Holistic health care can start at the very beginning of life and continue for a life time. A child living with our without special needs can benefit from holistic health.
Here are 3 Holistic Tips for Healthier Children
1. CranioSacral Therapy
CranioSacral Therapy can begin when the child is a newborn to help align the bones and soft tissues in the body after just entering this world. CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on healing approach that aligns the cranial bones and structures of the body. The soft tissues are gentley held and begin to relax, allowing the body to realign and for the cerebrospinal fluid to flow more smoothly bathing the brain and spinal cord. Thus, it can enhance nervous system functioning.
CranioSacral can be effective with many conditions including, but not limited to chronic ear infections, colic, reflux and digestive disorders, A.D.D. and A.D.H.D., Autism Spectrum and Sensory Processing Disorders, abnormal muscle tone, seizures, strabismus, nystagmus and other Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/’Drug Babies’ with Withdrawal Syndrome, torticollis and plagiocephaly, learning difficulties, dyslexia, speech disorders, nursing difficulties, hearing problems, hydrocephalus, emotional problems, failure-to-thrive syndrome, incoordination, impaired immune system, Down Syndrome and gentic disorders.
It is also used as a preventative method to keep children healthy with regular appointments. There are other forms of bodywork that might also be helpful for the child such as massage, reflexology, or acupressure.
2. Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” – Dalai Lama
From a young age, children are naturally great meditators. They are present to the sensory world around them and take it all in. In time, the internal and external world of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations can become distracting. Meditation can assist to help them develop their awareness, be more resilient with thoughts and emotions, be more present, focused, increase love, compassion, and acceptance of themselves and others, and be more joyful, and peaceful.
Meditation is focused attention. There are many forms of meditation. Meditation can induce the relaxation response. Learning to calm, relax, and meditate is a life skill that can assist the child throughout their life. Children do experience stress although they may not always verbalize it as it may be evident in their behavior. There are also many forms of relaxation techniques. A great resource for children and teens is “Grab a Tiger by the Toe: How to Stress Proof Your Child” by Marilyn Wilcher, the senior director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
A simple way to teach children mindfulness is to have them sit, lie down, or engage in a walking meditation. Ring a bell, have them listen to the bell until they can no longer hear it ringing. You can expand this activity by ringing a bell, and having them pay attention to what they hear, smell, taste, how they feel, what they may see in their mind’s eye. After the bell has stopped ringing they can share with you or the group how that experience was for them and what they noticed. Over time, this can be practiced several times throughout the day or it can be practiced in longer increments, up to 5 – 10 minutes or more.
In time, you can teach them to observe their breath, body sensations, emotions, and thoughts with non-judgmental, loving, and compassionate awareness. If you are a parent, therapist, or educator it is best if you have your own meditation or relaxation practice to be more effective with helping children develop these skills.
Yoga can be very beneficial for children, and several studies have strong evidence to support it. Studies have shown that yoga can create better performance in academics, improve test scores, increase participation in class, improveme emotional response, dramatic decreases in violence and aggression, reduction in maladaptive behaviors, including irritability, lethargy, social withdrawal, hyperactivity and noncompliance, improves mood and decreases anxiety, increases self-esteem and self-confidence, decreases stress and increases self-control, contributes to healthier body image, regulates the nervous system by increasing body’s ability to respond to stress, increases parasympathetic activity (the relaxation response) and heart rate variability, builds physical strength, flexibility and balance.
Children can get started with yoga by learning from their parents who practice yoga, by attending a kid’s yoga class or attending a child and parent yoga class together. Some schools who have seen the benefits of yoga are incorporating it into the classes. Hopefully, there will be more. Simple practices such as having them focus on their breath or listening to or reciting a chant or prayer can have a calming effect.
The Leleche League International. Considering CranioSacral Therapy in Difficult Situations. Retrieved from http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvaugsep01p82.html
BentonLearning. BentonStudies Prove the Benefits of Yoga for Children. Retrieved from http://bentonlearning.org/research/?gclid=CKaK4tOhiMUCFReBaQodxwgAiQ
The Yoga Journal. Getting Children Started with Yoga. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/article/family/teach-children-well/
Pregnancy Birth and Beyond. CranioSacral Therapy for Babies & Children. Retrieved from http://www.pregnancy.com.au/parenting/baby-health/craniosacral-therapy-for-babies-and-children.shtml