Thursday, September 13, 2007

Holistic Wellness and our Kids

Many times I hear statements like "my kid wont take herbal teas" Certainly some herbs can taste bad or too strong to a kid, but there may be something deeper going on. Are herbal teas only introduced when there is a "problem"? Have you asked yourself as a parent how you view healing and medicine?
Traditional Western medicine is necessary and often life saving, however the mind body connection and the miraculous ability of the body to heal itself with the assistance from nourishing foods and natures medicine is often ignored. The Traditional Western medicine approach is to attack disease, you feel as if something is being done to you and that can often feel very invasive. A child is going to naturally want to rebel from this approach, it is scary and intimidating. "Take your medicine" can sound like something of a punishment.
Holistic medicine is about nourishing the body and living a healthy lifestyle. When I say "nourishment" I don't mean to simply take vitamins and minerals and eat good foods. Nourishment is a healthy loving emotional environment, exercise, rest, herbal remedies, connection with earth, connection with community and loving one another. It's reading fairy tales to your child, planting a garden, taking time to listen, & having a loving home. Involve your children when collecting healing medicines from the wild, show them how to make healing teas and infusions, help them to cultivate a healing kids garden. My mother and I often wildcrafted together and Ella being only 9 months old has gone with me on all of my outdoor adventures. Kiva gives a wonderful example on her blog of spending the day with wonderful wise women and her daughter Rhiannon.

We can be good role models for our children by showing them the beauty of their bodies and nature. Approaching sickness as if it were an enemy or something bad reflects badly on the child. If we teach our kids that sickness should be avoided at all costs, or attacked, we are denying that illness is a natural part of life. Even if you are extremely healthy, if you participate in life illness or "problems" will eventually occur. Explain issues when they arise in an age appropriate way that the child will understand, let the child be involved rather than approaching illness as a problem that needs to be attacked. Explain that the natural remedies support the bodies own ability to heal rather than a remedy being a magic bullet cure.

The "detox" rage is in my opinion is not approaching herbal medicine with a holistic view in mind. The extreme idea that we are somehow dirty and full of toxins is damaging. This illusion that we must live perfectly and become more pure will only lead to disappointment and disconnection from our bodies. Health is not about attaining perfection. There will be birthday cake, pop cycles, and chocolate. Balance is the real key, everything in moderation, even moderation! Extreme ideas are just as damaging as not taking responsibility for your health at all.The inner stress and guilt this causes is the opposite of being holistic. This view does not teach our kids to feel relaxed about themselves, enjoy life, be confident about their bodies, and celebrate good health. If and when illness does arise the child will feel defeated, like they somehow brought the illness on themselves because they are not "pure" or "perfect".
The goal is not to somehow fight the enemy of illness and toxins. The focus should be on avoiding unnecessary illness by nourishing ourselves with local grown foods, herbal medicine, exercise, fresh air and getting out in nature. When illness does arise we can attend to it with compassion instead of guilt, fear, and blame like the child is somehow doing something wrong and needs to be punished by "taking medicine"
If natural holistic living is part of your life as a parent, the child will be much more likely to accept it. Children are inundated with media messages that health is a perfect size 2, and skinny, COOL, active young people eat at McDonald's (or other fast food). Our goal should be to empower our children and try to send a different message.

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