Dr. Brent Wells
All kids can get wiggly sometimes. But daily restlessness can also be one sign of anxiety in children. Anxiety in kids is a real phenomenon – and a rising epidemic nowadays. Let’s go over what anxiety in children looks like and how natural remedies can help reduce anxiety in children.
Anxiety symptoms in children
It’s normal for kids to be anxious sometimes. Kids are commonly afraid of the dark and may appear nervous about meeting strangers. They may also worry about school and making friends.However, if this anxiety becomes persistent and daily over the course of several months, your child might have an anxiety disorder. Other symptoms include:
- Fatigue and/or insomnia
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Grumpiness or irritability
- Tension and stress
- Crying often
Your child might also feel sick or have physical reactions like “butterflies” his/her stomach. If you suspect your child may have an anxiety disorder, you may try some natural remedies to help manage your child’s anxiety in the long-run. However, if these self-help remedies don’t work or you notice your child’s anxiety getting worse, you should seek professional help.
Causes of anxiety
Your child’s anxiety may be caused by several factors. There might be specific triggers – such as thunderstorms, doctors or dogs – or your child might have recently undergone a traumatic event like abuse, violence or a death in the family. Otherwise, causes of anxiety can include:
- Genetics. If somebody in your family has an anxiety disorder, your child is more likely to have one. Genes can be a major factor in anxiety.
- Brain chemistry. Your child’s brain chemistry may not be working in a typical In fact, anxiety is often caused by the “fight or flight” response being triggered at the wrong time.
- Learned behaviors.Your child may have learned to be anxious from certain behaviors in your family.
Natural Remedies Can Help Reduce Anxiety in Children
We’ve put together nine natural remedies that can help reduce anxiety in children. These range from conversational techniques, play strategies and physical interventions. Let’s take a closer look below.
1. Talk it out
It’s important to talk with your child about their anxiety. Encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings and fears. Listen and emphasize but try not to reinforce your child’s feelings by asking leading questions or reacting in a way that confirms the fear. Be positive, but not dismissive.
2. Face the fear
You should also encourage your child to face his/her fears. Don’t avoid triggers, because this can reinforce the anxiety. Try to think through stressful situations together. By going through the “what ifs” of your child’s fears, you might help him/her know what to do if this scary situation ever occurs. You should also model good anxiety coping yourself. If you’re dealing with stress or anxiety, show your child what you do to manage it.
3. Build a relaxation kit
Sometimes your child just needs to slow down and relax. It’s a good idea to build a relaxation kit filled with music, books, toys and stuffed animals. Try to choose items that will make your child concentrate, such as drawing or reading. Depending on your child’s age, you might also include a journal or a stress ball.
4. Use mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness techniques, including deep breathing and meditation, are great for getting your kid to stop and relax. Try and incorporate mindfulness as a habit. For example, before your child goes out the door for school, ask him/her to take a moment for deep breathing. Or before bed, create a relaxing environment to calm down after a long day. Psycom even recommends “breathing the rainbow,” where kids breathe deeply while thinking of their favorite things in those colors.
5. Make a bedside worry box
If your child has a lot of anxiety triggers, a worry box is a good outlet to “let go” of them. Decorate a Kleenex box together with colorful, positive artwork. During the day, your child can place inside pieces of paper or drawings of what is worrying him/her. Before bed, you can go through these worries together and talk about them.
6. Get good sleep
Sleep is extremely important for young children. Make sure you create a positive sleeping environment at night. Try to create “sleep-ready” habits, which include relaxing music, no screen time and no sugary snacks. You might even create a nighttime ritual of reading a bedtime story or going through the worry box.
7. Play in the park
Exercise – especially outdoors – is great natural therapy for your child. By going to the park or inviting over a friend to play soccer, your child will naturally tire out and also relax any physical tension. Outdoor play also will help your child get to sleep more easily.
8. Relax with home massages
If you notice your child has physical tension in his/her shoulders or other muscle groups, you can try to massage the tension away. This will also help your kid relax. You might even incorporate home massage with relaxation strategies, such as mindfulness moments. Letting go of this muscle tension could help your child calm down.
9. See a chiropractor
A chiropractor might also help your child’s anxiety. Generally speaking, a chiropractor will make adjustments and use massage therapy to relax your child’s body. In addition, he/she will make recommendations for diet and exercise so that your child stays as stress-free as possible.
In the end, you may be able to manage your child’s anxiety by following these nine natural remedies. Trial and error is the key for learning what works for your child. As always, if you don’t see improvement with these strategies, don’t be afraid to seek a chiropractor or therapist for professional help.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic in Wasilla. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.