This guest post was written by Dr. Clarence Ho, a chiropractor and owner of Adaptive Chiropractic and Adaptive Myotherapy. For over six years, he has been working with patients of all ages and from all walks of life. With his great understanding of the human body and caring team, they aim to help both parents and children find simple and convenient remedies that will lead to a healthier, happier life.
As children develop, they begin to face a number of obstacles in their lives–from starting a new school to taking exams to dealing with the loss of a close relative or friend. A parent’s role is to support and nurture our children as they move through each struggle and phase of childhood. Sometimes there are moments when our children feel stressed and anxious, yet we want to do everything we can to keep our kids calm. It is important that we offer the right type of support and coping skills for kids during times like these.
Massage for kids is one approach to reducing stress and anxiety. Completely natural and free from any prescribed medication, massage offers almost immediate benefits. This traditional and ancient form of therapy typically uses oils or herbs that can help our children feel better and regain their emotional and physical balance.
The Connection Between Child Massage And Relaxation
When our children enter into the world, touch is one of the first senses they develop. An immediate strong bond is formed between mother and child from the very first time an infant is placed in his or her mother’s arms. Babies spend a lot of time being held and cared for by both parents and other caretakers. Hugs and cuddles are incredibly important to ensure that children grow up with a balanced and healthy sense of touch, and ultimately feel safe as they begin their journey through childhood and beyond.
How does massage for kids help? When we become anxious or stressed, our body goes into permanent “fight or flight” mode. This means that our muscles are constantly tensed. But as long as the source of stress remains, one or more of the muscles stay tight, leading to anxiety-related tension symptoms like headaches, neck and back pain, and stomach problems.
For a young child, this can be particularly distressing. As a parent, it is equally upsetting to watch our kids go through any form of pain or discomfort. Anxiety muscle tension can range from slight aches and pains to moderate or more severe waves of pain, changing from one day to the next. It is also common for individuals to experience muscle tension symptoms without pain, but stiffness and immobility in one or more parts of the joints can be equally uncomfortable. A child should be able to run, walk, jump, swim, and generally get around unimpeded by such restrictions, which is why massage therapy is the best natural form of treatment to consider.
How Massage Therapy Works
Generally, a therapist will work on the soft tissues and muscles in the body in order to make a person feel better. A qualified therapist will use kneading techniques or long strokes and circular movements in order to release tension in the muscles in the body. In some cases, the therapist may use oils during the treatment, and for the very young, gentle gliding strokes with oil is the best way to massage.
Once a child gets older, the massage therapy can include work on the fingers and toes. It is not uncommon for the child to fall asleep during treatment. Child massage sessions should not last more than a quarter of an hour, particularly when the child is younger because they do not have a very long attention span. However, the massage therapist will work out a planned program of therapy specifically attuned to each child.
4 Ways Massage Can Help Your Children
A trained massage therapist can help your children in the following ways:
- Reduce stress. Tension headaches can often develop particularly as children go through stressful situations such as moving to a new school or having to pass a tough exam. Rather than give a child medical pain relief, massage therapy concentrated on the neck, head, and shoulder areas will help reduce tension headaches and lower the production of stress hormones.
- Promote better sleep patterns. When children are first born, it takes a little while to get them into a proper sleep routine. Sleep is incredibly important to the growth and development of a child (not to mention the sanity of the new parent!). However, sometimes a child can develop irregular sleep patterns due to illness or a change in routine. Massage therapy with calming oils such as lavender, chamomile, or lemon balm can help reduce anxiety levels and promote a good night’s sleep.
- Support a child who is not feeling well. It is every parent’s nightmare when they find themselves in a hospital or emergency unit with a child who is ill and facing medical treatment or intervention. A hands-on approach using massage can soothe and comfort the child. Stress levels will be reduced and the body will benefit from increased blood flow and oxygen. However, before taking the child to a massage therapist, it is important to check with the doctor first.
- Improve issues related to ADHD or autism. For those parents who have children diagnosed with ADHD or autism, massage therapy can be one form of therapy to improve short term mood and behavior patterns. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine study, young ADHD adults who had 10 massage treatments for two weeks self-rated themselves as more content than their counterparts who undertook recreation therapy. Tutors noted that the effect on those who had the massage therapy was demonstrable with a more on-task behavior shown in class.
Have you tried massage therapy to help keep your kids calm?