For the parents of zippy, complex, independant, sometimes-celebrated but tricky kids it’s an often asked question, “Is there any help offered by homeopathy for childhood behaviour problems? Thankfully the answer is a big yes. Homeopathy gives options where the world of medicine may have few answers or few desirable answers. Using a natural medicine approach, the homeopath provides treatment which is supportive of the child and parents, and non-judgemental of both.
We start homeopathy for childhood behaviour problems with a treatment schedule
Any child who has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, ADD, ADHD, aspergers or any child with a large medical history will benefit from starting with a treatment schedule. This involves having the first two appointments spread over a few days, for example:
- An initial one hour appointment with the parent or parents without the child present
- A one hour appointment which will focus on listening to the child (the amount of time will vary according to the age and capacity of each child)
The initial appointment with the parents is for discussion of delicate or upsetting subjects without the child present, including diagnosis, certain behaviours or events in the child’s past. This will avoid negative reinforcement and allow the focus of the second appointment to remain on listening to the child as much as possible. The remedy may not be given at the first or second appointment. A short third appointment may even be scheduled to finalise case taking and commence treatment.
We have an unconventional view of nutrition
During case taking during the first appointments, there will be an emphasis on the careful choosing of homeopathic remedies. Though of course, there is no point working out a great remedy and forgetting about what the child is eating. In our clinic, we view the eating, digestive and emotional issues of the child as one problem. Homeopathic remedies work on the whole body, so they are successfully used to automatically improve digestion in order for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed more efficiently. A child receiving (for example) Lycopodium will find their chocolate and lolly cravings, and abdominal bloating all reduce at the same time. This is a good example of the capacity of homeopathy to help a child to bounce back when their diet requires only a few changes.
On the next level when a child receives (for example) Sulphur, the remedy facilitates many changes. Children who will benefit from Sulphur are active, hot bodied ragamuffins who fill up on drinks and won’t eat their dinner. Under the action of the remedy their sweating, thirst, and great desire for sweets diminish. Concurrently, their appetite increases. When Sulphur has made some adjustments the parents find it easier to steer the child away from the additives to which they react.
On the next level again, trying to get children to take a number of supplements and follow a casein/gluten free diet can be a battle: sometimes even self-defeating when it provokes defiant outbursts. If dietary changes are begun along with a homeopathic remedy, they are easier to maintain in the long term, since the remedy itself will be helping to change habits and cravings.
Gentle Starting Dose
All children respond to homeopathic remedies in different ways, so treatment will often be started in a gentle way to accommodate these differences. When a gentle starting dose or test dose is used, it is expected that definite improvement may not be noticed until after the next dose at the follow up appointment. Gentle starting doses ensure that any child whose body has a need for a spring clean, (or a de-tox, or aggravation) does so in a mild way.
After the starting dose has been given, treatment can be commenced and the child will then proceed with the expected ‘two steps forward and one step back’ response. There are some children who are generally very sensitive and their symptoms respond positively even after the gentle starting dose. They have a head start.
The Whole Family
In a family, the children are not the only ones suffering: the father might be working overtime; the mother feels like she is being a taxi driver; and the siblings are feeling jealous that all the attention is on the child with the diagnosis. Meals are happening in the backseat of the car. Nobody has time to talk to each other.
Exhausted parents easily forget to look after themselves or just have no time left in the day. Since children model how to look after themselves by copying their parents this has to involve more than just taking supplements and just directing treatment at the child. It is sound advice for the father to use homeopathy for his eczema which flares up in times of stress, the mother for her asthma and the sibling for their jealousy and bedwetting. In fact, in the work of John Meinychuk an American homeopath it was found that the healthier the whole family was through using homeopathy the quicker the individual child responds to treatment.
Parenting of Challenging Children
There is a lot written about strategies to help parents and their kids get along better. Well meaning advice sometimes makes it sound possible to steer a course over the years without raising your voice, without anger, without parents themselves becoming the four-year old. Some children are easier than others and being with them and guiding them, almost just comes naturally, as if any sensible parenting style would work. Some children take a lot more energy and determination. Guilt can become mixed up with frustration at becoming the kind of parent you never imagined you wanted to be.
With some children, it can feel as if there is no sensible parenting style that works, even after trying lots of them. Many strategies sound wonderful in textbooks, but of course are difficult in real life. It is commonly noticed when a homeopathic remedy has done its work and certain attitudes or behaviours have settled, that parenting strategies become easier to implement.
Environmental Influences on Childhood Behaviour Problems
Environmental toxins, such as lead, cadmium, and carbon monoxide, have been thought to be linked with ADHD etc. This goes hand in hand with the overuse of antibiotics, denatured food, and school pressures that damage our internal atmosphere. For each individual there may be a wide number of possible responses to external and internal stresses. Some resilient children seem to be relatively unaffected by these disturbances — their health and happiness stay in balance without major effort. It is this balance and resilience which homeopathy strives to achieve for every child.
Homeopaths have noticed an increased need to address some children’s health problems with more than homeopathy, nutrition and a good diet. At the Harbord Homeopathic Clinic we will sometimes advise the need for a hair analysis to determine the level of heavy metals and other nutrient minerals in the body.