As one of our most abundant and important natural resources, water provides so many benefits including improving our health and happiness. By simply drinking enough water throughout the day, children can minimize uncomfortable feelings of stress and anxiety.
How Water Helps
Water plays such an important role in how our body functions. All of our organs, including our brain, need water to work properly. If we’re dehydrated, our body is strained and we can become stressed and edgy. Dehydration can actually cause symptoms that feel like anxiety, such as dizziness, muscle fatigue, headache, feeling faint, increased heart rate, and nausea.
Dehydration has also been linked to higher cortisol levels. According to the Calm Clinic, water appears to have natural calming properties. Drinking water can be soothing, and our body can benefit from the added hydration when we are stressed.
According to Barry Joe McDonagh, creator of the anxiety treatment program Panic Away and author of the book DARE, dehydration can contribute to anxiety and nervousness. He explains, “Nearly every function of the body is monitored and pegged to the efficient flow of water through our system. Water transports hormones, chemical messengers, and nutrients to vital organs of the body. When we don’t keep our bodies well hydrated, they may react with a variety of signals… some of which are symptoms, of anxiety.”
How To Get Your Children To Drink More Water
Some children refuse to drink water because they think it’s so plain and boring, but it’s crucial that we encourage our children to drink enough water every day to help them stay calm and balanced. The amount of water a child needs depends on several factors like their age, weight, gender, overall health, and activity level. Even the local weather–temperature and humidity–can play a role. In general, children should drink at least six to eight cups of water every day.
Your children will probably need more water if they are active and playing sports. Before, during, and after any physical activity, kids should drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. The goal is to drink a half cup to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising. For specific recommendations, see the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Depending on how picky your children are, you may need to get creative in order to convince them to drink more water. Here are some tips to increase their water intake on a daily basis:
- Make it accessible by installing a water refill station in your home. This way, every time they walk by it they will remember to grab another refreshing glass of water.
- Bring reusable water bottles wherever you go. Be sure to pack a water bottle in their lunch box so they can refill it and use it throughout their school day.
- Add flavor and color by infusing water with fruit. You can do this easily by adding berries, watermelon, pineapple, cucumbers, lemons, or limes. Lemon water, in particular, has so many health benefits. In fact, lemons have been found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, and help us feel calmer overall.
- Make it a frozen treat by using frozen fruit in place of ice cubes or freezing ice cube trays with berries in them to add to their cups. Children always love a delicious popsicle or snow cone!
- Buy special cups with your children’s favorite characters on them and try using reusable straws to give them a more enjoyable drinking experience.
- Try some fizz by offering carbonated water with no caffeine or sugar to older children.
- Be a good role model. Carry your own water bottle with you on the go and drink lots of water at home. The more your child sees you drinking water, the more likely they are to ask for it.
How do you get your children to drink more water to feel calmer?