According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are affecting one in eight children, and that could put them at risk of poor school performance, sleep disturbances and maintaining relationships with peers.
A child’s nervous system typically can’t handle the fast-paced culture we live in today, which has played a big role in the spike of anxiety in children.
When parents are stressed, there is a trickle-down effect to their children that contributes to these skyrocketing cases of stress, anxiety and mood disorders. Stress at home often increases around back-to-school season, as children and parents try to adapt to new schedules and balance jam-packed agendas full of homework, extracurricular activities and socializing. The result is a stress-filled home environment that may lead to anxious parents and children.
Instead of immediately turning to expensive and potentially addictive treatment methods, parents should consider holistic approaches that can help minimize the stress that could be leading to anxiety in children.
Demand More Downtime
Instead of overloading the schedule every day, recognize the importance of downtime for both parents and children. We often fill up our schedules without noticing, so my favorite way to keep track of everyone’s schedules is to get a whiteboard calendar and fill in all activities for the week. As a family, decide which activities can be eliminated or moved in order to create space for personal downtime and family bonding. It’s important that this downtime is true downtime — unstructured, relaxing and peaceful so everyone can put their minds to rest and reset.
Keep Calm and Carry on with Cleaner Meds
Consider trying medicines that can calm you and your children down without worrying about potential side effects. I’m excited to be chief medical officer for a groundbreaking company called Genexa, that has developed the first certified organic and non-GMO homeopathic stress relief medicines that contain active ingredients to alleviate stress, agitation, irritability, nervousness and the inability to think clearly (look for Genexa’s OTC Calm Keeper for children age three and up and Stress Relief for teens and adults). I always recommend reading the labels, as many traditional OTC medications are filled with potentially harmful inactive ingredients like parabens, dyes, phthalates and talc that you want to avoid. It’s important to find ways to reduce your family’s overall toxic load as this can also be a key contributor of stress.
Sneak in More Snacks
When packing school lunches, think about including some snacks that can help reduce stress. Add these to the grocery list:
- Bananas and avocados: these contain calming magnesium and potassium.
- Carrots and celery: these veggies are nutrient-rich and pack a stress-reducing crunch. Add nut butter for protein!
- Dark chocolate: in small portions, it can help lower stress hormones and release mood-improving serotonin.
Providing children and teens with a sense of calm is critical, especially during the busy back-to-school season. Remember, children always model parents, so put down that cellphone and get some real eye contact going with your child. It will help improve your stress and their stress!