Anxiety affects millions of Americans, but many people don’t realize that children make up a good portion of that group. Kids of just about any age can experience anxiety, and there are several reasons behind those feelings, so if your child is suffering from them it’s important to do a little research and find out more about the causes. Anxiety can cause a variety of other issues for children and can sometimes present itself in unexpected or hard-to-understand ways, such as moodiness or the inability to sleep well, so sometimes it’s a good idea to think outside the box about how to approach a solution for your child.
The good news is that there are many things you can do for your child to help relieve anxiety and to even prevent it from occurring. Because our mental health is connected to our physical health, it’s essential to help your child maintain overall wellness through diet, exercise, and self-care. You can also take an active interest in his friendships and hobbies, which can tell you a lot about his state of mind and his emotional well-being.
Diet is important
Not only does our diet affect our physical health and ability to maintain a healthy weight, but it’s also connected to mood and emotions through our microbiome. Located in the gut, this collection of healthy bacteria helps regulate everything from our immune system to our serotonin levels. You can help your child keep a strong microbiome by introducing foods with live cultures into his diet as well as probiotics (such as those found in many types of yogurt or through supplements), and limit the use of antibiotics.
Help him find his joy
While anxiety can be caused by many factors, it can also be helped through many different methods. Medication is one route when prescribed by a doctor, but you can also determine your child’s favorite hobbies (or help him find new ones, such as playing an instrument) and interests and help him find joy in them. Getting outdoors is also a great option, as this is a natural way to help boost someone’s mood, but you can also take an interest in the little things and do them along with your child, such as making art or watching a certain television show. Look for the things that help him relax and do them as often as possible.
Learn about in-the-moment techniques
Dealing with anxiety at any time can be a challenge, but when a particularly bad moment strikes, it can be hard for a child to bring himself out of it. Look for the best ways to help him cope in the moment, such as breathing techniques, meditation, or listening to music on headphones to calm down and push away the outside world for a few minutes. It may take a few tries to find the technique that works best, so be patient as you and your child explore different activities together.
Help him sleep
Sleep can be extremely difficult for anxious children, so create a bedtime routine that helps your child unwind. Turn down the lights, play soft music, and talk quietly about his favorite subjects. Try not to engage in conversation about the day that just passed or the day still to come, as this can bring on anxiety or worry. Keep things light so he’ll remain relaxed enough to fall off to sleep.
Keep in mind that not all children respond to self-treatment. If, despite your best efforts, your child continues to suffer from anxiety, seek the advice of a medical professional. Your child’s pediatrician is a good place to start, and they can give you more advice and help you find a specialist if necessary.
It can be a big challenge to help a child get through their anxiety, but it’s important not to make him feel different or lesser-than just because he worries. Let him know that everyone has those feelings now and then, but that learning to control his reaction to them will help him feel better.