Back to school: Separation Anxiety for Little Ones AND Mum!

Infant and Children, Stress | February 28, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Children, infants, anxiety

Back to school: Separation Anxiety for Little Ones AND Mum!

Separation anxiety in children occurs due to a fear of being away from parents or carers. It is perfectly normal during early childhood and usually starts at about six to eight months of age and lasts until about two and a half to four years of age. Sometimes it can last longer if the child has had any painful separation issues in the early years. Separation anxiety reflects the child’s attempts to hold on to what is safe in a very scary world, and it does settle down as the child grows older and more confident.

There are however some school-age children that develop a more serious form of the condition. This is known as separation anxiety disorder.

Separation anxiety disorder in children

About 4% of pre-schoolers and school-age children develop this condition. It is possible a child has separation anxiety disorder if they seem particularly and regularly upset about being separated from a parent. Other things that may occur are as follows:

  • The anxiety interferes with a child’s life, and therefore with the parent’s life
  • A child has more severe anxiety than other children the same age
  • A child’s anxiety has gone on for at least four weeks.

Perhaps some indicators that are not as obvious as the ones above are a general dislike at being separated from a parent, worrying that a parent or themselves may be hurt or have an accident. Refusing to go to school or being at other people’s places without one of their parents there and also complaining about feeling sick when separated from a parent.

Children are not always the ones that feel uncomfortable when a parent leaves. Most parents feel some level of anxiety about saying goodbye to a child. It can be especially intense in the first year of schooling, when parents worry so much about not being with their child, safety, eating, children’s friends and teachers.

It is important for parents to allow themselves to feel anxious. A healthy bond with a child means a certain degree of discomfort when he/she are not there. The goal isn’t to get rid of worry or doubt – in fact; nerves are part of the parenting instinct that help to make good decisions.

One of the hard things about leaving a child is the fear that no one else knows them the way that their parent does. This is true, but kids are surprisingly adaptive and manage to find their own way most of the time.

Time out

Time outIt is important for parents to realise that taking time for oneself isn’t just for fun; it’s for health. In the early months, if leaving baby makes a parent miserable, it shouldn’t be forced. But as the child grows, it’s natural and healthy to start putting pieces of your own life back in the equation. It is important to kids that their parents take care of themselves so they are able to manage the role of parent the best they can.
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Look behind the guilt. Guilt is a common emotion for parents, but it’s not a very useful one. In fact, feeling guilt over being away from a child can be a way of not dealing with other things. Acknowledge the guilt but don’t let it become an emotional hideout.

Natural Therapies for Child and Mum

All the natural recommendations outlined below are safe for children to help them with any separation anxiety they might be facing. This of course goes for parents too who may be struggling with leaving their child and want to take something to look after their nervous system or for those younger children that may be left feeling lonely for the day whilst their sibling/play mate is at school.

Magnesium

There are several studies over the last 10 years that have linked Magnesium deficiencies with anxiety as well as the reduction of anxiety after taking Magnesium supplements. Increasing Magnesium in a child’s diet is relatively easy. Foods high in Magnesium include seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds which are high in magnesium and can be added to children’s food or as a snack.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown in numerous studies to have great health benefits as well as mental health benefits. Multiple studies have shown that a deficiency in Omega 3’s have been linked to depression, anxiety and ADHD.

 B vitamin Complex

Vitamin B deficiencies have been well studied and linked to problems with the nervous system, including anxiety. It is safe and easy to increase B vitamins in to a child’s diet or the addition of a vitamin supplement to help decrease anxious symptoms.

Food sources of B vitamins include:Food sources of B vitamins include:

  • Pork, berries, legumes, lean meats, nuts (B1)
  • Eggs, dark green vegetables, fish, grains, lean meat, mushrooms (B2)
  • Sunflower seeds, tuna, poultry, potato, organ meats (B3)
  • Organ meats, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms (B5)
  • Green beans, whole grains, spinach, fish, bananas (B6)
  • Egg yolks, fish, organ meats, sweet potatoes (B7)
  • Green leafy vegetables, legumes, tofu (B9)
  • Fish, eggs, shellfish (B12)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C supports the adrenal glands and as they work extra hard in times of anxiety this is a very important vitamin.

Herbs: Passionflower, Lemon Balm and Chamomile

All of these herbs have long been used for their calming properties and have been shown in studies to benefit mild to moderate anxiety. 

Passionflower is commonly used for sleep issues, anxiety or issues related to gastrointestinal upset in children. Passionflower is considered very safe with no reported side effects.

Lemon balm is a carminative and nervine herb that acts in the central nervous system to relieve anxiety, nervousness and insomnia. 

Chamomile is a carminative herb. This makes it ideal for relaxing the nervous system and reducing anxiety. It also helps with stomach issues that children may have as a result of mild anxiety.

Essential oils

Essential oils cannot be given to kids orally. Like all chemical substances, essential oils should be kept out of reach of kids.

Essential oilsAll essential oils have to be diluted with a carrier oil before they can be used with kids.
A carrier oil is made from plants and used to dilute essential oils before applying them on to a child’s skin. Common carrier oils include olive oil, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil.
Essential oils with kids should be used in the bath, by diffusion, massage or as a spray.

Lavender has a calming effect and has also been proven to induce relaxation and sleep.

Frankincense has been found to induce feelings of peace and relaxation. It has a calming effect that can help calm kids’ anger and anxiety.

Rescue remedy

Bach flower rescue remedy is a natural stress and emotional relief, safe for children. The Bach flower remedies help children deal with every day fears, anxiety being a predominant one.

Children respond quickly to rescue remedy and parents are often amazed by the positive effect on children. Screaming children find sudden relief, shy and fearful children find courage, impatient and angry children find peace and discouraged children find they can carry on.
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Dialogue that can help a child with anxiety

When leaving a child

  • Dialogue that can help a child with anxietyTell the child when you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. Sneaking out without saying goodbye can make things worse. The child might feel confused or upset when he/she realises their parent is not around and might be harder to settle the next time he/she is left.
  • Settle the child in an enjoyable activity before leaving.
  • Say goodbye to the child briefly – don’t drag it out.
  • Keep a relaxed and happy look when leaving. If a parent seems worried or sad, the child might think a particular place isn’t safe and can get upset too.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2959081/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963565/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24027581

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963565/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23738221

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19085527

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962288

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600408/

http://www.bachflower.com/bach-flower-rescue-remedy-children-kids/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025082/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032645/

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