Montana Public Radio

How Kids Can Deal With Anxiousness: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Mar 13, 2017

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician with health tips for kids about anxiousness.

Anxiousness means nervousness or worry. Lots of kids are anxious sometimes. Kids can be anxious before school starts, or when they have a test or have to do a presentation in class. Some kids are anxious before they go to sleep at night. Others are anxious when they have to do something new, or go to the doctor’s office or to the dentist. 

It’s pretty normal to be anxious; lots of grown-ups get anxious too. It’s just that anxiousness is not much fun. It can get you down and make it hard to do the things you love. So here are a few tips to help you feel better if worry comes your way.

First, try deep breathing. Getting lots of oxygen deep down in your lungs can really calm you down. One of my favorite things is “4 Count Square Breathing”. Let me explain. 

You take a deep slow breath in, counting to four while you breathe in. 1, 2, 3, 4. Then you hold all the breath in to the count of four, 1, 2, 3, 4. Then you breathe out to the count of 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Keep your lungs empty, no air in them, to the count of 4. Then take a deep breath in, start all over again. If you do this over and over, you’ll relax and your anxiousness will shrink.

Don’t worry if at first you have to count to four pretty quickly in order to get all that air in and out. The more you practice, the deeper and slower you’ll be able to breathe.

Another thing you can do when you are worried is take a walk. Ask your parents to go with you. Maybe it would help to tell them you are feeling a bit anxious about something. They can help you think of a special place where walking will make you feel good. 

Have a cup of herbal tea. Tea is soothing and calming. That’s because it’s warm, it smells good, and something about making tea seems like you are taking care of yourself. Maybe you and your parents can pick out and buy a tea you really like. You can have a plan with your mom or dad that when you are feeling anxious, they and you can make a pot of your special tea. Your worries just might float away in the steam from your cup.

Try singing or whistling. When you do that, you have to think about other things – like songs, and notes. If you focus enough on singing and whistling, you can forget your troubles, at least for a while.

Do you have pets? When I’m feeling worried, I like to spend time with my dogs, or my cats or my horse. I like to brush them, or pet them, take the dogs for a walk, or just talk to them as animal friends. Our pets love us and we love them and sometimes that’s all we need to get rid of anxiousness.

The final thing I like is a homeopathic remedy called Calms. Your parents can find it in the natural medicine section of your grocery store. It’s made from minerals and plants and it comes in little tablets that you dissolve under your tongue. It’s very safe and can help kids feel calmer in just a few minutes. (It’s good for pets too! I give Calms to my dog Spirit when she has to go to the vet). Remember though; don’t ever take any medicine, even natural medicine, without talking to your parents first.

So to review, for anxiousness, kids can try these things: breathe deeply, walk, have a cup of your favorite tea, sing and whistle, spend time with your pets, and ask your parents about a homeopathic remedy called Calms.

I hope these tips help your worries get smaller and make your anxiousness go away.

I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck and I’m wishing you well.