Once upon a time, it was thought that childhood was a happy and carefree existence, with nothing to worry about. Anxiety, stress, and worries were reserved just for adults – right?
Anxiety in children seems to be on the rise, with more and more children aged between the ages of five and twelve reportedly suffering from the effects of anxiety.
If you have been wondering, ‘Does my child have anxiety?’ this is the perfect article for you. Let’s have a look at whether this is a real problem for today’s child or just a figment of helicopter parenting.
We will also cover some signs of anxiety and some easy natural ways that you can help to relieve your child’s stress.
Is anxiety a problem for today’s children?
Children may suffer from a number of different anxiety conditions, including separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety. They may also have specific phobias such as a fear of the dark, monsters, death or war.
As many as 1 in 8 children may be affected by anxiety, and if this goes untreated can affect their long term schooling and become severe conditions such as depression.
They also have access to a constant onslaught of information through screens and the internet. This stops their brains from shutting down and relaxing, as well as providing more negative details about global issues and suffering than any child should be exposed to.
Many children express worry about things such as war, nuclear weapons or climate change, for example, worries that children a generation ago may not have had.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it affects your child’s health and their ability to get on with their everyday life. It isn’t just a matter of telling your child to not be afraid or that there’s nothing to worry about.
When anxiety is a problem the body releases natural chemicals in the body which are preparing for a fight or flight response, even if there is nothing to run from. This physical response can make your child feel very unwell and can’t just be turned off by being told not to worry.
Signs of anxiety in children
Many children face worries and stress, and all of them will have challenging or bad days. Anxiety happens when it is not just a bad day here and there, but a chronic condition that is affecting your child’s life.
There may be one specific thing that your child is worried about that you can address, such as problems between parents or bullying at school. You should discuss with your child the reasons for their feelings and see if there are specific things you can do to remove their stress.
Your child may suffer from more generalized anxiety that can make them worry about all sorts of things, many of which you might find surprising. This could include worrying about birthday parties, homework, safety of loved ones while away, getting on the school bus, weather, germs, food and more.
Some of the most common signs of anxiety in children include:
- Difficulty focussing at school
- Too sick to go to school
- Problems eating
- Nausea and indigestion
- Complaints of frequent stomach pain or headache
- Heart racing, shakiness, dizziness
- Persistent crying and upset
Easy natural ways to help a child with anxiety
Adults suffering from anxiety may be prescribed medication to help manage the condition, but this may not be the first option you want to consider for your child.
Taking your child to speak to a counselor or child psychologist may be very helpful, and often children with anxiety can manage their worries with learned strategies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
These are some lovely, easy and natural ways you can help your child to relieve their anxiety without having to resort to something as serious as medication.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Wild fish oil has been shown to help with a number of your body’s needs including behavior, temperament, brain health, and cognition. It is safe for children, and there are a number of great products on the market now specifically for kids that remove the fishy taste.
Omega 3 is great for calming and soothing anxiety but is best taken every day to keep levels high, not just as a response to moments of stress or upset.
There are a number of supplement blends on the market which are created purely for helping children with high anxiety. Eric’s has a number of these in store, which are as easy to take as dropping a few drops on your child’s tongue or sucking on a pastille.
There are several vitamins and minerals which have been shown to help with anxiety, including magnesium and B vitamin complex.
Healthy food choices
A number of foods may help reduce anxiety, including
- Foods high in magnesium such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds
- Foods high in omega 3 such as oily fish, olive oil, nuts or avocado
- Sources of B6 such as green leafy vegetables, fish and bananas
Essential oils are a great way to help soothe your child’s anxiety. These can be added to their evening bath, sprinkled on their sheets, spritzed around their room, or infused into the air user a steamer.
Many essential oils can help, but some of our favorites include lavender, lemon balm, and chamomile.
You can also buy products infused with essential oils created for calming children, such as body wash or soothing creams that you can massage on before bed. Talk to the experts at Eric’s for advice on great-smelling products that your child might like.
You can look into a range of different natural relaxation exercises and mind-body techniques to help your child with their anxiety. Try going together with your child to try classes on mindfulness, breathing exercises, or children’s yoga.
Other things that may also help include making sure that your child has time outside with nature and in the sun, as well as time away from screens. Give them the opportunity to talk to you and share their fears and feelings as well as quiet time to reflect.