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‘Ubiquitous, Inescapable, An Ambient Condition:’ Anxious Children And Modern Parenting

A mother and son walk through Stockton, California.
A mother and son walk through Stockton, California.

Kids are struggling. Some of them are, as journalist Kate Julian writes, “not all right.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 4.4 million children, ages 3-17, have diagnosed anxiety. And about 1.9 million have diagnosed depression.

But in Julian’s latest cover story for The Atlantic, she found an anchor:

For all the brain’s mysteries, for everything we still don’t know about genetics and epigenetics, the people I spoke with emphasized what we do know about when emotional disorders start and how we might head more of them off at the pass. The when: childhood—very often early childhood. The how: treatment of anxiety, which was repeatedly described as a gateway to other mental disorders, or, in one mother’s vivid phrasing, “the road to hell.”

Julian has also been thinking about how parents’s behavior factors into the emotional health of their children on a personal level. She has two kids, ages 6 and 10.

How can parents help their kids during a time of unprecedented uncertainty? And what do we know about what treatment works and what doesn’t?

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