Recently, after visiting the Washington Anytime Library online and picking books on a variety of subjects, I became engrossed in Why Smart Kids Worry, by Allison Edwards. I am going to be as objective in my review as possible, but there are 3 things that may prevent me from being so.First of all, this book is written for parents of smart children who have high anxiety. I am not a parent. Second, this book is divided into 2 parts–describing different types of anxieties, and providing tools to help soothe them. Not being a parent who needs the tools for a child I don’t have, I only read the first part, BUT…the author did mention the tools quite frequently in part 1.
Third, this book is written by a former school psychologist. I am a former teacher. Most teachers have a combative relationship with school psychologists and I am no different.
Despite those disclaimers, I did find the book quite interesting. Why? Because I WAS a smart kid who worried. And I’ve grown into an adult who worries. It is something I have to constantly talk myself through.
I never talk about this, but for the sake of this review I will…
As children, both my brother and I were identified as “gifted.” Like the author states, that label can add some pressure and, whether conscious of it or not, smart kids are often worriers. I cannot speak for my brother, who always seemed very calm and collected, but I was always a worrier as a kid. I worried about being late for school, doing well on a test, about who would take care of me if my mom (a single parent) died, about what I would be when I grew up, about who I would marry, about how much my friends liked me, about how much sleep I was getting, if we had enough money (things were tight)…you name it, I thought about it and usually worried about it.
So, for me, the useful thing about this book is that I dug back into some of the things I used to worry about and felt less alone. The author talks about the “snow globe.” A child puts everything through the filter within the small confines of their experience, and worries. Smart kids take things to the next level. She used the graphic images on the news after 9/11 as an example. Adults would see the clip of the planes hitting the Twin Towers and know they were seeing a replay of something that already happened.
Kids look at those clips, and, if they are young enough, process it as an event happening in the moment. News clip after news clip means that plane after plane is hitting the towers. Smart kids then begin thinking within their sphere… “Hmm, planes hit towers. We have planes and towers where I live, that means this could happen to me too.”
It seems outlandish, but I’ve seen this kind of connective thought process with students.
This book could be helpful to parents who have anxious kids. No one wants their child to be pigeon-holed into a certain category, but when she talks about the way different kids process and communicate their anxieties, it might be comforting to parents to know that other families have experienced the same kinds of challenges.
The tools she discusses in Part 1 are helpful and productive. Reminding parents that a child’s chronological, intellectual, and emotional ages are usually different, she informs parents that smart kids do not need to know about adult information happening in the family. Very true.
I would recommend this book. It is well organized and gives good advice to parents. Teachers and other caregivers may find it useful too.
8.5 out of 10 stars