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Parental Anxiety over Having a Normal Child

parents want a normal kidMost parents agree that they want their kids to be “normal” and happy. They hope their kids will live reasonably stress free lives and succeed at whatever they choose as their life goals. Who could argue such desires?

But in spite of everyone’s best efforts, the trends aren’t particularly reassuring. Across the board, kids in today’s world appear to have more trouble than either their parents or grandparents did.

You may be aware of the fact that the diagnosis of autism has risen dramatically in the past few decades. But the same kind of surge has been occurring for anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit disorders, behavior problems, learning problems, and about any other malady you can think of.

Incredibly, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in kids has actually increased almost 40-fold in the past ten or twenty years (see our recent book Child Psychology and Development For Dummies for more information about all of these challenges).

We’d like to say that these disturbing rises are due to professionals becoming more adept at recognizing and diagnosing kids’ problems earlier. But most experts believe that kids today are also experiencing more problems than ever before even if you allow for the improvements in professionals’ diagnostic skills.

We don’t pretend to have all of the answers to the problem. However, in future blogs we intend write about what we call the four goals of childhood and how to help kids achieve them. We believe that careful attention to helping kids reach these goals can help stem the tide and quell the disturbing rises in children’s troubles. We’ll also discuss how we think our society, culture, and educational system may have taken the wrong approach to some of these goals. For now, we’ll just briefly note what they are:

  1. Impulse control (and related issues such as frustration tolerance, ability to delay gratification, and regulate emotions—see our recent blog on this first goal).
  2. Good relationships: This goal refers to kids’ ability to form secure attachments with their parents, other kids, and eventually romantic relationships.
  3. Balanced self-views: This goal is about kids’ learning to have solid grounds for feeling good about themselves while avoiding the perils associated with having an overly inflated or deflated self-esteem.
  4. Achievement of their potential: Usually kids who reach the first three goals will achieve pretty much what they want to. However, sometimes this goal requires a little direct attention as well.
  5. Photo by Anthony Albright, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

As we said, more to come…

Parental Anxiety over Having a Normal Child

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. Dr. Elliott is coauthor of: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Ed), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Why Can't I Get What I Want?, Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be?, and Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth. His website is:

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APA Reference
Elliott, C. (2011). Parental Anxiety over Having a Normal Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Mar 2011
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