As a parent, how often have you heard the words “I have a sore tummy” or “My tummy’s sore”? I’m sure most parents have heard these words but some more than others.
I have taught my own daughter, who gets a sore stomach, to tap into and listen to the clues that her body offers. Sivanna is 12 and she has been listening to her tummy talk for several years now. She is learning what foods make her feel a certain way and she also knows that when she is experiencing anxiety it shows up in her gut.
There are many forms of anxiety that children feel. Some of which, but are not limited to, separation anxiety, fear, dread, uncertainty, worry, feelings of inadequacy, and the list goes on.
The stomach is often called the second brain, is referred to as ‘gut instinct’, and is home to the enteric nervous system, and is also linked to the solar plexus chakra.
The solar plexus or third chakra is a control center for will, personal power, personal responsibility, mental capabilities, the intellect, forming personal beliefs, decision making, self-confidence, independence, personal identity and personality, so it seems very fitting that as children grow and evolve, the tummy is a barometer for anxiety and angst.
How can we help our young children with anxiety?
- First and foremost we can help by discussing and creating conversations around what they are feeling in their body and what it means to them. Sivanna and I mutually came to the conclusion that some of her tummy strains, were anxiety and we openly discussed it. Now, when she feels this particular type of angst, we peel back the onion layer, so to speak, to see what is underlying there.
- Listening to your child. This is something I have to work on myself. I know I never truly listen enough. Let’s face it, we all want to be heard and listened to. While the conversation may not seem important to us, it is extremely important to them. Try listening with an open heart and a non-judgmental mind to make room for clearer communication and your child’s willingness to share.
- Let you child know that they are ‘safe’. Let them know that they can openly discuss anything with you at anytime. Let them know that there is NO-thing that they cannot share with you. They need to feel safe and that they will be worthy of your love and support NO MATTER WHAT!!!! This is indeed what unconditional love means. We all need to feel safe, heard, and supported.
- Ask your child for their input on what they are feeling, what they think might be underlying in this particular way of feeling, and really probe them for input. Children love to be heard, love to share, and love to feel that they are worthy of providing input. It is also a good idea to ask them for possible solutions to help relieve the angst or anxiety. Ask them what ideas do they have to alleviate this feeling they are having?
- Sleep! Make sure your child gets enough sleep! We all know what it feels like to be tired and worn out. It’s hard to cope with life. Make sure you support your children in a routine that provides adequate sleep, rest and downtime.
- Proper nutrition and nutritional deficiencies play a BIG role in children’s anxiety. Children don’t always eat optimally for many different reasons and they may suffer from common digestive and assimilation issues, just like adults, so making sure your child gets the proper micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc. is hugely important to help with both anxiety and overall health. I really believe the more we openly discuss the issue of anxiety and teach our children to tap into what their body and mind is saying to them, the more we can help them and help others who are suffering too. Let’s start the conversation…..
Maggie Holbik.com is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Life Coach, Mom, Step Mom, Gramma, Great Gramma, Mom by Heart and often referred to as Momma Maggie 🙂 She runs a facebook page for parenting support and it can be found at Link to follow Maggie’s Parenting FB Page