Israel at war: How can we recognize signs of stress in children?


As Israel finds itself at war, parents not only have to cope with their own anxiety and stress but also address the complex emotions their children face. How can we recognize signs of stress, anxiety, and the silent cry for help in children?

Anxiety in children doesn’t always manifest in the form of a specific behavior. 

Rather, it includes a wide range of phenomena, necessitating careful attention, especially around changes in children’s usual behavior. Signs may include tears, clinging to parents, children suddenly refusing to go to the bathroom or toilet alone, and requesting their parents’ presence, among other unexpected changes.

How can we reduce anxiety and stress in children?

In these trying times, there are no quick fixes. What sets this period apart is its intensity and the fact that we’re still within the trauma, not beyond it. The best policy is honesty with children, tailored to their age, explaining the uniqueness of the situation, including the term “war.” We must avoid shielding them excessively but provide age-appropriate information.

Sharing and communication are key, both for us and our children. While it’s natural to withdraw in the current situation, at some point, silence can amplify stress and anxiety. Therefore, sharing and discussing our experiences becomes vital.

Spending time in nature, with or without a dog, is also tremendously beneficial. Nature’s silence and the presence of trees have a soothing effect on our minds. Imagining a better future can help us relax and face reality more effectively. Particularly, young children require physical activity to release energy, so whenever possible, let them enjoy the outdoors.

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We should also limit our exposure to news and encourage children to do the same. Staying informed is important, but excessive exposure heightens the tension. Before bedtime, we should decrease the intensity by diversifying our activities, such as watching other content, listening to music, and allowing our minds to rest.

Regarding content and news exposure, parents play a pivotal role. They must monitor what their children encounter, especially older children with smartphones who may access age-inappropriate material.

Medicinal herbs can help reduce anxiety 

Medicinal herbs contain multiple components that work together. They exert a broad yet gentle influence on various systems simultaneously. The body embraces this complexity and diversity.

Medicinal plants effectively soothe anxiety, enhance sleep quality, and often produce rapid results. Several important plants help calm the body and address persistent stress.

Chamomile Flowers: Chamomile infusions, renowned worldwide for digestive issues, are also used to calm the mind, relax muscles, alleviate abdominal discomfort, improve sleep, and reduce headaches. It soothes the pulse and breathing during stressful and fearful situations. Chamomile is suitable for all ages, and its effects are gentle. Children and adults can consume chamomile in the form of infusions or liquid extracts.

Chamomile pairs well with lemon balm, a common garden herb. This plant is excellent for sleep problems and anxiety. Strong infusions or concentrated liquid extracts induce a noticeable sense of relaxation and relief.

Valerian Root: Despite its medicinal label, valerian is a gentle, safe plant suitable for children. It calms the breath and pulse during stressful situations, promotes relaxation, elevates mood, and enhances the overall feeling. Valerian can be used alone in the form of concentrated liquid extracts (tinctures), capsules, or combined with chamomile flowers for an effective therapeutic blend.

The article was written by Sharon Kotzer, a clinical herbalist.

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