Many parents seek alternatives to conventional treatments to help their children with a variety of pediatric illnesses. Asthma, allergies, skin conditions, ADHD, digestive disorders and anxiety may be symptomatically treated with medications, but the potential for lifetime dependence on drugs leads families to look for a more natural solution that hopefully also addresses the underlying root of the disorder. Chinese medicine can be a valuable tool in a parent's toolbox to naturally support the health and well-being of their children.
Can my child REALLY get acupuncture? Yes. Infants, children and teens receive acupuncture in different ways depending on their needs. Any child can get acupuncture, with needles being inserted and quickly removed, or retained for a short duration, depending on the child's comfort and ability to be still. Both ways are effective, and one method is not superior to the other when it comes to treating children.
What other things can we use instead of or alongside acupuncture? Chinese herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutritional supplements are all important additional tools for treating children. Herbs, supplements, and homeopathy provide daily support for a child's condition when they're not in the treatment room. These come as teas, pills or dissolvable pellets, so there are different options depending on your child's age and comfort. Compliance with their herbal formula will be important to the success of their treatment; while Chinese herbs can be bitter, your practitioner will help your child find easy and creative ways to take them!
I have a feeling I need to change my child's diet; can you help with that? Nutritional counseling is a big part of all treatments at OHS no matter the age of the patient. Most pediatric treatment strategies succeed because of the willingness of a child (and their family) to work with food as the easiest and most available form of medicine! Your practitioner will help coach you on the best diet for your child's condition.
When you're bringing your child in for acupuncture, here's what you need to know BEFORE their appointment:
If you're bringing your child in for acupuncture for the first time it is important that you have a conversation with them about what will happen BEFORE they come for their treatment. We recommend that you prepare your child for the fact that there will be needles. Explain that the needles are the size of a cat whisker, that the needles will go in just under their skin and come right out, and that they are painless. Your wording is important here. If you feel your child will react better to a word other than “needle” then use whatever language will help them feel comfortable (e.g. pin, Chinese medicine tool, rainbow unicorn energy wand… you know your child better than we do). Kids often ask whether it will hurt, and the answer is no! They will feel a “tap” when the needle is inserted but beyond that, they won't feel much of anything at all.
It's not uncommon for children to be immediately averse to the idea of getting acupuncture, therefore many parents find that offering some kind of small reward on the condition of completing their first treatment (a treasured snack… that coveted toy or game…) provides enough incentive for the child to be brave and go for it. Some children find comfort in holding on to a stuffed animal or blankie during the session.
Here's a quick, helpful video on why and how kids get acupuncture. Watch this with your child before their visit so they know what the needles look like and can see how easy it is:
http://www.kidsloveacupuncture.com/ Scroll to the middle of the page to watch!
Please remember that an appointment's time is finite; if a fair amount of time is spent on parents and practitioner trying to convince the child to get acupuncture, in the end there may not be enough time for the actual treatment. Talking to kids about acupuncture empowers them to be prepared for their visit and gets their bodies, minds and energy ready for what will happen. Children who are prepared for acupuncture can be more consistent with treatment, are less afraid at their first visit (and are genuinely excited to try it) and therefore have better outcomes.