So, you want your child to experience the benefits of acupuncture but you think they won’t go for needles? That’s what non-needle options are for!
Believe it or not, most kids love acupuncture. About 60% of the kids who attend pediatric appointments at Light & Dark Acupuncture choose to try it. You can learn about how this works in my last article, Acupuncture, A Unique, Responsive and Lovable Treatment for Children.
About 40% of kids stick to only the non-needle acupuncture techniques and virtually all of them choose to try this fun and unique healing system. It’s helpful for parents and kids to know what to expect in these treatments.
What Does a Pediatric Non-Needle Treatment Involve?
There are many options for non-needle pediatric sessions. I usually recommend Shonishin coupled with a bit of tuina or shiatsu (Chinese and Japanese styles of therapeutic bodywork). I provide a “home treatment,” an acupressure-based protocol, when it applies to or when families request it. In addition, kids may choose to receive:
What is Shonishin?
*Shonishin* is a Japanese acupressure system. This painless, non-invasive, non-needle system involves tapping and brushing on acupuncture meridians and points to create a therapeutic effect. When we use our Western minds to analyze this Eastern system, we believe that it activates the immune system, relaxes the nervous system and decreases inflammation, though there is a deficit of studies on shonishin, so we do not yet have sufficient evidence to prove this. However, science often proves things we have known for many years through observation.
According to Eastern philosophy, a shonishin treatment helps a patient’s Qi (pronounced “chi”) flow smoothly through the body and it balances the body’s yin and yang. By doing this, shonishin can be helpful for pediatric disorders and discomforts, such as insomnia, anxiety, enuresis, digestive disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism, anger and frustration, and so much more. For a full list of conditions typically treated by shonishin, visit the “Shonishin” page at www.lightanddarkacu.com.
The 5 E’s
Non-needle treatments are not always what you imagine they will be. You and your child may have expectations or anxieties. To help you know what to expect and relieve those anxieties, here are the 5 E’s: What to Expect in Non-Needle Pediatric Treatments at Light & Dark Acupuncture.
I examine patients through questioning/listening, palpation/touch, looking and smelling. Patients and parents provide crucial information about the patients’ symptoms at the beginning of the session. This is followed by an examination of the patient’s tongue, pulse, face, abdomen, ears and skin. When necessary, basic western exams may be added, such as listening to the heart or lungs, reading oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, taking the temperature, etc. I do not examine or treat locally any clients’ private areas, but I can still treat symptoms that involve those areas, such as wetting the bed, constipation, etc. using acupuncture meridians and points found elsewhere on the body.
Treatment remains focused on goals that the patient and the parent define. Families to define what feels “right” and “wrong” to them. For instance, many families have children who wake at night time and come to their parents’ room to get in their beds. Some families are exhausted by this and have difficulty sleeping when their children join them. Others love every minute of it and dread the day that their children no longer want to snuggle up to them at night. I value each family’s experience and use it to guide the treatment.
I listen to both patient and parent concerns and enthusiastically celebrate every step towards success on the journey, even very small ones. In this way, children learn to be process-oriented so that they can understand and sustain their health goals.
Identifying health goals is a great first step, but setting up sensible, easy and sustainable health habits is what makes these goals attainable.
Patient and parent education shows up in every session. Education can involve many subjects, including:
- Connections between mind, body and spirit
- East Asian traditions and lifestyle suggestions for improving sleep, boosting immunity, calming the mind, decreasing pain, etc.
- Acupressure points for improving your child’s symptoms
- Dietary recommendations from Eastern traditions, and how these dietary philosophies correlate to what we know about inflammation, food intolerances, allergies, etc.
I like to forewarn parents that we will be talking about food and beverages because I know that for many families, food choices can be a frustrating topic. Each family is truly doing the best that they can. But nutrition is so important and it is always worth discussing. In traditional East Asian medicine, food and beverage choices are the most powerful way to positively impact any health condition. Specific dietary choices that are used for sports injuries, weakened immunity, attention, focus, and other ailments.
4) Easy-going Environment
While parents often expect that pediatric non-needle sessions will be quiet, spa-like sessions, this isn’t always the case. Some kids come in, lie down and relax as I work on them. Other kiddos don’t want to slow down.
I use all the calming techniques I know and when they do not leave the child in a relaxed state, I move towards offering a playful and creative environment. These fun and active treatments are as powerful as relaxing ones and children love them.
I follow the flow of the child to determine the each session’s activity level. This way, children can feel comfortable to be themselves.
Kids have full control over what type of treatment they receive. I make the environment one where asking questions is encouraged and where a child can feel safe refusing, slowing down, or waiting on any aspect of treatment. This is so important in building trust with children! There is no need to pressure them to try tools they’re uncomfortable with, because they always find a few of them that they love.
I explain to the kids I work with that I am going ask permission to use each tool on them, and that I am not going to use any tool that they don’t want me to use. I explain that none of the tools hurt and that I will demonstrate each one on the table or on myself and ask if they would like to try it.
Kids use their newfound sense of control very wisely. Once they have tried all of the shonishin and non-needle tools I have to offer, they start to pick their favorite ones and they tell me all about why they love them. While most children love cupping, others state that their favorite tool is moxibustion, or shonishin brushing, etc. Once I know a child’s preferences, I craft a non-needle treatment using those tools to stimulate the acupuncture/acupressure points specific to that child’s symptoms.
But the most important form of empowerment comes with time and repetition. During each treatment, children learn about ways that their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are connected. I ask them questions like, “what did you eat for dinner the night before you felt angry in the morning?” and “what does anxiety feel like in your body?”
The more kids reflect on these patterns, the more they take away the most valuable lesson that East Asian medicine has to teach; if you really listen to your body, it is telling you all kinds of things about what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad.
East Asian medicine teaches the lesson that your health is in your own hands – that even when unexpected, uncomfortable things happen, you don’t have to feel stuck. You can empower yourself with tools to make your body the healthiest and happiest that it can possibly be.
In non-needle pediatric sessions, I empower the kids to take their health into their own hands, by doing home treatments, making good dietary choices, remembering to breathe deeply, manage stress levels and be active. Sometimes it takes a while to cover ground in each of these categories – some kids may be resistant – but I find that by offering several dietary and lifestyle suggestions, kids and their families find what resonates for them and implement a few of these at a time. The families who do this see improved treatment results and quality of life.
So, that’s the 5 E’s of what to expect in a pediatric non-needle session. If this seems like something your children may benefit from, you can read more about these treatments on my webpage about Preparing for Your Child’s First Pediatric Session. If you have questions, please call for a free phone consultation or book online.
I hope to see you and your children in my office soon!
Coming Up Next: Learn more about cupping to help children with insomnia, anxiety, anger/frustration and more in my next article: Cupping for Kids!Book a Pediatric Session Online