Sleep Disorders, Infant and Children, Stress | May 11, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Children, like adults, can suffer from anxiety, stress, insomnia, problems concentrating and hyperactivity. For some kids, these concerns can be within a healthy range or short-lived due to an event that has occurred at school or home, such as moving to a new house or a death in the family. However, for children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety or behavioural concerns, these issues can be more of a problem—interfering with family and social life and school work. If you’re interested in saving your sanity, try these natural therapies, which offer alternative solutions to calm your child.
There are many reasons that can contribute to a child’s emotional or behavioural problems. The following headings provide some common reasons why these issues may be occurring.
Let’s face it some children have more energy than others. While some like to sit quietly and play games, some like to run amuck outside. While this is normal to a certain degree, it can be excessive in some children, impacting negatively on many areas of their lives.
ADHD is a frequent cause of hyperactivity in children, causing them to be impulsive, have trouble paying attention and fidget excessively.
Children with sensory processing disorders can also become hyperactive when they’re overstimulated or even under stimulated.
Anxiety is something that everyone experiences from time to time and is a natural response that occurs when a child feels threatened or worried that something bad or unpleasant may happen. For some children however, fears and anxiety can have a significant impact on their school performance, their family life and their ability to make or maintain friends.
Insomnia is a sleep disturbance in which children have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night. Sometimes it can be that they are waking up too early in the morning. Insomnia in children can lead to irritability, decreased attention span, memory problems and aggression. One of the probable causes of insomnia in children is excess worry and stress.
Some suggestions to help calm your child include establishing a healthy diet, supplementing with some important nutrients and making sure they get enough sleep each night.
It’s crucial to institute good sleep hygiene habits which includes:
A good quality diet to promote calmness in kids should be based on nutrient-dense wholefoods.
Diet, in particular sugars and synthetic food additives, has been proven to have a direct correlation in hyperactivity in children.
Sources of protein such as lean meats, fish, seeds, nuts, dairy and legumes should be included at each meal.
It’s important that meats should be eaten fresh, and processed meats, especially deli meats which contain additives should be avoided.
Grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth should be consumed as well as lots of non-starchy vegetables.
Fermented foods such as fermented vegetables and kefir help to support healthy bacteria in the gut— important for healthy mood. It’s also important for your child to not skip meals to maintain a steady source of energy for the body.
Essential fatty acids are important for healthy mood, concentration and to reduce levels of inflammation in the body. They have been studied extensively in ADHD and have provided positive results in addressing concentration and focus.
Essential fatty acids are found in a variety of foods such as raw or activated nuts and seeds, chia seeds, ground linseeds and fresh fatty fish.
EPA and DHA in fish oil supplements and cod liver oil give a stronger result if taken daily. Omega-3 can also be combined with evening primrose oil, a source of omega-6, as this combination has also shown to be beneficial for brain health in children.
Magnesium is a mineral often low in children with hyperactivity, anxiety, depression and cognitive and mood disorders. Magnesium as a supplement, or magnesium flakes in the bath, before bed can also assist in aiding relaxation and helping to fall asleep faster.
Zinc deficiency is common in children, particularly in children with ADHD, but can also be low in those suffering from anxiety.
Zinc plays essential roles in neurotransmitter, neurological, immune and digestive function.
Zinc supplementation has also been shown to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity.
If anxiety and hyperactivity are present then herbs that are used to calm the nervous system can be used. Chamomile, passionflower and lemon balm are safe herbs to use in children to dampen the sympathetic response, promoting calm behaviour and restful sleep. They can be safely taken in the morning and before bed.
Vitamin C and E and pine bark extract contain antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress in the body. High levels of oxidative stress and low antioxidant intake through a poor diet can be a cause of behavioural issues in children.
Other suggestions for anxiety and insomnia in kids include homeopathic formulas or bach flowers to promote calm or aid in sleep.
Certain formulas can be used for acute stress, particularly if there are phobias, school tests or anxiety leading up to an event. B vitamins can also be helpful in providing nervous system support and healthy mood.
Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia
Bateman B, et al. The effects of a bouble-blind, placebo-controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Arch Dis Child. 2004 Jun;89(6):506-11
Huss M, et al. Supplementation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and zinc in children seeking medical advice for attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems – an observational cohort study. Lipids Health Dis. 2010;9:105