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recommends cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a therapist teaches the child strategies to combat fears and address certain feelings and behaviors. “This may include deep-breathing exer- cises, progressive muscle relaxation and alternative coping thoughts,” she says. A meta-analysis of clinical trials first published in School Psychology Review concludes that such therapy can play a key role in alleviating childhood anxiety.


Unschedule


Speed breeds stress. “Don’t be in such a rush,” advises Geary. “Whatever you can take out of the day, take out.” Work out a looser schedule,


whether that means limiting kids to one musical instrument or sport or institut- ing a weekly day of rest, when playtime replaces all homework and chores. Says Geary, “I see a lot of kids coming in with stomach pains or school issues, or they’re hitting others. Nine times out of 10, I feel like saying to the parents, ‘Just take your kids to the playground, sit in the park with them and get really dirty digging in the mud.’ If they did that for a month, they’d be fine.”


Pay attention to food “If blood sugar drops, it’s a very anxi- ety- and irritability-producing sensa- tion,” observes Geary. “Try to feed chil- dren snacks that provide slow-release nutrition, meaning they’re not getting a jolt of hard-to-digest fat, protein or sugar.” Her favored choices include low-fat cheese and hummus, or whole- grain bread, spread with nut butter, an easy-to-digest protein.


Relax


Children often reflect their parents’ moods, so create calm. “Massage, may- be with calendula oil or something that smells nice for the child, is wonderful,” says Geary. The key is the interaction of the touch and the stillness. Just before bedtime, enjoy a cup of herbal tea together. “It’s more the ritual of sharing a warm drink at the end of the day than actually what you’re drinking,” she says. “They will absorb the fact that you’re spending time with them.”


Elisa Bosley is a senior editor at Deli- cious Living magazine.


natural awakenings November 2011 21


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