- Dr. Liz Homan
How to DeSTRESS my Child.
Alright, this week we are going to focus on how to lower our child’s stress levels. If you are not familiar with how stress effects our body negatively, I encourage you to visit How Stress Effects Our Body post to learn more about it. And even if you remember how stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, I still recommend you reading that blog post as a quick refresher!
To a lot of adults, it may seem wild to think that our children are getting stressed out, but you have seen it and know what I am talking about. Our kids have so much going on and they are living in a different world then what we grew up in! Some of the most common reasons that kids report feeling stress include bullying, feeling pressure from their parents (hyper-parenting), not liking their body and having a fractured family. I want to go through these a bit because in order to help our children lower their stress levels, we need to understand what they have going on.
Bullying is so much different then when the big kid would be mean to the littler kids on the playground. We now have cyber bullying which has led to children being bullied 24/7. A recent study showed that between 2007 and 2019 cyber bullying increased from 18% to 37%. It affects almost a quarter of all school aged children and has led to 5.4 million students skipping school at some point in the year.
Sadly, we, the parents, those who love our children the most, can be a source of stress for our kids. We start off with good intention, but we sometimes forget that they are just kids. One of the most common ways we stress our kids is by overscheduling them. We also often times place too high of standards on them for their current age.
Another source of stress for kids is how they view their own body. They often times compare themselves to their peers and if they have slight differences they do not like their body. Unfortunately, this affects girls more than body and it was found that almost half of all teenage girls believe that they are overweight. As a result, 80% of all 10 year old girls have dieted at least once.
When a family is going through hard times, they try to protect the kids from what is going on but the anger that the parents are experiencing is often times transferred to the children leading to an increase in their anxiety. And as the divorce rate gets higher, the amount of kids that experience this stress also increases.
So, what can we do to, help reduce the effects of high levels of cortisol on our children?
· Teach them to love themselves- this is something that can be started at a very young age. The way this works is for the child to look at themselves in a mirror and say “I love (their name)!” And remember, our children learn from us so, if you do not love yourself, this might be a good practice for you to do as well. If you want a great book recommendation on this topic, let me know and I would be happy to share it with you!
· Figure out their outlet- how does your child best release their tension? For some kids it is getting outside and running around. Others may benefit from drawing and creating art. I would recommend once you figure out their outlet, making that the first thing that you schedule in their day and then work the other stuff around that.
· Eating a clean diet- what we put in is what we get out. So, when we put junk food in, we get junk out. A well-balanced diet will help keep their minds clear and their body’s clean.
· Getting high quality sleep- this is when our body heals and if our kids are not getting adequate levels of sleep a night, then the stress that they experience can seem to be elevated. Help them lower their stress level before bed so that they can get a good night rest.
· Introducing chiropractic care into their life- a recent study shared the case history of a 19 year old female diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). After a 4-month course of chiropractic care, she reported an 80% reduction in her anxiety symptoms, including a 90% decrease in her headaches. This patient was able to live a normal like without resorting to medication.
If you have tried the natural suggestions above, it may be time to get a referral to a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is often times able to assist your child with dealing with their stress without the use of medication, but they are able to prescribe antidepressants when truly needed and to monitor your child to know when they are no longer needed.
And if you do not have children that are experiencing big stresses right now, it is still a great idea to help them learn to do the above recommended tools so that if they do get into a stressful situation they are able to manage it before it becomes something too big.