5 Ways to Reduce Childhood Stress and Anxiety

Our world is not designed for children.  We are constantly trying to fit them into an adult world.  I've found that with a few strategies and routines kids can feel more secure with their day and it leads to much better sleep.  I have a blog post just on improving sleep if you're interested.  These strategies and routines lead to healthier, happier kids (and parents too)!!!  If these routines and lifestyles are solid, then even when life throws a major curveball our children can feel resilient and confident.  The last one really is the most important so I hope you read all the way to the end!

Kids need lots of movement!

It is recommended that youth between the ages of 5 and 17 get AT LEAST 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

When my family doesn't have a chance to go to a sporting event or the YMCA to swim in the pool, we always choose to be outside.  The outdoors has so many ways to get 60 minutes of movement.  Whether we are bike riding, doing yard work, playing tennis, or jumping on the trampoline, being outside leads to more movement!  Nature also helps to reduce feelings of anxiety.

Reducing sugar has drastic effects

Sugar in the diet directly affects anxiety.  Children between the ages of 2 and 18 should eat fewer than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  To put that in perspective 1 cup of flavored yogurt has 3 teaspoons!

So, how do we cut out sugar from the diet when our kids have been eating it for years (and have an addiction)?  Answer: Slowly. Choose one item at a time to switch out and have more fruit and proteins available.  Some things to eliminate would be sugary cereals, soda, and dessert too close to bedtime.  I have a few products and supplements that have really helped with getting important nutrients and improved digestion at the same time.

Limited Screen time leads to a healthier brain

I know what you're saying.  But, it's the only time I can get to myself without the kids arguing! 

I get it. I have 2 kids that are resolving conflict more than they are playing amicably together.  These skills will help for a lifetime though.  Setting up a daily routine where you pencil in screen time will be a life saver.  I suggest putting screen time where you need it the most.  We have it first thing in the morning while I make breakfast and possibly do some yoga. Also, before dinner so my husband or I can cook. It is recommended that kids and teens age 8-18 spend only 2 hours per day on a screen.  And only 1 hour for kids younger than that.  I know.  My mouth dropped open when I read that too!

The first week or two will be an adjustment if they are used to getting unlimited TV and tablet, but you will be pleasantly surprised as the creativity grows.  You will eventually be able to do other things while they play!!

Calm down strategies can set your child up for a lifetime of mental health strategies 

....so build a calm down bin or 2.  Now, here is the tricky, part of putting it together....  It's different for every child.  

Here are some items that I have used at home and also in my classroom.  When adding an item, I always introduce it and we use it all together to practice.  Breathing exercises, yoga pose cards, favorite books or books about strong emotions, favorite essential oil in a roller or cotton balls in small containers, and/or some building materials like blocks or puzzles.  My daughter's favorite things to do when she's upset are yoga poses, listen to music, or look out her window.  My son really loves doing breathing exercises, a puzzle, or building legos and magna tiles.  As they get older, these items change and they will be able to learn more about choosing their own strategies.

Sleep affects all aspects of our life

....and without quality sleep and the proper amount, stress and anxiety magnify.

Kids bodies and brains need the recommended amount of sleep for proper development.  That is 9-11 hours for school aged children.  If you make the changes above, you will notice sleep improves pretty quickly, but here is a routine that we follow to ensure that we unwind and can fall asleep more easily. If you or your child has more severe needs, I have a guide just for better sleep.

  1. No screens the hour before bed.
  2. Do not eat the hour before bed.
  3. Follow a bedtime routine chart for taking a bath, brushing teeth, getting pajamas, and taking any supplements. I have a few charts if you need any ideas.
  4. 30 minutes before bed turn down lights and diffuse stress away, cedarwood, lavender, or vetiver. (These are also wonderful for helping overwhelming feelings during the day).
  5. Read a couple of books, say any prayers or mantras (or gratitude practice if you have one), and turn out the lights

Make sure to get my Free Challenge 90 Days to Joyful Living Here!

It's all the daily activities that keep me centered and regulated.