Back-To-School: Dealing With Stress In Kids | Paddington Clinic, Acupuncture Brisbane & Natural TherapiesPaddington Clinic

Back-To-School: Dealing With Stress In Kids

31 Jan, 2018 - Blog

School can be a place of high stress for children; the workload, the lack of play, the testing, the social dynamics. Dealing with stress in children naturally can give a parent some helpful tools to work with on a daily basis to help support their child’s nervous system, to give them support while at school, and to help with stress symptoms like worry, anxiety, insomnia, stomach pain, headaches and changes in behaviour and mood.

Here are 11 suggestions on how to deal with children’s stress naturally and holistically:

  1. Make time for relaxing activities: Children need time to relax and be kids. Unfortunately, sometimes even fun activities, like sports, can become more about success than they are about fun.  Instead, it is important to ensure that your child engages in play purely for the sake of fun. This may include scheduling time each day for your child to play with toys, play a game, play a sport (without it being competitive), doing yoga, paint, have a tea party, put on a play, or just be silly.
  2. Massage: Try incorporating massage into your child’s daily routine, either at home or book in for one professionally. Combined with simple essential oils like lavender, sweet orange or roman chamomile that are very calming and grounding, this can really help your child’s nervous and sensory system.
  3. Encourage healthy eating: Research has now confirmed that our diet can affect our mental health. It has been shown that eating an unhealthy diet consisting of high-sugar foods, packaged items, soft drinks and take-away can increase anxiety and depressive symptoms. So it is important that you give your child healthy foods every day. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean protein sources such as eggs, fish and beef. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for good mental health and this is primarily derived from oily fish and some seeds.
  4. Soothing nervous system support supplements and herbs: There are several nutrients that have been shown to normalise stress hormone and neurotransmitter levels. Some of these include magnesium, vitamin C, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids. B vitamins are also important. There are also some specific calming supplements such as Nervatona which is a nervous system support and helps combat stress and anxiety. Always talk to your Health Professional before self-prescribing, though.
  5. Acupuncture: There is a wonderful children’s acupuncture we use at the clinic called Shonishin. It is very effective with a lot of children’s ailments, and stress and anxiety is something acupuncture can really help with. You can read more about using acupuncture on children here.
  6. Encourage good sleep hygiene: Set a bed time for your child and stick to that bed time even on weekends.  Also have a 30-45 minute bed time routine that is done every night.  This helps your child to transition from the activities of the day to the relaxed state necessary to fall asleep. A rested and well-slept child is essential for body processes to be restored at night and the nervous and sensory system to recuperate.
  7. Encourage regular exercise: Exercise is good for both physical and mental health. Some studies in adults have actually shown that exercise is as effective as antidepressant medications and psychological therapy. So encourage your child to exercise most days. Choose something that he/she is interested in and finds enjoyable. Joining them in it will also double as a bonding experience which is also essential for feelings of wellbeing.
  8. Homeopathic and flower essences: Things like rescue remedy are also handy to have on hand when dealing with stress – a few drops in the morning before school or after a particularly stressful day can help lower stress levels and balance out the system naturally. Again, talk to your Health Professional about this.
  9. Practice relaxation exercises with your child. Sometimes really basic relaxation exercises are necessary to help your child to reduce their stress and anxiety. This might mean telling your child to take a few slow, deep breaths (and you taking a few slow breaths with your child so your child can match your pace). Or it might mean asking your child to image him or herself somewhere relaxing, like the beach or relaxing in a backyard hammock. Ask your child to close his/her eyes and imagine the sounds, smells, and sensations associated with the image. For example, close your eyes and picture yourself on a beach. Listen to the sound of the surf as the waves come in and go out.  In and out. Listen to the sound of the seagulls flying off in the distance. Now focus on the feel of the warm sand beneath your fingers and the sun warming your skin.Your child can do these techniques on his or her own during anxiety-provoking times.
  10. Reduce exposure to technology and computers. Research confirms that children who spend more time on technology or playing electronic games have worse mental health. So it is very important to place limits on this.
  11. Lastly, it is important you as a parent model self-care, and positive thinking. Your child will do what you do. So if you take care of yourself and schedule time for your own needs, your child will learn that self-care is an important part of life. If you look for the positive in situations, so will your child. Children learn behaviours from watching their parents. So when you think about your child’s psychological well-being think about your own as well. Stay calm. Children look to their parents to determine how to react in situations. We’ve all seen a young child trip and fall and then look to their parent to see how to react. If the parent seems concerned, the child cries. This is because the child is looking to their parent for a signal of how to react to the situation. Children of all ages pick up on their parent’s emotions and resonate with them. If you are anxious, your child can pick up on that anxiety and experience an increase in his/her own anxiety.  So when you want to reduce your child’s anxiety, you must manage your own anxiety. This may mean deliberately slowing down your own speech, taking a few deep breaths to relax, and working to ensure that your facial expression conveys that you are calm.

 

If you have a child suffering with anxiety or stress, natural medicine can be a wonderful and effective tool to help support his or her mental wellbeing. Implementing strategies listed above can have a profound and positive effect.

 

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