Is anxiety keeping your kids up? Try these tips
If you have kids who suffer from anxiety, you know how challenging it can be for them to get a good night’s rest. Anxiety can cause sleeplessness, insomnia, and fatigue during the day, all of which can negatively impact kids’ healthy growth and development.
As a parent, it’s difficult to watch your child struggle with anxiety. You may feel powerless to help them. But the good news is you can do many things to support your child and help them relax.
Here are ten tips if you’re looking for natural ways to help your kids get relief from anxiety and improve their sleep.
1. Understand the root of your child’s anxiety
Before you can manage your child’s anxiety, you need to understand what triggers it. Once you know that, you can develop a plan to address and cope with those triggers.
For some children, certain events or situations can trigger their anxiety. These events could be starting school or going to the doctor. For other children, their anxiety may be more general and brought on when they feel overwhelmed by schoolwork or worries about the future.
When you figure out the triggers, you can create a plan to help your child cope. This could involve teaching them relaxation techniques, helping them understand their thoughts and feelings, or working with them to develop a positive self-image.
2. Identify healthy coping mechanisms
Anxiety can be a complicated and overwhelming emotion for children. But many healthy coping mechanisms can offer relief.
Some children find comfort in expressing their anxiety through art or writing. Others find relief in talking to a trusted adult about what’s bothering them. Physical activities can also help release tension and calm children’s minds.
By exploring different coping mechanisms, children can learn what works best for them and take control of their anxiety.
3. Set aside time for winding down
Bedtime can be a challenge for both kids and parents. After a busy day of school and extracurricular activities, children may have trouble winding down and getting ready for bed. But kids need time to relax before bedtime.
A warm bath or shower can help kids release tension and ease their muscles into relaxation. Reading a favorite book and listening to soothing music are other good ways to calm kids’ minds before sleep.
Giving your kids time to wind down before bed helps them fall asleep more easily so they wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
4. Establish a regular bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is important for all kids. But it can be especially helpful for kids with anxiety. A bedtime routine provides a sense of structure and predictability in an otherwise chaotic world. It also establishes healthy sleep habits and reduces the amount of time spent lying awake at night worrying.
There are many different ways to create a bedtime routine. Common elements of a good routine include taking a bath or shower, putting on pajamas, reading a story, and saying prayers or affirmations. The most important things are to be consistent and make sure the routine is enjoyable for your child.
5. Practice relaxation techniques
If your child has trouble winding down, you can incorporate relaxation techniques into their bedtime routine. These techniques could include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided visualization.
Deep breathing exercises slow down your child’s heart rate, enabling their bodies to take in more oxygen to calm their nervous system. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your child’s body to alleviate tension. Lastly, visualization involves having your child picture soothing images in their mind’s eye to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.
Your child can practice these techniques anywhere, at any time. But these techniques are especially beneficial when you add them to your child’s bedtime routine.
6. Avoid screen time before bed
The blue light emitted from electronic screens can interfere with your child’s natural sleep rhythm. If your child struggles with anxiety, have them stop using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
Doing so will help your child avoid the negative effects of blue light on their sleep. Plus, it will give them more time to wind down and relax before bedtime. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching TV, try reading a story together, listening to music, or journaling.
7. Get regular exercise
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and promote better sleep. Aim to have your child get at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily.
Just a few minutes of aerobic exercise can positively impact your child’s health and well-being. Your child could take a brisk walk around the block, ride their bike to the park, or jump rope in the backyard – anything that gets their heart rate up.
8. Avoid caffeine and sugar, especially close to bedtime
Consuming caffeine and sugar makes it difficult for children to wind down and relax. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it harder for children to concentrate. Similarly, having too much sugar can make it hard for children to sit still.
Consequently, parents should limit their children’s caffeine and sugar intake, especially in the afternoon and evening. Doing so will set their children up for a better night’s rest.
9. Create a comfortable sleep environment
Your child’s bedroom should be a calm and relaxing space that promotes good sleep. Make sure your child’s bed is comfortable and supportive. A mattress that’s too soft or too hard can make it difficult for your child to get comfortable and fall asleep.
Also, make sure your child’s room is cool and dark. Of course, if your child is afraid of the dark, you can use a night light. Consider incorporating some calming elements, such as soft pillows, gentle music, or a diffuser with lavender oil.
10. Seek professional help
Most children experience some degree of anxiety from time to time. But if your child experiences anxiety regularly, and their anxiety prevents them from getting a good night’s rest, you may want to seek professional help.
Left untreated, anxiety can negatively impact your child’s physical health, mental well-being, and quality of life. A licensed therapist can help your child understand and manage their anxiety in a healthy way. And with the right tools, your child can learn to cope and get the rest they need to thrive.
Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website: MeghnaDassani.com.
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