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  • Reducing child anxiety

    It appears that my 4.5yo has some issues with anxiety. She started biting her finger nails about 4 months ago, but I didn't think too much of it. We were in the middle of moving and I figured it would settle down. We've been in the new house over 2 months now and she hasn't stopped. We only moved 45 minutes, so not a huge deal. I'm trying to figure out how I can help her get over whatever might be bothering her.

    A little background... she's a very bright kid reading, writing, and doing math work well beyond her age. We work on "school" things at home together but only when she's interested in it. I am home with her and her 2.5yo brother. She does gymnastics, attends story hour at the library, and takes swim lessons. We also go to museums and other fun places when everyone seems relaxed enough but always be sure to have at least 1 day where we don't get in the car.

    Are there any foods I should try eliminating or adding? Her diet is pretty good and she'll try anything once.

  • #2
    Perhaps she would rather snack on beef jerky instead of fingernails for a protein fix? (my kids call it meat chewing gum)
    Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

    Griff's cholesterol primer
    5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
    Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
    TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
    bloodorchid is always right

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    • #3
      Possibly off-subject, but I recall a tv news segment years ago about toddler twins that were gnawing on all the wood in their house. Turns out that they had some sort of vitamin defiency that they were replacing with the wood.

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      • #4
        Teach2183 - are you drawing attention to her bitten fingernails ???? or ignoring ?
        "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

        ...small steps....

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        • #5
          Originally posted by NZ primal Gwamma View Post
          Teach2183 - are you drawing attention to her bitten fingernails ???? or ignoring ?
          I generally ignore, but will silently push her fingers away from her face if she's sitting next to me/in my lap when doing so.

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          • #6
            My oldest child did it a while ago, and I used that stop nail bite stuff.
            First is trying to break the habit of it.
            But also you need to deal with the anxiety. Are you talking to her about what is bothering her?

            Is her diet primal? No processed foods, additives etc?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by teach2183 View Post
              I generally ignore, but will silently push her fingers away from her face if she's sitting next to me/in my lap when doing so.
              the ignore/don't make a big deal button - isn't always the easiest button to push - so well done for that.

              As for anxiety ? i certainly noticed that sugar triggered all sorts of negetive reactions in one of my children, and to this day she still reacts adversely to too much sugar.
              however I think the anxiety issues she was and still does display are more about attention, so not sure with your wee one.
              Good luck thou
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Ayla2010 View Post
                My oldest child did it a while ago, and I used that stop nail bite stuff.
                First is trying to break the habit of it.
                But also you need to deal with the anxiety. Are you talking to her about what is bothering her?

                Is her diet primal? No processed foods, additives etc?
                I'm more concerned with dealing with the anxiety. I asked her several times what is bothering her today and am always available to listen. This morning we were snuggling in bed and she asked if I love her (I tell her at least 10x/day!) and then pushed on to whether I still love her when she's grumpy or does something wrong. Of course I told her I'll always and forever love her no matter what. She seemed to be okay with that. At dinner tonight she asked about why my mom (we call her grandma angel) died (well before DD was born). I believe in being honest, especially since I know she'd catch me in even a little fib. So I started with saying she was very sick. But DD pressed for more info so I said cancer and she asked what that is. When DH got home tonight he went in to say good night to her and she told him she's worried about my grandfather (94) and whether he'll live long enough to meet my brother's baby (due next month). Her mind (like mine) never seems to stop and is a total sponge for anything and everything she hears.

                I am working on a more and more primal diet. The worst thing the kids have on any regular basis is lunch meat. Although our other meat is also not organic/grassfed. We just started a CSA so this past week they have had lots of organic spinach, carrots, and eggs. Today we had eggs cooked in butter with spinach, peppers, and strawberries for breakfast; meatballs over pasta (non-GMO corn based) for lunch; apples and cheese for snack; and pork ribs with potato "fries" (wedges drizzled w/ olive oil, salt, garlic powder and baked) and mixed frozen veggies.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by NZ primal Gwamma View Post
                  however I think the anxiety issues she was and still does display are more about attention, so not sure with your wee one.
                  Good luck thou
                  That's what I thought at first. But she does it while sitting in my lap or snuggling next to me while I read to her a book she's chosen.

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                  • #10
                    thats a tough one.
                    I think just keep doing what you are doing, as well as breaking the habit as well if you can.
                    Talking with children is great, you are doing the right thing. I agree about being honest with kids too, that is great.

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                    • #11
                      don't stress too much, because she will pick up on it.
                      When mine were little and in need of discipline, i would make a point of saying that I loved them very much , but their behaviour really upsets me..... then it becomes not about the love but about the behaviour.
                      Often the oldest child in a family becomes a worrier. Its almost part of their place in the family. My eldest brother (55), still worries about all of us (7 kids), whereas the five middle ones cruise, and the youngest is still a spoilt brat. I am not suggesting that this happens with all families, but it is typical of some.
                      "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

                      ...small steps....

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                      • #12
                        Are you sure she's biting her nails because of anxiety, or because, well... she likes biting her nails?? Some people just seem to be chronic nail biters (no idea why, but I'm sure they're not all that way due to anxiety).

                        I tend to be quite an anxiety ridden individual, but don't bite my nails at all. My husband, however, has been biting his nails forever, and it has nothing to do with his mental state.

                        Not saying nail biting is okay (my husband's drives me nuts) but it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your daughter, either!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by teach2183 View Post
                          I'm more concerned with dealing with the anxiety. I asked her several times what is bothering her today and am always available to listen. This morning we were snuggling in bed and she asked if I love her (I tell her at least 10x/day!) and then pushed on to whether I still love her when she's grumpy or does something wrong. Of course I told her I'll always and forever love her no matter what. She seemed to be okay with that. At dinner tonight she asked about why my mom (we call her grandma angel) died (well before DD was born). I believe in being honest, especially since I know she'd catch me in even a little fib. So I started with saying she was very sick. But DD pressed for more info so I said cancer and she asked what that is. When DH got home tonight he went in to say good night to her and she told him she's worried about my grandfather (94) and whether he'll live long enough to meet my brother's baby (due next month). Her mind (like mine) never seems to stop and is a total sponge for anything and everything she hears.

                          I am working on a more and more primal diet. The worst thing the kids have on any regular basis is lunch meat. Although our other meat is also not organic/grassfed. We just started a CSA so this past week they have had lots of organic spinach, carrots, and eggs. Today we had eggs cooked in butter with spinach, peppers, and strawberries for breakfast; meatballs over pasta (non-GMO corn based) for lunch; apples and cheese for snack; and pork ribs with potato "fries" (wedges drizzled w/ olive oil, salt, garlic powder and baked) and mixed frozen veggies.
                          I call this the "deep thoughts" phase, my 4 (soon to be 5) year old is in it too. I think every kid has it--it's the realization that everything isn't happy-go-lucky, that grandma/grandpa/mom/dad/etc. won't be around forever, people die, there's more to the world than what they know, etc. She's been asking deep questions a lot lately (how long do people live, what was the earth like before people, what are stars made of, etc.) and while she's not showing big signs of anxiety, it has definitely rocked her world a little.

                          I just tell the truth, and use it as a teaching opportunity. Sure, sometimes we have to talk about morbid things, and sometimes it leads to explaining simulations of the solar system until she loses interest and wants to do something else, but she's learning and by not dramatizing anything we're not feeding anxiety.

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                          • #14
                            A thought ... I have always had the feeling that nail-biting is an inability to express something...so it becomes an inwardly directed action rather than say, having a tantrum. I think it is similar to cats and dogs chewing their paws with anxiety.

                            It might be an accumulation over a period of time of a number of things - new younger sibling and then, the house move (which is enough to make anybody chew their fingers - I've done it 30 times (don't ask)).

                            Homoepathy can help ... and loads of TLC. At that age, she can be coaxed away from her little troubles.

                            Hope this is helpful.

                            Blessings
                            Judy

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                            • #15
                              Is she biting them compulsively until her fingertips are unhealthy, or just trimming her nails with her teeth?

                              I only bite my nails to trim them and have since childhood; if I see the tips of my nails turn color and get that rim of extra nail, I look at it like, "oooohh they look tasty" and can't not want to cut them off with my teeth.

                              I remember once my brother sleeping and his nails were long, and I saw his hand (we shared a room and our beds were next to each other) and I was fighting my impulse to bite his nails LOL.
                              "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

                              Jack london, "Before Adam"

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