Unconventional Ways to Support a Child With Anxiety, Depression, and Stress
Watching your child struggle with something beyond your control hurts a parent’s heart. When your child is suffering from depression, anxiety, or stress it can leave you feeling helpless as a parent. You want to do everything you can to help them, but beyond the traditional things like talk therapy, medications, relaxation technique, and listening to calming music, what else can you do? Here are some things that you can do to help your child that you may have never thought of.
Help them find a hobby. Everyone needs a distraction from the stress of daily life- something that makes them happy. Explore possible hobbies with your child to help them find something that will spark joy in their life. It could be anything from starting a collection to photography to woodworking or jewelry making. Try to think of things that relate in some way to things your child already loves.
Get them lessons to learn a new skill. Enrolling your child in lessons to learn a new skill can give them a creative outlet for their emotions. Take an art class together, enroll them in lessons for their favorite musical instrument or sign them up for dance classes. Mastering new skills foster a sense of accomplishment and boost confidence.
Spend some weekends volunteering together. Volunteer work is very rewarding. Helping others can make a child feel like they are a part of something meaningful and give them a sense of purpose. Your local food bank, animal shelter, or soup kitchen are great places to start. You can also find an elderly neighbor that needs help with a few things around the house.
Get them moving. Exercise pumps more blood flow and oxygen to the brain releases endorphins, and can help increase serotonin production to fight depression. Researchers have found that as little as 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times per week can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sports, dance or martial arts classes, hiking, biking, or simply going for a walk are great ways to get a daily dose of exercise.
Ensure a well-balanced diet, and keep them hydrated. Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Making sure your child gets the recommended amount of water for their age and size and that they eat a healthy well-balanced diet rich in omega 3s, vitamins C and D, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron might help to ease some of their symptoms.
If you have an extremely picky eater this can be a challenge. In such a case you can talk to your child’s doctor about adding a good quality vitamin supplement to their treatment plan.
Consider an emotional support animal. The unconditional love of a pet can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and improve mood. Petting and caring for an animal has been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety. Although dogs and cats are considered to be the best pets for anxiety, any pet at all is of benefit, even a hamster, fish, or even a chicken! Those who rent their home are sometimes limited on pets, but most pet policies allow for a small caged animal or a small aquarium. If your child’s symptoms are severe they may benefit from a certified service animal, which must legally be allowed anywhere that they go, and you can’t be charged a pet deposit for a service animal either.
Encourage them to keep a journal. Writing provides an outlet to help work through difficult feelings and emotions. Getting their thoughts down on paper can help to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helps keep a record of the effectiveness of their treatment plan and lets them see how much progress they’ve made.
These are just a few examples of how you can think outside of the box to find ways to support your child who’s coping with stress, anxiety, or depression. While none of these things are a cure, they can work alongside their traditional treatments to help them feel better faster. You can get even more ideas of ways to help your child from our upcoming EQ Crash Course. With your help and proper treatment, your child can overcome any obstacle.