Healing Tools for Children to Ease AnxietyJul 31, 2023 10:26AM ● By Kris Urquhart
Over 20 percent of youth struggle with anxiety symptoms, according to a 2021 analysis of 29 studies reported in JAMA Pediatrics. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that anxiety disorders likely involve a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological and developmental factors and may present as phobias, social anxiety, separation anxiety, panic disorder or other behaviors. But all types of anxiety are basically physiological stress reactions to things that are seen as alarming when they need not be. The APA states that “talk therapy” is effective at alleviating anxiety for many, but stress management techniques and meditation without therapy can also be helpful. For children, natural health options that help them connect with their mind and body can be valuable.
Sound Healing and Meditation
Also known as Vibrational Medicine, Sound Healing practitioners use sound and frequency to promote relaxation, facilitate healing, and enhance personal growth. “General treatments help with a wide range of physical, mental and emotional issues having the capacity to slow down the respiratory rate, relax brainwave patterns, lower heart rate variability and calm the nervous system,” says Deena Rahill, founder of Hi Mindfulness and Certified Sound Practitioner. “The profound impact of Sound Therapy lies in its ability to tap into our inherent capacity for self-healing.”
Used for healing in ceremonies and meditations since ancient times, research is being done on Sound Healing. A study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that an hourlong sound meditation (using Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, gongs, tiny cymbals, bells and didgeridoos) helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety and depression while increasing a sense of spiritual well-being.
Rahill provides sound sessions to groups of children visiting the Elliot Museum in Stuart. She starts with the resonating sound of a gong to engage and talk with kids about how they can sense and experience energy and frequencies within their bodies. She uses vibroacoustic devices such as rain sticks, crystal sound bowls, chimes, and tuning forks allowing them to connect listening to sound with the impact it has on their mind-body connection.
Rahill's notes the profound calmness the children experience by the session's end. “This soothing effect carries on throughout their museum tour, enhancing their overall experience.” Parents with kids (8 and older) can also register for her sessions.
Moses Hill, founder of Gods Hands Hypnosis and The Created SOL INC, is transforming lives through metaphysical healing. Since establishing his business in Port St. Lucie in 2021, Hill has been dedicated to promoting mindfulness, meditation, sound healing, hypnosis, and healthy habits to help children, young adults and adults overcome anxiety, stress, panic attacks, heartbreak, and other challenging moments of life.
When working with kids, Hill emphasizes that children need not sit still and pay attention to benefit from the transformative power of sound vibration. “Regardless of their activities, they are drawn to the sensations and frequencies offered by the sound bowls,” says Hill. “This fascination captivates children and relaxes their neurological frequencies, leading to a visible shift in their well-being.”
Hill's approach touches the hearts and minds of those seeking healing and connection. “By embracing the experience of the soul, individuals can experience profound transformations, gaining a sense of love, acceptance, and emotional well-being utilizing the tools to live a happy healthy life,” shares Hill.
Meditation can involve Sound Therapy or be done with children in other ways. A parent could read a guided meditation to a child at bedtime or play a recorded session from YouTube, an app or a CD. For most children, starting out with 5 minutes is enough. Whether they giggle through it or become visibly calm, it will still help relieve anxiety and improve mindfulness. Other forms of meditation can include simple breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, walking or other mindful movements.
Biofeedback for the brain is noninvasive, requires no active patient participation and is safe for all ages. As a natural health option for kids with brain-based conditions, including ADHD, anxiety disorders and autism, it works by encouraging the brain on a biological level to develop healthier patterns of activity.
Marly Jones, founder of Harmony Neurofeedback, uses NeurOptimal in her practice. She explains it to kids: “You wear tiny sensors on your head that read what your brain is doing, then it goes through a software program and provides information back to your brain so it can decide what changes it should make to function better.”
Jones points out that it’s like going to a gym for fitness. The brain can be trained to optimize and most people notice a shift after 15 sessions.
“People of all ages train their brains to help with anxiety, ADD/ADHD and those on the spectrum. They can all improve when the nervous system becomes more flexible and resilient to stressors,” says Jones.
Gabi Kivi, founder and owner of Wholey Live, provides neurofeedback in addition to offering the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) which is a listening therapy to reset the nervous system and tone the vagus nerve. “The SSP is a specially processed music program that can help us feel calmer, listen better, learn easier, be less bothered by sounds and better able to notice our feelings,” says Kivi. The program is administered daily at home through headphones until five hours is completed.
“Some children are more sensitive than others. Their sensitivities or differences make them more likely to experience nervous system dysregulation. When we are in a dysregulated state, we lose access to the rational, thinking part of our brain and children are no longer able to learn, listen, play or connect well,” says Kivi, pointing out that in these cases it’s important to address the body’s automatic stress response with tools such as the SSP or neurofeedback.
Combining physical postures, breathwork and mindfulness, yoga has been shown in numerous studies to increase reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, promote better body awareness and result in better sleep,
Marilyn Diaz is a certified Kidding Around Yoga (KAY) teacher and a Hatha Yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance and teaches Family Yoga for parents and children (ages 2 and up) at Aquarian Dreams. “Child-friendly language is used to guide visualization, breathing, poses and meditation,” she says.
KAY was designed to make yoga fun for kids, with techniques to help kids deal with anxiety. After bringing KAY into schools, studies concluded that yoga helps to develop mind-body awareness, allowing kids to notice the impact of stress on their well-being and change their behavior. Research has also shown that yoga and meditation help youth manage stress and mood and behave more positively through self-regulation.
To connect with the practitioners in this article, see their listing in the online Natural Directory by clicking their linked name in the article.