How to Naturally Support a Child with Anxiety
Millions of people suffer with anxiety, so what do you do when one of them is your own child? My eldest son has suffered with anxiety for most of his life. It showed up as separation anxiety when he was small and escalated into a real issue after his father and I separated when he was 9 years old. At times it feels like this has been a long and exhausting battle, but as we are fast approaching his 18th birthday, I reflect and I am quite proud of all he’s conquered and accomplished.
As a mom, it is my intent to help my children grow and flourish. Anxiety has proven to be quite the adversary in that process. There has been a lot of trial and error over the years, but here are some tips from our journey that may help your child flourish when faced with anxiety.
Learn Their Triggers
With a little observation, you can start to recognize the triggers that cause your child’s anxiety to bubble up. Some will be obvious and others may take a while to figure out, but the more you understand what causes your child’s anxiety, the more equipped you will be to help them manage and reduce it.
Find An Energy Outlet
Anxiety brings with it an overflow of unwanted restless energy. It’s important to find an outlet for this energy. Taking a walk, getting involved in a physical sport, karate, or some home gym equipment can help with that. A punching bag has proven particularly useful when anger is mixed in. My son played football in his youth and now prefers getting outside and going for a walk. When he’s having an anxiety attack, I usually have to insist he take a walk knowing that it’s best for him because he cannot logically think when he’s in that elevated state.
Research shows that being in nature reduces stress and clears your mind, two things an anxious person needs help with. Simply going outside to sit and calm yourself has a significant impact, but by taking a walk or hike, you get the added benefit of releasing the excess energy as well. My son loves to go camping with friends instead of staying at each other’s homes. His anxiety is low to non-existent when he’s out in the woods.
Respond Instead of React
I learned very early on to let my son go off for a few minutes to express everything he’s worried about, fearful of, or irritated with (another way anxiety shows itself). I never react to what he tells me because a reaction is typically quick, without much thought, and may be tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm, and non-threatening. I will listen to him and then help him solve his issues or fears as calmly and non-judgmentally as I can. Many times, the thought process is illogical but I realize he cannot help but think this way in the moment. So, I treat it with the respect it deserves and will help bring logic to some pretty bizarre “what if” scenarios.
For my son and I, we have chosen not to use prescription medication to manage his anxiety but we have come up with some other things to use on a daily basis. Over the years, he has worn or pocketed crystals, some notable ones being Rose Quartz, Jet Stone, Amethyst, Blue Lace Agate, and Lepidolite. We’ve also used essential oils such as lavender, vetiver, ylang ylang and chamomile. In the last year, he’s also taken CBD oil and has seen tremendous results from it. By having several things to fall back on to manage an anxiety attack, he is most likely to see himself through it now without my assistance.
A person with anxiety needs all the relaxation in their life that they can get. Their body sabotages them and puts them under the stress of “life or death” situations without actually being in a life or death situation. It’s exhausting and very stressful. Figuring out how to help your child relax is huge. For my son, long showers, listening to music, playing certain video games, and drinking tea while reading a book are his go-to ways to relax.
Be Their Biggest Supporter and #1 Fan
It goes without saying that we love our children unconditionally, but kids with anxiety need to feel this more than most. I still recall when my son became aware of his anxiety and that he felt flawed, not normal and with that his self-esteem took a dive. It is so important to support your child and encourage what brings them joy and peace. It’s also super important to remind them how amazing they are. I am so proud of my son and I make sure to tell him this all the time, especially just after an anxiety flare up.
I am so grateful my son and I have a strong relationship; he almost always reaches out to me during his anxiety attacks. I feel fortunate I can be there for him and help him through. Our children with anxiety are courageous, sensitive beings, and they deserve so much love and admiration. With a supportive parent they can learn how to manage their anxiety and find more control over their emotions and reactions, helping them grow into confident, healthy adults.