that. We knew that kids have different phases they have to go through, and different kids have different phases. In short, we thought he would grow out of it.

But time goes by so quickly…

We See How Bad It Is

On his seventh birthday, we knew something was just not right. His birthday is in the summer, and we had a garden party with many family members, their kids, and some of Justin’s little friends from the neighborhood.

Justin has known some of these people well all his life, some are more recent friends, but all are completely safe and normal people. There weren’t that many, either – maybe twelve or fifteen guests. It should be a safe, happy event for Justin, and he was the center of attention – a dream day for any child, I would have thought.

But:

From the first guests arrived, Justin didn’t say a word to anyone for five hours, when most of the guests had left.

  • Justin was given presents by the guests as they arrived – he said nothing except whispering “thank you”, didn’t answer friendly questions from his aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
  • He obviously detested being the center of attention.
  • We had to take him a little bit away from the others to get him to blow out the lights on his birthday cake. He didn’t say a word, and was clearly not comfortable.
  • He played by himself while the other kids did their antics around him.
  • He stared at the ground and didn’t acknowledge the people around him.

For his father and me, it was heartbreaking to see Justin so clearly not enjoying his own party and looking longingly at the other kids playing. But it really was not anything new, for he had been shy for a long time. It was just becoming so obvious that we simply could not miss it.

This Is Not Normal

It was clear to us that Justin was becoming much more shy than what is normal or healthy for kids. I think the normal behavior for kids is to perhaps be apprehensive at first, when the new guests arrive, and then to thaw up and become more sociable as the party goes on.

Justin didn’t loosen up until most of the guests had left, but then he was his usual happy self again – and we saw that he was relieved they had gone.

I did not sleep much that night, and I spent most of the next day researching child anxiety online. I found many books that dealt with it, but mainly as a side note in books about anxiety in adults.

I Do Some Reading…

I ordered some books anyway, then read them and took what I thought I could use. That was more difficult than I had thought it would be – was it Generalized Anxiety Disorder, was it just excessive worry, was it Social Phobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, or what? And should the approach be Cognitive Behavioral, did Justin just have to relax more, get more sleep, or what?

Everything seemed to make sense, and I did recognize Justin’s problems in some of what I read. And it was very academical, I thought, and the authors really went out of their way to explain the theories behind their way of thinking.

… But It Doesn’t Help Much

That was all very well and good, but not all that useful to me at the time. I’m not going to mention any of the books I read, because I didn’t really use them in the end. But they gave me a good theoretical background in child anxiety, I guess.

One thing I got from the books is that when kids are anxious and clearly too shy, it is called child anxiety. There’s no need to separate different kinds of anxiety in children – it is basically the same monster that makes itself known in different ways. And the treatment is the same.

I tried one approach in what I thought was the best of the books for a little over three weeks, but it didn’t really resonate with Justin. That’s normal – some methods don’t work for some kids. And to be fair, that method (giving him a thought pattern that helps banish the negative thoughts) was one that did work in the end, but in a different way.

I Need Something Stronger

But at least it got me to think of what I really needed to help him get over his anxiety, and what I had in mind was something like an effective, simple step-by-step guide. Some of the books did have that, but they seemed less detailed than what I wanted, and I got the feeling that they were some kind of program for adults that had been slightly changed to fit children.

I’m not a psychiatrist or anything in the medical profession, but it seems to me that kids have to be treated very differently from adults when you want to help them shake their anxiety.

I Try Something

So I ended up taking some of the methods that made sense to me and sort of designed my own program for Justin.

That meant talking to him and trying to find out what was really bothering him, and teaching him to breathe right.

Breathing right means breathing with your stomach, in a way. If I understand it correctly, it is the diaphragm that pulls the air into the lungs, which means that you get more air into them. It automatically makes you relax!

I find that it helps a lot. It takes a while to learn to always breathe like that, but kids take to it right away.

Also, I told him that there are some things in life we just can’t control, and that it’s OK if some things don’t go the way we want them to. And that his dad and I loved him no matter what happened.

And he did get better! After a few weeks, he seemed less anxious around other kids. But he was still too timid and he seemed to get more anxious of being away from us in the daytime. And his sleep problems got worse.

Now What?

We pretty much decided that we would give it one more try, and then we would see a child psychiatrist.

Other parents were also commenting on Justin’s shyness and how easily he would now break into tears at the slightest problem. His teacher at school also mentioned something like that – but without telling us anything very helpful about how to deal with it, for some reason. I would have thought that teachers are used to dealing with anxiety in children.

I was on the lookout for a new resource, but I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for! So frustrating. I talked a lot with other moms at work and in school, and some of them had anxious kids, but they were mostly just hoping they would grow out of it.

A Last Try

My husband talked about it too, and I guess he mentioned our problem to someone at work, like parents sometimes do with other parents.

And one of the moms at his office had a suggestion that she had used with her own daughter, who was also anxious growing up.

It was a combination of books and CDs that was a complete program in how to help a child beat anxiety, and it was made specifically for child anxiety. (For reference, it’s called The Anxiety-Free Child. I’ll put a link to it at the bottom of this story.)

I really liked the tone of it, and that it seemed really thorough. And it was a complete program, with both written text and audio files that the child listens to on their own. It looked much more complete than the books I had.

At almost a hundred dollars, it was much more than a book. On the other hand, I was ready to spend something like a hundred times that on child psychiatrists. So I bought it.

I downloaded it right away – but I didn’t start using it.

Because in my mind, I was already thinking of the sessions with the psychiatrist: How would we prepare Justin? Would it be several sessions a week? When and where would the sessions take place? How would we involve Justin’s school? Would it work? Would it take a long time? How much would it cost? Could we even find a qualified child psychiatrist not too far away? Would other people think he was “crazy” if they found out?

I was ready to actually set up an appointment when my husband said:

“Should we try that program we got?” So we did. That was about two weeks after we got it.

I’m Pretty Sure This Can’t Work

By this time, I think I was a little downbeat and sort of disappointed in all the books I had bought, and I sure didn’t think this program would work either.

For one thing, it was so much material, I thought it would be a really big and long project. As it turned out, I didn’t need to use nearly all of it to help my son conquer his child anxiety, but it is a great resource to have.

Actually, the program itself is simple enough, and that’s what I think I missed in the books I read. They seemed too complex, when the minds of children are really pretty straightforward in many ways.

I started to read, and I loved the tone in the main manual and on the CDs. These were experienced people who knew what they were talking about, and they obviously cared a lot about helping children kill their anxiety monster.

And the parent didn’t have to do everything, because the CDs are for the child to listen to by themselves.

Okay, I was ready to get going with this. One last try before we call the child psychiatrist.

We Begin

I started using the program with Justin, and he seemed to take to it right away. The simplicity and the directness really worked for both him and me.

The program is really all about helping the child handle his or her anxiety when it occurs, and that means changing the thought patterns in the brain.

It sounds both hard and complicated, but it’s not. It’s really just about helping the kid think differently about certain things, and then make it a habit to do it every time something happens that could give anxiety.

Soon, the anxiety will become something that can be handled, and it loses its hold and disappears in time.

With adults, that can take time, but it seems that kids have minds that are much more eager to adapt and accept change that is good.

The program told me exactly what to do and what to teach Justin to do that would be the most effective and work the fastest. That suited me perfectly – this kind of autopilot takes all the doubts out of the process. And no time is wasted doing things that don’t work.

The program told us to just spend a few minutes a day on the exercises, because that’s all that’s needed with young children. They have fantastic memories, and they learn so quickly!

A key point for Justin was to not be overwhelmed with thoughts of “what might go wrong”, or “what if…” and things like that. Learning to change the way he thinks about that was very important to him. It’s called the Four-Step Technique in the program. It’s really simple, and is a pretty good way to handle anxious thoughts that come up. Actually, I have used that technique myself a couple of times – it works just as well for adults!

Yikes, That’s Quick!

I did not expect Justin to show any improvement for weeks. But just two days later, he did!

He insisted on going to the local convenience store all by himself, something he had never done before. I knew we were on to something then.

More Small Successes

We continued practicing and following the program every day, and it became easier and easier to get Justin to react better and deal with his negative thoughts in a much, much better way than before.

It seems to attack the anxiety demon on many fronts at the same time, and one little success leads to the next bigger one. I don’t know many times I had tears in my eyes after seeing Justin score a little breakthrough against his anxiety, but it was many times…

  • I sent him to a neighbor to borrow some sugar. I didn’t need any, but he needed that little victory
  • I sent him to soccer practice on his own so he could practice his new anxiety-handling skills out of school without me or his dad standing right behind him
  • I gave him little social tasks to accomplish at school, like getting to know a kid not in his own class
  • I let him have a little party with some kids from school

What happened was that Justin got more and more eager to try out his new skills, because it was fun!

Dad Helps

My husband was by now more involved in it than before, and I think that helped a lot. And he was great, making a little game out of it and doing everything so naturally. Justin really responded to that, and I think that whole thing turned into a little bonding experience for them.

On The Right Track

After about three weeks, Justin was sleeping well, he was having more kids over to play, he was often away for hours at some other kid’s house, and he was just so much freer and happier. He was still a little more timid in large groups, but we kept the process going, and he showed a lot of progress. Justin himself called it “turning it off”, meaning the anxiety, and especially the tension he would feel before some planned event.

It’s Like Tying Your Shoes

The creator of the program we used makes what I think is a great point: He compares getting rid of those negative thoughts to how you teach your child to tie their shoes!

Because what happens in the brain is pretty much the same thing: The brain learns how to move the arms and fingers to tie a knot, and that takes a few tries the first couple of times. But when it works, it sticks forever, and you never have to think about it again. You just tie your shoes. Practice makes perfect, and it’s the same that happens when a child learns to think differently when he or she starts to feel anxious. It becomes automatic – and it becomes part of who they are.

Justin Wins!

Christmas came around, and we always celebrate with a big party on the 23rd. We have both friends and family over. My mother, who hadn’t seen him for about six months, was the first to tell me:

“What happened to Justin? He’s like a different boy!”

And he really was – running to the door to greet the guests when they rang the doorbell, chatting happily with the other kids and taking a lead in their playing, even. He was still not super happy about being the center of attention in a room full of people, but he was doing so much better that we knew he was fine.

Drawing without anxiety

My son drew this picture about six months after the first one. He was now free of anxiety. Note the vibrant colors, the careful coloring, and the details. Also, he has drawn himself taller than the other players - and it looks like he just scored a goal! This is not self-aggrandizement, just healthy self esteem in a seven year old boy.

Since then, we have just kept an eye on his behavior in situations that could be new and potentially scary, with the occasional repetition of how he can control the anxiety. His teacher really noticed a difference, she said, because now Justin is much more active socially in school.

He is much less worried now, too. And he has no problem at all sleeping.

In short, he behaves normally for a boy his age, and we are very relieved.

The monster has been killed. His child anxiety is gone.

That whole process took about five months, but the method in The Anxiety-Free Child worked in three weeks. The main delay was sifting through all the different books I got and trying some of the stuff in them. I wished we would have known about The Anxiety-Free Child to start with, but we got where we wanted to get in the end.

I’ll put a link to the The Anxiety-Free Child program a little further down this page.

Clara

Clara with her face blurred to protect her anonymity.

A serious-looking Clara with her doll.

“Clara” (also not her real name) is our middle child, and she is two years younger than Justin. Her pattern growing up was a lot like Justin’s, so I knew that when she hit around six or seven, she might start showing signs of child anxiety.

And she did.

Not in the same way as Justin did, though. She started having strong separation anxiety, crying and physically clinging on whenever her father or I were leaving the house for whatever reason. She also took to wanting to sleep in our bed every night.

And she often complained about stomachaches and she became very self-critical about things that she actually mastered just fine. Again, nothing had happened that would release her anxieties, at least not that we know of.

No more child anxiety

No more child anxiety. These kids can now continue their life journeys without the burden of anxiety.

But this time we were ready, and we started working on overcoming her anxieties as soon as my husband and I agreed that her behavior was not just a short phase. It seemed to have a real impact on her joy of life, which had up until that point been off the scale. And it seemed to get worse.

Clara Wins, Too!

We used the same program that we had used for Justin, The Anxiety-Free Child, and modified it a little to suit Clara better. She had noticed how we had done the same for her brother, and that helped to make her eager to try being “just like Justin”. Little siblings are like that!

We established a simple little routine for her to go through every time she felt scared that mom or dad would leave her, and we practiced doing it a few times. She would take three deep breaths, remember very clearly that Mon and Dad said they would never leave, and so on.

She was noticeably better the next day!

And it took just a week or so to make sure that she really had gotten over it.

It went so fast we couldn’t believe it.

A Triumph Over Child Anxiety

Neither Justin or Clara have had any abnormal anxiety since, and they are enjoying what seems to be pretty happy childhoods.

Our youngest child has never shown any sign of anxiety, but if it happens later, we know exactly what to do about it.

Our kids are not fearless, because no one is. And Justin is still a little careful about getting to know someone before he trusts them completely, but that is his personality, not child anxiety.

It was a happy ending for us, and among all the different challenges of raising kids, I have a strong feeling that the worst and by far most serious one is behind us.

(Here is the program that worked for us: The Anxiety-Free Child Program)

It Is Possible!
I hope my story is useful to you, and the most important thing I want to say with this website is that you can set your children free from child anxiety – and it can go quickly!

The bottom line is that it is possible to set your child free from their anxiety. We used The Anxiety-Free Child – you may prefer to use something else. My point is just to motivate you and tell you that it can be done!

Your children will be happier and healthier, they will be able to enjoy their childhoods like they are supposed to, and when they grow up, they will have better lives because they will not have to battle old, untreated anxieties.

Freeing your children from anxiety could be the best thing you do for them.

And it can be the best thing you do for yourself!

Because having happy, well adjusted kids that are able to enjoy their childhoods to the full will make your whole family happier. My family is much happier now, we are closer, I don’t worry as much as before, the kids are able to enjoy their childhoods, and everything seems… well, brighter, in a way.

You don’t have to worry about what to do with your children that are too anxious – and that will make your life better! I know first hand what that’s like, and believe me: My life as a parent is much better now that we have killed the anxiety monster once and for all.

If you want to ask me questions about my story, or have comments, please use the comment form below.

I wish you the best of luck in setting your children free from anxiety!

Ann

PS: I’ll let my husband have the last word. After he saw the excellent progress Justin was making, he exclaimed: “I tell ya, this stuff… it’s like we have our own, personal child psychologist!”

Update: Read my update one year later here.

198 Responses to “Anxiety in Children: How I Set My Son AND My Daughter Free from Child Anxiety”

  1. sophie says:

    This is very interesting. I have some books too, but I find it a little hard to do what they say every day. Is the program structured and easy to follow? Also, was there a specific reason your daughter started fearing you’d leave her?

    • Ann says:

      @ sophie Yes, the structure is one of the things I really like about it. It’s easy to follow, I think.
      I don’t know why Clara got separation anxiety, but probably it was just her way of expressing child anxiety. I don’t think there was any event that made her anxious. Justin had a different way of expressing it.

  2. TnkrBell says:

    So wasn’t your husband interested? If he only got involvdd late in the process?

    • Ann says:

      He was interested, but it was my “project” to start with. It isn’t strictly necessary that both parents get involved, because it’s just a few minutes a day, but it helps. His dad getting involved did make a big difference to Justin, and if we had known that, my husband would have been much more active from the start.

  3. Hannah MomTana says:

    i’m so happy for you! we fixed our daughters anxiety the same way when she was six.

  4. sssssss says:

    Love your story. It really gives me hope for my son. Do older brothers get the anxiety the hardest, do you think?

    • Ann says:

      I don’t know if older siblings get it harder, or if boys get it worse than girls. I do think that it can take a longer time to discover the problem with the oldest one, because as a new parent you don’t really know what’s normal, healthy behavior for a child. If you’re not sure, I would suggest using the program anyway. It can certainly do no harm.

  5. Sandra M says:

    You do know that on your contact page you give your full name in the email address? Wouldn’t it be better for the kids to be completely anonymous?

    • Ann says:

      Only the first part of my email address is my actual first name. My kids being anonymous is very important to me, and the rest of that address is fictional.
      Thanks for letting me know, better safe than sorry!

  6. Tessa says:

    How old is your youngest kid now? Is there still no trace of anxiety?

    • Ann says:

      No, not a trace. He’s six now, so if anything is going to happen, it should be visible by now. At least if he were to follow the same patterns as his older siblings.

  7. momstar says:

    Do you think that there’s any maintenance needed to keep the anxiety away for a long time and when they grow up, will it change?

    • Ann says:

      No, I don’t think it’s necessary to do anything more now. They know the way to chase away the anxiety, and it’s now a part of who they are. That’s the great thing with beating anxiety as a child.
      I think if you can break free from anxiety as a kid, there’s very little chance of getting anxiety back as an adult. But I’m not a psychologist – that’s just my opinion after reading a lot about the problem.

      • Nikki says:

        I was told by a professional that anxiety is 50% of the time inherrited, a chemical issue in the brain and something that is there forever. There is no getting rid of it but there can be tactics to help cope with it. And if those don’t work there’s always medicin.
        Also anxiety can flare up without any reason. One with anxiety can wake up one morning with very high levels and nothing trigored it. It’s just the brain chemicals.
        May possibly get worse during puberty.

        • Ann says:

          Thank you very much for your insightful comment! I think you’re absolutely right when you say that there’s a hereditary factor in anxiety for many of the sufferers. But that doesn’t meant that the fight is hopeless. On the contrary – a child that learns to handle and cope with the anxious feelings in a good, constructive way early in life is unlikely to suffer from anxiety again. And the anxious feelings that have to be handled will get gradually weaker. It seems to me that an anxiety that is successfully coped with has no impact on the quality of life.

          • Desiree says:

            I have dealt with anxiety my whole life. I had a traumatic experience that triggered mine, but it also runs in the family. My daughter is now struggling with anxiety that we can’t seem to pinpoint how to overcome it. She beats herself up when she’s struggling to learn something in school & has severe physical illnesses due to it. She either won’t admit to having negative feelings, or she doesn’t even know she’s doing it. I really don’t know. We’re working on it.

            I wanted to say, that I went through so many years without an anxiety episode that I forgot about any & all past “episodes”. I honestly forgot I had dealt with it before. All of a sudden one day 5 years ago, I couldn’t drive. I had never been in an accident. I’ve never even had a ticket. One day, I just could not get behind the wheel of a car. Nothing had set this off. It took me 4 1/2 years to finally get myself behind the wheel of a car. I’ve been driving just fine for 6 months now-unless I have to go out of the certain mile radius I am comfortable with. Then my heart races, I see double, I hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears, I sweat, I shake…it’s ridiculous. I haven’t got a clue why, and I’m still working on it.

            I just don’t want you believing this is definitely the end. Please just know this can return in other forms. Just be aware it may return. I certainly do hope the program you used helps them forever. & that they never experience strong anxiety ever again.

          • Ann says:

            Thank you for your insightful comment. Anxiety can be both scary and hard to pin down, because it often seems to have no rational basis. And I also think your absolutely right when you say that it’s not the end.
            I wish you the best of luck in dealing with the anxiety, both your own and your daughter’s :)

  8. FredericiaDeV says:

    It’s so heartwarming to read that both your children beat their anxiety. My oldest is still just four, but I was an anxious child when I was little. Do you think there’s a chance she will be anxious if I was?

    • Ann says:

      I think there’s a chance, but I also think it’s not a given. Actually, I think that you as a former anxious child may have an easier time discovering an abnormal anxiety in your kids.
      And if you’re not sure, use the program with her anyway. It will not do any harm, and may even ensure that she never gets any anxiety because she knows how to handle it.

  9. Mrs Dunston says:

    I’m so glad it worked for you too. I used the same program for my son. He was older than your son, almost twelve, when we saw that he was wasn’t going to outgrow his shyness. It took us about a week before we could see his behavior changing for the better, and after a couple of months he was not shy any more! I know exactly what you mean when you say that you had tears in your eyes many times when your son had little successes. I did too! And I outright bawled at least once :)

  10. Ocarina says:

    It’s so great that everyone has had success with the program! I’m using it, too, and my daughter Ellie is doing so well! We’ve only used it for a lil while, but every day like it says and it’s going beautifully! But I think you really have to do it every day and be diligent. It’s just like ten or twenty minutes a day!

    • Ann says:

      That’s great! I think it’s a great idea to keep doing it, even when you see that she is winning over the anxiety. Make sure she trounces that anxiety into the ground once and for all. She will probably never get it back.

  11. Shana says:

    Did either of your children become aggressive?

    • Ann says:

      I wouldn’t say that they became aggressive, though Justin would sometimes express frustration by behaving in a way that we had to contain. Not that he was violent, exactly, but kids do have a tendency to express themselves physically. Clara was never aggressive in any way.

      • doria says:

        My daughter would throw tantrums that lasted for hours, and she got so violent that we had to just hold her still so she didn’t hurt herself or her sister. And she did that until she was six or so. It was very stressful, but we knew that it was the anxiety that did it, because she was worried that her little sister would replace her. I think sibling jealousy can be a kind of anxiety.

  12. DustinX says:

    I got the program, and I’m looking forward to try it. It’s a lot of material. I leafed through some of it, and it looks solid. Starting it on my son tomorrow.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for letting us know! Please keep us posted if you want to. It’s very interesting to see how different people get results.

  13. fionaaa says:

    Hi. IDoes the program you mention come like a download or do i have to wait for it to get shipped?

    • Ann says:

      I think it’s up to you if you want it as a download or as a printed version and CDs. I got the download, and it worked fine.

  14. SDP says:

    It’s great that there are resources like that out there, because I tried to find something exactlt like that for the longest time. I used something from a book called Freeing your child from anxiety, but it didn’t appeal to me or my daughter. Is it too late to try useing the program if she’s already eleven now?

    • Ann says:

      I don’t think it’s too late. I think this program can be used for kids well into their teens. Eleven seems just right. Go for it!

  15. Anne DeVere says:

    It’s wonderful how fast you were able to get good results with your daughter. I hope my kids will respond just as quickly. Did you do anything other than what the program said?

    • Ann says:

      No, my husband and I followed the program very carefully. It was important to me to do that and not interfere with the method. You know how we want to have result right away, but the best thing is to let the program take its natural course the way the creators intend. It will work in the end, or much sooner!

  16. dinah44 says:

    but is it a lot to read and heavy or is it practical?

    • Ann says:

      It can be a lot to read and to listen to, but it’s up to you how deep you want to get into it. The program itself is simple, practical and straightforward, at least in my opinion.

  17. SuperMom! says:

    I just want to say that I did use this program a while back, and for my son who was 9 it worked SO FAST and he HAS NOT been anxious since. He learned that he doesn’t have to worry and he can just relax and enjoy life!

  18. EricF says:

    So is this something a single father can do if his kids are anxious, not just mothers?

    • Ann says:

      Any parent can do it, both mothers and fathers, married or single. The actual process has to happen in the mind of the child, so we parents are just a sort of guides to help the child get free from anxiety. A father will be just as good a guide as a mother, I think.

  19. JustFlyAway says:

    To commenter SDP: The program works just fine on 11-year olds. My girl was almost 12, and she was able to relax a lot after a month or so.

  20. DustinX says:

    I started using the program with my son tonight, and my first reaction is that this seems very right. It’s little steps that very quickly add up to a big change (I hope). And there’s stuff in here that even I can use for myself to let go of anxiety and worry sometimes.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks for keeping us updated! I agree that much of the method can be used just as well for adults. And all the little steps do add up!

  21. Beah says:

    I would like to add my voice to the choir and say that the results you get with this program are remarkable for the price. I spend more than those 97 dollars on Wii games for my son, but this actually made his life much better – and it’s for keeps. I am just so relieved now.

    • Ann says:

      I like the way you think! That’s exactly right. Video games and toys can be fun and educational, but if you use this program, the child’s life will genuinely get better. And our lives as loving parents get easier when we don’t have to worry about our kids being anxious.

  22. Glennis H. says:

    Are you sure nothing happened around the time your son got anxious? It almost seems as if it did.

    • Ann says:

      Well, of course we can’t be absolutely sure. He spent all day at school, for instance, and I guess some traumatic things could have happened. It’s hard to tell with kids, sometimes, I think. But whether someone were mean to him or not, the solution is the same.

  23. ggggggggg says:

    I was quoted a price of over a hundred dollars an hour for a child psychologist for my anxious daughter. I’m going to try the program you mention before I’ll shell out that kind of money on something that might not work anyway.

  24. DustinX says:

    So I’m writing this with happy tears in my eyes… my son is showing SO MUCH progress after just under a week. He is getting so much braver with other kids! Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  25. RachelsFriend says:

    You know, when you say “I think we should have caught on to it sooner” you put blame on yourself unnecessarily. Kids can change and it can be so slow that we parents just don’t notice it. Don’t blame yourself for it, just give yourself credit for doing something about it.

    • Ann says:

      We really did think he might grow out of it, but it just got worse. I think you’re absolutely right when you say that kids change without us really noticing, because we see them every day. Even so, when I think about that time in Justin’s life, I almost want to kick myself and think “it was so obvious!”
      Thank you so much for your support!

  26. DustinX says:

    I have now used the program for a little under a week, and my son just seems happier. And I am happier too – I didn’t realize that I was this tense and worried because of his anxiety. This has really taken a load off my back.

    • Ann says:

      It makes a big difference when you don’t have to spend so much energy worrying about your kids. I mean, we parents worry plenty as it is, even without child anxiety on top of everything else!

  27. OliveOyl says:

    My oldest daughter is ten, and she has developed what I think is abnormal shyness. Will this program that you seem to be really sold on work at all for her, you think?

    • Ann says:

      Yes, I think it will. As I understand it, abnormal shyness is a symptom of anxiety. The program we used will very probably work like a charm.
      And you’re right: I’m really impressed with the program. It’s the best money I ever spent, by a very big margin.

  28. MissSpriggs says:

    I’m a British preschool teacher, and we got this program to use with some of our kids that seem anxious.
    It works very well with children at preschool age, and I think you’re spot on when you say that the earlier the anxiety is eradicated, the better. The kids we teach this to only really need to learn how to deal with stressful situations in their minds. It is very quick work, and it’s such a joy to see such children blooming and having a much better time in preschool after a few sessions with this.

    We actually only use the main manual for the program with our pupils, but the rest of the material is very credible and our experiences fully support the efficiency of the method.

    I just thought I’d let everyone know, since this is the only site on the Internet where someone has posted her experience in such detail. Thank you, Ann.

  29. PPPPPPPPP says:

    thank you for recommending this!My son had TERRIBLE separation anxiety, which was really weird and stressful.We did try a child psycoligist that the school recommended, but that didn’t work and we were desperate.So I got this program that yuo recommended and it worked fine and quick.About a month and he was free of the separation anxiety.

  30. Frieda says:

    My kids also had a great effect from the program, and they worry much less than before. It’s very good, I think. I have two sons and they are 13 and 10.

  31. Elsie says:

    It took my son longer than yours. We used the system and he listened to it for three months before I felt that he had come as far as I wanted him to. I think maybe there’s a difference between kids. My son was eleven at the time. But it is still the best thing I have done for him, I think.

    • Alyssa says:

      I just got the program, I am wondering if I am missing a piece, I only see the relaxation cds that are actually for the kids to listen to. The manual seems to be written for the parents, is that what you had your son listen to?

  32. FlickaGirl says:

    My girl is seven now and she has gotten so quiet and worried. I don’t think there’s anything specuial going on, bacause I have asked her… is this child anxiety?

    • Ann says:

      I’m not a psychologist or anything, so I can’t pass out diagnoses. But it does sound like your daughter is anxious, so it could be a type of child anxiety that can be treated. I think it’s worth a shot, at least.

  33. Mothership says:

    I like the Anxity free child too. and the best part is the CDs that help them relax. It’s so important and my daughter was 16 when she used it, she always suffered from anxiety and it really helped her SO MUCH. And I have used it too and it works.

  34. Gigliz says:

    The drawings you posted are really telling. It’s clear that your son felt better when he drew the second one.

  35. PetrasMom says:

    I think probably the most useful part of the program is the sound files that the child can listen to on their own. They are really well made and have a strong impact on the way they learn to relax, which is probably the most important part of the process.

  36. DeannaFT says:

    I just bought this, and I just wanted to thank you for recommending it. It looks like just what we needed for my kids. I have listened to the sound clips, and they seem very professional. Very excited to see how it turns out!

  37. STW says:

    My two kids both had separation anxiety when they were four and five, and this method worked pretty well. I think the child has to be able to understand at least when the anxiety happens to be able to handle it. I plan to let both my boys use the method again when they are around ten, and then again when they are in their early teens. Our family has a history of anxiety, and this program will help them not develop any anxiety disorders. It is very effective. Just my two cents worth :)

  38. DustinX says:

    I think we’re about done with the program for now, and it has worked wonders. My son has changed his whole outlook, in a way, like he has been allowed to be himself at last. I don’t know if his anxiety is completely gone, but he certainly has learned to deal with it. I think this program can be used more than once on the same kid, just to keep the effect up. And I think the child may get different things from it as they understand more and more as they grow older.

  39. KallistoOO says:

    im pretty impressed with the quality of the program and the sound program which i think is very effective and easy to use but do you think the effect will last.

    • Ann says:

      Yes, I think it will last. If there should be any more anxiety problems, a little refresher will probably set things right again.

  40. Martha Henson says:

    My grandson suffers from anxiety, and I recognize it because his father was also anxious growing up. It affected his life in a pretty bad manner, being friendless and such for a long time. Now I fear that my grandson is showing the same symptoms, but my son won’t admit it and won’t do anything about it. I watch my grandson every so often, but not every day, and I’d like to try the program on him when he’s here or I’m at my son’s house watching him. Do you think it will have an effect even if I don’t do it every day, but maybe just once or twice a week? I really want him to avoid the shyness and social trouble his father had.

    • Ann says:

      I do think it will be effective, and most certainly better than doing nothing. I also think it may take slightly longer for the program to do its magic, so to speak. But if you’re able to use it consistently, I can’t see why your grandson’s result shouldn’t be just as good as anyone else’s. Keep in mind that one of the things in the program is the CD/sound files that the child listens to on his own. He may not be able to do it every day, but a few times a week should be enough, I would guess.
      I wonder, is your grandson’s mother in the picture? Perhaps she will see the value of helping her son dealing with and eliminating his anxiety, since his father seems somewhat unwilling. Just a thought.

      • Martha Henson says:

        Thanks for replying! That’s good to hear that it might help. The my daughter in law is pretty much of the same mind as my son, so no help there. I’ll start and see if it helps.

  41. P J. Dawson says:

    My son took longer than yours to shake the shyness, but he’s much better now. It took us about a year to get the results we wanted. But he’s 13, so I guess a little older than yours.

  42. Elina says:

    Those are two cute little kids you have, glad it turned out well with the anxiety. I know exactly what you mean when you say that it sucks the life out of the children, and it’s so sad to watch.

  43. ggggggggg says:

    I commented before, and I just want to say THANK YOU for making me aware of this! I did this together with my daughter who is eleven and she is MUCH LESS ANXIOUS now. Just breathing right is such a help for her. It is so easy to use too. I’m over the moon right now

  44. maya says:

    How do you know when your kid is so anxious that they would benefit from this program?

    • Ann says:

      I think that if you as the parent have a feeling that they are too anxious, then it’s a good chance that they will benefit from it. Of course you don’t want to pay for a program that isn’t really necessary, but usually, I tend to think “better safe than sorry”. In my opinion, the skills the kids learn from the program are valuable in themselves, so there’s certainly no harm done either way. Maybe the fact that you found my site is a sign that you feel there’s a need to take action for your child? Just saying :)

  45. asdf says:

    as they grow older wont the child revert to their anxity

    • Ann says:

      It seems that they will usually not. The point to programs like this is to teach them very effective metods to stop the anxiety being a factor in their lives. Once it has been learned, it becomes part of them and they will use the strategies without thinking. There’s a good chance that the anxiety will never return. Of course, there’s no guarantee it won’t. If it returns, the same method can work again.

  46. MonaKJ says:

    I’m really seeing a change in my daughter after using the program for about a month. She is much less worried about being separated from my husband and me, and leaving her at KG is no longer a drawn out affair with heartbreaking crying. She just goes to play with her friends. It was much faster than I had expected!

  47. St.Agaton says:

    Is this something that a kid can do on their own? Without a parent helping.

    • Ann says:

      I think the program is designed to have a parent supervise, but I suppose it isn’t strictly necessary, except for younger kids. Older kids in their teens could easily do the whole thing themselves. An important part of the program consists of sound files (or a CD) that the child listens to on their own, so the kid is very actively involved anyway.

  48. BJH says:

    My son has become more and more reclusive since around early October 2010. He is very gifted academically and athletically so when he quit wanting to go to school and basketball we were shocked. Any time we’re gonna go somewhere, even to grandparetns house, he wants to stay home. We feel really helpless. Anyway, we visited our doctor yesterday and he is a great guy who has alot of experience and cares about kids. He prescribed a small dose of Sertraline for a few months and said he could probably slowly get off of it after he gets the chemical imbalance straightened out. I’m hesitant to allow him to take these types of meds. The doctor was very convincing however and I want my son back. I also read somewhere that St. John’s Wort can have comparable results to Sertraline. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you very much for your comment and question. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, so I’m not qualified to give advice on things like this. These are just my (non-qualified) thoughts.
      I can fully understand your reluctance to have your son take medication. I felt the same way for my kids. And I can relate very easily to your feeling of helplessness.

      If I understand it correctly, it’s common to use a mix of medication and therapy when kids are very anxious or depressed, as the effects are often good. I know that Sertraline is often used for social anxiety – is that what you think your son may suffer from? In that case, I would consider trying some kind of therapy with him while he takes the Sertraline, and continuing it after he’s off it.

      I have also read that St. John’s Wort can be effective, and I believe it is routinely used as an antidepressant in Germany. On the other hand, I also have an adult friend who reported no effect on his social anxiety from taking St. John’s Wort. (What worked for him in the end was something called Piracetam, which is a very mild nootropic.)

      I really wish I could help you with better advice, but I’m afraid I don’t feel that having had two anxious kids qualifies me to give any more specific advice.
      But since you have sought out professional help right away, the likelihood that your son will get over this problem is pretty high, I think. It’s worse for kids whose anxiety goes undiscovered and untreated.

      • BJH says:

        Thank you for your response. Yes, I believe it is social anxiety he suffers from. He is very much a “perfectionist” and he analyzes things to the point he worries about everything. This is on top of the issue of not wanting to socialize anymore. The doctor stated that this low dose over the next few months in addition to summer being a better time of year for combatting this issue, would get his chemical imbalance straightened out. After this time, he could slowly get off the meds. He did go on to say that it could come back and we’d have to go through the process again. My thought is that this medication in combination with the “The Anxiety-Free Child Program” might prevent havving to do meds again. Is it your opinion that you think the combination is a good idea. Obviously you think highly of the program but I was just wondering if the “Program” itself would suffice or both would be best to get things turned around. I appreciate your thoughts and understand they are just your opinons. I appreicate your time.

        • Ann says:

          I’m sorry to hear that your son has changed in that way. It’s really painful to watch as a parent, as I know only too well.

          As you know, my experience with the program was very good, and many parents have the same opinion of it. I don’t feel comfortable advising against your doctor’s recommendation, but I would suggest doing what you have in mind, and using both the medication and The Anxiety-Free Child (or any method you prefer). In view of your doctor’s advice, I think it’s probably not the best solution to just use the program on its own at this time.

          I do think it’s a very good idea to equip your son with ways to combat the anxiety without medication, especially if it’s a chance he might have the same issue again later. As I understand it, taking medication is not a permanent solution to anxiety, least of all in kids, but can be a great help to take the edge off the symptoms quickly, making it easier to carry out any therapy. But the methods he learns will be a permanent weapon against the problem. So I agree completely with your thinking.

          It sounds as if your doctor feels pretty sure that the chemical imbalance is the main issue here. To my non-qualified mind, that seems to be a reasonable assumption, since it happened so quickly and during the dark time of the year. I think it’s possible that the medicine alone will take care of the problem this time, and maybe it won’t surface again. But teaching your son how to handle the anxious thoughts certainly can’t hurt.

          I know how frustrating it is to see that kind of change in your kid – I just wanted to reach into my son’s mind and get him to see how great he is and that there’s no reason to be anxious. Your son obviously has vigilant parents who will not give up on solving this problem, so I’m not worried for him in the long term, whatever the solution might turn out to be. But it sure is painful while it lasts…

  49. Carole says:

    This is very good to hear. I have sought help through so many different agencies and no one has been of any use. My daughter is 13. She’s always been shy, but the last 2 months have gotten so bad for her. She hasn’t been to school in 3 weeks. She will talk about every day stuff, but shuts down when we bring up school. Do you think this will help her? I am desperate and distraught over the pain she must be feeling. I feel so helpless! Thank you.

    • Ann says:

      I’m sorry to hear that no one has been able to help you. It’s heartbreaking to see a child struggle with things that should be enjoyable, and I know exactly what you mean when you say you feel helpless.
      As for the program, there are no guarantees that it will work. All I know is that it worked for my kids, who were younger than your daughter when we ran the program with them. It sounds like your daughter is struggling with school, and since I’m not qualified in the field, I don’t feel it’s right for me to recommend any treatment. What I will say is that I don’t think it could hurt to give it a good, honest try and then give it time to work.
      I will also say that it’s important not to give up on finding a solution for your daughter, whatever it will turn out to be. Maybe the program I tried works for you, or maybe your daughter will respond better to a different approach. Anxiety can be treated in this day and age – it’s just a matter of finding something that works in each case.
      I wish you and your daughter the best of luck in beating this. Parents who are aware that their child is struggling are a wonderful asset for the kid, and makes it very likely that they will conquer the anxiety in the end.

  50. Robyn says:

    My son’s name IS Justin. I got to your website because I just got back from dropping he and his twin sister off at preschool. It’s their second week. Justin was still screaming and crying 45 minutes later when I checked in on them.
    Your son’s story could have been writen by me. I’ve noticed him becoming more and more anxious when the garbageman comes. When people move out of the neigborhood (or move in). But I think my true awakening was watching him at the 1st week of school. He sits off by himself, he’s very uncomfortable and he tells me his stomach hurts before we leave everyday. I thought it was nomal nervouisness, but it’s all coming together more to indicate a social anxiety.
    My question is do you think the program will work with kids as young as 5?

    • Ann says:

      It certainly seems as if your son is having some anxiety trouble, and although I’m not a qualified professional, I think your fear that he may have social anxiety is justified. As far as I know, preschool or school is often the first situation that really brings the anxiety out in a kid, to the point where the parents notice that something is not as it should.
      The program I used is designed to work for kids between 3 and 17 (if I remember correctly), so there’s a long span. I think it should be able to work for your son at five years of age. The earlier you start some sort of treatment, the better, I think. Of course, there’s no certainty that it will work – people react differently to different things.
      I applaud your decision to do something about your son’s anxiety. As I usually note, when the parents are aware that something should be done, there will very probably be a solution eventually. Just don’t give up until something works!

  51. DelawareD says:

    that must have been a terrible birthday! But so glad it worked out in the end. I think you’re right when you say that when the parents are aware of the problem it is likely to be fixed because the child is not alone with it. I think it’s great that you’re sharing your experience.

  52. BeccaW says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am beginning to wonder if the symptoms that my 5 year old son is displaying is actually some form of an anxiety disorder. Reading all of these comments is helping me put 2 and 2 together. My son has been complaining of tingling in his hands off and on for almost a year. We actually took him to a cardiologist (thankfully, he checked out fine!) and had bloodwork done (also good!)– but as I began to closely monitor when his symptoms occurred, I realized that it was when he was in a situation that caused him some anxiety. So many things are beginning to make sense to me now. His unusual fear of any new situation (he WEPT when we told him we were going bowling for the first time!, his rocking on his hands and knees in his bed every morning when he wakes up singing one of his violin songs, and his attachment issues that are also becoming worse — not better! He is my youngest, and we have never had these issues with the older two! Thanks again! I will definitely be checking out this program!!!!

    • Ann says:

      Thank you very much for your comment! Anxiety can take many forms, not always the obvious ones. Young kids seem to express their anxiety in many ways, and they often seem to detest new things. Best of luck with your son – it seems you’ve caught the problem early!

  53. Kathy says:

    I have an eight year old granddaughter that has had something trigger her with an anxiety disorder, won’t leave her mother breathes like it’s her last breath worries afraid of the dark thinks shes gonna die grasps for her breath constantaly,this has happened after an episode at school with an school aid not it is terible of the fears the child has was taken to the Dr was put on zoloft, I really don’t like the ideal of a child being placed on this type of medication at such early age, can you help us where do you get the cd for the anxiety free child?

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your question.
      I feel the same way as you do about the Zoloft. I also was not happy with the thought of giving my kids these drugs, but I think they can alleviate the symptoms for the short term. While I’m not a qualified medical professional, it seems to me that a solution other than medication might be better for your young granddaughter in the long run.
      The good news is that, as far as I know, kids who get anxious after a specific incident are more likely to recover quickly than kids where the cause for the anxiety can’t be found.
      Here is the link to the program we used on our kids: The Anxiety-Free Child

  54. Minnie says:

    I’m curious to see how long the effect could last if you do the program with a girl who is 11 and seems to be much sadder than she used to and afraid to go to school.

    • Ann says:

      The effect will very likely last a liftetime, because the way the kid thinks about the anxious feelings and situations changes. Give the method time to work and don’t give up – the skills are very effective.

  55. Joyce says:

    That birthday your son had reminded me of my daughter’s sixth birthday, which was pretty similar. She’s older now, but she doesn’t seem to be able to get rid of her shyness even with people she knows well. Do you think it’s a problem if she’s been shy and a little reclusive for three or four years? Will the program you used be effective or will it take longer?

    • Ann says:

      I think it’s very individual just how quickly the program works for different kids. I don’t know how much of a difference it makes if the child has had some anxiety issues for a while, but I don’t think it is that important. Maybe it will take a little longer to see results if there are years of anxious thinking in the background, but I sort of doubt it – kids are very flexible and their minds are incredibly good at absorbing positive learning.
      I would suggest not worrying about the past. Your daughter is still young, and I think the solution to her anxiety is about to be found since her parents are on the case, so to speak.

  56. ggggggggg says:

    So it’s a month later, and the anxiety still seems to be gone. She’s much calmer and happier, it’s like she is now the girl she really is, and not what the anxiety made her. This is just invaluable. Thank you again.

  57. CorinnaSD says:

    My son is six, and I wonder if he would benefit from the program you recommend. How do you know if a child is more anxious than what is healthy and normal?

    • Ann says:

      I think that with the first child, it can be hard to determine if their behavior is abnormal, if it needs treatment, if it’s just a phase, or what exactly is going on. It certainly took my husband and me long to realize that Justin needed some help. One possibility is to wait and see if things change by themselves. But often, the parent’s gut feeling is right – if you feel that his anxiety is too strong as compared to other kids his age, you are probably right. You can also ask other parents if they think your son is too timid. That will give you a good indication.
      Of course, you can just run the program anyway. It won’t hurt, and may give him some skills that will come in handy later.

  58. hopeful mommie says:

    my is 8 and anexiety diorder is only one of his issues. if we can get one under control then maybe we can work on the rest. we will look into thissite.thanks

    • Ann says:

      I understand that many kids have both anxiety as well as other problems. Treating the anxiety may be a good step in the right direction, and I think that anxiety can often be an underlying factor in other problems. I wish you the best of luck with your child!

  59. Maya says:

    I have a 6 year old son in kindergarten. He is a very bright kid, full of energy and quite excited all the time. He was recently tested and is in the gifted program at school. Life was perfectly normal when suddenly out of the blue in December he started crying and pouring his heart out one day as he headed out to school. He was terrified of the bullies in his school he said and just refused to go out during recess. He was fine with school itself but worked himself up worrying about recess and just refused to go out. Nothing that we are aware of happened but obviously something affected him. All night he would work himself up getting scared about school. Once he actually got to school his teachers would say he was fine. But making the trip to the school was a torture (an understatement honestly). I took him a couple of times to a pyschiatrist, spent hours and hours rationalizing things with him. He is extremely bright and would tell me “mom I understand what you say but what do I go if my brain doesn’t listen”. Every morning was a nightmare and I would get delayed getting to work as I had to somehow convince him to get to school. I have cried out in despair myself as I didn’t know what to do to help the poor little boy. Sometime in February, the anxiety went away as magically as it had come. Everyday I would try a different way of calming him down – not sure in the end what really did the trick.

    Now a few days ago a different anxiety has started – he says that he doesn’t want to take Indian food to school as he is embarrassed. I am seeing the same symptoms again, all night he worries and cries in the morning when he wakes up in anticipation of what I might pack for lunch. I explain what he can do rationally i.e. here is how you tell your friends that it is ok to be different and eat different things etc. He fully comprehends it but puts his hands up in frustration saying “mom you just don’t seem to understand. I know what I should say but I just can’t do it, I tell my brain but I can’t do it”.

    Other than these incidents he is a normal happy child. But I am worried as these feelings are not normal – he seems to be a lot more affected by his friends and what they think of him. Since this is the second time this has happened I am also worried if there is an underlying anxiety that I need to work on to help him overcome.

    Based on what I have described do you think the program you recommended will work?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you very much for your question. The minds of children can really be hard to understand sometimes, can’t they?
      I have no qualifications in the medical field, but it seems to me that your son periodically goes through phases of very specific anxiety. When he says, “I tell my brain but I can’t do it”, it sounds very typical of child anxiety – it overpowers the rational mind and prevents the child from doing something that is actually easy and straightforward. I recognize that statement almost verbatim from things that my son would say before we could help him overcome his anxiety.
      I fully understand your worry that there may be an underlying anxiety at work. To my mind, that may well be the case – but I’m not sure it matters that much. At such a young age, it may be just as effective to take the anxiety at face value, so to speak, and not worry if there may be more underneath until it shows itself.
      As you have experienced, it is very difficult to analyze the minds of children, as they have trouble explaining what goes on in their minds. That can be hard enough for adults to do. But I’m usually of the (non-qualified) opinion that when a parent thinks the thought, “I wonder if my child’s anxiety is normal”, it means that some sort of intervention or treatment is warranted. Parents are often very well in tune with their kids’ needs.
      The program that I used on my kids can be used regardless of whether there is an underlying anxiety or not. The pure physical aspects of it, such as learning how to breathe correctly, only requires some time and practice to make an impact. There’s no need for deep analysis of the problem, as most kids will have trouble participating in such a complicated process. Sufferers of anxiety are often well into their adulthood before they are able to accurately pinpoint the problem.
      I think you have excellent chances of helping your son conquer his anxiety, which ever method may work in the end. The fact that he got rid of it once is a good sign, as is his otherwise normal and happy behavior. And as I often note, when a parent is “on the case” and won’t give up, the anxiety will eventually be conquered.
      I wish you the best of luck – don’t give up!

  60. DeannaFT says:

    So I have used the Anxiety Free Child for a few weeks now, careful to use it every day, if only for a few minutes.
    It really has made a major dent in the anxiety that my kid has shown. I wouldn’t sat that it’s totally gone, exactly, but it is no longer a worry or a problem. Some shyness is normal for a kid, I think. And I will continue the program for many weeks still.
    Just wanted to let you know that the program you used worked for others, too

  61. Charlotte says:

    Would it make sense to run that program on a child who is nine and who seems a little more shy than most of her classmates? Is that anxiety?

    • Ann says:

      Excessive shyness can be a typical sign of anxiety in children, and it can never hurt to give a kid some tools and strategies to handle anxiety with. The problem may never arise again.

  62. wondering mom says:

    I was wondering if u think a younger brother could pick up anxiety from watchinghis older brother struggle with it. mt 3 year old has been madeling my 6 year old for a while now… i dont know whether to be worried that its anxiety.. or just modeled behavior from his brother

    • Ann says:

      That’s a difficult question to answer, and I would think that it depends on the children’s personalities. If both kids are predisposed to anxiety, then I suppose it is possible that the younger one could “learn” to trigger the anxiety by copying the older sibling. But I don’t think a child who does not carry some anxiety in them will “catch” childhood anxiety by observing other kids.
      Brothers carry many of the same genes, and if the older brother is anxious, then I would think that there’s a good chance that the younger one has the same tendency. But I don’t think it’s a given.
      My suggestion to you is to assume that the younger brother is also anxious. If he is really not, and is just copying the older brother’s outer behavior, it will very likely pass by itself.

  63. Simone F says:

    I have now tried this program with my youngest, who is eleven and very quiet when there are strangers around or more than two people she may know pretty well. It seems to have taken the edge off her anxiety, and she is more apt to take contact and talk in those situations. It really seems to have worked!

  64. DDX says:

    My son is 7 years old and has had trouble connecting with his classmates since starting school. He seems shy and retiring. Could that be caused by anxiety? And would a program like the one you tried work?

    • Ann says:

      Excessive shyness that doesn’t seem to change is often caused by anxiety in children, and that is precisely what the program is designed to take care of. I think it would be worth a try, and it may not take long to help him conquer his child anxiety. Even though he is still young, it’s a good idea to do something about it as soon as possible, because the way you describe your son, he may be a prime candidate for developing social anxiety. Good luck!

  65. DelawareD says:

    Just to add a little to the comment I wrote some time ago, I did buy the program and used it diligently with my son for a month. The difference is noticeable, both to me and to some adult friends of the family who had not seen him for a few weeks. Without me asking, they volunteered that they found him to be much less shy and more “alive”, as they put it. I think that’s very interesting, and the method is clearly good. I think maybe the main thing about it is that it sets a schedule and a firm program to follow, because I think being consistent in using it is extremely important. It works, no doubt about it.

    • Ann says:

      I agree completely. Using it regularly is vital to getting results. I think the brain needs repetition to make these changes and not fall into the old patters of child anxiety.

  66. missy says:

    Hi. My daughter is six and has had “terrible twos” for four years now. She will throw tantrums that she seems unable to break out of, as if something “locks up” in her brain. This is especially bad when we give her younger sister attention – she will make the most outrageous demands and do anything to prevent her sister from getting attention from us. This can go on for an hour or more, with screaming, physical violence and a terrible ruckus. It is taking its toll on both her and on us, her parents. We often feel that we she is unable to enjoy a normal childhood, and it concerns us. At the same time, she is unusually shy and anxious out of the house, and very much resembles the behavior that you describe in your son above.
    It almost seems as if she is intensely jealous of her younger sister and tries to monopolize our attention, as if she’s deathly afraid of losing us.
    I wonder: Is this child anxiety, at the core? And if we were to try to get her less shy, might the tantrums also stop?

    • Ann says:

      It does sound as if your daughter could do with some methods to control her fear and anxiety that her little sister will replace her. In my experience, kids who throw tantrums tend to calm down as they get older. At six years old, she is probably not going to be that violent much longer – kids mature a lot between six and seven/eight.
      The most telling part of your story is the shyness you describe. If you see similarities between your daugher and what I wrote about Justin, there’s a very good chance that your daughter would benefit from help in controlling her anxiety. Even if her tantrums soon stop, the anxiety that caused them is still present.
      From your description, I do think that it is a form of child anxiety your daughter has, and that she will be a happier kid in every way if you help her conquer the anxiety. Children can show quick and permanent change for the better with some guidance and methods for handling the anxious feelings.

  67. Darla says:

    Hi. So my son has separation anxiety and no measure of reassurance works to put his mind at rest about it. Is the program you used effective on that kind of anxiety in a kid? He’s six.

    • Ann says:

      Yes, I think that The Anxiety-Free Child will work on separation anxiety issues. It certainly did for my daughter when she experienced that kind of fear that we would leave her. In a way, I think that separation anxiety is one of the things that the program is especially affective against, if I am to judge by the speed it took my daughter to get over it once and for all. She was the same age that your son is now. Good luck!

  68. Katey Stevens says:

    I like your story, it’s kind of the same as mine. Only my daughter is the oldest and my son younger. And my daughter did suffer from child anxiety, with the shyness and the reclusion and the separation anxiety. After I read good things about the same program that you used against anxiety in children, I used it much the same way as you did. And it really made a difference with my daughter, who is now much less worried and shy. Just wanted to share. Maybe someone could make a forum or something for those of us who have anxious kids, and we can discuss it among other parents and give advice and help each other.

    • Ann says:

      Yes, it seems the program works against child anxiety for many kids and families. It’s does make a difference, and makes for a happier family – and happier parents!

  69. Moira says:

    You obviously are SO in tune with your kids and their needs, or you REALLY want us to think so. How exactly is the program you recommend – and which costs like a hundred dollars – any different from what any normal parent would do to help their kids? I’m pretty sure if I bought it, it would just be common sense stuff that ANYONE could figure out on their own.

    • Ann says:

      Well, I sure don’t think I’m any more in tune with my kids than most parents. We all want the best for our children.
      It is true that many of the things in the program are based on common sense ways to conquer anxiety in children. But most of them never occurred to me, at least, and seem to be founded on a lot of experience and methods that have been tried and tested. Some things seem obvious in retrospect, but the fact is that I didn’t figure them out on my own, and I needed a program like this to help me help my kids and give the process both a structure and an approach that worked pretty well against anxiety.

    • Ellle says:

      Wow, Moira, you got a completely different vibe from this story than I did. I don’t think the author feels that she’s that “in tune” with her kids, in fact she blames herself for not seeing the problem sooner. Also, whether or not the program is just common sense in a fancy wrapping is pretty hard to determine if you haven’t even bought it… I have, and it’s much more focused and competent than anything I could have thought up on my own. My daughter is much less shy and retiring now after we used it together for about six weeks. It works – and if that is due to common sense, then so much the better.

      • soda says:

        i agree with you elle, she doesn’t seem to think she’s any better than other moms and i look forward to try it.

  70. MomOf Four says:

    There’s some anxiety that runs in my family, and I knew that there was a chance that my children would be anxious. I was worried about something that could lead to social anxiety, because that is what I suffered from for many years as a teen and young adult. My two oldest kids seem to do just fine at 15 and 13 y/o, but the third one was an anxious baby and toddler and was an anxious child at 10 y/o. He’s shy, very introverted and has increasing trouble making friends, although he has a couple of friends in his class. After reading your story, I used the same Anxiety free child program that you did, and it did work. He now has more friends coming over, he really enjoys going to soccer practice, which he didn’t used to, and the teacher says that he’s more active in class and she has to reprimand him for talking too much (which she was happy to have to do, because it showed that he was less shy now). It took I would guess two to three months of pretty constant effort to get to where we are now and he seems so much more happy than he use to and more I guess boyish, which is great to see. I think you really know it has worked when someone else says to you that he has changed and seems happier and more outspoken. Anxiety in children is a bad thing that I’m happy we have a cure for now, I guess. Thanks for recomending it.

  71. Caramella says:

    Is the program well suited for kids who speak Spanish as their first language but understand English?

    • Ann says:

      I think that would depend on how well they understand English. While the language used is very clear and uncomplicated, and suitable for kids down to the age of three (as I recall), it would be a pity to buy the program and find that the child struggled to understand what was going on.
      Of course, you can just translate it as you go, but I suppose it’s possible that the CD/sound files that the child can listen to on their own may not be fully understandable to a kid whose English is rudimentary. I’m not sure what to recommend, but if you feel that the anxious child in question understands English as good as or better than a three year old native speaker, I think the entire program would work just fine. If not, I would wait until they pass that point before buying anything in English.
      Good luck, whatever you decide!

      • Caramella says:

        Thanks you SOO much for your reply! Yes, he definately understand English better than that. I’ll try it! I’ll just tell him to ask me if there’s some he doesn’t understand.

  72. ATS says:

    If a girl is ten y/o and doesn’t have many friends and seems to not experience the joy of life that other kids her age do – could the cause be child anxiety?

    • Ann says:

      While I’m not qualified to pass out diagnoses, it does seem to be possible that there is some anxiety in the background here. Or is your daughter depressed? We usually don’t think of kids as prone to depression, but they can suffer from it, even at the young age of ten. I’m sure you’ve asked her what’s wrong, but children are rarely aware enough of their own mental processes to analyze themselves. Anxiety in children can take many forms, and I certainly think it’s possible that there’s some fear at the heart of your daughters problems. But I can’t be sure, of course.

  73. mmg says:

    I love reading stories like this that end well for the child. My son has been anxious since he started school, and I think this childhood anxiety may turn into a social anxiety when he gets older. That, I would like to avoid. I will certainly try the program. Thank you very much for giving me hope.

    • Ann says:

      I think you have an excellent chance of helping your son overcome his anxiety. When a parent is aware of the issue and is taking action, there will probably be a good and permanent solution very soon. Good luck!

  74. Livia says:

    Having been an anxious kid myself, I can only urge other parenst to take care of their children’s anxieties as soon as they appear. It’s true what I learned on another webiste that if it goes untreated it may not clear up on itslef and may continue into adult age. That’s when it really becomes a problem.

  75. Hans says:

    Anxiety has both genetic and acquired components and can be a great problem for the sufferers. To avoid it becoming a problem, it is a good idea to seek professional help.

  76. Allene Ford says:

    The books you got seem just like the ones I bought, in that they are great at telling you how bad the problem is for the child’s future, but don’t really show you how to help the kid resolve or fight against the anxiety. I often feel that my son would be happy to have something concrete to fight against. That’s one of the things that make child anxiety so hard to handle – what exactly are you supposed to fight? The emotions sneak in under your guard, in a way – suddenly they are just there. I have to say I like the description you give of the program a lot – it sounds like it gives us tools to use and then teaches the child which situations to use them in. That’s exactly what I missed in the books. Thank you so much for writing so much about your experience. It must have taken a lot of time and effort.

  77. missy says:

    I commented earlier about the girl with “terrible twos”. I went on to get the program you mention, and I’ve used it with her now for a little over 2 months. She is showing a lot of progress, and she hasn’t had a tantrum since then, and her anxiety has been almost absent for weeks now. She seems calmer too, and less shy among other kids. It’s still too early to tell if this was the end of her troubles with child anxiety, but it sure looks promising. Just thought I’d let you know :)

  78. NJMom says:

    I have struggled for a few months with my 9yo son, who seems to have developed child anxiety. He was always a quiet and serious kid, but lately he has become more withdrawn and shy. Especially in school and in social situations. It’s really painful to see. Do you think the anxiety free child will be of use here?

    • Ann says:

      Yes, I definitely think it will be helpful for you and your son to use The Anxiety-Free Child. It sounds as if he has the classic symptoms for child anxiety. Try it and give it time to work. Good luck!

  79. help4son says:

    Hi, my 13 yr old son (14 in 2 months) just started w/ some pretty serious anxiety. He’s having anxious/obsessive thoughts. After reading your story & the comments I feel like my son’s anxiety is more serious than just being shy or having social anxiety.. not trying 2 minimize anyone’s experience.. but just wanted 2 ask since you’ve read the material.. does it say it’s helpful 2 older kids, like 14, & can it help with maybe a more serious case of anxious thoughts?

    My son has went from one anxious thought 2 another… thinking bugs were in his ear (he had a very itchy inner ear and his little sister joked w/ him one day maybe a bug was in it), 2 worrying that the meat he ate might not be cooked well enough & have parasites in it… a few other thoughts similar 2 those, but we’ve worked on those & he’s been able to break the cycle of those thoughts, & is not bothered by them anymore. But now his thoughts are centered on our Christian faith. He is getting the thoughts of what if God is not real & what if he goes to hell if he doesn’t believe in the right thing.

    School just started back here, he’s in 8th grade. & he’s having a hard time at school w/ the anxiety spiking through out the day. Sometimes he can’t concentrate. The anxiety also makes it hard for him to eat good because he kind of feels sick 2 his stomach.

    Do you think this program would help us? We are seeing a counselor today for the very 1st time.. but I just need something here at home 2 work on every day, it’s emotionally exhausting 2 sit with him sometimes over an hour discussing why his thoughts are irrational & how he can try to change the way he thinks. So far my efforts are barely just keeping him “afloat”. I’ve been using the “scale of 1 to 10″ to gauge how bad his anxiety is.. the highest it’s gotten is a 7, and that’s been at school 2x & home once; the lowest is a 3. He is distressed and frustrated & worryies it will never go away.

    Sorry for the long post, I’m desperate to have my boy back.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your post, and I’m sorry it has taken me so long to answer – I’ve been on vacation and haven’t checked on the comments.
      I think most parents reading your story would understand your desperation. It does seem as if the troubles your son has are somewhat different from just child anxiety, which can certainly be bad enough. While I’m not qualified to give any sort of diagnosis or suggest any treatment, I think that in this case you’re absolutely right to see a counselor. And I also fully understand that the process is taking its toll on all of you.
      It’s difficult to say for sure if The Anxiety-Free Child will be as effective in your case as it is for most, but it is supposed to work for kids between 3 and 17, so age-wise there shouldn’t be a problem. The material is simple and easy to follow, and I would be very surprised if you used it with your son and there was no effect at all. The breathing exercises alone might well help turn the anxiety down a few steps on the intensity scale.
      If I understand it correctly, the program can be effective against many anxious thoughts, and is not geared toward social anxiety specifically. It will attack all forms of anxiety in children.
      I think it’s worth a try. As you suggest, it would probably be very valuable to have a process to work on every day in addition to any other treatment. It also sounds as if your son is very motivated to get rid of the anxiety, and that will be very helpful for working with the program every day. Consistency is key.
      I wish you the best of luck in conquering your son’s anxiety. I think you’ll succeed.

  80. ARmommy says:

    If a child is 12 and has always been a little more shy than other kids his age and not as boisterous and so on, but suddenly doesn’t want to leave the house at all and seems to be unhappy, is that a sign of child anxiety and can that be taken care of the same way you did?

    • Ann says:

      It’s hard to say from your description if the child is anxious, but it may well be the case. Before you decide on a course of action, I would suggest you try to ask him what he thinks the problem is. If after that you think it is a case of anxiety in children, it should respond well to the method I used on my kids. Being reluctant to leave the house and being generally quiet can be symptoms of child anxiety the way you describe it.

  81. Minnie says:

    I wanted to report back and tell you that I did use the program on my daughter this summer, and after school started she was much better and and she was looking forward to go back to school again. Also she is much less sad now, she’s maybe not quite as happy as before but much better, but I will keep using the book and the program for her to listen to and practice. Just so you all know it worked for us at least and not giving up.

  82. MomofDave says:

    If anxiety in children is this easy to treat, why don’t psychiatrists use only this program and not long sessions that can go on for months?

    • Ann says:

      I think child anxiety can be easier to treat than many think, but it still takes concerted and persistent effort. The program I recommend is a tool, and it does take time to work. In many cases, it seems there’s no need to involve psychiatrists or psychologists. And I know that even when professionals are involved, sometimes the sessions don’t necessarily go on for that long, because the treatment they provide can also work quickly.
      Parents have one great advantage over the professionals, and that is time – in other words, having access to the child on a daily basis. That means that using the program against child anxiety can happen every day, so that the lessons are steadily reinforced. Daily effort is a powerful way to attack the problem. That’s how I think the program is designed to work – it’s about changing thought patterns, and that works best when it’s done every day.

  83. Nessa says:

    How long does this normally take? Are we talking several months and years, or what? School just started, and my son didn’t get a great start… I want him to make quick progress. Is that possible with the program you used?

    • Ann says:

      The time it takes to see results against child anxiety can vary, from a week or two and up to a couple of months. Some setbacks and sudden breakthroughs are to be expected. Use the program every day, and it’s possible you might be surprised at how fast it can go. Just make sure you’re in it for the long haul – you may not see results as quickly as you hope. Good luck!

  84. IdahoMom says:

    Let’s say I use the program and it works. Will the anxiety return, and will the same program work a second time? Even if the child is older and maybe has different issues than the first time?

    • Ann says:

      From what I understand, there’s no reason why the same program couldn’t work again if it becomes necessary. I also think that having the anxiety return later is much less likely for a child who already has been successfully through the program once. Many of the skills the program teaches can be applied to any anxious feeling, and leads to a general control of any anxious feelings.

  85. Errica says:

    What you said about your daughter…my 7y/o daughter is going thru the same thing with me…she always complained that her stomach aches, she always wants to sleep with me or in my bed for that matter, even if i’m sleeping somewhere else in the house…but never her bed, always worried about things, She jumps at every loud noise,and cries all the time especially if im not in the same room with her…when doing homework etc….What I wanted to know is …How was ur daughter in school before the program?

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your question.
      My daughter was not very anxious in kindergarden or around other kids before the separation anxiety and the related trouble, but what you write about your daughter seems very similar to how she was during the time when she had the anxiety. At that time, she was more quiet among other kids, although her teacher never mentioned any excessive anxiety in class. I think her anxiety mainly became a problem when I was around, and she “forgot” it when I was not there, if that makes any sense. Now, she is a quite normal kid in school, although she might never be the most attention-seeking girl.
      I wish you the best of luck in helping your daughter getting over her anxiety quickly.

  86. Li says:

    My 9yo has suffered with anxiety for a year now. Her first episode came on suddenly and prompted an ER visit. Since then we have had many dr. Visits icluding psychologist. None of the drs. Offered much help. So frustrating and painful! She seems inconsistent in her behavior. She wants to go to school and seems to do well according to her teachers. She seems to get anxious at home and when she is with me. She is very shy around her grandparents and family but with friends she is more outgoing. When she is playing with her friends she is distracted and carefree. But the slightest thing can put her in a panick. We have changed her diet a bit and she is taking natural supplements that have helped a lot. I need more though. I am so grateful to all who have posted their stories. So many wonderful successes. I am hopeful that this program will help my daughter and my family get back to sleeping and enjoying life.

    • Ann says:

      It can certainly be a bewildering experience when a child suddenly develops anxiety. I think you have a good chance of freeing your daughter from her anxiety, because when a parent is ‘on the case’, it usually ends well. Good luck!

  87. Mabelle says:

    I’m glad to see that the effect of the program you did still seems to work after a year. My oldest is just two, but seems much more anxious than other kids her age. It’s good to know that I can have a method in store if she turns out to become anxious.

  88. cozumel says:

    You don’t say much about what happens if someone is anxious as a child but does not get any treatment. I was like that, and today I REALLY wish my parents would have recoqnized the problem and decided to help me with it. Parts of my life have been much less good than it could have been because of untreated childhood anxiety. Parents: If you think your kid is anxious, for heavens sake help them! It will be the most important thing you do for them.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your comment. I agree that giving your kids the help they need to conquer child anxiety can be crucial for their lives and development. I hope you are doing better as an adult and that the anxiety is not still a negative influence in your life.

  89. Clare says:

    I have found your story very interesting to read. My 5 yr old boy has always found interacting with peers very difficult and has had separation anxiety since starting pre-school at 2 years 9 mths. School continues to be a challenge getting him in has he appears terrified and i know hes very quiet in school and has few friends and none that are close.
    He attends a gym club which is also very difficult to get him into but he enjoys once in the swing of it. We find parties a complete nightmare as he wants to go but just struggles so badly with anxiety and finds it hard to join in, only today my husband has had to bring him away from a party half way through as he just cried and cried and just wanted to come home.
    We have always just put it down to his personality as he has always been like it and my question is do you think this programme will work with him?, as your children both seemed to develop their anxiety issues later, whereas we have never known any different and always question if this can be fixed or is it just him?
    Our youngest who is nearly 3 shows no signs of it and has just started going into his gym class without me and isn’t bothered by this at all

    • Ann says:

      Thank you very much for your question. I’ll answer based on my own experiences.
      Having done a lot of research on this, I’m pretty sure that even very anxious children can be helped – and they need it the most.
      Justin was actually always socially anxious, but it took a while for me to notice how bad it was getting. As kids grow older, it seems some traits of their personalities get more pronounced, especially around other kids. I can recognize the state you describe from the time when Justin was at his worst, before we decided that something had to be done.
      If I understand it correctly, there’s a strong hereditary factor in child anxiety. So I think, on reflection, that aiming for a complete fix may be a little unrealistic for some anxious kids, maybe even most of them. Justin will always retain a little anxiety ahead of social events, but the program we used (you may choose to do something else, see below) gave him some tools to handle the anxious feelings when they arise. That in itself was a great help.
      It seems to me as a non-professional that your son would indeed benefit from learning how to handle the anxiety when it hits him, and that it would help him if the anxiety could be reined in while he’s still a child. Whether or not that can be accomplished with the program we used is always hard to say, but what I usually answer is that it can’t hurt to try. You will find a solution to the problem eventually – if not now, then at a later date when your son has matured a little.
      Here’s one reservation: I see that you have a British email address. You should know that the audio parts of the program we used is in an American accent, which I imagine may sound somewhat strange to a British five-year-old. Here’s my suggestion: Try it, and if he has trouble understanding it, use the money-back guarantee and get a full refund. Then try something else until something sticks. Good luck!

  90. clare says:

    My five yr old boy has always been sensitive and had awful separation anxiety from starting pre-school at 2 yrs 9 mths. He’s not very social with other children and prefers adult company. His separation anxiety is so bad that it continues to be a problem going to school even now and his gym class is also a challenge, although he enjoys the class once hes in. At school he is quiet and has no close friends, he will join in but we feel he simply tolerates school and tells us he hates it. Parties are also a nightmare which we dread, just today my husband had to bring him out of a party half way through as he was so nervous about sitting down to eat with everyone (even though my husband was there the whole time) its such a shame as he wants to go to the party but when it actually gets to the crunch of leaving to get there he starts to have meltdowns.
    My question to you is as my son has always been this way do you think this is the right programme for him (as your children seemed to develop their anxieties later in life, whereas we have known no different and do wonder if this is simply his personality?
    I don’t want to ignore the problem, only to create a bigger issue in his teens or even adulthood.
    We have a nearly 3 yr old boy who shows no sign of this problem and in fact loves mixing with other peers and goes into his classes fine without me.

  91. clare says:

    Hi Ann,

    I can understand what you say about the accent and it could potentially cause a problem.
    Can you briefly tell me what the programme is about as its hard to decifer what exactly it is that will be helping him and how it can change it mindset.
    I have seen another american programme but its a story of several children on a hike and the child in question listens to the story CD. I may sound really negative but i’m just not sure anything can change a 5 year olds mind, but im probably thinking this as i have tried all sorts of conversations with my boy and tried many different tactics and nothing works, or at best somethings have helped temporarily and then very quickly go back to normal.

    • Ann says:

      I don’t think you sound negative, you just seem intent on finding the best solution :)

      Now, I won’ pretend that I understand all the intricacies and subtleties that are undoubtedly built into the program we used. I wouldn’t say it has a story structure as such (which seems to me to be a pretty good technique), but it has story elements. The thing that I know helped Justin (and me, too) was the breathing technique that helps him calm down and regain control of his thoughts and mind. But what I think was absolutely crucial was the consistency, that it goes on over days, weeks and months, if necessary. The repetition helps immensely, because strong and persistent anxiety may require a fundamental “re-programming”, if I understand it correctly. That takes time. With Justin, I think that in the beginning I looked for a “magic” thing to say to him that would make him “snap out of it”. But I now understand that that is just not how it works – it takes time and repetition every day for a long time with some kids.
      I fully understand your concern that it may take a lot to change the thought processes of a 5-year-old, but my non-professional opinion is that it can be done.

      I’ve given some thought to your questions, and it seems to me that living in the UK puts you in a fortunate position. If I’ve got it right, health services are free, or close to it, where you live. Possibly it would be helpful to consult a professional in the framework of the NHS? For many parents here in the US, visits to medical professionals trigger all sorts of financial concerns, which is part of the reason why many look for alternatives. I imagine it may be helpful for you to get the perspective from a professional on the best way to proceed. I imagine it’s unlikely that they’ll prescribe drugs to such a young child. Just a thought.
      I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide to do.

  92. clare says:

    Funny you should mention our health sevices, i have just booked an appointment to see our G.P in a weeks time to discuss the issue and to see if there is anything that can be done, however they may simply refer us onto a professional that will have a long waiting list (very common with the NHS) and thus resulting in a long wait to see any progress with your child. I also don’t think us Brits are as good at recognising potential mental health issues, especially in a child as young as 5, they would first and foremost like to make the mother feel as if she were maybe a little “paranoid” or even causing it herself by wrapping that child in cotton wool!
    I will be arranging to speak with his teacher and listening to any ideas they may have but until now the tactics they have put in place to get him into school have not been too successful and only today i was asking him if he gets “shaky legs” just when going into school or if it happens throughout the day and it would seem that when anything out of the ordinary happens at school his legs get shaky, which is when i know he’s at his worse and very anxious, the school however have not noticed this and so i feel that this programme may allow him to overcome this without needing to even involve the school!
    My 2 yr 9 mth old had his first day at pre-school today and he was totally fine when i left and had a fab time, it filled me with both joy for him but sorrow for my eldest as it made it even more real how sad he is and what he’s missing out on :-(
    Sorry to harp on but thankyou so much for listening as its really helpful to talk to you,knowing you have been a very similar situation

    • Ann says:

      Thanks a lot for the feedback! I’m thrilled that you find my experience with anxious kids useful to your own situation :)
      I know it’s just heartbreaking to see your child not enjoying life as much as you’d like, but I think you are well on the way to having this issue resolved. Just recognizing that something should be done is the first step, and it’s very important.
      My experience with the school was also that anxiety problems are not really recognized. I suspect that teachers like having anxious kids in class, because they’re quiet and don’t make demands, freeing the teacher to give attention to the troublemakers. So I’m not surprised that your school has not noticed the problem – to them it isn’t a problem. But it most certainly is a problem for your son.
      I think it’s a good idea to have a doctor look at the issue and possibly be refered to a specialist. I wouldn’t worry too much about the waiting list. We as parents want our kids to feel better as soon as possible, but I think you have time to resolve this issue. Sometimes, it takes a while for the child to mature to the point where they are mentally ready for the changes we want to see. The point, of course, is not giving up.
      I hope it’s a quick process, and I wish you and your son resounding success.

  93. clare says:

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you again for your on-going support, it really does help and i can totally see your point on the teachers liking anxious children and not seeing it as a real problem.
    I have made another development today as i have arranged two meeting next week, one with his teacher and head master and the other is with his school nurse, fingers crossed with me talking to all these peeps we’ll have a breakthrough.
    P.S he practiced his breathing while waiting in the play groung this morning before school gates opened and he did say it made him feel a bit better but also reported that he had his “shaky legs” at both playtimes but forgot to breathe, so now i know i just have to remind him several times a day about it and hopefully it will soon become second nature.

    • Ann says:

      See, he’s already making progress. That’s really great to hear :)
      Good work on being so active and contacting all the relevant people. Any little thing counts in this process, and there’s every chance that the people at the school will be able to be a positive influence now that they know how seriously you take this issue.
      I don’t think the child anxiety quite realized who it was going up against – it has no chance to win against you two :)

  94. clare says:

    Thank you once again, i will message you again i a week or so to let you know how i get on with all the meetings we have next week ;-)

  95. Joe says:

    My 13y.o. daughter has an irrational fear of being alone. She insists on sleeping in my bed and I must go with her everywhere in the house.
    Sometimes she is very scared and will wake me up several times during the night. I was awoken several times last night and was kept awake till 3.30am.
    We are desperate for a solution to her irrational fears and wondered if the programme you used would be suitable.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your question. I can understand that you would really like to help your daughter overcomes her fears.
      The situation you describe seems to fit with the symptoms of anxiety in children, though I’m not qualified to determine if that is the underlying problem. I think there’s every chance that the program might help your daughter handle her irrational fears better. It is designed to work against anxiety, and as I understand it, irrational fears are at the root of all anxieties. I suppose the only way to find out if it works in any situation is to try it. It certainly won’t do any harm.
      Good luck!

  96. Patrick says:

    Hello Ann;

    I have a 5 (6 in March) y.o. son and his teacher mentioned to us that he seems very concerned and anxious when he isn’t the first to complete his school work before the other children etc. Sort of a school performance anxiety. He is very outgoing, not shy at all. The teacher says he is abnormally hard on himself and his work. He did have some separation anxiety as a 3y.o., but this has not been an issue for a while.

    I am a blunt person, and I don’t know if he gets this from me and he is just being brutally honest about his quality of work. It seems like to me that the expectation that school isn’t just for fun but that his work means something might be taking a toll on him. I was not very motivated in school due to fear of failure which is a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. So I want to see this as him being a perfectionist, something I could have done well to learn at a young age.

    At what point, time length, would you consider it as less than a phase and more of a disorder? How long was your Daughter showing signs before you decided to act? As an aside, I have GAD and my wife has chronic migraines and some anxiety, so this could be a genetic predisposition or a result of the stress my family has been under for the last 3 years.

    Basically we are unsure to wait and see what happens, use the method you did or go as far to get medical professionals involved. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ann says:

      Hi and thank you for the question.
      Not being a medical professional, I don’t really feel qualified to say with any certainty when a thing like that stops being a phase and becomes a problem to be handled. But I think it’s interesting that you recognize some of your son’s behavior from your own childhood, and that you are aware that your son may be genetically disposed for anxiety. And I understand exactly what you mean when you say that fear of failure becomes self-fulfilling. Excessive perfectionism usually means having unrealistic expectations of oneself, and is sometimes associated with anxiety.

      Having said that, my first impulse in your case is to say “wait and see”, because from your description, I’m not a hundred percent sure that his self-criticism is in fact a form of child anxiety. If he’s not anxious in other parts of his life, it may be that this behavior is limited to schoolwork. Possibly all he needs is to be constantly reassured that the quality of his work does not need to be perfect, that everyone makes mistakes and so on. If other symptoms of anxiety start to become visible, it may be time to take more comprehensive action.

      I think you’re being very prudent and responsible to be on your guard against signs of anxiety, and taking action quickly is often a good idea. For now, my (non-qualified) suggestion would be to wait a few months and reassure your son about the things he does, that other kids can also be quick to finish tasks, and that it doesn’t mean that he’s any less good or worthy than they are etc. That should be enough time to determine if something more should be done.
      I wish you the best of luck, whatever you choose to do.

      • Patrick says:

        Ann, Thanks for the reply.

        We had a sit-down discussion with him last night and I was unaware that he ends up crying due to the ‘anxiety’ he feels. And he is ‘known’ for getting upset, and one girl tries to comfort him prior to getting upset, which actually causes him to get upset.

        It does seem to be completely related to school work. He gets upset if he doesn’t understand exactly what the directions are. he mentioned how one of the girls in his class finishes really quickly. We mentioned that always doesn’t equal good quality of work but he countered with the fact her work (coloring in this specific example) is done nicely and completely.

        We explained to him that everyone has their own pace. And getting the quality correct is better than speed. And the point is to learn, and asking for help or for the teacher to explain things again is what the teacher is there for. That she is a teacher because she likes helping kids learn.

        Even after our 30 minute talk, this morning my wife said he was nervous going into school. I told my wife we just need to keep reiterating to him each morning and after school about how to react in these situations. But since the teacher made a point to bring this up, my wife thinks the wait and see approach may not be the best course of action.

        I am of the opinion making it a bigger deal than it is can cause more anxiety, but I also don’t believe in inaction. So it just seems like a difficult line to toe.

        Thanks again for your reply and thank you for doing this website. It is always a help for a parent to know they are not alone in dealing with a child’s issues.

        • Ann says:

          Thank you so much for the update. I understand precisely what you mean. These situations can be a little difficult to deal with, especially when we’re not sure how big a deal it really is. And of course we’re a little afraid of making things worse if we overreact.
          I think you’re on to something when you mention reiteration, because repetition is often a key element to help someone think differently about a situation. These things take time to handle and get a grip on, it’s usually not as simple as a single reassurance. We parents are used to being able to solve problems for our kids with one word or a short explanation, but anxiety takes a little more time and effort to get to grips with. That’s certainly something I had to discover.
          Thank you very much for your kids words. And good luck with your son. With enlightened and active parents like you, I think he has excellent chances of overcoming this.

  97. Wow….Lots to take in. My kids never suffered from anxiety but I know it can crop up even after they reach adulthood. It can be a very scary experience.

    • Ann says:

      Absolutely. As luck would have it, it’s also very treatable. And when a parent is “on the case” for a child, there will likely be a solution. Thanks for commenting!

  98. malinda says:

    I wonder if something like this will work for adults as well? I like that it’s interactive and that there’s an audio part.

    • Ann says:

      I think it could work, because I actually was able to use some of the techniques for my own benefit in lowering the levels of ordinary, everyday worries that I think most of us have from time to time. On the other hand, it is designed for kids, and I would imagine that an adult who feels anxious may be better served searching for programs for adults. I don’t know if similar things exist for adults, though. The audio part is indeed very useful and increases the value of the system a lot, I think.

  99. Joan says:

    It all sounds wonderful but why isn’t the author discussing the methods she used. It may work but this sounds like an advertisement for the program rather than a Mom reaching out to other Moms.

    • Ann says:

      I think I see what you mean – the whole thing is pretty positively worded. But don’t I kind of discuss the methods a little, though?
      Take from it what you can, I guess – I ain’t rewriting that whole saga.

  100. Joy says:

    I have a 5 year old son that for a while now I had realized has an anxiety disorder and suffers from panic attacks. He is a very smart and perceptive child he taught himself to read by the age of 3, what gifts he all posesses I do not know I just know that he is special and takes things in and processes them diifferently than others. I myself suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and have recently realized that I have suffered with since childhood. Genetics deffinantely play a roll as both my husband and I have a family history of anxiety disorders. My father in-law long ago stopped going to family functions because of his.
    I myself am a success story, when it started for me and was limiting my life I decided that it was no way to live. I have an Aunt that suffered with it for years and as a child, cruel as it was, we kids always thought of her as the crazy Aunt and I decided I didn’t want to be her! I taught myself to identify my triggers, to breathe and most importantly rationalize my thoughts. I do not believe there is a cure as just a short few weeks ago I had a panic attack while grocery shopping but used my self taught techniques to get through. I have found that chemicals and hormones play a role as well.
    Anyway back to my son, in retrospect I now know that his anxieties and attacks started at a very young age and I wish I would have recognized it earlier. I started talking to him about his attacks and the way he was feeling when it happens, we call it the “icky” feeling. Now when it happens he tells me I have the “icky” feeling and we talk and breathe and find happy thoughts. It is helping him. A couple of months ago my older son who is 6 and in first grade brought home a note form his teacher simply stating that he is falling behind and that she was going to recommend him for testing for his “issues” and a possible learning disability. Weeks later a letter of consent to test came home and I signed it. Last week the school contacted me to find out if I understood my rights and why they were seeking to test him. I was a little fired up that day and told them no that his teacher had not contacted us about his “issues” and that I felt my son may be struggeling some but we have not been properly informed of exactly how far behind he is or what was going on in the classroom. I then requested a copy of the teachers referral, Friday I received it in the mail and was outraged. My son is very loving, has always beed very friedly, out going and social, he will strike up a conversation with just about anyone, although we did notice he gravitates towards adults and in kindergarden the teacher said he would stand and talk with the teachers at reccess instead of playing with the other kids. He also has bitten his own hand when excited or frustrated since he was a toddler and recently started chewing on the collar of his shirt.
    His teacher is suggesting that my son has Asperger syndrome, I have to wonder how much she actually knows about it as she spelled it wrong, so I hit the internet and looked it up. I went through the list of characteristics and found myself not able to identify even one of them as my son, I’m frustrated.
    Later that evening the 5 year old had a panic attack and we were sitting and talking his way through it, the 6 year old with us, and I just asked if he ever has that feeling, he asked his brother to describe it and he then replied on a Monday in kindergarden.
    I was a little blown away as he seems to remember the day & sitution in detail. These events sent me back to the web where I looked up child anxiety disorders and found yours and another testimonial web site for the same program. I found myself identifying with the stories and clicked on the link, went through the list of symptoms and had what I call my “Aha” moment, this is my sons problem.
    I am left asking myself why I could identify it in one son but not the other, my only answer is it did not present or manifest it’s monsterous ways in the same manner in each boy and that is what makes us all an individual.
    I believe we are catching the 6 year olds in its early stages and have decided to invest in this program and get both of them the help they need.
    I would like to share just one more story, just yesterday my husband and I decided to take the boys snow tubbing and were getting them ready but wanted to surprise them with our destination. Both boys became so agitated with the anxiety of the unknown that the 5 year old got the “icky” feeling and both were crying and saying they didn’t want to go, asked to be dropped at Grandma’s. We realized we needed to tell them where we were going, still some apprehension, but we did our best to reassure them. The 5 year old using the techniques we have been working on told us that the “icky” feeling and his happy thoughts were in a boxing ring and they were fighting it out, I asked who he thought would win, he replied his happy thoughts and they did. They had a blast snow tubbing and just being kids.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you so much for that very interesting comment. I have the feeling that kids that end up developing some form of anxiety often are very bright and perceptive, as your son is. And the ending to your story sure made me smile.
      In my opinion, you’re exactly right when you say that these things are individual, and an issue that shows up for one kid may not ever arise for a sibling. Even though, as you state, there’s a strong genetic factor here.
      It seems you have identified the symptoms and the challenge to be taken on, and I wish you and your family the best of luck in banishing the anxiety. I think your chances are excellent, since you have caught it at a very early age.

  101. Shelly says:

    Hi there. My five and a half year old seems to be starting down the anxiety path. She is over emotional at anything that really scares her and almost panics. She now says sometimes she doesn’t feel like herself like someone else. I can realate as I felt this as a teen. what are your thoughts? Thanks.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your question. While I’m not qualified to diagnose anyone, it certainly seems as if your daughter is developing anxiety of some sort. I think the panicking in particular indicates that. I do believe that the feeling of being someone else, which I seem to recall is called depersonalization, is often related to anxiety disorders. Perhaps you had some anxiety in your teens, and she’s experiencing something similar now?
      If this is a new development, it may be a good idea to observe for a while and see if it gets better by itself. Kids as young as your daughter often go through phases that leave as soon as they come. If there’s no improvement after, say, a couple of weeks to a month, it may be time to look at some way of helping her get rid of the anxious thoughts.
      I wish you the best of luck, whatever you choose to do.

  102. Shauna says:

    Hi my daughter started about a week ago saying that her stomach hurt. I could see that it was nerves. She has not been herself all week, quiet and not eating as much and drinking alot of water because her throat is dry all the time. She says nothing is bothering her but she feels sort of nervous. Do you think this book will help her. I want to get going on this right away. Thank you and I look forward to your reply.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for your question. It sure sounds like your daughter is experiencing some degree of anxiety. The undefined nervous feeling can be typical, and as I understand it, most anxiety has no particular specific cause. So it sounds like she’s a prime candidate for using the same program that I used on my kids. I suggest you try it and see.
      I wish you the best of luck, whatever you choose to do.

  103. Katie Norris says:

    Wow, what a wonderful resource! My daughter definitely has anxiety, although it’s gotten much better as she’s gotten older. It’s so hard to know they are trying to maniuplate and they are really nervous. In any case, I will definitely keep this page for reference! Thanks for visiting and commenting last week on my post on Mommy Guilt! I enjoyed your views on it.

    • Ann says:

      I’m glad to hear that your daughter has gotten better! Child anxiety can be a very real problem. Thanks for commenting!

  104. Lisa Maskill says:

    I am so glad I came across this post!!! We have had some trouble with one of our little ones and now that she is 7 it is really starting to come out! She just started it but she is doing some of what you talk about your daughter doing. I have been looking up what could be going on with her all weekend…I knew anxiety was the main issue but it all just came out of no where! Thank you so much for sharing your stories and your success! I can’t wait to share this with my husband and help our little girl!!!

    • Ann says:

      Thank you so much for commenting! I’m sure your daughter will be okay – as I usually say, once the parents are aware of the problem and ready to help the child get rid of it, it usually works out fine. And seven is a good age to start taking positive action, I think.

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