As a parent, your greatest healing tool can be no further than your own two hands.
The great thing about acupressure is that once some basic points and techniques are learned, you as a parent, will have effective, gentle, and time-honored treatments literally on-hand for whenever your little ones get sick.
Children are especially easy to treat with acupressure because their energies are still very pure and unburdened by years of toxicity, and a small amount of acupressure can have a great therapeutic effect.
Where and How to Massage
There are 363 acupressure points on the regular acupuncture channels and countless extra points, so how do you choose what points to use? An excellent strategy is to have a consultation with a pediatric acupuncturist and have them teach the right points to do for the child’s specific condition.
Another idea is to get an acupressure reference guide that has easy-to-read point location descriptions and that also has recommendations for specific point protocols for the most common pediatric ailments. Once you know the right points, then you’ll have the power to help your child anytime and anywhere.
There are three easy acupressure massage techniques that any parent can easily learn. The first is to locate the point and simply hold down on it, as if the finger were an acupuncture needle.
The second is to locate the point and then massage it in small circles, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The third is to locate the point and then stroke the area back and forth. This generally works best for points on the arms and legs.
Remember that with acupressure, a general area is being massaged and that pinpoint precision is not as important as it would be with an acupuncture needle.
Acupressure can be done with either finger pressure or with a metal tool. Most pediatric acupuncturists will stimulate the acupressure points using a metal “shonishin” device. The reason for the use of a metal tool is that it conducts the Qi or energy of the body more efficiently than finger pressure alone. This is why acupuncture needles are made of metal.
For a do-it-yourself acupressure tool, a coin, ring, or other smooth metal object can be used. Some babies and children don’t like to be massaged with a metal tool, though, so for them standard finger pressure will also be effective. Just double the amount of time that is spent on each point.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that the acupressure points are being massaged, so however it can be done is just fine.
Getting Your Child to Cooperate
As soon as a baby is old enough to turn over and crawl, administering an acupressure treatment can become quite a challenge.
While a parent will want them to be still for a few minutes, all they will want to do is be on the move. To get the acupressure done will require some savvy parenting, but just as with diaper changes and necessary medications, a way can be found to do it.
It is usually best to put babies in a highchair or car seat so that they are somewhat restrained during their treatment. Another idea is to go into the bathroom and close the door.
To engage an older child in the actual massage, stickers can be put on the points, or points can be written on and then washed (massaged) off.
‘Less Is More’
Children respond quickly to acupressure, and this positive response can sometimes cause parents to get carried away and over-treat their kids. It is best to treat chronic conditions once a day and acute conditions twice a day. Chinese Medicine is designed to ignite the body’s own healing energy, so overkill is not necessary.
With kids, the adage is “less is more.” Start simply with acupressure sessions with children. Pick one condition and treat that for a week. Use two or three points and then add more as needed. Sometimes when one condition is cleared, then other co-existing problems will also disappear. So go slowly and see what happens.
There is nothing esoteric or complicated about practicing acupressure on children. Anyone can do it with some simple instruction, and then it is literally in their hands for whenever it is needed.
It is an effective, inexpensive, and natural remedy with a tradition that spans several thousand years, so you can have confidence in its ability to help with the most basic pediatric complaints. Adding acupressure to your parenting bag of tricks is a great idea—you have nothing to lose, and your child will have so much to gain.
Jennifer Taveras, L.Ac., has an acupuncture practice at Triangle Wellness in New York City and is also the creator of the Holistic Baby Acupressure System, which educates parents internationally on pediatric acupressure protocols. Her instructional book and DVD are available at HolisticBabyAcupressureSystem.com.