Power to Parents.

In my experience, parents today are having a very hard time when it comes to the healthcare of their children and have become over reliant on already over stretched GP’s and A&E departments. One direct result of this over reliance is, that children from a worryingly young age are over medicated but seem to get sicker and sicker. Another, less recognised result, is that parents get more and more fearful of any small change in their children’s health – any cough, cold or fever engenders an often disproportionate anxiety in the parent. The sticky pink fluid that apparently cures all ills (??), is used for everything including ‘behaviourial’ issues or sleep issues and if that doesn’t sort it out, the child is rushed to the nearest GP.  This fearfulness is contagious – it will be felt by the child and teaches them to feel the same level of fear.

Why is it that parents are so fearful at the slightest sign of illness in their children? Why is it that although many parents are far from happy at the level of pharmaceuticals their children ingest, that they feel there is no alternative? Why do today’s parents feel so disempowered when their children are ill?

There is nothing more disempowering than a lack of knowledge and I believe this lack has largely come about due to the proverbial ‘baby being thrown out with the bathwater’.  With the advent of modern, pharmaceutical medicine, all traditional, ‘home remedies/cures’ were universally ridiculed and rejected as ‘old fashioned’ or useless. Naturally a balance needs always to be struck and professional healthcare advice is essential in many cases, however in a great many situations, some ‘old fashioned’ approaches are actually all that’s needed.  A basic understanding of how the body works and some tried and tested practical actions can avoid unnecessary trips to the GP or doses of sticky pink fluid ingestion reaching critical levels. For a better understanding of the horribly overused Calpol or nurofen click on

 http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/behind_the_label/346400/behind_the_label_calpol.html.

Although it is certainly a good start to inform yourself regarding what may not be such a good idea when caring for your sick children, it is only half the story. As parents we need tools to use on a regular basis and we need to see results reasonably quickly. Once this happens, it is hugely empowering and therefore a massive level of fear goes away. Once we are no longer solely and blindly dependent on outside intervention we learn to observe our children much more closely and to support them ourselves – this gives us back our power as parents.  Let me be clear I am not talking about serious, life threatening situations but acute illnesses such as Fever.

Fever is actually a great example to stay with since it is so common. Why is it common – because this is the bodies first action when fighting a potential pathogen – raise the body temperature and 9 out of 10 times that pathogen will be rendered harmless. Children are still developing and fine tuning their immune systems and often need to do fevers quite regularly. However they should be short lived and allowed to complete the job. Children can feel a bit thrown down, less energy, less of an appetite, a bit cranky – these are all short lived symptoms and signs that the body is working on something. The whole process can be managed easily without stopping it from being successful.  If it is stopped the body will just be forced to adopt a more invasive strategy for dealing with the pathogen and if it is repeatedly stopped, the immune system often stops bothering to do fevers at all – THIS IS NOT HEALTHY!!  It means one of the first immune responses is unable to be accessed.  Understanding the role of fever and it’s beneficial effects enables parents to adopt a more ‘wait and see’ approach if the child is not seriously ill, and remembering that febrile convulsions are far from common takes away much of the fear and helps to understand that sometimes simply giving the child some TLC is all that is required.  It is sad for all of us that we live in a society that encourages never taking time out for illness and worships the idea of keeping busy!

As a Homeopath I prescribe remedies that support the body’s natural healing responses, I do not seek to stop them. Suitable remedies will manage a fever so that it is more efficient in a shorter space of time but does not ‘disable’ the process.

Remedies such as Belladonna, Chamomilla or Aconite or Pulsatilla can be nothing short of miraculous when given at the right time and I always supply my Clients with an appropriate fever/inflammation remedy so that parents have a tool readily available.  Many of my Clients also choose to buy a Homeopathic first aid remedy kit so that a quick text in the night is all that’s required to settle a child. I also run tailor made home prescribing courses for small groups of parents and these are based around the homeopathic kits. In addition there are various supplements that can be useful supports during acute illness and actions like stripping a child off and bathing with warm water can be more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug.  Simple recipes for cough syrups using honey and onion can be every bit as helpful as a shop bought product.  Using essential oils such as Thyme, Chamomile or Lavender to loosen coughs, sooth teething pains or help sleep can be part  of a first aid box and no parent I work with would be without Homeopathic remedy Arnica or Arnica gel/cream to help all those bumps and bruises.

I believe that parents need to get their power back – in previous generations, parents did not have ready access to GP’s for every cough and cold and so they accumulated a lot of hard won knowledge of what worked to alleviate acute illness – we need to get this knowledge back again.  The parents First Aid kit should include a variety of tools not just pharmaceuticals – which should be a last resort not a first, for minor illness. There is always something that parents can do to help their ill child before turning to drugs, it’s just a question of learning what works. So Parents – it’s never too late to start learning and in the process GET YOUR POWER BACK!!