Anxiety in children can range from mild discomfort to full blown panic attacks and it is not always clear how and when the anxiety started.
Sometimes there is an obvious cause, such as an upsetting event, and sometimes the feelings seem to gradually develop over time.
As children grow from babies to toddlers, school children to teens, the developmental jumps that happen both mentally and physically are huge. Coupled with gradual changes in a child's environment - the first separation from mum, going to nursery, the big leap into school etc, it is inevitable and understandable that many children have a few difficulties.
It is at school age when they are moving daily between the two quite different environments of home and school, that issues can start to come up. There can be all sorts of triggers that can affect anxiety levels - the move from Primary to Secondary school, test results, school expectations, the hot house of friendships, socialising and peer pressure. It is when children start to develop a pattern of beliefs about themselves or others, or have a fixed physical reaction to stressors (shutting down, refusal to go to school, withdrawal from friends etc), that anxiety tends to develop and grow.
In the last year I have seen a marked increase in children's anxiety (as well as adults) as the impact of lockdowns and school disruption take their toll.
My approach is to take your child's full medical history; find out what has been happening recently and in the past; hear their thoughts about how they deal with anxiety if they can express it, or talk to the parent to find out more. I then have a picture of the key symptoms and reactions of your child's mind and body and will match this picture to the best remedy:
eg insomnia, doesn't like speaking in public, break up with friend feels like a great loss, afraid of being alone, likes to eat cheese, pastries and pasta, gets coughs & colds easily, prone to IBS, cries easily, asthma - all these may lead to a single remedy.
Common Signs of Anxiety
Concentration difficulties; Catastrophising events; Worrying; Perfectionism; Memory problems; Over reactions; Hyper vigilant; Lack of confidence
Shyness; Withdrawal; Frequent questions; Frequent need for reassurance; Need for sameness; Excessive talking; Restlessness; Habit behaviours (biting nails, twirling hair); Impulsiveness, Melt downs / Tantrums
Trembling/shaking; Increased heart rate; Shortness of breath; Dizziness; Flushing of skin; Stomach aches or nausea; Muscle tension; Sleep problems
I often see anxious children with some of the following:
- who struggle with separation from parents/home beyond Reception class and into later school at any age (separation anxiety)
- who regularly have 'meltdowns'
- who suffer with panic attacks
- who are well behaved at school (masking) but when they get home are demanding, emotional and can even explode from tension (the coke bottle effect), making it hard for the school to understand and accept that there is a problem
- who come with a growing list of fears and phobias
- who suffer from panic attacks, vomiting, emotional breakdowns at the thought of going to school, during school or are not able to attend school
- who struggle to focus, concentrate and sit down for large parts of the day
- who feel overwhelmed with the amount of school work or their level of achievement when compared with the rest of the class
- who lose confidence in their ability to make friends and socialise, feeling ostracised
- who are bullied or bullying
though I know it can seem that way
Homeopathy prompts the body to get back into balance itself and both mind and body will start to assimilate recent experiences, stressors and anxiety and start to bring things into perspective. It really is a pleasure to see someone who seemed to have the weight of the world on their shoulders, start to lighten and smile.
Homeopathy is non-toxic and non-addictive, offering a range of remedies for anxiety, worrying, anger and so on. Each remedy is a different picture just as each child is individual.
Three examples of remedies that can help
A person needing this remedy has very high anxiety, is restless, nervous, sleepless and can have panic attacks. They can be anxious about their health, about other people, about dying, diseases, germs and violence. They may suffer with asthma, hay fever, coughing, palpitations, head aches, weakness and exhaustion. They may have had food poisoning, gastro enteritis and stomach pains. They may vomit from anxiety.
This is an important remedy in the treatment of high anxiety. The intensity of all the above feelings and symptoms starts to reduce when this remedy is chosen for the right person.
A child who needs Calc Carb is usually worried about what others think of her and is very sensitive to criticism. She is timid, unsure of herself and anxious; she looks for protection and does not push herself forward. She is afraid of being made fun of. She does not like to try things that are difficult for her for fear of failure and being teased. As soon as she feels safe and secure, she relaxes and feels fine.
She may have a fear of the dark and nightmares; there are usually quite a few fears, such as the dark, spiders, dogs, thunderstorms, monsters, sleeping alone etc. Physically there are ear, nose and throat problems and digestive troubles.
We can expect to see a decrease in regular ENT and stomach issues, a growth in her confidence and less sensitivity to criticism. Fears will reduce and you start to see the positive side of the remedy - a strong character, independent and curious, quite methodical and can achieve excellent school results.
Natrum Muriaticum (Nat Mur):
This remedy is for hidden grief from painful experiences. This child feels sad, depressed and irritable. He hates cuddles and kind words and pushes them away. This child does not easily confide in this parents or teachers. He does not like to be sociable. The Nat Mur child is tired both physically and mentally and is prone to pounding headaches. He will be polite and try not to attract attention, but he is also sensitive, very emotional and can burst into tears. He has a strong sense of justice and sometimes this sense of fairness can cause problems with their friends at school. On the positive side a Nat Mur child is responsible and mature.
Physical symptoms include headaches, constipation, asthma, skin problems and bedwetting.
Improvements seen in this remedy can be quite remarkable. The child can really lighten up and be more open to talking about feelings and accepting touch and affection. On the physical side, headaches and constipation usually fade away first.
These are just three examples of remedies that can help people with anxiety. Remedies are selected on the basis of the individual, there is no 'one size fits all'.