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A Comprehensive Approach to Alleviating Fight or Flight Stress in Children


As a dedicated pediatric chiropractic office, us here at Experience Life Chiropractic have seen the struggles that so many kids face – battles against unresolved  anxiety, poor sleep, low immunity, and inflammation, even after you parents tirelessly work to support your children however you can. As these struggles seep into behavior, parents notice more frequent meltdowns and an inability to self-calm or regulate. These persistent challenges may be indicative of a constant activated stress response causing struggles for their delicate nervous systems.

“Fight or flight” mode is a cascade of stress hormones that disrupt vital processes like digestion, immunity, and development. As kids get stuck in this space the restorative parasympathetic “rest and digest” activation becomes suppressed, spiraling into a relentless cycle known as the “Perfect Storm.”

If you are watching your kid, stuck in this “Perfect Storm” of symptoms, you are most likely feeling helpless and in a constant pursuit of solutions – rest assured you are not alone. So many parents today find themselves in a similar situation. The knowledge and understanding of how these challenges link to the nervous system is so crucial in the path towards better health for your child.

How Kids Get Stuck in a Fight or Flight Stress Response:

Your child’s nervous system, like a switch, goes between active and relaxed modes. When there’s a short-term danger, it goes into “fight or flight” mode. But problems happen when the stress reaction stays for too long.

The Vagus Nerve’s Function

At the core of nervous system regulation lies the vagus nerve, overseeing the activation of the body’s “rest, digest, and regulate”parasympathetic nervous system. This pivotal nerve controls functions such as digestion, breathing, heart rate, and inflammation, prioritizing restoration. Additionally, the vagus nerve is indispensable for social and emotional regulation, speech, and various other processes.

Reduced vagal tone confines your child in a perpetual fight-or-flight state, resulting in a condition known as dysautonomia. This imbalance in the autonomic nervous system can subsequently give rise to a range of persistent health issues in children.

What Getting Stuck in Fight or Flight Looks Like in Kids

Here are signs that your child may be stuck in fight or flight mode:

  • Heightened baseline anxiety, worry, and panic responses
  • Frequent emotional meltdowns and outbursts
  • Disrupted sleep and nightmares
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Increased food sensitivities and allergies
  • New onset headaches or body aches
  • Overreaction to minor frustrations
  • Poor focus and concentration troubles
  • Frequent illnesses and decreased immunity
  • Persistent fatigue or hyperactivity

When your child’s nervous system gets overloaded and stuck, churning out stress chemicals, it turns into a range of symptoms that can disrupt health and development. Leading to:

  • Anxiety and Mood Changes
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges
  • Physical Hurdles (including): Headaches, body tension, abdominal pain, low energy, and immune weakness
  • Growth and Development Delays

How to Get Our Kids Out of Fight or Flight Long Term

Parents, you wield significant influence in fostering your child’s well-being at home. Incorporating daily breathing exercises can contribute to the relaxation response, and gentle activities like yoga help with processing cortisol. Prioritizing optimal nutrition and considering natural supplements for inflammation modulation can help replenish drained reserves. Emphasizing restorative sleep is crucial for overall holistic health.

Yet, despite these efforts, some parents find themselves at a loss when attempting to help their child learn to calm, regulate, and balance their emotions and nervous system. 

In cases where the nervous system appears stuck in fight or flight, the pivotal initial step is Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care. 

These adjustments target vagus nerve stimulation and release pent-up stress within the sympathetic nervous system, proving more impactful than traditional methods.

As adjustments work towards restoring improved sleep patterns and enhancing neurological health for your child, you can then introduce breathing exercises, calming activities, and nutritional programs. 

So, if your child exhibits symptoms associated with a persistently activated fight-or-flight nervous system, and conventional approaches have proven ineffective, addressing nervous system dysregulation and subluxation may be the missing link.

Feel free to reach out to Experience Life Chiropractic today. If you are not local to us, explore our PX Docs directory to find a nearby office. We aim to empower you in guiding your child toward a healthier, more balanced life.

1 Join the Conversation

  1. kalila says
    Apr 05, 2024 at 12:49 PM

    my son was getting this problem when take of flight on plane

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