Serotonin – helping kids lead happier lives

Serotonin - Wild Kind Compassionate Playschool

What is serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in your brain, blood, and digestive system. It ships feel-good messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s often nicknamed the “happy hormone” or “happy chemical.”

It’s also a regulator, so serotonin can be thanked for good moods – and somewhat blamed for bad moods!

“It’s a molecule involved in helping people cope with adversity… to keep going and try to sort everything out,” says Philip J. Cowen, serotonin expert at Oxford University and the Medical Research Council.

Serotonin also puts a brake on the excitement and sometimes recklessness that dopamine can produce. When the overall brain chemical system is working well, these chemicals interact to balance out extreme behaviours.

How does it help children in their development?

  • Promotes learning and memory
  • Essential for motor skills and cognitive functioning
  • Promotes positive feelings and pro-social behaviour
  • Helps regulate appetite
  • Helps good sleep (by helping regulating circadian rhythms)
  • Regulates blood pressure, heart rate, and the digestion system.

Low levels might cause:

  • Irritability, anxiousness, feelings of depression
  • Sleep issues or fatigue
  • Nausea and digestive issues
  • Cravings for sweet or carbohydrate-rich foods
  • Decreased appetite

Natural ways to increase serotonin in kids:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting the blood pumping with aerobic exercise
  • Massage
  • Reminiscing about happy memories


A diet of tryptophan-rich foods paired with carbs can increase serotonin levels over time. Here are some foods we recommend increasing/adding to your child’s diet:

  • Pineapple
  • Bananas (The National Sleep Foundation recommends eating half a banana 1 hour before bedtime because of the fruit’s tryptophan content)
  • Tofu (the best serotonin-boosting food for vegans and vegetarians)
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Milk and cheese

Interested in finding our more about other neurotransmitters? Investigate our blogs on Dopamine and Oxytocin. Next week we’ll be looking at endorphins!

You can contact us if you’d like further information on enrolling your child at Wild.Kind.

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