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Praise for Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety in Children

This supremely practical, compassionate, and wise book offers accessible explanations of how anxiety functions in children’s lives, accompanied by a detailed look at what caring adults can do to help anxious children master their worries and fears. With vivid case examples and a wonderfully wide-ranging set of strategies that can be easily adapted to a child’s age and style of learning, it will be invaluable to parents and teachers alike.

Deborah Hirschland, MSW, author of When Young Children Need Help and Collaborative Intervention in Early Childhood

As the Executive Director of an agency serving inner-city youth and youngsters in Boston (the UU Urban Ministry), I found many of the suggestions in this book to be invaluable. When the economic and family challenges for young people seem overwhelming, being able to assist them with readily accessible techniques for addressing the underlying anxiety can be critical to their well-being.

Rev John E. Hickey, Cambridge, MA, U.S.

A caring, thoughtful, and empowering book for parents and teachers who want to better understand and successfully support children with anxiety. I wish I’d had the book at the beginning of my teaching career and would highly recommend it to parents and teachers.

Barbara Wilder-Smith, Director of Content Development, Tools of the Mind

Your Anxious Child

How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety in Children


Second edition


John S. Dacey, Martha D. Mack, and Lisa B. Fiore














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My mother suffered from agoraphobia, but she helped me as much as she could with my own anxiety disorder. Thus I dedicate my share of this book to her. JD

I dedicate my share of this book to my family and friends whose enthusiasm and support helped me become an author. MM

My share of this book is lovingly dedicated to Sam, Adam, and Abby, whose energy and enthusiasm bring joy and light into our family every day. LF

List of Illustrations


3.1 The general adaptation syndrome
3.2 Anxiety tracking record
3.3 Anxiety level chart for feelings and thoughts
4.1 The Xs test
4.2 An example of a highly creative effort on the Xs test
4.3 The cat and the box test
7.1 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
7.2 Icon help you!


2.1 Representative specific phobias
5.1 The typical relationship between the familiarity of situation and the emotional reactions of anxious and imaginative persons
6.1 Anxiety levels for four times of day, seven days a week
7.1 Developmental stages
7.2 Piaget stages 1 and 2
7.3 Traits of the typical anxious preschooler

About the Authors


Dr John Dacey teaches courses in creativity and human development at the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. He also has a small practice as a licensed psychotherapist. He is the author of 14 books on the subjects of anxiety, creativity, and human development, including Your Anxious Child and Understanding Creativity: The Interplay of Biological, Psychological and Social Factors. He has received a number of public service awards, and frequently does workshops on the subjects of creative problem-solving, dealing with emotional problems in the classroom, post-traumatic stress in the fire station, and social and emotional learning. He is the father of three daughters, and has nine way-above-average grandchildren.


Dr Maggie Mack has worked for 38 years in public and private education to support children and their families from early childhood to high school. She has extensive experience in working with behaviorally challenged children and adolescents, helping families implement positive strategies to decrease anxiety and increase creative problem-solving. Dr Mack has worked with researchers in the area of early childhood curriculum that supports the development of self regulation in young children through reading and mathematics. She has also written many federal, state, and private grants to support innovative educational programs. She is the mother of three children and also one way-above-average grandchild.


Dr Lisa Fiore is Dean of Faculty and Professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She teaches early childhood and elementary education courses, psychology courses, and directs the Child Homelessness Initiative. For over 20 years she has worked with children and families as an educator and advocate. She is the author of several books, including Your Anxious Child, LifeSmart, Assessment of Young Children, and Successful Centers. She regularly presents at regional and national education conferences on topics such as curriculum design and social emotional development and learning. Research interests include exploring applications of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education in US classroom settings, promoting the image of the child as curious and competent, and meaningful, collaborative observation, documentation, and assessment.


We have been graciously facilitated by the excellent personnel at Wiley-Blackwell: Darren Reed, Senior Commissioning Editor; Karen Shield, Senior Project Editor, Psychology Books; and Amy Minshull, Acquisitions Editor, Social Sciences and Humanities; and Timothy Hyde at Sunrise Setting Ltd.

We also appreciate the assistance of our three research assistants, senior students at Boston College: Seong Lee, Allyson Shurmur, and especially Daniel Kim.

Finally, we are grateful to our spouses for their unflagging support: Linda Dacey, Dick Mack, and Steve Fiore.

About the Companion Website






This book is accompanied by a companion website:

The website includes extra resources, including videos.