Nurturing the Young is a blog for parents who want to raise physically healthy and emotionally robust children. It is informed by the principles and practice of Chinese medicine. It explores what application this has to 21st century Western childhoods and, where relevant, backs it up with modern research and science. It is not prescriptive but puts forward considerations and, I hope, will inspire reflection.
This blog emerged out of my clinical work as a paediatric acupuncturist over the last 20 years. Time and time again, I have seen children become ill as a result of a particular aspect of their daily life, which is considered ‘normal’ in our 21st century, western society but which Chinese medicine deems to be detrimental. Sometimes just a small change can produce dramatic effects. For example:
- the 11 year old boy whose debilitating stomach cramps of the last 8 years went away when he stopped eating ice cream every night (he had a ‘cold’ digestive system)
- the 8 year old girl with alopecia whose hair began to grow back when she reduced her many activities and started sleeping more (she was a ‘deficient’ child who simply needed more rest to regain her health)
- the 7 year old boy diagnosed with ADHD who was able to be calm and concentrate in lessons if he was allowed to run around for a few minutes between lessons (he had ‘stagnation’ in his system which receded if he was allowed more opportunities for movement)
- the 1 year old girl whose almost constant screaming perplexed doctors, who became settled and happy when her parents were able to resolve the extreme tensions in their relationship (she illustrated the Chinese medicine principle that babies and children ‘absorb’ the emotions of those they live with)
Those of us in the developed world are extremely fortunate to have access to modern medicine, which both saves lives and reduces suffering in cases of serious illness. At the same time, we seem to have a generation of children, many of whom are suffering from chronic health problems or are not thriving physically, mentally or emotionally. These children and their parents can benefit enormously from the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. Many of its concepts are, on the surface, simple. Yet the more one explores them, the more apparent it becomes just how profound and relevant they are.
It is my hope that parents will experience this blog as supportive. It puts forward some thoughts and ideas, some of which will resonate and some of which will not. Please read it with a questioning mind, and always with your particular child in mind. Happy reading and, most importantly, happy parenting.