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Modalities for Preschoolers:

OVERVIEW

During the first three years of life, a child learns more at a greater rate than he will ever learn again. These are exciting times! As the motor system becomes more developed and the major gross motor tasks of crawling, walking, running, jumping, and climbing are well on their way, the toddler begins to explore the differences between themselves and others. Solitary or parallel play gives way to an awareness and desire to play with peers. "Where is it and who are you?" is explored as the mid-brain, or limbic system, becomes a hot bed of brain development. Establishing emotional connection to people and objects paves the way for the natural development of social community and joyful cooperation. This part of the brain is involved with the present and the past. A large part of memory is stored here and it is the seat of emotions. The toddler stands up and begins to make distinctions between self and others. Generosity, sharing, and compassion for others are natural human responses, but develop fully only if the child has these human responses modeled for them by their parents and the supporting community around them. The development of the limbic system relies on a solid sensory-motor system foundation. It builds upon what was learned before through infant movement reflex patterns and information absorbed and processed by the sensory system.

Ages four to seven

Between the ages of four and seven, the child’s right brain is at the forefront of development. This is the time of repetition, more complex movement patterns and imaginative play. The right brain is involved in all new learning. Repetitive story telling, "do it again!" activities, and endless "why Mommy?" questions hone neural connections for faster processing. Future problem solving abilities are grounded in the stories and activities explored in imaginative play. The right hemisphere has direct connections to the limbic system and the brainstem and thus strong connections to the entire brain as a functioning unit. It has the ability to understand past, present and future and maintains a holistic perspective. This is the foundation for intelligence - our ability to weigh options in the context of the heart and emotional systems, and respond creatively to new and unknown situations. At about age seven another big shift happens when the site of major development moves to the left hemisphere and the ability to sequence and code is ushered in. This is when the child is ready for school and academic work. For some children this shift happens earlier and for others later. When preparing a child for school readiness it is helpful to assess where in this developmental process they are. Many children are not neurologically ready for near focus, left brain work when they enter the school system. Parents, educators and alternative health therapists need to work together to assist the child to have a successful school experience. If possible it is better to delay the start of school than to send a child too early. Adequate development of the right brain allows for future creative thinking, the ability to see the forest and not just the trees, and gives the gift of the big picture.

When things go wrong

At this age, the difficulties and delays can be anywhere from subtle to quite pronounced and the motor system, the underpinning of the whole nervous system, may start to show strain. The child who learned to crawl and walk just fine, has a "funny" run, can hop on only one leg or can’t learn to skip, or is awkward climbing on a play structure. These difficulties can spill into unexplained fears, obstinacy, inability to share, and out of control behavior. Toilet training can be a challenge. The child holds on to rigid patterns and can’t "flow" with his environment. These behavioral difficulties can also manifest independently of motor or physical problems. All these patterns can be the result of physical injury, energetic disturbance, toxic exposure or immunological injury, emotional neglect or abuse, or any other derailment of mother nature’s plan for development. Depending upon the cause of the derailment many of our alternative therapies can help a child get back on track and help the brain to reboot.

Modalities for Preschoolers:



Brain Gym® for Preschoolers

When is Brain Gym® helpful for young children?

Although it’s helpful to think in terms of categories of development: sensory-motor, emotional, cognitive, etc. – in fact, all aspects of human development are linked to one another. Sometimes, difficulties are caused by one primary factor – structure, for instance. Here, chiropractic or craniosacral therapy alone may take care of the issue, allowing the rest of the system to operate normally.

But often, difficulties have more than one facet that needs to be addressed. And often, once the “primary” issue has been addressed, integrating that new information into the system doesn’t happen – or happen fully. Especially when a problem has been ingrained over months or years, the neurological pathways enforcing it are strongly in place. The pain or confusion or misdirected behavior can continue once the cause has been removed, simply from habit.

At this point, Brain Gym® and Infant Reflexes come into play as effective rewiring and integrating tools. Brain Gym® is a simple movement alphabet that directly addresses the neurology, and can release and replace habitual patterns of thought, feeling and movement. The Brain Gym® balance process is a series of educational steps that activates intention toward a positive end.

Infant Reflexes are a universal, instinctual movement language directly tied to all aspects of human development. By recapitulating these movements, we can effectively “go back” and “redo” the necessary developmental pathways for rewiring gross and fine motor, emotional stress, and cognitive processes and social behavior.

Working with children aged two to seven involves a lot of play. We draw, build with blocks, sing and play musical instruments, roll on physioballs, and engage in fingerplay and other movement games. Through play, we incorporate all the necessary developmental movements in an atmosphere of fun and self-expression. At least as important as any particular “therapeutic” technique is the feeling of joy and self-mastery.

[more about Brain Gym®]

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Chiropractic for Preschoolers

When is chiropractic helpful for young children?

Axial Stability Method®, the only chiropractic technique practiced at the Lydian Center, is appropriate for all ages. Our unusual, entirely low-force approach can transform a child if the underlying problem is biomechanical instability. A difficult birth, infant seizures, a bad fall, bumps on the head, surgery, can all cause biomechanical inefficiency and instability.

As a child becomes upright, the opportunity for exploration and injury(!) increases. Young children appear to recover quickly from bumps or falls, and indeed usually do! But sometimes, though the surface injury heals perfectly, the child is left with a hidden biomechanical instability. By this age, those instabilities can become easier to detect. The developing sensory-motor system, so dependent upon movement patterns, will begin to show strain as the body struggles with the mechanics of movement. Often a child will have difficulty with the more advanced weight bearing activities such as hopping and skipping or they have an awkward run. Our clinical experience suggests that behavioral problems, emotional irritability and frustration, sensory integration problems, insomnia, poor balance, poor immunity and digestion, other neurological delays, unequal use of the limbs, learning disabilities, language delays and visual problems are also signs that there might be underlying biomechanical injury.

At this age, children usually love coming to the chiropractor. They can tell it is a place to get help. Many young patients tell their parents when it’s time for a visit. If they don’t let you know, watch for signs of regressive behaviors, a sudden bad cold or ear infection, or a degeneration of physical skills. Often, just a few chiropractic treatments can restore the motor system to efficient functioning and physical difficulties disappear, behavior improves and the immune system bounces back.

[more about chiropractic]

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Craniosacral for Preschoolers

When is Craniosacral Therapy helpful for young children?

Often, physical pain, auditory and visual processing issues, gross and fine motor and behavior issues are related to structure. For example, pressure on the vagus nerve can cause the child to be hyperactive – it’s as if there’s a finger on the “on” button all the time, and there’s no way to turn the TV off! Does it make sense to discipline your TV set? Sometimes, what gets perceived as a behavioral problem began as a wiring problem.

CranioSacral therapy is an extremely light touch technique that can relieve pressure on the cranium and release blocks in connective tissue. It is helpful for acute injury (falls off the swing set, bumping heads, fender-benders, etc.) When there’s no blood, or bumps, people tend to forget about injuries. And when kids are at school, the teachers rarely let parents know about “minor” injuries. But if your child’s behavior changes – if they get cranky for “no reason” or suddenly can’t tie their shoes, chances are they incurred an injury you don’t remember or know about. The sooner the trauma is erased from the soft tissue and the structure is put back in order, the easier it is for the system to remember what “normal” is. By waiting, compensations set in, and a host of secondary injuries can occur.

CranioSacral therapy is also good for inexplicable chronic disturbances. Often, a child is cranky because they have a headache. Sometimes, they have had headaches since birth, and can’t tell you their head hurts because they have no idea of what it’s like for their head not to hurt. I always know, when I touch a child’s head, and they brush me off like a fly, that chronic headaches are a possibility. Often these can be the cause of behavioral and cognitive processing issues. Craniosacral therapy can help any kind of condition that may be related to a structural misalignment or blocks in the connective tissue – from constipation to ringing in the ears, from vision problems to a “funny” walk.

Craniosacral therapy can be challenging to practice on toddlers – they present “moving targets.” Still, it’s often possible to do craniosacral work when children are playing with blocks or listening to stories or sitting in their parents’ laps. Once children reach the age when they are content to lie on the massage table and listen to CD’s of stories and music, or have conversations with me, craniosacral therapy becomes a simpler modality to practice!

[more about craniosacral therapy]

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Homeopathy for Preschoolers

When is Homeopathy helpful for preschoolers?

Homeopathy excels at preventing patterns of illness, such as chronic colds or ear infections. Antibiotics may seem to work well for a particular ear infection, but they can weaken the immune system and increase the chance of recurrence. A constitutional homeopathic remedy can strengthen the child’s (or adult’s) ability to withstand the microbes that are a natural part of our internal and external environment.

Begabati has children in her practice who have been raised entirely with homeopathy – children from India, Germany, France, and other parts of the world where homeopathy is part of the national health care system – and their mothers report, “My child is the only one in her class who never gets sick and has never been on antibiotics.”

Because homeopathic remedies strengthen the whole person (mental, emotional, physical, energetic and behavioral), a remedy that works well to strengthen the immune system is likely to also help other problems. Typical problems for which homeopathy can help a preschool-age-child include digestive problems and behavioral issues such as excessive defiance and destructiveness.

If a child is in constant motion and cannot stay with one activity for more than a minute, parents who have been warned that their child will need Ritalin for school might consider preventive homeopathic treatment. With homeopathy, a hyperactive child typically can sit still and focus on a task and channel her energies appropriately.

Homeopathy can also help resolve emotional trauma – for example, in a baby who has been separated from her birth mother through adoption, or because of a health emergency for mother or newborn that requires hospitalization. This experience of abandonment can result in separation anxiety, in a child who clings like a little barnacle to her mother and cries inconsolably when separated from her mother. Homeopathy can help heal the emotional trauma and allow a child to grow into age-appropriate independence.

Homeopathy does not suppress symptoms, but gives the body’s healing energy the information it needs to organize itself better around a problem. Homeopathic remedies are both powerful and gentle. Children like to take them, as they taste like little sugar pills. They do not need to be swallowed to be effective. Instead, they work as soon as they touch the mucus membranes in and around the mouth.

Begabati has preschool age children in her practice who actively ask for a remedy when they feel sick; they even learn the names and which one helps them with which symptoms. Preverbal children bang on the door of the cupboard where the remedies are stored. There are no side effects, no possibility of dependency, and no toxicity even if a child swallows a whole bottle by mistake.

Begabati can evaluate children for their typical pattern of acute illness, provide an appropriate series of homeopathic remedies for their typical symptoms, and teach parents how to use the remedies to treat their kids at home the next time.

[more about homeopathy]

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Nutrition for Preschoolers

Proper nutrition is essential for the development of young children. Teaching children healthy food choices at an early age can pay many dividends down the road. Of primary importance is limiting sugar and processed foods which contain little nutritional value. Excess sugar causes blood sugar disturbances, hyperactivity, weakened immune response, and tooth decay to name a few. Making sure children take in quality fats in the form of fish or flax is extremely important. These fats are crucial for proper brain development and have been shown to help children with focus and concentration issues.

The role of food allergies in children can cause many health problems including poor cognitive function, digestive, respiratory, and skin disorders. If unable to pinpoint offending foods, proper testing is advised which should include delayed reactions through IgG antibodies. For more information on food allergies, pick up the brochure titled Are the foods you eat making you sick?

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