Anxiety in children: medications vs lifestyle changes

Parents strive to make their child’s life ideal, but sometimes, despite all their efforts, he lives in constant stress and anxiety. How do they manifest and are there ways to help your baby become cheerful and carefree again?

Causes of increased anxiety in children

Children in the modern world live under constant stress. On the one hand, the requirements for the educational program are growing every year, schoolchildren, starting from the elementary grades, are forced to spend several hours a day doing their lessons. Bad grades can no longer be hidden from parents – they are displayed in an electronic diary, which can be checked at any time.

In addition, children are often victims of a kind of parental race for additional education. Does the child only go to school and does not attend any sports, music, intellectual sections? If so, then such a mother and father, in the understanding of modern society, do not care about the future of their child, do not want to fully develop it. As a result, instead of playing football in the yard with friends, visiting each other, going to the countryside or just walking with their parents, they spend every day in different circles until nightfall. Parents satisfy their ego, and children experience chronic stress from the fact that they are constantly not doing anything.  

With the onset of puberty, many children generally experience a real emotional explosion. The familiar world collapses, the teenager begins to understand that he is no longer a child, a new life begins. During this period, stress from the stress associated with studies and circles is often supplemented by difficulties in communicating with peers, misunderstanding on the part of classmates. Often it is during this difficult time that he has his first love, usually not mutual, causing unearthly suffering.

How to suspect anxiety in a child

The task of parents is to timely identify the symptoms of increased anxiety in their child, try to understand what its causes are, and take measures to eliminate it. But first you need to understand how it manifests itself. This is especially true for those parents whose communication with children is far from trusting.

  • During the preschool period, children are usually open to contact with their parents. Usually they share all their problems with them, so increased anxiety will not pass by the attention of mom and dad. Children have trouble falling asleep, nightmares often occur at night, and as a result, the child comes to bed with his parents for consolation. During the day, the background of his mood can be reduced, he tries to avoid new contacts, visits. Considering that in children the processes of arousal prevail over inhibition, after an active day it is difficult for such kids to calm down, they can roll tantrums for any reason, cry and laugh for no reason.
  • Children at primary school age are also still quite open to communication with their parents. However, the opinion of classmates becomes more important for them than dad or mom. This age is already characterized by emotional instability, which is manifested by the frequent transition from laughter to crying, from fun to deep sadness. And if a child has problems that he does not want to tell his parents about, then these symptoms become even more pronounced.
  • The period of puberty is the most difficult, since hormonal imbalance in combination with external factors (relationships with classmates, the opposite sex) leads to serious stress on the fragile psyche of a teenager. Increased anxiety at this age is practically a common phenomenon, it seems to children that no one understands them, no one loves them, they are completely alone in the whole world. Some even have suicidal thoughts.

Parents should try, despite life difficulties (having other children, problems between spouses, financial difficulties), to find time to communicate with the child and, when the first symptoms of increased anxiety are detected, take certain preventive measures . 

Non-drug methods of preventing stress and anxiety

There are a variety of ways you can deal with stress and anxiety in your child. However, the leading role belongs to non-drug methods. All parents should know about them, because sometimes adherence to these basic rules in itself can significantly reduce the level of stress and anxiety in children.

  1. It is necessary to teach the child an adequate release of emotions. Often, children withdraw into themselves and share their problems only on social networks or with strangers. It is necessary to explain to the child that crying and worrying is not harmful. If the problem is spoken out loud, discussed with the closest people – dad and mom, it will not become so serious. Plus, they’ll help you solve it. It can be very useful to start keeping a personal diary, but parents should not read it, or do it so that the child does not know about it, because in this case they will lose his trust.
  2. A sense of humor and laughter can help you become more stress-resistant . It is necessary to create an easy atmosphere at home, read humorous books and watch comedies more often. It is also worth communicating with the child with humor. For him, the house should become a place where it will be easy for him to relax and where you can always laugh.
  3. Frequent change of activity. Of course, there are many adherents of a strict day regimen, a life on a schedule. However, children relax best when something unusual happens in life. For example, my mother suddenly decided in the middle of the week to take a day off from work and go to the zoo with her child. Or take a short hike to a nearby park on weekends instead of watching TV.
  4. You should always give your child at least 15 minutes of your personal time every day. Moreover, only him and no one else. If there are several children in the house, then each of them should receive their portion of the parents’ attention. Sometimes just sitting together and reading books (and each his own) is no less useful than talking.

Child’s daily routine and free time

  • Children who are often involved in sports clubs are less stressed. Perhaps this is because training allows them to “release” their emotions outside. As a rule, a child comes from the sports section cheerful and hungry.
  • Quality sleep is essential for mental health. Parents should try to normalize it as much as possible in their child. To do this, they are required to exclude watching TV, playing games on a computer and smartphone 2-3 hours before going to bed. The bed should be the place where the child only sleeps, and does not eat, read or play hide and seek. It should be comfortable and age appropriate. There should be fresh cool air in the room. Eating up at night is not a good idea, as it will make it harder to fall asleep. The best way to end your day is to take a warm bath (you can add chamomile or motherwort tea) and read a book together. 
  • It is better to start the morning with gymnastics – small, 10-15 minutes. It is worth doing it with the child, because it is best to show this by example.
  • It is necessary to involve the child in doing chores with the parents. This can be done between lessons. This will allow him to change his occupation, switch. However, this should not look like an order. The cleaning process can be turned into a game, for its good performance you can reward your assistant with pleasant little surprises.

The role of the therapist in treating anxiety and stress

However, sometimes it happens that parents knocked off their feet in order to make their child’s life better, calmer, more comfortable. But he still looks sad, worries about any reason, does not sleep well at night, complains of misunderstanding from his peers. In this case, it makes sense to seek help from a psychotherapist who will help you understand the true causes of anxiety, and choose the best method of treatment.

Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is the leading method of treatment for neuroses, phobias, anxiety and poor sleep in children. It is complemented by training in various relaxation methods: special training aimed at relaxing individual muscle groups, diaphragmatic breathing, etc.

The attitude towards the use of drugs is ambiguous. Some experts believe that in severe cases they are necessary: ​​the processes of arousal in children prevail over inhibition, and drugs give them the opportunity to relax, calm down. Others have suggested that emphasis should be placed on lifestyle modification and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapists themselves recommend combining medication and non-drug methods, especially in cases where a child develops psychosomatic illnesses.

In children, if there are indications, some antidepressants, small antipsychotics (from 5-6 years old), herbal preparations (motherwort, valerian) are used. The drug Tenoten demonstrates good results . 

However, it is undesirable to purchase and give these drugs to children on their own. They all have side effects, age restrictions. Before use, you should consult with a specialist.

event_note October 30, 2020

account_box Winona Tse MD

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