Natural Home Remedies for Anxiety Disorders in Children

Natural Home Remedies for Anxiety Disorders in ChildrenJust like adults, children can also experience anxiety. In fact, it is normal for children to experience anxiety during various stages of their lives (i.e. the first day of school or moving to a new state). It is also common for children with an anxiety disorder to experience emotional and physical distress. Moreover, children with an anxiety disorder tend to have trouble interacting with others and adjusting to new environments. These children may not only have a hard time expressing how they feel, they may also practice poor coping skills.

It is important to note that for most children the anxiety is short-term. These children realize that their fears and phobias are illogical (unreal) and recover fairly quickly. For instance, healthy anxiety may resemble children who initially fear that their mom or dad will not return at the end of the day. Once the parent returns home from work, the children see that their fears were unwarranted and anxiety subsides.

Anxiety only becomes a problem when it interferes with the child’s ability to function. For instance, when a child repeatedly becomes emotionally or physically ill (i.e. vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, facial flushing, excessive perspiration, mood swings, irritability, anger and rage, violent tantrums, etc.) at the thought of going to school, this may signal an anxiety disorder. If the anxiety symptoms occur daily, weekly or monthly, it may be time to see a licensed mental health professional (child psychologist, child counselor, child therapist or child clinical social worker).

There are a variety of natural home remedies that can help children manage or overcome anxiety disorders.

Listed below are natural home remedies for anxiety disorders in children:

  • Exercise 

One of the most effective natural home remedies for anxiety disorders in children is exercise. Physical movement can help a child’s body process (metabolize) large amount of adrenaline and thyroxin, hormones produced during times of anxiety and stress. Exercising also relieves muscle tension, increases oxygen intake, reduces stress, regulates moods, calms frazzled nerves and relaxes the body. Children who exercise on a regular basis have lower levels of anxiety than children who receive little-to-no exercise. Therefore, children with an anxiety disorder should exercise at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes.

  • Caffeine Reduction

Research suggests that high levels of caffeine can worsen anxiety disorders in children. If you want to help children improve or manage their condition, the best thing you can do is eliminate caffeine-related products from their diet. Caffeine is considered a stimulant, which can cause excess stress in the body. This stress can trigger or aggravate child anxiety. A variety of foods and medicines (chocolate, tea, soda and some over-the-counter pain-relieving medications) contain significant amounts of caffeine. Reducing or eliminating caffeine from the children’s diet can help improve their quality of life.

  • Explore Possibilities

It is not uncommon for children with an anxiety disorder to have negative or unhealthy thoughts. These children tend to have a low self-esteem and a poor perception of their self-worth. If you suspect that children with an anxiety disorder are having an anxiety attack, ask them to share their feelings with you. Once the children have divulged their fears or worries, asked them,“What is the worst thing that can happen?” Make a list with the child of all the possible consequences that can occur. The list will help the child see that what could happen is really not that “bad” after all. During this time, talk with the child about how likely it is that a certain consequence is going to occur. It is important that the child see that the likelihood that something “horrible” is going to happen is slim to none.

  • Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques 

Stress management and relaxation techniques are natural home remedies for anxiety disorders in children. Children with an anxiety disorder tend to be highly stressed. They also tend to get overwhelmed easily. If you want to help  children with an anxiety disorder effectively manage their condition, you may want to teach them stress management and relaxation techniques. Some of these techniques include: yoga, meditation, deep breathing, writing in a journal, massages or creating an art piece, song, poem, story or dance routine. The key is to help the child calm down during an anxiety attack or prevent an attack from occurring by getting the child to relax during stressful, difficult or overwhelming periods.

  • “Worry Time”

According to Dr. Edmund J. Bourne (2005), one of the most creative natural home remedies for anxiety disorders in children is in an activity called “worry time.” “Worry time” is a designated time in which  children with an anxiety disorder can focus on their worries or fears. During this time, the child writes down on an index card, three or four worries or fears. Once these worries or fears are written down, ask the children to explain why a particular worry or fear is on the list. Also, ask the children what they thinks could happen and why they thinks a particular consequence will occur. The children are only allowed five to ten minutes for each worry or fear. Once the “worry time” has lapsed, have the children talk about things that make them happy (for 30 to 60 minutes). This will give the children an opportunity to express their concerns, fears, phobias and worries in a safe and secure environment, while still encouraging them to focus on the positive things in their life.

  • A Healthy Diet

One of the best natural home remedies for anxiety disorders in children is a healthy diet. Processed, fatty, sugary or salty foods can trigger or aggravate anxiety disorders. If you want to improve anxiety disorders in children, you will need to eliminate “junk foods” from their diets. Moreover, research suggests that increasing a child’s nutritional intake can reduce the intensity and frequency of anxiety attacks. According to the Mayo Clinic (2014), adding omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E and B vitamins in a child’s daily diet can reduce anxiety symptoms.

  • Adequate Sleep

It is imperative that children with an anxiety disorder get an adequate amount of sleep each night. In other words, these children need to follow a regular sleep routine. For instance, children under the age of 10 should be in bed no later than 8 PM each night. This is especially important for children suffering from an anxiety disorder because a lack of sleep can trigger or worsen their anxiety symptoms. In fact, children who do get enough sleep each night tend to experience irritability, frustration, a lack of attention, poor focus, anger, mood swings and fatigue –  all of which can cause anxiety attacks in children susceptible to this condition. Furthermore, it is important that children with an anxiety disorder have a safe and secure place to sleep each night.

References:

Bourne, E. J. (2005). The anxiety and phobia workbook.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger     Publications.

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Generalized anxiety disorder: Lifestyle and home remedies. Retrieved from             http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-            disorder/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/CON-20024562

WebMD. (2014). Anxiety – Home treatment. Retrieved from
http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/anxiety-home-treatment

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