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I was an anxious kid who had an anxious mom who passed away when I was 10, making me even more, you guessed it, anxious. While it’s impossible to fill the mom gap completely, I had a great dad and loving family members who did their best to ensure I lacked nothing. But my anxiety and worry were never too far away. While they all did their best, one family member was the champ at calming me and comforting me when I was worried and anxious, my Aunt Bug. She had a way, a presence that calmed me, gave me perspective, and helped me to know I was not alone. After a few minutes of her presence, she would ask questions and assured me she was there to find and support the answers.

Research on anxiety in children backs my aunt’s approach. If a kid is deeply immersed in strong emotions, she may not be able to hear you. But once she is calm, questions are powerful. Anxiety in children can often be lessened by asking helpful questions when anxious and worried. Questions turn on the thinking part of their brain, which calms the worried part, making kids feel better. Here are 10 things you can say to a kid who’s worried.

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