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Another parent sits in my office and asks, “Do you think she’s doing this for attention?”

After a series of questions, it seems that “Yes. She is.”

She is coming up with new worries daily. She goes from seemingly happy to scared within seconds. She feeds off of talking about her anxiety. She says she had a terrible time even though you saw her bopping around the party.

Yes. It seems she is feeding off of the attention her parents are giving her. And if you stop and think about it…why shouldn’t she?

Anxiety brings strong reactions from parents. Anxious kids are scared and debilitated and coming to their parents for help. When their parents give them the attention they deserve, kids start wanting that same type of attention for everything, even after their worries are gone. In most cases, the initial anxiety is real but then after it has passes, kids are still looking for the same connection with their parents. If they have siblings, their need for attention may be even greater.

If you feel like this may be happening to you, follow the three steps below:

1. Maintain a calm demeanor when your child talks about his/her anxiety. Listen and acknowledge feelings without feeding into the drama of the worry.

2. Set aside a “Worry Time” each day to discuss your child’s worries. This allows your child to have the attention he/she needs without taking up the whole evening to discuss his/her worries. “Worry Time” will happen once a day, instead of continually throughout the day.

3. Refrain from bringing up old worries after they have passed. If you bring it up, they may just start worrying about it all over again. Instead, let it go whenever your child does.

For more tools on how to help anxious kids, order “Why Smart Kids Worry.” 

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