Treating children is a very rewarding part of my practice; they are much more straight-forward than adults!
As we age, and our emotions and egos develop, we learn to hide and adjust parts of ourselves. Young children, however, are quite obviously one thing or another. In addition to this, they tend to respond very well to treatment, as they don’t have the same defensive barriers that we adults do.
What to expect:
Once you’ve told me about why you’ve brought your child along for treatment, I’ll ask you some further questions about your son/daughter, such as if they’re picky eaters or if they have a good appetite, if they sleep well or not, if they have any digestive problems, and if they get frequent chest or ear infections, and what their character is like.
I get a good sense of children through my interaction with them, and of course it’s important that I form a relationship with them so that they feel comfortable around me.
I’ll also see if there are any obvious physical signs to aid my formulation of a treatment plan. This may consist of feeling their lower back, belly, glands in the neck, or perhaps examining their ears and eyes. If they are old enough, I will also feel their pulse and look at their tongue (they usually take great joy in actually having permission to stick their tongue out at me).
Some children do well with acupuncture, and others are more delicate, requiring a more gentle approach, such as the use of acupressure and moxibustion. In some cases dietary and lifestyle changes may be suggested to facilitate their course of treatment.
Children under the age of seven are generally treated in their parent’s lap, as it’s usually the most reassuring place for them to be. A few points are selected, and tiny needles that are designed specifically with children in mind are inserted in each point, one at a time.
What if they move?
Many parents express concern that their son/daughter won’t be able to stay still long enough for a treatment, but one of the major differences between adult and paediatric acupuncture, is that when young children are treated, the needles aren’t retained. Instead, the needle is inserted for a few seconds, and subtly manipulated to stimulate their Qi (energy), this produces a tingling or warm sensation, and is totally different to what they experience during an injection or vaccination. The needle is then quickly removed.
Will it hurt?
Acupuncture shouldn’t be painful. It is normal and beneficial for children to feel some sensation during treatment, as this is a sign that their Qi is being stimulated. They may feel warmth, a gentle tingle, or a slight heaviness around the acu-point. These are all positive signs that they are responding to the treatment.
Some children cry a little, but are soothed quickly, as the whole process only takes a minute or two. Many children react as if they’re having their noses wiped; resistance and a brief moan, then they get on with living their lives (much simpler than adults).
Is it safe?
It’s very natural for parents to worry about how safe paediatric acupuncture is. A recent systematic review determined that it is a safe treatment for children to receive when in the hands of suitably trained practitioners.
How many treatments?
The number of treatments varies depending on your child’s pattern of illness, the simpler ones may require up to ten treatments, whilst the more complex may take up to twenty or more. I will be able to give you an idea of how many are likely to be needed following their first treatment.
How much will it cost?
The first appointment is 30 mins and is £25.
Each follow-up is 20 mins and is also £25.
In some cases, I feel it is necessary for children to have frequent and regular appointments, perhaps several in a week, and in the these situations I greatly reduce my fee so that families are able to commit to the full course of treatment.