I’m honored to be featured in this month’s issue of Aspire Magazine’s Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul™! Of course, I’m excited to share with you my article on 5 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Back to School Anxiety
It’s that time of year again when kids are back in school and your family settles into a new routine. As a mom of four daughters, I understand what it’s like to feel a mixture of relief and uncertainty heading into the school year. It’s time for a new teacher, different classmates and new expectations which creates anxiety for many kids about school.
Sometimes the anxious feelings kids experience are obvious, for example telling you they don’t like school or that they don’t like a particular aspect of the day. However, other times their anxious feelings are more discreet, such as a change in appetite, hypersensitivity to situations, aggressive or attention seeking behavior, change in interaction with friends or lack of interest in activities.
I understand how overwhelming and exhausting it feels to be a parent watching your child struggle through anxiety. Years ago my oldest daughter’s anxiety intensified to the point of causing daily seizures.
My family’s life became very stressful. I woke up worried and anxious, bracing myself for another day of managing the unmanageable. And this had a negative impact on everyone in my family.
Finally, I realized something needed to change. I needed to discover how to reduce my own worry and find a way to help my daughter. I wanted to role model confidence rather than add to the anxiety she was feeling.
Once I invested in support and started to feel energized, optimistic and patient this had a dramatic impact on my family. My daughter’s health transformed, she went from being on 4 different seizure medications to manage her anxiety to none, and my husband’s anxiety and lifelong allergies cleared up as well.
A large part of my journey to learn how to raise a truly Vibrant Child, included incorporating a holistic approach to reducing anxiety. Here are 5 ways to reduce anxiety and help support your child’s health this school year.
Get clear on what you do want
You want your child to be healthy and happy, but what does that mean? In my experience, I wanted my daughter to stop having seizures, but beyond that I hadn’t been thinking of specifics. It’s helpful to specifically identify what behavior, emotions and actions are difficult for your child. When you know what you don’t want it’s easier to identify what you do want.
Some examples of what you do specifically want:
- Get ready for school without procrastination
- Healthy nourishment to fuel their body for the day
- A close friend that they feel comfortable with
- Easier time doing math homework
- Consistent sleep each night
Identifying specific experiences that will help your child provides clarity on opportunities to support them.
Eat foods that contain fiber
When a person feels anxious their body goes into fight or flight response and releases a flood of stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can build up in the blood stream and cause reactions in the body for days, months or years. In fact, many symptoms such as hypersensitivity, allergic reactions, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating, digestive distress and seizures are linked to excess levels of stress hormones in the body. Fiber is a nutrient that works with the liver to detoxify excess hormones from the blood. Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables minimally but the greatest source of fiber per serving is in legumes, or beans. Black beans, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, lima and more…all kinds of beans provide a great way to help clear your child’s body of excess stress hormones and reduce symptoms caused by anxiety. By consistently adding a serving of beans to your family’s nutrition you can support the chemical balance in their body. A standard serving size is ½ cup or 5 grams of fiber.
Demonstrate your child’s love language
Every child feels loved in their own unique way. One child’s heart sings when they receive a special gift, another beams with pride with compliments about their dedication on the soccer field, and another may prefer to spend some quiet time with you before bed. Gary Chapman is the author of the book the 5 Love Languages and shares how important it is to show love to our children in many ways AND especially important to show in the way that is most recognizable to them. The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
First, identify your child’s primary love language and then make a list of ways you can demonstrate this consistently. An indication of their primary love language is what they tend to demonstrate most often for others.
Reduce sensory stimulation
Did you know that the average person today takes in more stimulation through their five senses in 24 hours than our parents did as kids in an entire year? In today’s fast-paced electronic environment we are surrounded by massive amounts of stimulation. Our bodies process this stimulation through our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin. The amount of stimulation often causes stress response, which releases more of the hormones mentioned earlier. Another way to reduce the excess amount of stress hormones is to consistently reduce stimulation. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use unscented hand soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent
- Allow car rides to be time for quiet conversation instead of listening to music or movies
- Spend time each day in natural sunlight instead of artificial lighting
- Remove screen time before bed
- Reduce or eliminate highly spicy and sugary foods
- Give hugs, massages or compression blankets to relax and unwind
Practice appreciation daily
Perhaps the largest source of anxiety is the pattern of a person’s thoughts. When a child has a negative thought about something at school that could go wrong it can very quickly snowball into a big emotional block. Each thought is energy created in the brain and energy attracts similar energy. One negative thought leads to another negative thought and so on. That is why proactively focusing on positive aspects in life and things we appreciate is so powerful. When you develop a daily practice of choosing positive thoughts you attract more positive thoughts and this can shift your child’s emotional state. Create a practice with your child and empower them with a simple tool to shift their emotional state of being. Some examples of ways to incorporate positivity are:
- Share a positive focus each day
- Write down favorite memories
- Sing songs together
- Say prayers
The key to support your child’s health isn’t a magical secret, but rather small intentional choices made consistently. When I focused on what I did want, had awareness of how to nourish our bodies, demonstrated love uniquely, became aware of environmental stimulation and practiced appreciation, my family’s health dramatically transformed. You too can experience ease and confidence with your child by making simple choices.
Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul™! I’m honored to be a contributor to Aspire Magazine’s “Feminine Wisdom for Your Journey” issue that features a special tribute to Louise Hay. Along with my article, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Back to School Anxiety, you’ll discover empowering content from some of today’s leading visionaries. Over 80 pages of love, wisdom and inspiration. Peek inside the new issue today > http://bit.ly/Feminine-Wisdom While you’re there claim your FREE subscription—it includes over 40 transformational gifts.
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