As a pediatric acupuncturist, I work with many teens and tweens struggling with anxiety. The National Institute of Mental Health has found that almost a third of adolescents deal with some form of anxiety. As parents, nannies, healers, and caregivers, there are a number of ways that we can help to provide support.

Home Tips for Calming and Sleeping

Children have many of the same difficulties that adults do when it comes to calming down and sleeping properly. In fact, many of the sleep hygiene tips that you may have used for your infant or for yourself are also supportive for older children, including low and soft lighting, quiet calming music, removal of electronic devices, relaxing herbal teas such as chamomile and valerian, and soothing scents such as lavender, bergamot, and vetiver. These are tools that the whole family can use together.

If your child is open to taking an evening bath with Epsom salts, the heat and magnesium will ease tight muscles and support relaxation. If you have a nanny, you might ask him or her to draw a bath after your child gets home from school. Giving your child a shoulder rub or light massage in the evening can also provide a much-needed sense of calm.

If your child has trouble sleeping through the night, you may find that a weighted blanket provides the security needed for your child to let go. Some children also benefit from having white noise or nature sounds playing in the bedroom. I recommend a speaker system that is not directly next to the bed and does not rely on your child having a phone nearby while sleeping.

Ongoing Anxiety Management 

For teens and tweens struggling with overthinking, excess fears, and significant anxiety during the daytime, I typically recommend a combination of behavioral/mindset therapy and somatic work. Parents may want to interview several practitioners to find the right balance for their children.

The teens and tweens I work with have benefited from hypnotherapy, mindset coaching, and cognitive behavioral therapy to redirect the mental patterns related to anxiety. These therapists can help teens and tweens identify their specific triggers for anxieties and fears and develop healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations. 

I also recommend a form of body therapy to help the child’s nervous system get out of “fight or flight” mode into “rest and digest” mode — the physical state associated with calmness. I get fantastic results using a combination of acupressure and Chinese herbal medicine. Children with anxiety will also benefit from pediatric massage, osteopathy, and/or craniosacral massage. I typically recommend that the child see one behavioral/mindset therapist and one somatic therapist for a period of several months to allow the anxious adolescent’s body and mind time to adjust to less anxious behavior.

It can be difficult for the whole family when anxiety is present. However, a combination of the above tips and therapies can truly make a huge difference in a child’s ability to handle life, in ways that will persist as they grow older. Change is possible – enabling healthier and happier families and easier parenting.

About the Author:

Janet Thomson provides pediatric and adult acupuncture in Oakland, CA. With a background in neuroscience and training in Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and shonishin (a style of acupressure treatment specifically for children), she helps kids and adults with digestive and immune concerns, women’s health issues, and emotional and behavioral issues such as stress, anxiety, fears, ADHD, autism, and more. You can learn more about her practice at, or contact her directly at or 415-652-4096.