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Sep 9rd

Back to school jitters?

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Summer is drawing to a close and soon it will be time for kids to go back to school and although my own kids can’t wait to hop on that bus and reconnect with friends, not all kids look forward to the experience. Separation anxiety, performance anxiety, shyness or learning challenges can all prevent a child from entering the academic environment with an open willingness to learn and thrive. Here are some tips for making this time a little easier for your reluctant Einstein.

 

Prepare ahead:  Don’t wait to the last second to prepare, taking a few weeks to prepare for the first day back can go a long way to making the transition smoother. Begin waking your child up and getting them dressed and fed by “school time” a couple of weeks before the end of holidays. This sets up the routine and establishes a soothing rhythm to the morning. Children find great comfort in knowing what to expect. Teachers go back to school long before the 1st week of September; make arrangements with your school to have your child visit the classroom and meet the teachers while the school is still empty and quiet, especially if they will be at a new school.  Make sure lunches are packed and cloths laid out the night before to free up time to be in the moment on back to school morning.

 

Make it special:  This is an exciting journey your child is embarking on, make it a special occasion by having a back to school breakfast! I always loved back to school because it meant new pencils and shoes. Keep it simple, there isn’t a need to invest a huge amount of money. Even a fresh eraser can make your little one feel special.

 

Keep it real: Set realistic expectations for your child. If they are shy telling them how many “new friends” they will have may create more anxiety. Acknowledge and honor where your child is and who they are. Support them in making attainable goals that they set themselves. Whether its overcoming a social setback or an academic one, let them set the pace and reward their achievements, again this can be as simple as praise.

 

Incorporate Relaxation- The night before any big event can throw even the most laid back of us into a tizzy. Make sure you encourage enough relaxation the night before school to ensure your little one gets enough sleep. A bath and a gentle massage before bed with some homemade massage oils can help sooth your little one. Bach flowers are an easy and gentle way to stimulate release of negative emotions and bring about a more calm and balanced state.

 

Homeopathy- There are many homeopathic remedies that can help children overcome difficulties at school, some of the more common ones are-

  • Separation anxiety and shyness- Calc carb, Bar carb, Sil, Puls, Ars
  • Performance anxiety and nervousness- Gels, Lyc, Agr-n, Nux-v, Nat-m
  • Fear- Bell, Stram, Phos, Cham, Calc

As always with homeopathy, it is best used under the guidance of a qualified Homeopath.

 

Want to learn more about how Natural therapies can help your child? Contact me to book a pediatric appointment or Bach flower consultation and start your child on their journey to leading a more vibrant life.

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Apr 4rd

Baby, kick that habit!

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I often get asked to weigh in on habitual behaviour in children and if there is anything that Homeopathy can do about it. Whether thumb sucking ear pulling, head banging or nail-biting parents are either annoyed, confused or seriously concerned by these repetitive and compulsive behaviours. Most children will exhibit one or more compulsions throughout childhood and most are benign and the child outgrows them on their own without any need for intervention. Other times the “habit” becomes ingrained and what was once cute can become problematic.

Annoying for sure, but are they harmful?

This largely depends on the behaviour and the reason behind it. Some negative consequences are obvious, such as bald spots for hair twirlers, crooked teeth for thumb suckers and the raggedy appearance of bitten nails. Beyond aesthetics some of these behaviours can also carry much more serious consequences, for example a child who constantly chews or sucks their fingers can easily pass bacteria and fungus between hand and mouth and cause systemic infection through the broken skin or mucus membrane.  The steady repetitive impact of head banging can alter intracranial pressure and cause misalignment of cranial bones. And beyond the financial burden of orthodontics, thumb suckers can alter their facial shape impacting not just their appearance but their ability to chew and long term implications of TMJ issues and migraines.

Why do they do it?

Habitual behaviour in children can have many causes, however for the child it all boils down to the fact that it feels good. Whether physical or emotional, all of these behaviours are some form of self-soothing and offer the child a measure of relief or comfort. In order to successfully help the child break the habit, it is first important to understand the reason they are doing it.

Comfort- Exploration through touch and oral stimulation help build the foundation for early child development.  It is so important that we are hardwired for it through biofeedback mechanisms in the form of hormones. The act of sucking releases endorphins (feel good hormones) which can relieve stress and help in relaxation and sleep. For many kids it just becomes a quick and fail proof way to feel better.  Other forms of stimulation such as nail biting and hair twirling can have a similar effect.

Offerings the child a soft toy or blanket to caress, leaving a nightlight on or cosleeping can all help introduce a calm sense of comfort. If the behaviour is happening at night, introducing a bedtime routine including lots of snuggle time and  a soothing bath can ensure they drift off to sleep more easily .

Stress- it is often hard for adults to come to terms with childhood stress. After all most of us look back upon the care-free days of childhood with nostalgic longing. However simple things like a change in family structure (divorce, new sibling) a move or even changing daycare or class can take their toll on a sensitive child. Children crave routine, ritual and predictability it helps them feel secure and safe knowing what will come next, when that predictability is challenged it causes stress and a feeling of lack of security. Given our hectic lives and the fact that most adults are dealing with an elevated level of stress, it’s no wonder children today are living with higher cortisol levels than ever before.

Identifying and addressing the cause of your child’s stress and anxiety is important not just for breaking a habit but also for their long term health.  Studies show that cortisol levels set in early childhood can follow us through into adulthood, meaning anxious children tend to grow up to be anxious adults.

Pain Relief- sometimes the behaviour can be a way for a child to relieve discomfort. Chronic ear infections can be relieved by ear pulling, teething pain by biting or finger sucking and even head banging can provide an analgesic effect for a child living with acute chronic pain. Another source of discomfort can be a little harder to pinpoint and that can be caused by misalignments of the cranial bones during the birth process. The constant intracranial pressure caused by these misalignments can be temporarily relieved by the opposing pressure created by sucking, biting, pulling or the pressure of a finger on the pallet.

How do we make it stop?

Better understanding what may be triggering the behaviour can help formulate a strategy for helping your child find alternate ways of soothing themselves and relieving stress.  When addressing these habitual behaviours the focus must remain in relieving the underlying cause rather than bribing the child or punishing the behaviour which is a symptom of their stress or discomfort.

There are many conventional tools that are often implemented, from bitter nail polish for nail biters, mittens and in extreme cases metal cages installed in the mouth that obstruct thumb sucking. All of these focus on the symptom and can end up making things worse by causing the child undue stress.

Natural alternatives.

Bach flowers Bach flower essences are a gentle and natural way of balancing emotions and soothing stress, fear and anxiety. Remedies such as Walnut & Chestnut bud can help ease transition and reduce repetitive behaviours. By supporting and re-balancing the emotions the need for the soothing behaviour is relieved and the habit becomes much easier to manage.   A personalized mix of flower essences can help meet your individualized needs and is a terrific adjunct to any behaviour modification system and can help ensure success.

HomeopathySometimes the cause is more deeply ingrained and part of a larger disharmony. Homeopathy is a gentle and deep acting treatment that helps to re-balance the body at all levels and takes into account all symptoms as part of a whole person approach.  An individually selected constitutional remedy can increase wellness and benefit the child on many levels.

Craniosacral therapy Craniosacral therapy is a gentle touch modality that can be used by people of all ages to correct misalignment, release tension and optimize circulation of the cerebral spinal fluid. The benefits of Craniosacral are two fold, not only to reduce stress and correct physical misalignments that may be contributing to the habit, but also to correct some of the damage caused by the behaviour before it develops into much more serious pathology.

What to learn more? Book your FREE 15 min appointment to learn how a holistic approach can help your child Kick the habit

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