By Janis D. Gioia, MAEd.
Ever wish you had a magic potion to instantly comfort anxious children?
Kristin Anderson does.
This mom and doula in Mantua, Ohio has found a way to capture calm in a bottle.
And it relaxes her daughters, ages 4 and 5, every single time.
Her secret: essential oils.
As Kristin says, “Both of my children are quite SPIRITED. The firstborn is very in tune with the world around her, very sensitive and emotional. My youngest has ADHD and sensory processing disorder. I use essential oils often to calm their hearts and minds and to help ground them.”
A former representative for an essential oils manufacturer, Kristin has studied them extensively, actively learning how plants and herbs support and heal the mind and body.
She uses essential oils with her daughters almost every day.
Essential oils help Kristin’s daughters relax, calm their anxieties and fall asleep at night.
“I have given my children their own roller bottles of “calm.” It’s a mix of doTerra’s Balance blend with almond oil.”
“My daughters can use it like perfume, putting it on their toes or wrists to smell and they instantly calm down. It’s like magic! The sleep blend, of lavender and roman chamomile is a very calming blend as well.
In addition to applying essential oils topically with a rollerball applicator, how else can you use essential oils with children?
According to the experts I consulted for this series (Izabella and Jeanine, both certified aromatherapists) the best ways to use essential oils with children are by inhalation and topical application.
Inhalation of Essential Oils
Diffusers are a great way to fill a room with the calming scent of essential oils.
There are many ways to diffuse:
Cold Air Diffusers
To learn more about diffusers visit Edens Garden.
Izabella says that for the best therapeutic benefit diffuse essential oils for no more than 30 minutes in a room with children.
After the diffusing is complete, have a rest period of at least 60 minutes.
Essential oil memory, Izabella cautions, results when you become used to the oil from overuse. Then it no longer has therapeutic benefits.
Diluting essential oils with water in a spray bottle provides a soothing, natural air freshener. Glass bottles work the best, but plastic is the safest for use by a child.
Topical Application of Essential Oils
You can apply essential oils to your child as part of a massage or give them a roller bottle with an essential oil mix to use with your supervision.
Follow the guidelines from Jeanine in my last post.
Roller Bottles (Roll-ons)
Most essential oil companies have roll-on blends that are designed especially for children. Edens Garden has a great collection for kids.
Izabella recommends making a roll-on of one or two of your child’s favorite oils, that they can apply to their pulse points as needed.
Izabella’s recipe for a Calming Roll-On:
10 ml roll-on bottle
2 drops of Mandarin
2 drops of Vanilla
2 drops of Silver Fir
Fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil of your choice.
Which oils are the best for comforting anxious children?
Citrus or Sweet Orange (Numerous international research studies indicate smelling citrus oils reduces anxiety and helps with depression.)
Lavender (Lavender’s calming effects on patients with illnesses, anxiety and depression have been well-documented.)
Ways to use essential oils to calm anxious children
“Diffusing essential oils daily in the home can create a peaceful calm space,” Jeanine says.
Izabella adds, “It’s one of the easiest methods, and requires simply adding the diffuser manufacturer’s recommended amount of drops of essential oil (usually 10 drops) and turning the diffuser on for 15-20 minutes.”
Izabella recommends telling your child what oil you are diffusing and what it’s for.
“My children find it very empowering to know that they can calm themselves down,” confirms Kristin.
“My girls recently both had surgery and I put essential oils on them before the surgery and on their stuffed animals, and they were so calm and focused, never out of control at all.”
If essential oils can comfort children a stressful environment, like a hospital before surgery, just imagine how they can help your child at home.“Essential oils are wonderful and give children a sense of comfort and home,” Kristin says.
Another way to use essential oils throughout the day is to give your child a spray bottle blend of essential oils that they can use on themselves, in their rooms or on their sheets.
Izabella recommends giving the spray a fun name like Happy Spray or Make Bad Feelings Go Away Spray. Allow them to smell it first to confirm they like it.
Izabella’s Recipe for Happy Spray:
2 oz. distilled water
1 Tbsp. of grain alcohol
6 drops of Lavender
6 drops of Mandarin
Shake vigorously and test by spraying it on an inconspicuous area of fabric prior to full use.
And, as always, supervise your child.
Encourage children to use Happy Spray or Make Bad Feelings Go Away Spray after school, at transition times, or whenever their energy is low and anxiety and negative emotions are high.
Depending on your child’s age, you can also give them essential oil diffuser necklaces or personal inhalers. This way they can take their favorite essential oils with them wherever they go.
“An inhaler,” Izabella says, “is a tube with a cotton pad or fabric that your drop essential oils into. You can take the personal inhaler out and have the child do deep breathing exercises while inhaling it to reduce stress.”
Calming Transition Times:
Essential oils work wonders on helping your child self-regulate and manage negative emotions like anxiety and anger. Using essential oils to help your child calm down before behaviors escalate into tantrums or anxiety attacks is as easy as providing their favorite scent in a spray, roll-on or inhaler.
Applying a few drops of essential oil to a weighted blanket or weighted lap pad adds another dimension of calm.
The Warm Buddy Company makes a warming blanket that I use as a weighted lap pad when I write. It’s microwavable, and the soothing heat lasts. Sometimes I add a few drops of citrus and vanilla oil to the blanket. It’s gentle weight, warm heat and the fragrance of soothing oils is a perfect anxiety-relieving combination, and one I’m sure most children would love.
Using a therapy dough product like PinchMe Therapy Dough, which is infused with a variety of soothing essential oils, is another way to use essential oils to help your child calm down.
I used dough quite often in my classroom. PinchMe Therapy Dough has the softest, most buttery texture and so many calming scents like Citrus, Spa, Ocean and Sun. It’s the best dough product on the market, in my opinion.
Squeezing dough has many therapeutic benefits for calming children and adults. It’s used in occupational therapy, counseling practices and in homes and classrooms everywhere. Dough with essential oil is hard to resist, and perfect for helping children calm down.
There are so many ways to use essential oils with children in the evening.
Jeanine suggests that “adding essential oils to the bath can make it a more joyful experience. Mix the oils in with some liquid soap and blend it into the tub water.
Give your child a tuck-in massage with essential oil.
“At bedtime, applying a little essential oils on a child’s chest or neck goes a long way for restful sleep,” Izabella recommends.
That’s what Kristin does, gently rubbing a blend of lavender, roman chamomile and almond oil on her daughters’ feet and behind their ears just before bed.
(Always make sure you dilute the essential oil with your favorite carrier oil.)
And if your little ones have night time fears, give them an essential oil spray bottle to spray the monsters away.
A few drops of essential oil on your child’s favorite stuffed animal helps them fall asleep faster in a more relaxed state.
The Warm Buddy Company makes adorable, high-quality stuffed animals with removable heat packs. Adding a few drops of your child’s favorite essential oil to the animal (not the heat pack) makes it even more soothing.
Imagine how comforted your child would feel snuggled up next to a warm vanilla teddy bear or a mandarin-scented moose.
Ways to use essential oils in your classroom or professional space
Essential oils bring calm to public spaces like classrooms and professional spaces.
Using them in public spaces, however, requires sensitivity and sometimes permission.
I used essential oils with reed diffusers in my classroom. Kid friendly oils, like vanilla, silver fir and citrus created a soothing classroom space that, while no formal research was done, translated into less anxious and more focused students.
To use essential oils in my classroom I needed the permission of my building administrator and my student’s parents/guardians.
With permission granted, and no children with allergies to these oils, I used essential oils each day in my resource room.
Izabella cautions that to use essential oils in a professional space, like a doctor’s office or an occupational therapy practice, always get patient’s permission first.
Essential oils create a calming atmosphere that relaxes children for medical and dental appointments, counseling or occupational therapy.
The next article in this series explores ways to use essential oils to create calming rituals for children. Come back soon or sign up (below) to receive notifications on new posts and to receive a copy of CAC’s free guide with ideas on how to Comfort Your Anxious Child.
(Many thanks to Jeanine Nielsen RA®EOT®, of True Aromatherapy and Spa in British Columbia, and Izabella Martinez, a certified aromatherapist at Edens Garden. Their expertise on essential oils has been invaluable for this article.)
Comforting Anxious Children cannot provide medical/safety advice on the use of essential oils for your child. If you have questions regarding the safety of essential oils for use with your child consult with your child’s pediatrician and a licensed aromatherapist. Comforting Anxious Children provides educational articles for parents and professionals and does not give medical advice. Do not use this site or advice within the site to self-diagnose yourself or your child. Consult with your child’s healthcare professionals if you have any concerns about your child’s physical or mental health.