Bright & Quirky Child Summit

Help bright kids thrive, even with learning, social and/or emotional challenges

Session 4: Practical Strategies for Bright Kids with Anxiety

Kendra Read, PhD

The need for resilience in the face of anxiety and fear is a life skill we all need. Kendra Read, clinical psychologist, director of anxiety programs at Seattle Children's Hospital, and the director of psychotherapy training at the University of Washington gives us so much food for thought about what best serves our children, and us, in our approach to anxiety and fear. There are so many different flavors of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, picky eating, OCD, perfectionism, and more. Kendra Read helps us understand the differences, and shares the proven approaches that put anxiety and fear in their rightful place. Learn why she doesn't teach relaxation strategies and what approach is more effective.

[accessally_missing_all_tag tag_id='1303794,662974' comment='Summit_2020_Has_Access,IdeaLab_Has_Access']


[accessally_has_any_tag tag_id='1303794,662974' comment='Summit_2020_Has_Access,IdeaLab_Has_Access']


[accessally_has_any_tag tag_id='662974,1303794' comment='IdeaLab_Has_Access,Summit_2020_Has_Access']



Now we'd love to hear from you. What's bubbling up for you after hearing the talk? Let us know in the comments section below.

[accessally_missing_all_tag tag_id='1303794,662974' comment='Summit_2020_Has_Access,IdeaLab_Has_Access']

Would you like downloadable audio, video and transcripts for this talk? Upgrade to the summit access pass to get 24/7 permanent access to all 22 talks, over 10 hours of streaming content, downloadable audio and video to watch on the go, and printable transcripts. Also get 4 amazing bonus talks and a very special invitation to join the renowned IdeaLab parent learning and support community.



(If you are a Summit 2020 Access Pass holder or Idealab member, sign in here for access to downloads, transcripts, and bonus talks)



  1. Gina Bies on March 15, 2020 at 8:50 am

    My 2e son (gifted, ASD) experiences extreme anxiety causing school refusal. The school wants to move him to a program for poor attenders that doesn’t provide gifted classes nor mental health support. We are working externally with CBT, drug interventions and neurofeedback to address his anxiety. He is in a much better place than he was before. His desire is to return to his gifted classes where he has friends but the school keeps pressuring him to ramp us the pace of exposure. I want to improve his mental health and the academics will follow given his strengths.

  2. Amelia on March 14, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks you Kendra, really useful as I have a child (with Asperger’s) struggling with school refusal. I’d like to know if Kendra (or anyone else with a similar experience) would recommend a gradual start to a NEW school in the way Kendra recommended returning to a current school. She’s done 3 individual full days with no difficulty (despite not even managing 1 hour at her current school) and one 2 day trial where the second day was slightly problematic. Do we go in full time next term and adjust if she doesn’t cope or make a plan to start part time and build up to full time over the first term, say?

    • Louise on March 15, 2020 at 7:27 am

      Amelia, We’ve had similar experience (in that, autism, school-centred anxiety).

      For my son, it came from particular adults not understanding or listening to his communication when he was asking for help and so not supporting him how he needed; plus a health issue. And then… them showing him that while they ‘listened’ when he wanted me to help him to be understood, they didn’t actually *listen*. They showed him via their behaviour towards him that he *wasn’t* safe there. They made decisions (without agreement from us) that made the whole situation worse. They interfered with those who tried to do what he needed. That can’t be hidden from our children however much we may try. 🙁 [Only 2 things have really worked for him: (1) Involving him in meetings & decisions. And (2) school staff focusing on understanding, relationship-building and connection rather than valuing “compliance”. – basically, transparent communication, collaboration, connection.]

      A school social worker (first year, believed the school over me; has since apologized), the next year, she shared a study from 2004 about improving attendance in schools re dealing with school refusal as well as the parent version of a “School Refusal Assessment Scale”. There’s also a child version.

      For *him*, because of his school history, I *do* believe that a gradual start at a new school (or even his old one if he goes back for his last year before middle school there) may be necessary, with support and advice from advocates, specialists, and resource who have gotten to know *him*.

  3. Jennifer Curry on March 14, 2020 at 8:37 am

    We are using CBT for both our kids who have anxiety. I’m grateful for the psychologists they work with. It’s been a big help. Dr. Read’s talk aligns right with what we’re working on. Thank you!

  4. Jessica Brannmark on March 14, 2020 at 5:47 am

    Thank you for yet another great webinar!
    As a clinical psychologist and a 2e mum I just want to urge parents and clinicians to consider the diagnosis of PANS/PANDAS when encountering especially 2e kids that present with a sudden onset combination of the following symptoms: separation anxiety, ocd, tics, high levels of anxiety (fight/flight that is more or less constant not following the normal pattern), often dilated pupils, involuntary movements, sleep problems, neuropsychiatric symptoms similar to adhd and autism, rage, depression, ODD, anorexia or other food intake related problems, decline in hand writing and maths, bladder control issues.
    Early detection and treatment with antibiotics and anti inflammatory meds means everything for recovery. It is treatable. It is a form of basal ganglia autoimmune encephalitis, the brain is under attack, which looks like severe anxiety. The illness has an autoimmune component and unfortunately seems to affect gifted kids more often than others (could also be that the parents are better at detecting it and getting help). Standard CBT treatment can only help after antibiotics/anti inflammation meds have kicked in in this case.

  5. Victoria on March 14, 2020 at 4:12 am

    Thank you so much! Transition to kindergarten has been so hard and this talk provided so many ideas for dealing with the number of anxiety issues we are seeing!

  6. Sharyn on March 14, 2020 at 3:52 am

    Great talk. I learned a lot and have gained some new insight in ways with helping my daughter with anxiety especially around learning and school.
    Some really good tools provided and I love your simple straightforward but caring and intelligent demeanor Dr Read.
    Thank you B and Q !!

  7. Gloria Gallardo-Walker on March 14, 2020 at 2:59 am

    Wonderful news to make anxiety okay and to learn to ride this wave until it crests and you can come back down again. We need all feelings and to treat even the challenging feelings as positive. Thanks Dr. Kendra Read.

  8. Sarah M on March 13, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    This has been my favorite so far. It was so practical and Dr. Read was really an encouraging voice.

  9. Camille on March 13, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    I’m a resource teacher working with the Bright and Quirky population in Seattle at one of our public schools. One student I’m working with this year is diagnosed with ASD, ADHD, and generalized anxiety. Watching this talk and an earlier talk, I’m not sure how to best serve this student. It sounds like addressing the anxiety by stressing (or exposing) the student in small doses to their fears makes sense, but then again, what if the student is feeling overwhelmed and unsafe due to the environment and just wants to escape. I desperately want to support this student, but feel helpless in knowing when to push and when to back off. Sadly, this student’s attendance has been less than 50% this year due to high levels of anxiety. When the student’s at school, I work hard to ensure he’s not over-taxed hoping to encourage better attendance, but so far, it’s not working. Any suggestions or tips would be much appreciated.

    • PJ San on March 13, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      I would love to know what other people will advise you because I have the same question about ASD and anxiety leading to school refusal. Exposure even with staff giving encouragement and support seems to trigger the fight and flight (literally), and so my kid has so much distress that he doesn’t want to go to school.

      • Sharyn on March 14, 2020 at 3:42 am

        This has been happening with my 14 year old as well who has struggled in school most of her life.
        I am going to try some of the great ideas offered in this talk,
        especially since her school just closed because of corona virus.
        I’m going to do my own research on reintegration and work with letting her know that anxiety is normal and any given experience won’t last forever.

    • Lauren on March 14, 2020 at 1:05 am

      Safety and relationship are key elements that must be in place before the gentle pushing of exposure can be effective. I encourage you to share the neuroception (emotional safety) work of Dr. Delahooke with people who work with your son. Also, the Ross Greene interview on Day 4 may give you additional tips for collaborating with your child on his goals. It’s often a missing piece.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

      • Sharyn on March 14, 2020 at 3:44 am

        Thank you ?
        I so am looking forward to Sunday’s talks, and listening to Dr Greene again too.
        I was introduced to him through a positive parenting summit recently and love his work .

      • Kris on March 14, 2020 at 4:05 am

        Aloha from Hawaii! I’m a school based Speech Language Pathologist interested to learn more about anxiety in kids.

    • Kai on March 14, 2020 at 6:30 am

      The parents may want to look into PANDAS/PANS, ERP therapy outside of school. These issues are challenging. Good luck!

  10. Maliha Masood on March 13, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    This was great to hear. We know Dr Read who evaluated my son in Seattle after our struggle with school refusal. He did the Facing Your Fears group therapy program and it was a huge success. The only problem is that we had no support from school and the IEP team caused major damage to our treatment by not listening to our provider. I’m wondering how to approach Middle School next year. Should we not offer accommodations in order to build resilience and what to do when a student refuses to apply the coping skills and ignores the issues that cause anxiety ? What can teachers do when anxiety is totally internalized and they can’t see any obvious signs which they use as data to imply the child requires no support. It seems like they are punishing a student for good behavior just because he’s not having a meltdown or acting out. It seems unfair and not equity in best practice when gifted 2e kids only get help when they behave badly and the ones who can hold it together are struggling just as much but they get by so they fall through the cracks of our education system. How can we change this pattern?

    • Lauren on March 14, 2020 at 1:01 am

      I hear your frustration that 2e kids only get help when they are behaving badly or failing school. It’s important to look at what’s triggering the anxiety. I am a school counselor and I will collaboratively (with a student) go through their day to understand what is both hard and triggering for them, and then work to create accommodations that can address that. You may need more advocacy from the outside to help you with this if the school is not responsive. The child also needs to be a part of the problem solving process. Please watch Ross Greene’s talk on Day 4 for more information about this process.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

    • Corianne on March 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

      So much this: “ It seems unfair and not equity in best practice when gifted 2e kids only get help when they behave badly and the ones who can hold it together are struggling just as much but they get by so they fall through the cracks of our education system. How can we change this pattern?” Literally just had first official meeting with school and because student is doing well on grades and teachers report average or above average performance they are deemed not in need of special education services or supports since they do not meet legal standard of needing accommodations in order to “access the curriculum”. Have offered informal coordination work with teachers instead – and the school itself if incredibly supportive – but it does leave me feeling like my child is exposed and vulnerable. Because she feels that way, hates going to school, and I’m afraid it will get worse. Having 7 different teachers a day to navigate in middle school doesn’t help.

  11. Lisa on March 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    We received this email in support today for Kendra.

    Do you use DBT as well as CBT? Why is one preferred over the other?

    If stress is academically-related how do you expose them? E.g., anxiety for writing a research paper.

  12. Christina Thomson on March 13, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I have a wonderful 27 yr old daughter who really needs this support. Do you have a recommendation for a woman in NYC? It’s helpful to hear you – Thank You,

    • Lauren on March 14, 2020 at 12:55 am

      Hi Christina. B&Q doesn’t provide referrals, but we encourage you to ask this question in the larger Facebook group where you might reach others from NYC. We find that the best referral sources are through parents who have had a good experience, although you may get more responses for children. Some people like the Psychology Today therapist finder site where you can plug in your preferences (type of insurance CBT, etc.) and get some names.
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

  13. Bianca S on March 13, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Very refreshing talk. It gave me some different ways to look at things that I was surprised makes sense – as I had never thought of it that way. I have ADHD, OCD and OCPD mothering 2.5 year old twins – one diagnosed as autistic who is hyperlexic and the other suspected savant with what appears to be high anxiety already even though he’s so young. I’m looking forward to exploring these strategies further for all three of us really. Thank you!

  14. Ellen on March 13, 2020 at 11:34 am

    This was incredible. My daughter has OCD and social anxiety. If you have an recommended resources in the Chantilly/Reston/sterling area in Virginia – can you please share?

    • Lauren on March 14, 2020 at 12:50 am

      Hi Ellen. I encourage you to ask this question in the larger Facebook group where you might get some people familiar with that area. B&Q doesn’t provide referrals, and often parents are the best resources if something worked well for their child.
      Lauren with the B&Q Team

  15. Lucy Pickering on March 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Thank you! That was a really useful webinar. My daughter has had some success with CBT for specific areas of OCD. Watching this webinar has shown me how we can use more of the CBT skills we have learnt to address other struggles that she has (social anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by schoolwork etc).

    • Sheryl on March 13, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      That is great, Lucy! Feel free to share any specifics you care to in the FB group – it could spark others, which in turn might spark more ideas for you. Thanks for considering, Lucy. Either way, glad you got ideas from this!
      – Sheryl Stoller with BQ Team

  16. Jiming Sun Lindal on March 13, 2020 at 9:44 am

    My child avoids difficult assignments and presentations because of her anxiety. Anyone who has the same experience can share any success stories or ways to deal with this?

  17. Rachel on March 13, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Disregard my previous comment. I heard the recommendations at the end of the talk. Thank you Dr. Read

    • Sheryl on March 13, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      So glad you listened to the end, Rachel! Please feel free to share your planning process for your steps ahead in the FB group – it might spark others with ideas that spark other ideas for you. You’re not alone.
      – Sheryl Stoller with BQ Team

  18. Rachel on March 13, 2020 at 9:02 am

    This was a very informative talk. Very applicable to my kids! I would be very interested in trying CBT with my children at home and was kind of hoping that Dr. Read would have given either a website or book title that would help get someone started because just googling CBT leads to an overwhelming amount of information. Is it possible for Dr. Read to give a recommendation? Thanks again!

Leave a Comment