Think you’re the only one suffering from anxiety? You’re not! About one in five kids will experience an anxiety disorder, and there are some easy ways to help calm anxiety in kids. Read on to learn the top 10 natural anxiety relief tips for kids, and try them out with your child today!
1) Get Moving
Exercise is a key component to calming anxiety in children. Not only does exercise allow kids to burn off excess energy that could be misdirected into anxious or negative behaviour, but it also releases endorphins and relieves stress. Try incorporating some of these exercises into your daily routine: jumping jacks, sprints around your neighbourhood or house, push-ups and sit-ups, yoga poses—the list goes on. Remember, every little bit helps!
2) Visualize Something Calm
The key to overcoming anxiety is to replace anxious thoughts with calm ones, says Andrea Ashworth, a child psychologist at Miami Children’s Hospital. One way to do that is through visualization: Sit down with your child and focus on her, then ask her what she wants. The point isn’t necessarily to fulfil her request—it’s just about paying attention and letting her know you care.
Then ask her to imagine that she’s getting everything she asked for. If it’s a new toy, show her how you can picture what it looks like and even hold it in your hands. If it’s a trip to Disney World, talk about how it feels to ride in an airplane, stay at a hotel and enjoy all of the attractions.
By helping your child visualize something calming—instead of anticipating something stressful—you are training her brain to focus on positive thoughts instead of negative ones.
3) Change Your Focus
Children have an almost uncanny sense of what makes them anxious, which means that sometimes changing your focus—the way you talk about an issue or situation—can really help. Instead of asking kids to stop worrying (which never works), challenge them to focus on something else and you’ll see a difference almost immediately.
For example, if your child is anxious about taking a test at school, ask him to tell you about his favourite class rather than dwelling on how he’s going to do on his test.
Meditation is one of my favourite natural anxiety relief (for kids) techniques—and, if you can get your kids on board with it, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be part of their arsenal as well. If meditation seems like a foreign concept to you or your kids, start off with something simple like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation and build from there.
One of my favourite ways to meditate is with diaphragmatic breathing. All you need to do is lie on your back, put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest, and take deep breaths through your nose into your stomach. Count slowly to yourself at first (i.e., inhale 1-2-3-4, exhale 1-2-3-4), but you can stop once you feel more relaxed.
5) Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple technique to help relieve stress and anxiety. Start by taking slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Breathe in through your nostrils and out through your mouth. Try breathing in deeply while counting to five and then exhaling while counting to five until you’ve completed five full cycles of deep breathing. Repeat several times a day when you feel tense or anxious to reduce anxiety naturally.
6) Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a natural herbal remedy that has been used to help relieve stress and anxiety in adults. For kids, it can be made into a refreshing tea by adding a few chamomile tea bags to some hot water and allowing it to steep while you have a chat with your little one.
7) Laugh Out Loud (Seriously!)
Laughter can be an excellent natural anxiety relief (for kids) tool because it releases endorphins and boosts our immune system. Getting a laugh out of your kids is easy, especially if you’re willing to be silly yourself.
The next time you start feeling anxious about something, try cracking a joke with your children to work through those negative feelings. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our list of kid-approved jokes that will have everyone laughing.
8) Use Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is an effective way to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as a variety of other symptoms. To calm your child’s anxiety naturally, try diffusing lavender essential oil while they sleep. Lavender has been shown to promote restful sleep and reduce anxiety in adults, so it should have a similar effect on children too.
In fact, studies have shown that inhaling lavender can significantly decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in people after just one hour.
9) Read a Book
Reading is a great way to help ease anxiety in kids. Try reading a story before bed to help get your kid’s mind off of anxieties they may have at school or home. In addition, try giving them some good old-fashioned advice: try not to worry about it, you might be stressed out today but things will improve tomorrow.
Remind them that their feelings are normal and that there are ways to handle anxiety—and it helps if you reassure them that whatever situation caused their anxiety (whether it was an argument with a friend or an upcoming test) will pass by soon.
10) Write in a Journal
Journaling is a great way to relieve anxiety. It’s free, easy, and there are no side effects. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious, pick up a pen and start writing in your journal.
Writing will help get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Plus, journaling allows you to look back on it later as you see how far you’ve come! Everyone feels anxious at times—that’s normal!
Anxiety can be a problem in children, and dealing with anxiety isn’t always easy. But learning how to calm anxiety for kids can help alleviate some of these symptoms. I hope these tips will help you have a calmer kid in no time!