Childhood is supposed to be a happy carefree time. But today’s world places more stress on children than ever before. Combined factors such as living in a more challenging and hectic environment, meeting increased demands for extra activities, coping with problems at home, and internalizing pressure from parents and classmates can produce more stress on a child than he or she can handle.
Alarmingly, the incidence of anxiety, depression, and ADHD in children is on the rise. Children may exhibit signs of anxiety such as sadness, irritability, or “acting out”. Other signs include sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, short temper, clinginess, or getting into trouble at school. If you notice any of these signs, your child may benefit from some psychological or biochemical help. But before you consider medical intervention, consider implementing some healthy, natural alternatives first.
1. Play Outside! A sunny day may do more than just boost your child’s mood. The mood-lifting chemicals in the brain actually increase when you’re exposed to bright light — a major reason why many people feel happier during the summer. When you don’t get natural sunlight on your skin, you can suffer from a nutritional deficiency, just as if you weren’t consuming enough vitamins or minerals. Physical activity is a great mood booster because it reduces the stress-induced depletion of serotonin and adrenalin, both “feel good” chemicals in the body. A recent report by the CDC found that physical activity may help improve academic performance, behavior, and achievement, including concentration and attentiveness in the classroom.1 Also, regular activity has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and increase self-esteem for children and adolescents.2
2. Get Optimal Nutrition. The child who is well nourished will not only have improved mood, but will also have the ability to manage the ups and downs of life. If you find it difficult to get the following in your child’s diet, consult your family wellness chiropractor to determine if your child is getting the proper nutrients.
- Foods rich in protein help make the chemicals responsible for alertness and energy. High protein foods include fish, poultry, meat, and eggs. Other sources include legumes, cheese, milk, and tofu.
- Fatty acids are important so nerves can properly transmit important messages in the brain that help determine mood. Good sources of fatty acids are cold-water fish (such as tuna and salmon), dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed oils, and certain vegetable oils.
- Vitamins and minerals. B vitamins have been clearly linked to neurological development and mental functions. Dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, dairy, and meats are examples of foods rich in Vitamin B.
- Limit processed foods. Processed foods contain unhealthy sugars, which cause sudden peaks and valleys associated with mood swings.
3. Improve Nerve Function! Two recent survey studies have shown chiropractic care for children is safe, gets results, and offers children unexpected health benefits. The three most common additional benefits reported by parents were: improved immune system function, improved sleep, and improved moods in the children. ADHD is now one of the most common mental health disorders of childhood, and parents of children with ADHD are increasingly seeking out “alternative” treatments due to concerns of the risks of their children being given powerful psychoactive medications over an indeterminable and prolonged period of time. Recent research efforts are finding evidence that supports the chiropractic principle of the supremacy of the nervous system. Because ADHD is a central nervous system disorder, results of recent studies suggest that chiropractic care has the potential to become an important non-drug intervention for children with hyperactivity.