TODAY

TODAY   |  March 19, 2014

4 tips for calming your kids’ anxieties

Elizabeth Shaw from Scholastic Parent & Child magazine and Tovah Klein of Barnard College explain how parents can spot anxiety in their kids’ lives. The two experts say to help calm children’s fears, you should keep calm and take small steps to help them.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> some level of anxiety in children is normal like worrying about a math test and monsters in the closet . what happens when that anxiety leads to trouble sleeping and stress?

>> here to help, from parent and child magazine , and director for toddler development as well as the author of "how toddlers thrive" that makes it sound like your experts. we're talking about kids and anxiety. common sense has you think if a parent is stressed or anxious, a child would be. those go hand and hand.

>> kids can pick up on our own anxieties. it's important for us to try to stay calm even if you have to fake it.

>> children look to parents to be the guide and compass. when we're stressed, they're stressed.

>> we're the center of their world basically. when we read something, should we read like "oh my god -- "

>> bring it down. we can monitor our reaction to it. this is the real world . children read the newspaper and watch tv.

>> sometimes all a kid needs is to see a headline of a school shooting and obviously be terrified.

>> right. it's important to reinforce they are safe. yes, things can happen, but we are safe. i'm going to take care of you.

>> it's one thing for a child in a lovely neighborhood and lots of security. how does somebody battling all that's around them in an urban development area, where you hear gunfire -- it's dangerous to get to school. it's a different kind of parenting isn't it?

>> very much different parenting. it puts that much more on parents to keep the child 's world small and safe and keep the news out as much as possible.

>> tell the difference between a normal kind of stress that's okay -- sometimes you're not aware your child is creeping into something serious.

>> if they're taking a test, it's normal to be worried. it's normal to be shy or feel anxious. if they're coming to your bed, vomiting, can't sleep because they're worried or stressing out. this is crossing the line .

>> maybe there's a bully they don't want to tell you about at school or something. how do you get a child to verbalize the fear?

>> talk to your child about what's underlying. ask about their day at school and check with their teachers who often have information the child doesn't.

>> what's the right thing for a parent to do if the child isn't talking?

>> first check with the teachers. that's the place they are a lot. talk to your pediatrician.

>> if children have enough anxiety getting in their way, consult with a therapist.

>> sometimes it's a matter of someone say abusing them saying if you tell anybody i'm going to hurt them.

>> people cannot be -- if the child will not talk -- often isn't from a serious reason they won't?

>> it can be. it's up to parents. this is the scariest thing for r parents. is this normal is the biggest question. if you're concerned, consult with somebody. pediatricians is the place to start.