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Sunday
Jan292012

Positive Touch for Children: Boost Your Child’s Health and Well-Being – the Natural Way

by Mary Atkinson

Photos Courtesy Healing Touch for Children by Mary Atkinson and published by Gaia.

It is not easy being a child or teenager in the 21st Century. Our young people are so often bombarded with physical and mental stresses, competitive pressures and high expectations from schools and peers. And in a society driven by computers, televisions, mobile phones and other high tech communication where is the space to find the peace and stillness?  It is no wonder that so many people are suffering from stress-related conditions and behaviour problems.

Touch is one of the most basic human needs, yet it is rapidly disappearing from our society with a detrimental impact on the community as a whole. A study conducted by the Touch Research Institute in Miami found that pre-school children who were massaged more by their mothers and received positive touch from friends on the playground experienced significantly less aggressive feelings towards themselves and others. Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, author of The Oxytocin Factor, believes this is due to the release of oxytocin, often known as the calming and relaxing hormone, which is activated by gentle massage and positive touch. Oxytocin counterbalances the negative effect of stress and anxiety and generates a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere.

Furthermore, the benefits of touch continue through adolescence and beyond. For Mia Elmsater, from Sweden and Sylvie Hetu from Canada, the value of nurturing and respectful touch for school age children led them to set up the internationally respected Massage in Schools Programme with the vision of introducing clothed peer massage into every classroom, every day, all over the world. Teachers and parents, and even the children themselves, are all noticing that regular massage helps improve concentration, reduces stress and enhances general well-being.

So how can you help your child or teenager gain the benefits of healing touch? It’s very simple. After all, we use the healing power of touch in our everyday lives, often without even realising it. Think how you instinctively rub a sore spot to ease the pain or offer comforting strokes to reassure an anxious child or teenager. These are all basic forms of touch therapy that have been practised all over the world since ancient times. Using these natural healing techniques can be a very effective way of helping to reduce anxiety and ease minor ailments. The joy of gentle touch remedies and self-help techniques for children and teens is that they easy to use, free of charge, and can be applied just about anywhere, at any time with the minimum of fuss and preparation.

 

Tired Eyes

Working or playing at a computer screen or watching television can put a strain on the muscles of eyes and cause headaches and fuzzy vision. Relieve the strain by ‘palming’. Place your warm hands (rub them together first) over your child’s closed eyes. Keep your fingers together to cut out as much light as possible. Hold for as long as feels comfortable. Encourage your child or teen to do it for themselves. And do try it for yourself – you’ll be surprised how much clearer everything looks!

 

 

Easing the Queasiness

When a child or teen suffers from travel sickness, long journeys by road, sea or air are miserable for everyone. You can buy anti-sickness bands which help ease the symptoms by working on an acupressure point (known as P6) on the wrist. But why not work the point yourself? First find the point on the inner arm. Ask your child to measure three finger widths up from the natural crease of the wrist, between the two tendons. Now support the wrist and apply gentle pressure with the pad of your thumb, or suggest that your child does this. Hold for as long as feels comfortable. Repeat on the other arm. Use before and during the journey to calm any queasy feelings.

 

Sweet Dreams

A regular bedtime massage can soothe your child, mentally and physically, encouraging a peaceful night’s sleep – for the whole family!

1. Start with your child lying on her front or side. Place both hands on her upper back, then trail on hand down the back with a long feather-like stroke over her pyjamas or nightdress. When one hand reaches the lower back, the other one begins another stroke. Continue this flowing pattern with alternate hands stroking.

 

2. If your child is still awake, then ask her to roll over on her back and close her eyes. Make some gentle stroking movements on her forehead, working from the centre outwards with alternate hands, one stroke flowing smoothly into the next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Headache!

 At the first signs of a headache, try easing the pain by massaging your child’s temples with small circular movements. Aim for at least 20 circles. Keep the moves very slow and controlled. Then rest your hands gently on your child’s head. Hold for as long as feels comfortable for her.  Allow plenty of fresh air to circulate in the room. You can also teach your child or teen how to do this for themselves.

 

 

Feeling All Stuffed Up?

If your child or teen suffers from on-going sinus problems then this gentle massage routine – performed every day – can be most effective, either done by you or by themselves. Any ‘popping’ sensation is simply a sign that excess mucus is beginning to clear.

  1. Place the pad of one or two fingers on the inner edge of each eyebrow, where the hairy bit ends. Make three small circular movements, keeping your touch very gentle. Now stroke your fingers along the eyebrows, working from the inner to the outer corners. Repeat.
  2. Place the pad of one finger in the slight hollow on the outside edges of your child’s nostrils. Make three small circular movements. Now stroke your fingers along the line of your child’s cheekbones. Repeat.  

 

Exam Stress

If your child gets anxious before exams try this simple stress-busting massage:

  1. With your child sitting, stand or sit behind. Rest your hands on her shoulders. Ask her to raise her shoulders as she breathes in, then release them as she breathes out a large sigh. Imagine she is letting go of all her worries. Repeat three times.  
  2. Now stroke your hands along your child’s shoulders and down the arms to the elbows. Release the pressure and glide gently back. Repeat three times.  

Encourage your child to drink plenty of water and take regular exercise to rid the body of stress hormones that can stop the brain functioning at full capacity.

 

Anxiety Alert

Teach your child this simple and wonderfully discreet healing technique to help him stay cool in stressful situations. Try it for yourself too!

  1. Grip your right thumb between the palm and fingers of your left hand. Squeeze gently. Hold for a few moments, or until you feel a pulse. Release. Move to your next finger and do the same. Repeat with all the fingers on your right hand.
  2. Now repeat step 1 on your left hand, squeezing your thumb and all your fingers in turn. It’s amazing how much calmer and more focused you feel in yourself. 

Natural healing methods are not a substitute for medical care and should not replace prescribed medication - always go to your doctor if you have any concerns about the health of your child or teenager. However, they can be used alongside any treatment recommended by your doctor and offer a way of working with your child to overcome everyday health problems together.

 

Mary Atkinson is a complementary therapist, tutor and author of Healing Touch For Children – Massage, Reflexology and Acupressure for Children from 4-12 Years Old (Gaia Books). This practical and accessible guide offers easy to follow step-by-step instructions with valuable health tips and advice. www.maryatkinson.com facebook.com/MaryAtkinsonHolisticTherapyCourses

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