A few weeks ago, I recorded a one hour webinar for the Singing Dragon library entitled ‘Why do children become ill?’ Chinese Medicine has so much to offer on this topic, at a time when levels of chronic physical illness and mental/emotional illness in children are escalating. Until the end of October, you can purchase the webinar with a 25% discount, by entering the code AWS25 at the checkout. Please go to http://library.singingdragon.com to purchase it.
Discount code for ‘Why do children become ill?’ webinar
Last week, I took part in a live webinar with Julian Scott and Robin Green where we discussed some of the impacts of Covid on the mental health of children. We covered the different way children have responded from a 5 Element perspective, how to support them as they return to the clinic, the use of Bach Flower Remedies and how to support families via Telehealth. Please follow this link for access to the replay: https://www.treatingchildren.com/store/Qh72sYM4
This is a big question which Chinese Medicine has more answers to than any other system of medicine I know. Please join me tomorrow (thursday) at 8pm for this free, one hour webinar, hosted by Singing Dragon where I discuss what makes children ill. To register, go to Singing Dragon’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/SingingDragon. I will be answering questions during the live event tomorrow evening. The recorded version will be available to purchase afterwards. I hope to see you there!
Paediatric masterclass: addressing the emotional needs of children according to the 5 personality types
Last week, Julian Scott, Robin Ray Green and I did a short, free webinar where we chatted about the impact on children of Covid 19 and how our society has responded to it. This Tuesday, we are doing a deep dive into how the 5 personality types have responded differently, and how to help each type when they come back to clinic. To register, please follow the link below. https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/4015966248079/WN_wQclmDrLSCav3NKXUKxXAg
At 9pm BST today, I will be doing the first in a series of 3 informal Q & A sessions with Healthy Seminars entitled – What I wish I had included in my Book. This evenings session will focus on treating teenagers. There will be another on 10th September focussing on shonishin and the final one will be on 24th September focussing on eczema. These sessions are all free – please sign up following the link below. I hope to see you there!
Free webinar next week: Dealing with the emotional damage to children: the forgotten victims of Covid 19
Since going back to practice after lockdown, I have become acutely aware of the enormous impact on children of the Covid 19 pandemic and the world’s response to it. Although children are some of the least vulnerable to the physical affects of the virus, many have suffered a lot emotionally and psychologically. Next Tuesday, I am taking part in a live webinar, along with fellow paediatric acupuncturists Julian Scott and Robin Ray Green. We will be discussing how the last few months have impacted children from a Chinese medicine perspective, and what we can do to help. Please click here to sign up.
I was really excited to be invited as a guest on Michael Max’s wonderful Qiological podcast. We had a really wide ranging and interesting discussion on all things adolescent – from the Chinese Medicine view of puberty, to the challenges of being a teen and to working with teenagers in the treatment room. We also focussed on possible reasons for the increase in mental/emotional health problems in teens today. Please do have a listen and share with anybody else who might be interested.
Net of Knowledge have put together a fantastic resource for practitioners during lockdown. They have organised a free webinar a day throughout April. I am delighted to be giving one of them on Wednesday 15th April, entitled Supporting Teenagers During An Extraordinary Time. Please click on the link to register:
Many parents have told me recently that their babies and children are not sleeping as well as usual. This might be due to a combination of heightened anxiety in the household due to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, the longer days and the rising yang qi which is resonant of the arrival of spring.
There are as many reasons why babies and children do not sleep well as there are suggestions of how to get them to sleep better. However, these simple, easy-to-learn massages can be used on babies and children of all ages, whatever the cause of their bad sleep. They derive from a system of medical massage called paediatric tui na (xiao er tui na) which has been used in China for approximately 1200 years.
Please click on the link below to learn how to do the massages.
There are as many different reasons why babies and toddlers don’t sleep as there are approaches to help them to sleep better. I have seen parents losing their minds trying to work out why their baby sleeps well one night and not the next. I have seen strong, capable and calm mothers and fathers cry in desperation at yet another broken night. Theories abound as to why a particular infant is not sleeping – they are too hot, too cold, teething, don’t like the dark, slept too much in the day, didn’t sleep enough in the day…. However, one thing rarely gets mentioned, and that is the link between sleep and the digestive system.
When a baby is born, their digestive system goes from being completely dormant (in the womb the baby receives all its food via the umbilical cord) to working overtime. Babies usually double their birth weight in the first five or so months of life. In order to do this, they need to ingest and digest an enormous number of calories. Assuming their basic needs are being met, how a baby manages this task dictates more than anything else how they will feel. If their digestive system is working well, they are likely be happy and settled. If it is not, they are likely to be grouchy and unsettled.
One of the most common ways for things to go awry, is for food (which includes breast milk) to accumulate somewhere in the baby’s digestive tract. In Chinese Medicine paediatrics, this is known as Accumulation Disorder. The baby or toddler simply does not have enough digestive qi to keep the food moving through, so it lingers around and festers. When this happens, the food starts to ferment and generates extra heat in the body. This heat rises up and affects the shen, which is often translated as ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ and which governs the ability to sleep.
In adults, the equivalent is what I call ‘Great Uncle John on Christmas Day syndrome’. After eating an enormous meal, much of it rich, heavy food, not moving around and with some heightened emotions added into the mix too (family all together having not seen each other all year), Great Uncle John will start burping, farting and becoming irritable, and will often not sleep well that night. He may complain of gripey pains in his stomach and feel much better after he’s taken some antacids and then had a good evacuation of his bowels. This is similar to how a baby or toddler with Accumulation Disorder feels. Unlike Great Uncle John however, due to his immature digestive system, an infant is prone to this on a daily basis, not just Christmas day.
In order to minimise the chances of Accumulation Disorder developing, there are a few general dietary guidelines that should be followed:
- The baby/toddler should have gaps between feeds and/or meals, even when solely breastfed. This is to make sure they have fully digested one feed without running the risk of ‘overloading’ their system with the next. Every child is different, but a rough guideline is to allow 2 hours minimum between the end of one feed and the start of the next.
- The baby/toddler should not eat too many raw, rich, heavy or greasy foods. They will be better able to digest foods that have been cooked, such as rice congee. This is so that the first part of the digestive process has been done for them, during the cooking process, and their immature digestive systems do not have to work quite so hard.
- Some kids have eyes that are bigger than their stomachs! While it goes against most people’s instincts to limit what a baby eats, some robust types do not know when to stop (to read more about this, take a look 'Is your toddler a robust or sensitive type?). This means they cannot process the amount of food they take in, and their system becomes clogged up. So making sure the child does not over-eat will lessen the chances of Accumulation Disorder developing.
- Try to ensure that the baby or toddler is as relaxed as possible when they are feeding or eating, and that the environment is calm. In Chinese medicine, we talk about good digestion needing the ‘smooth flow of qi’ to the stomach and intestines. Being relaxed helps this.
The Chinese have a saying that goes ‘if the stomach is not harmonised, sleep will not be restful’. Of course, there can be other reasons for poor sleep, but this is one that should be considered and is often ignored. Look out for more blogposts on sleep in babies, children and teenagers!