Where does your hope come from? If it comes from health, finances, or something else you can't control that will lead to anxiety. -Dr. Wiggy Saunders

112: How Anxiety in Kids is Causing Attention Problems at School with Dr. Wiggy Saunders

We know that anxiety is affecting both kids and adults at alarming rates, both during the pandemic but also before that (and surely after!).

We’ve discussed anxiety busters before on The Healthy Parenting Connector, and today we’re completing the trifecta of experts with an MD who practices integrative medicine (we’ve already hosted a family therapist and a pediatric psychologist).

Dr. Wiggy Saunders joins me to dive into anxiety once again because we can’t give parents enough strategies to help their kids (and themselves) dig out of their anxious lives. We’re focusing specifically on how anxiety is affecting kids’ school performance.

Your mind will be blown with how closely anxiety and focus/attention are connected, and how certain strategies may help reduce your kids’ struggles in both areas!

We’ll talk about:

  • Dr. Wiggy’s favorite Bible verse
  • How different types of anxiety can escalate one to the other
  • The impact of parental anxiety on our kids
  • The role of adrenals in stress and how to support them with the nutrients they’re consuming like a ravenous teenager
  • What magnesium in particular “says” to the adrenals to calm them down, and how that may impact kids’ school performance
  • The 4 vitamins and minerals most important to boost your immune system
YouTube video

Can’t see the video? Watch this interview about anxiety in kids on YouTube.

No time for the video? Here are the notes!

Anxiety in Kids Video Time Stamps

As always, none of this is personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

  • 0:22: Today on the Healthy Parenting Connector I’m talking with Dr. Wiggy Saunders, MD about how anxiety in kids affects their attention and performance in school.
  • 2:51: We’ve had other experts on the show to talk about anxiety before. (See a list of links below.) We know that anxiety is rising in children at alarming rates.
  • 4:27: We start with something we haven’t touched on before: breaking down some different types of anxiety: situational anxiety, general anxiety, and panic attacks.

Why Are Kids so Anxious?

  • 7:28: Some of the common triggers for anxiety in kids are school, popularity with friends, performance in sports, and parental expectations. COVID has brought an additional layer of stress that is overwhelming our children’s ability to process stress.
  • 9:40: When adults are under increased stress and exhibiting more anxiety it trickles down to the kids. It’s important to address the family when helping a child with anxiety.
  •  12:11: Recognizing that you are not in control and letting go is a good step towards lowering anxiety.
  • 12:49: Anxiety and focus both have connections with neurotransmitters, brain chemistry, and endocrine function. There isn’t always a direct correlation, but when a child suffers from both anxiety and attention difficulties they’re often connected.

Natural Help for Kids with Anxiety

  • 15:58: There are natural ways to boost adrenal function which can help balance out stress hormones and micronutrients. Magnesium is one of the top minerals to look at in someone with high stress or anxiety.

Magnesium tells the adrenals "We can calm down now." -Dr. Wiggy Saunders, MD

  • 19:49: Dr. Wiggy shares some of the health benefits of magnesium and who is deficient.
  • 21:02: There are several types of magnesium and you want to get one that’s highly absorbable if you’re taking it for brain function.
  • 22:40: Right now getting sick is one of the primary concerns for families. We talk about supporting the immune system.

Supplements for Immune Support and Focus

  • 23:45: The most important vitamins and minerals for immune support for both kids and adults are: vitamin d, vitamin K2 (taken with D), vitamin C, and zinc.
  • 24:39: Raise Them Well is coming out with a new product that includes those four ingredients that’s formulated for kids.

Stay safe in the sun, with reef-safe sunscreens

Over the last decade+, I’ve personally tested over 120 natural mineral sunscreens, my standards are very high, and nothing I recommend is considered dangerous to coral reefs.

My top recommended tier with only around a dozen winners is where you really should be spending your time. These formulas are held to the highest standard with rigorous government testing.

Ingredients refined to perfection that most of the time you could practically eat and efficacy and performance tested by the Kimball family in the field.

Find all my reviews of safe sunscreen that works here!

raw elements sunscreen

If you’re looking for the best reef-safe sunscreen, simply start there. Here’s a list of some of my ultimate favorites.

  • Kōkua Suncare with tons of antioxidants and my kids’ favorite scent and application
  • 3rd Rock Essentials rubs in well and reliably prevents burns in our tests (use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!)
  • Raw Elements for so many reasons, including their tinted stick for adult faces (all styles, use KS10 for 10% off!)
  • Maelove, which I call the best “transition” sunscreen when moving away from chemical ‘screens
  • Others that make the top-recommended cut: Badger, ThinkBaby, Kabana

If you’re worried about the white cast on your skin from zinc oxide sunscreen, check out my video on how to apply mineral sunscreen correctly to minimize it.

  • 26:12: Another product that my kids love is Mag-Focus. It uses magnesium and vitamin B6. multiple studies show that taking these two together improves focus and concentration.
  • 28:24: We end with one quick win you can do today!

Resources We Mentioned for Anxiety in Kids

Dr. Wiggy SaundersWeston “Wiggy” Saunders, MD is an Integrative Medicine Physician in Winston-Salem, North Carolina who specializes in hypothyroidism and other complex medical conditions. He is board-certified in Family Medicine and practices Integrative Medicine. He has helped thousands of patients regain health through an integrative, holistic approach.

Dr. Wiggy’s desire to help people lead healthier, fuller lives is grounded in his acceptance of and faith in Jesus Christ. Strong Christian principles guide every step of his life, from his relationship with his wife and family to the care and treatment of his patients.

1 Corinthians 16:13-24: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” his favorite biblical scripture, calls him to daily live his Christian faith by doing all things “in love”, and serving the Lord through his medical skills. He feels blessed to be able to give to others by helping his patients feel better and live happier, more productive lives.

He and his wife, Emily, co-founded Raise Them Well to help parents like themselves with innovative, toxic-free, and convenient vitamins, minerals, and personal care products for kids.

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to the Healthy Parenting Handbook Newsletter

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2. Try a Free Preview of My Cooking Class for Kids

Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.

3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

Enroll now in the Wall Street Journal’s #1 recommended online cooking class for kids (also rated 5 stars on Facebook). See what fits your family best HERE.

About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship®, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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