Natasha Daniels was frustrated that parenting books about children were missing critical information and support for those who have anxiety. A child therapist for over 15 years and a mother of children who struggle with anxiety, she became a passionate advocate determined to fill in the missing gap.
“Anxiety looks so different in young children – it is often misdiagnosed or missed completely. Writing How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler has fueled my passion to provide ongoing support and guidance for parents of anxious kids of all ages.”
In addition to authoring a book, she has a wonderful resource website called AnxiousToddlers.com dedicated to parenting and anxiety issues. Along with being a Huffington Post blogger, her work has been published on various sites including The Mighty, Hey Sigmund and Child Mind Institute. I was thrilled to interview her about her book.
Tell us about How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler.
How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler breaks down common issues one chapter at a time. The book is written for parents, professionals and caregivers who have toddlers and pre-schoolers that struggle with anxiety-related issues either due to a co-existing diagnosis (such as Autism) or due to temperament, genetic predisposition or trauma.
Each chapter begins with a vignette from the parent’s perspective and then from the toddler’s perspective. I wanted to help provide a voice for the child. Hopefully this will give parents, mental health professionals and child care workers some insight into the mind of an anxious toddler and will offer a different perspective on the issue.
The book covers common issues such as potty training, feeding and sleep struggles. Along with less typical issues such as sensory difficulties, bath time struggles, rigidity in routine, social fears and phobias.
I offer simple, concrete methods to tackle all of these issues. Parents, professionals and caregivers should walk away with a better understanding of what causes anxiety in young children along with effective tools to help build their coping mechanisms and empower them to fight their fears.
What inspired you to write it?
Twelve years ago I sat in a post-graduate class for infant and toddler mental health. I listened to the professor rattle off all the symptoms of toddler anxiety. I thought, “This infant-toddler mental health stuff is ridiculous! They think everything is abnormal. My child has each one of these symptoms!” Even though I had been a child therapist for three years – I had never heard of these symptoms being related to anxiety. I was a new mom and was in deep denial. I was thrown into the world of infant and toddler mental health both at work and at home. I wanted real concrete ways to help the children I was serving, as well as my own suffering child – but no book or training offered it to me.
My first child is now twelve. I got her through it. I got myself through it, but it could have been easier. I could have had more guidance. I have added two more anxious children to my family plate. I handle my struggles much easier now.
I wrote the book to not only offer parents, but professionals the insight I so desperately needed as a young mom and young professional. The sooner anxious children are empowered and taught how to fight their anxiety – the better they fare in the long term. Many of us are missing that window – with thoughts like, “we’ll wait and see” and “it’s a stage, she’ll grow out of it.”
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
My hope is that parents will use it as a reference to develop hands on skills to address their child’s anxiety. I also see mental health professionals, social workers, foster care workers and caregivers utilizing the book to help the children and parents they serve.
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
I want parents to gain new hope that they can tackle these struggles with their child. I want people to walk away feeling like they have the tools to empower their children. I hope professionals will gain a fresh look at anxiety in young children – and how it can manifest differently.
Do you have a proud moment, inspirational story, or moving fan feedback you’d like to share?
I was honored to read a review that a family wrote about my book. She wrote, “Our family has gained sanity in a world that, before receiving her help, was out of control.”
I was also touched that a well-respected Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Daniel Kessler wrote, “After 33 years as a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, even I learned new things.”
My biggest inspiration though has to be my own children who continue to amaze me with their strength, tenacity and endurance no matter what anxiety wants to throw in their way.
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
That anxiety does not have to debilitate you and your family. That there are ways to help and empower your children – but starting early is the key.
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