Posted: August 17, 2020
For many, childhood is the most wondrous and exciting time in a person’s life. But even when a child is growing in a loving and stable family environment, they can feel fear and anxiety and with Covid-19, childhood anxiety is on the rise. Think back on your childhood. Everything new was something to be not-so-sure of. It was easy to feel a bit anxious on the first day of school or meeting someone for the first time. A child often feels anxious at bedtime, having to go to the doctor or dentist, or on their first day of summer camp. When experiencing childhood anxiety, children may run away, become very quiet, scream, shake, act silly, cling or have a tantrum to avoid the stressful situation. You may have tried to talk with your child and reason with them in these moments. But this generally doesn’t work. Brain research suggests that it is extremely difficult for young children to think logically or control their behavior in these anxious moments. They are experiencing real fear and the fight/flight/freeze mode that accompanies it. Here are 3 science-based ways parents can help their children manage their anxiety so they may regain a sense of safety.
1. Stimulate Their Vagus NerveThe vagus nerve is located on both sides of the voice box. Studies have shown that stimulating it can interrupt the fight/flight/freeze mode and send a signal to your child’s brain that he or she is not under attack. Some easy ways to help your child stimulate this nerve are:
- Have them chew gum
- Hum or sing
- Gargle with regular warm water
- Eat a piece of dark chocolate (this is also a parasympathetic regulator)