We just want them to be happy! We wish that they see in themselves what we see: brilliance, inner beauty, wit, compassion and love. These little people with whom we spend so much of our energy supporting their growth, safety and exploration through life. More and more I am seeing precious children come into Live Well showing signs of anxiety and sensitivity. Sometimes parents are aware of anxiety in their child, other times it is revealed in the session. Either way, no parent likes to see their child struggle with anxiety.
How anxiety presents in children
Anxiety has common characteristics among children and you may see one or more of the following:
- sweating and a red face (excluding after running around!)
- tense muscles, clenching hands or jaw
- shallow or quick breathing, or holding their breath
- sleeping problems – trouble falling asleep or waking often
- loss of appetite or over-eating
- verbalising or physical expression of worry, being scared, low self-esteem or confusion
- wetting the bed or frequent toilet use
- an increase in challenging behaviours such as tantrums, anger or frustration, or
Why is my child anxious?
Anxiety is an aspect of survival and 'fight/flight mode'. When a child doesn't feel safe or they're worried or uncomfortable about something, their body responds by releasing stress hormones from the adrenal glands to help them deal with the situation. Stress hormones cause a child's breathing to quicken, their heart to race, the blood to rush away from their logic brain and to their survival brain and their body gets ready to 'fight' or 'flight'. In fact, many of the symptoms you see in the list above are caused by stress hormones.
A child can start to struggle with anxiety because they don't know how to calm down at the end of the day, to feel safe again and to know that all is well. It could be stress around making friends, being bullied, frustration about learning something new or 'not being good enough'.
Frequently, the emotional and mental pattern is linked to how a child feels about themselves: Do they feel comfortable being themselves? Do they believe in themselves and accept who they are? Do they express self love and kindness? Are they confident?
What you can do for your child
I am sure that many parents reading this article are already doing a lot for their children in terms of expressing their love and support physically and emotionally. If there is a known source to your child's anxiety then it is important to address this: does the school and staff need to be involved, does your child need some tutoring or do they need to be supported to express how they feel? Emotional resilience comes from emotional intelligence and a life-long lesson is understanding and expressing our authentic self.
Whilst you are working through any external elements, you can support your child through anxiety from the inside out by using complementary medicine!
- Acupressure: ask your child to make a loose fist and press or massage where the tip of their little finger rests – this will help relieve the anxiety and connect them to spirit/instinct.
- Essential oil: place a few drops of Rose essential oil into their bath or on their pillow, or place one drop into a teaspoon of a carrier oil such as almond oil and massage into their hands and wrists, feet and ankles. Rose essential oil will help your child to feel love and to express love rather than feel isolated.
- Nutrition: foods high in refined sugars and/or caffeine can set off stress hormones as the adrenals work to balance blood sugar levels, so it's important to give your children healthy treats that maintain their blood sugar levels.
And remember, all of these techniques can also be used by adults who suffer with anxiety!
If you would like help to understand what is happening with your child or support with helping your child through anxiety, then call Live Well and book your child in for a kinesiology session with me (Kate!). Kinesiology is gentle and safe for children of all ages – they end up having a great time learning and listening to their body! You will be given tools and techniques to take home which can be used as resources for life. Help your child to reach their full potential and to be happy and strong within themselves.
*Concession prices available for children and students
**Private health fund rebates available from participating health funds
***Weekday and Saturday sessions