Helping Children Manage Headaches

How To Help Your Child Cope With A Headache

Children and teens are prone to headaches, just as adults are. This can be frustrating for a parent who wants to help their child manage the pain, but is not sure how. Approximately 15% of children experience headaches on a regular basis, and 5% suffer from migraine headaches. These headaches can be difficult to handle and can also be difficult to understand when you are young.

Helping Children Manage Headaches


Fortunately, very few headaches are the result of a serious disease. Most headaches are due to tension, resulting from stress, lack of sleep, environmental, or food-related triggers. These occur regularly, but not necessarily frequently.

Chronic headaches, however, happen much more frequently. If a child has previously only experienced headaches, but they begin to come on more often, they are then considered chronic headaches that should be treated.

Your child likely experiences stress due to pressure to succeed in school, which may lead to a headache. Up to 4% of children begin to have their first headaches prior to elementary school, but they may not know how to describe the pain. If a child has been inexplicably irritable, consider providing a treatment for headaches. The more parents know about headaches in children, including their triggers, prevention, symptoms, and treatments, the easier it will be for parents to help.

Healing Techniques

Sometimes children do not need to take any medication to help treat their headache. Non-medication treatments such as water, meditation, and the ability to relax, can provide enough benefits.

When a child has a headache, he or she should be allowed to relax, rest, and possibly sleep in a quiet are that is dark and cool. Elevate your child’s head on a pillow and give your child water and a cool compress for their head. Hydration and cooling down the body are both important for headache relief.

Avoiding triggers and a regular schedule are important preventive measures for headaches in children. Help your child keep a diary of when headaches occur to try to figure out what the potential triggers are.

Managing stress by doing meditation and techniques to relax can be helpful during a headache to help alleviate the pain. Daily exercise is also important in headache management, as it helps to relieve stress.

Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises are great for children to learn. This helps to calm the nerves and allows the child to focus on their breath. Progressive muscle relaxation is also very helpful. In this relaxation technique, your child will focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each of their muscles, one at a time. This helps the child focus on the separation between tensed muscles and relaxed muscles. This helps with a more keen identity of physical sensations. Start by tensing and then relaxing the toes, and progressively work your way up the body. Tense the muscles for five seconds before relaxing for 30 seconds and repeating.

Visualization is another relaxation technique, which requires your child to form positive mental images that take them on a peaceful visual journey. During visualization, help your child use as many senses as possible, including smell, sound, sight, and touch. If your child loves the ocean, have him or her think about the smell of the sand and salt water, the sound of the waves and the heat of the sun. This will let your child take their mind off of the headache.

Most headaches will respond will to rest and relaxation. Teach your child some of these techniques so they can manage their headaches and not allow the headaches to affect their mood or normal activities.