Anxiety in Children

    Anxiety is a normal emotion experienced by all healthy people, signaling the ability to differentiate between safety and danger.

    A newborn infant trusts that its mother will meet all its needs and keep it safe. As the baby grows and develops a separate sense of self, the anxieties it experiences will change.

    If an infant’s needs are not met, anxiety may occur at the next developmental phase. The child needs to master milestones of independence such as toilet training, going to bed, socializing, and making friends. Different forms of anxiety appear at this time as the child needs to control a universe much larger than itself. Symmetry, order, and parental reassurance and encouragement allay anxiety and foster the growth of self-confidence and a feeling of safety in the world.

    Most children experience fears and anxiety as they grow up. They talk about fears of robbers, being kidnapped, being left alone, something bad happening to their parents, whether other kids like them, and what their friends think of them. Common fears in younger children include fear of the dark, bugs, spiders, and monsters in the bedroom cupboard or under the bed. Teenagers worry about their bodies, the opposite sex, not being the best, getting into trouble at school, and not being liked. Usually, these anxieties respond to reassurance, but if they overwhelm the child's well-being, homeopathy can be of great assistance.

    Homeopathy treats the whole person, not just the symptom, and aims to address the underlying cause, not just the effect. Furthermore, homeopathic medicines are gentle, non-addictive, and have no side effects.

    A homeopath’s task is to discover the key issues and themes behind a patient’s anxiety. Each individual’s anxiety will have evolved in a unique way, have characteristic trigger factors, and center on a core theme. Once understood, the anxiety can be dramatically alleviated with the right homeopathic remedy, much like the right key opening the right lock.


    • Aconite: The child experiences acute, panicky fear with restlessness, fear of death, darkness, crowds, or some unknown impending evil, and is mentally hyper-alert. Aconite states may be triggered by fright. Panic attacks with a huge fear of death respond to Aconite. They cling to their parents in fear.
    • Argentum Nitricum: Fears of being late, closed spaces, heights, having a fit or dying, or robbers or anticipatory fears before an event like an exam, public speech, or interview. They are always hurried. Emotional upsets can trigger this state of fear and anxiety. There may be a craving for sweets, salt, and strong flavors. These individuals are enthusiastic and suggestible, with a tendency toward peculiar thoughts and impulses.
    • Arsenicum Album: Recommended for children anxious about their health and extremely concerned with order and security. Panic attacks often occur around midnight or the early hours of the morning. The child may feel exhausted yet still be restless, fidgeting, pacing, and anxiously moving from place to place. They are typically obsessive about small details and very neat, feeling a desperate need to be in control of everything.
    • Belladonna: Fears dogs and imaginary things during delirious fevers, or may be confused, flushed, violent, and destructive.
    • Calcarea Carbonica: A constitutional type that suffers from many fears and anxieties. They are often chilly, dependable, solid children who become overwhelmed from physical illness or too much work. Their thoughts can be muddled and confused when tired. Worry and bad news agitate them, and they fear a car accident happening to their parents. Fear of heights and claustrophobia are also common. These children ask many philosophical questions that cause them anxiety, may sweat on their heads at night, crave eggs, sweets, and pasta, and are easily fatigued.
    • Gelsemium: An acute remedy for feelings of weakness, trembling, and mental dullness (being “paralyzed by fear”). It is useful when a child experiences anticipatory anxiety such as stage fright about a public performance, interview or test, impending visit to the dentist, or other stressful events. Diarrhea and headaches often occur with nervousness. Fear of crowds, a fear of falling, nervousness, and apprehension are its keynotes.
    • Ignatia: Indicated in sensitive children who become anxious because of grief, loss, disappointment, criticism, or loneliness. Other indications include a defensive attitude, frequent sighing, and mood swings. The person may burst unexpectedly into either tears or laughter and often complain of a lump in their throats.
    • Kali Phosphoricum: Indicated when a teenager has been exhausted by overwork or illness. They feel deep anxiety and inability to cope, are jumpy, and startled by ordinary sounds. Hearing unpleasant news or thinking of world events can aggravate the problems. Insomnia and an inability to concentrate may develop, increasing the sense of nervous dread. Eating, warmth, and rest often bring relief.
    • Lycopodium: Constitutional children attempt to cover an inner sense of inadequacy by putting up a front, pretending to be something they are not. They feel anxiety from mental stress and suffer from a lack of confidence. They can be self-conscious and feel intimidated by people they perceive as powerful. They can feel deep anticipatory anxiety and fear of failure when taking on responsibility but usually do well once started on a task. Children in a state of anxiety may develop facial tics.
    • Natrum Muriaticum: These children have deep emotions, and their self-protective shyness can make them seem reserved, aloof, and private. Even when feeling lonely, they tend to stay away from social situations, not knowing what to say or do. Easily hurt and offended, they can brood, daydream, or bear grudges, dwell on unhappy feelings, and isolate themselves. They refuse consolation even when they want it. They are often sympathetic listeners to other people's problems. Claustrophobia, anxiety at night (with fears of robbers), migraines, and insomnia are often seen. Grief (known or unknown) can trigger this state.
    • Phosphorus: Indicated in open-hearted, imaginative, excitable, easily startled children, full of vivid fears of the dark, death, ghosts, or monsters. They are nervous and sensitive to others, often overextending themselves with sympathy to the point of exhaustion. They need a lot of company and reassurance, often feeling better from conversation or a back rub. Easy flushing of the face, thirst, and a strong desire for cold, refreshing foods and ice cream also indicate Phosphorus.
    • Pulsatilla: These children often express anxiety as insecurity and clinginess, with a need for constant support and comforting. They fear being alone and are easily discouraged, moody, tearful, whiny, changeable, and emotionally childish. Getting too warm or being in a stuffy room often increases anxiety. Anxiety around the time of hormonal changes (puberty or menstrual periods) is often helped with Pulsatilla.
    • Silica: Indicated for children who are nervous, shy, and subject to bouts of temporary loss of confidence. Anxiety can be extreme when they are faced with a public appearance, examinations, or any new job or task. Worry and overwork can bring on headaches, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, frequent illnesses, low stamina, oversensitivity, and dread. Silica children are perfectionists and devote excess attention to tiny details.
    • Stramonium: Fears of the dark, evil, water, dogs, mirrors, closed places, people, and new things. It is very useful for treating night terrors in children who don’t even recognize their parents while in their fear state. Anxious twitches and spasms often respond well to Stramonium.

    As can be seen, different constitutional typologies respond to stress and fears differently. It is helpful in rearing a child to nurture different natures according to their specific needs and to aid them homeopathically if necessary to overcome their fears and move on confidently to the next stage of growth.

    Editor's note: You may find these articles helpful: Children and their Habits and The A to Z of Nutrition can Calm our Anxiety.

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