Oftentimes, we autopilot to find solutions in the same ways that those who were around us while we were growing up did. If your family turned to Western medicine a lot, perhaps you do too. If your family was big into herbal medicine, perhaps that stuck with you.
For the vast majority of families here in the United States, Western medicine has been seen as a cure-all. I believe we are beginning to see the faults in this system. Many of us do not want to turn to prescription medications if there are other alternatives, and many of us now see the value in preventative medicine.
These same concepts apply to our children. There are wonderful, safe, small-dose herbal formulas to help children with focus, anxiety, sinus infections, the common cold, digestive upset and so much more. Seeing an herbalist will be an incredible tool to add to your toolbox for your children.
If you decide to add acupuncture and cupping to your child’s treatment, that is another layer to the healing process. Cupping can be incredibly relaxing and sedating for children. It helps to calm their nervous systems and also clear heat.
Children are pure yang in energy. You can see this by the way they are on the go all of the time, constantly taking in new information and oftentimes running around playing while red in the face. When they come down with something, their fevers tend to be higher than that of adults and their symptoms tend to come on stronger and leave faster. This is all yang energy.
Giving them the tools to work on balancing their yang is so important. Breathing and meditation techniques are incredible resources for teaching children to help calm themselves down in a moment of heightened emotions, and they can learn to take a moment to breathe before responding in this state. Working on breathwork is something children can work on in an acupuncture or cupping session. These techniques will also teach them to be more in tune with their own bodies and help them ask for what they need.
It is so important to teach children to be empowered and a part of their healing journeys. Their feelings are so important in the acupuncture realm, and they will get to practice saying what does and does not feel good to them. When I work with children, each needle we use is up to them. We talk about exactly what will happen and they tell me if anything feels uncomfortable. This helps them understand consent and learn to talk about what does and does not feel good to them.
Acupuncture and cupping also work on overall balance in the body. That is the same for both children and adults, and honestly, anyone can benefit from these practices to keep their bodies and minds in tip-top shape. Working with children to develop healthy lifestyle habits will help their transition into their teenage years and adulthood be so much easier. And they will have the experience of expanding their minds to the power of all different kinds of medicine — not solely Western medicine.
I highly recommend seeking an acupuncturist and herbalist for your kiddos! All of the kids I work with love cupping because (1) it feels good and (2) they think they look really cool with the cup marks on them. I agree, and I tell them those cup marks are a sign of them taking care of themselves.
If children are scared because of the needles, I find it helpful to let them know that we can always do acupressure and we will not use needles if they are not comfortable. In fact, there is a type of bodywork called tuina that encompasses acupressure and focuses on somatic release. It is a great introduction to acupuncture and something I use with clients of any age whom needles are not a good fit for. It is so important to build trust with children and go slow, making sure they know that they are in charge and it is their treatment, not the practitioner’s.
In summary, acupuncture, cupping and tuina for children are as much about empowerment and consent as they are restoring the body back to a state of balance. It is so important to expose children to different modalities of treatment for health and wellness and for them to know it is all for their well-being.
About the Author
Dr. Isabel Meijering is an acupuncturist in Austin and is the owner of Admiring You Wellness. She has her doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and specializes in cupping therapy, pain management, psycho-emotional support, menstruation support and allergies. She also has a B.S. in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology and has a deep love for both Eastern and Western medicine.