Pediatric acupuncture is a gentle, safe, and effective treatment for children of all ages. Exposing children to acupuncture can encourage and support healthy behaviors from a young age—healthy behaviors that can last through adulthood. Young people often don’t have much control when it comes to their medical care. But an acupuncture appointment is different. I collaborate with the child so that they play an active role in the treatment, and they leave feeling positive and empowered in their health.
I use exceptionally gentle techniques with kids—I have never made anyone cry!—and I have lots of tools for helping kids overcome their fear of needles. I can proudly and confidently claim that every child I have worked with has enjoyed the experience of getting acupuncture. And children tend to respond with acupuncture much faster than grownups; I have always thought this is because children are more flexible, whereas adults tend to be stuck in our ways.
The following is a breakdown of some of the common conditions I treat during each development stage for kids, although this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Being a newborn is really hard work. Eating, digesting, and eliminating can be a challenging and painful process. In the first few weeks of life I will use acupuncture to regulate digestion, address reflux or stomach discomfort, and ease bowel movements if they are painful or infrequent. I will also give mom or dad a few needles to help with the stress and fatigue that can come along with being a new parent.
Infants and Toddlers
Infants and toddlers are a rewarding age group to work with because they haven’t developed a fear about the word “needles” or acupuncture. They also don’t have expectations, which takes away any potential placebo bias. This age group responds to acupuncture very quickly. From 1 month to three years, I am addressing a wide range of issues, including colds and flus, skin rashes, allergies, sleep regulation, teething pain, and emotional issues such as anger and fear. Depending on the child, I may do a combination of quick acupuncture needling, press tacs, or acupressure, and also coach the parents on helpful home acupressure and massage techniques.
School age kids have usually learned to fear needles, and maybe even the doctor, and they often don’t get an opportunity to play an active role in their health. An acupuncture visit is an opportunity for kids to learn how to be in charge of their health. I want every young person to leave our appointment feeling empowered, positive, and proud. Children in this age range come for many different health reasons: allergies, digestion issues, sleep dysfunction, anxiety, growing pains, sensory processing support, ADHD, and more. I ask permission for each acupuncture point, and use a combination of needles and press points depending on the comfort level of the child, taking time to build trust and not push beyond boundaries. We also talk about lifestyle behaviors, both on behalf of the parent and child, and strategize practical home care solutions that can be adopted within the family. Older children can learn breathing and relaxation techniques if stress is playing a role in their health issues as well.
Pre-Teens, ages 11-12
Woah, the pre-teen period can be a tough and exciting time of life. Our bodies enter puberty, friendships and social structures mature, and self-identity is explored to a greater depth. It can be a confusing and emotional period. When I work with pre-teens, I am typically helping to regulate growth and hormonal changes while supporting emotional development. Many people in this age group begin to compete in sports at a higher level, so I am often working on sports injuries and musculoskeletal pain. There are also more academic demands at this age, so concentration, mental focus, and stress are often addressed with acupuncture.
Teens, ages 13-19
Acupuncture can help teens as they transition from childhood to adulthood. These young adults are still exploring their core beliefs and values, and figuring out the role they play in the world around them. They are also learning how to care for themselves emotionally and physically. Acupuncture treats the same issues in teens that I address in adults: digestion, immunity, stress, sleep, pain, and hormonal regulation. But the treatment time gives teens a safe, supportive professional environment to discuss aspects of their wellness and physical health. I myself was exposed to acupuncture in the later part of my teens (thanks mom!) and it transformed the course of my life for the positive.
If you have a child in your life who may be a good fit for acupuncture, contact me to schedule a consultation to learn how acupuncture may be appropriate for your child’s needs.