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raising kids

For me, raising children—whether it be dealing with a tiny baby or seeing your twenty-five year old develop year by year—has been the most exciting and rewarding thing I have ever done

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Eyes Of A Child

Eyes Of A Child

The greatest art any parent needs to develop to support the graceful unfolding of a child's unique seedpower is the art of listening. Not only can it help you learn from each child what you need to know at any moment in time to help heal, guide and nurture him, it can also help you rediscover the joy of living within yourself - a sense which we as busy, responsible adults so often lose. Children make the greatest teachers when we are willing to enter their worlds, lay aside our preconceived ideas and learn about how each of them views life. It is only in doing this that a real relationship develops between you and your child, and it is in honest and vital relationships that the power to rear Nature's child easily and gracefully lies. Looking at the world through the eyes of a child transforms humdrum reality into a magical land of the unexpected. It can also teach you a lot about how your child thinks and grows emotionally. `Cigars are fattening,' my eight-year-old son Jesse announced one day. `I know because all the men who smoke them are fat.' Children have incredible wit and freshness. Everything is new to them. The most trivial event can bring to a child the kind of pleasure we adults spend a lot of money searching for. But that's not all. In subtle ways, they are able to teach us truths that we might otherwise never learn. Once, when we were experiencing gale-force winds, five year old Jesse sat at the window watching what the wind did to the trees. Finally he turned to me and said, `Reflexible trees are stronger than ordinary trees. Do you think reflexible people are stronger than other people?' I was slow to answer as I couldn't imagine what he was talking about. `Jesse, what are reflexible trees?' I asked. `They're the kind that bend all the way to the ground when the wind blows instead of pushing against it,' he said. `The reflexible ones don't get cracked like the others.' `Yes,' I replied, `I guess you're right. Reflexible trees and reflexible people really are stronger than the rest.' Through thirty four years of motherhood, plus years working with young children in nursery school, I have never stopped learning from them. I know it is supposed to be the other way around - and I have always done my best to explain the intricacies of life to my children and pupils - but in the meantime, they have taught me lessons I won't soon forget: lessons in courtesy, humor, responsibility. They have shown me how to be angry and how to forgive, how to care for another and still demand my own right to separateness. Most of all, through knowing and watching them, I've begun learning how to love - an art that, on too many occasions during these years, I had almost forgotten.

Kids Stuff

Kids Stuff

A child is born. The waiting and planning, the exercises for birth, the hoping that everything will be all right has finished. Parenthood begins. Oh my God - where do we go from here..? The task ahead seems monumental and you feel completely inadequate in the face of what is required. One moment you are filled with tenderness and wonder as your baby's tiny hand grasps your little finger in complete trust. The next you wish the thing would go away and leave you in peace. Why didn't somebody warn you that within the first three weeks, every item of clothing you own would be stained with baby vomit? Becoming a parent changes your life beyond all description. It could be years before you get another night's uninterrupted sleep. You learn about self-sacrifice for the first time in your life when a baby arrives. All at once everything revolves around caring for this tiny but determined creature who has entered your home, and finding the wisdom to do what is right for your child. There are so many unanswered questions. What do you do when he gets ill, or is unhappy? How do you feed him? Do you let him cry so he won't get spoiled, or do you see to his every wish so he won't be scarred by neglect? Welcome to the world of parenthood. Take heart. You are not alone in your confusion. Now for the good news: the task of raising a child is not as difficult as all the doctors and psychologists would have us believe - especially if you decide to raise a Nature's child. child rearing by the rules A few years ago I had lunch with a beautiful and successful American woman in her mid thirties. Sooner or later the conversation got around - as it often does with me - to children. This woman told me that she had a five year old daughter. I asked her if it was difficult living and working in New York while raising a child on her own. She replied that it had been hard but that now it should get better since she and her little girl were going to parenting classes. `Parenting classes,' I asked, `whatever are they?' `You know, where you learn how to be a parent. We go twice a week together,' she reported with enthusiasm. Curious about what was taught in these new programs, and at the same time suppressing a smile at the latest American attempt to package up something as rich and complex as parenthood and spoon feed it to clients well heeled enough to afford the indulgence, I asked, `What do they teach you?' `Oh, they teach you everything!' she replied, sweeping her hand across the table in a way that makes British head waiters loathe American clients. `For instance, when your child goes to pick up something from the coffee table that you don't want her to have, you must never be negative,' she said. `Negativity is not good for children,' she added, leaning closer in a conspiratorial fashion. `So instead of saying, "No, no," which might crush your child's spirit, you say, "Now darling that is a no, but this is a yes (pointing to other objects near by), and this is a yes and this is a yes."' forget perfect parenting I have little patience with such practices - nor do I believe there are a lot of set rules to follow to raise a child well. That is because, like a lot of seasoned parents, I have learned about parenthood the hard way. When my first child was born I was determined to bring him up right - not to make the mistakes that my parents had made with me, to ensure that he developed quickly both physically and mentally, and that he turned into the kind of person that I thought he should be. I worked hard at it. I read everything I could get my hands on about child development - all the latest theories and all the traditional wisdom. No time or expense was to be spared in bringing up this child. He would be breast-fed, disciplined, and taught to read by the time he was a year old using special equipment designed for the task. I would instill in him a strong sense of moral rectitude and good manners, and he would be given every kind of educational toy I could lay my hands on to help develop his creativity. Also I would never lose my temper, always be patient and kind (but firm of course) and make sure he didn't watch too much television. My master plan for child rearing might have sounded good on paper, but it had a couple of big drawbacks. First, no human being could ever have carried it out. Second, it completely ignored the most important truth there is about child rearing - a truth which I did not myself come to know until I had two or three more children under my belt. It is this: You don't have to read a thousand books and follow a lot of rules the so-called experts make up to raise a healthy, happy, creative child. You only need to learn to trust in yourself and in the incredible powers of Nature. You also need to develop the art of listening - with your heart and mind and instincts as well as your ears - to your child. Most of the time he will tell you what you need to know. Once I finally figured this out - many tried and failed strategies down the road - I let go of my anxieties and theories. Then motherhood became not only a joy for me but a source of never-ending wonder. I discovered that each child - not only my own children but boys and girls with whom I worked as a nursery school teacher, and others - is utterly unique and perfect in his or her own way. I also learned that one's relationship to a child has a life of its own and that, so long as you are willing to face each child honestly and openly day by day, and so long as you honor and respect this relationship, not only does this empower you to give the best guidance and care for the child, in some magic way which I still don't fully understand, it can even help heal deep emotional wounds within you as a parent. Most important of all, I discovered that the whole idea of perfect parenthood is a big fraud. There ain't nothing perfect when it comes to parenthood. Perfect by who's criteria anyway? The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can get down to the business of child rearing and enjoying it. For me, raising children - whether it be dealing with a tiny baby or seeing your twenty-five year old develop year by year - has been the most exciting and rewarding thing I have ever done - or ever hope to do.

Child-Raising—Trust In Nature

Child-Raising—Trust In Nature

"Your children are not your children," wrote the Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran, "They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself...You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." It is a quote I like, not only because—having raised four children by four different men on my own—I believe it to be just about the most accurate description of parenthood I have ever come across, but also because it emphasizes the 'lightness' which develops when you give up trying to be perfect and come to trust the processes of Nature—in feeding, in healing, in guiding you and your child towards what is best for his or her development at any moment in time. SEEDPOWER HAS WISDOM Like the seed of a plant that has encoded within its genetic material the characteristics that will in time produce the full-grown flower, every baby comes into this world carrying a package of as yet unrealized, but incredibly rich, potential. Within each child is nestled his or her very own brand of unique seedpower, encompassing far greater physical, creative and spiritual potential than he or she could realize in ten lifetimes. Your child is like the brush stroke the zen painter uses to represent one leaf on a shaft of bamboo. The leaf he paints is totally singular—like no leaf that has ever existed. Yet within this uniqueness is encompassed universal beauty and life energy of the highest order. Just as I tried to do with my first son, most conscientious parents try their best to mould their children from the outside by imposing upon them their own ideas about what they should act like, think like, look like and all the rest. Not only does it work a lot better the other way round—listening to the individual echoes of a child's own seedpower coming from within, and responding to it by offering whatever at any moment is most appropriate, in the form of food, health, guidance, education, toys and so forth—it is also infinitely easier. CONTRACTS HOLD A KEY Taking on the job of guardian for a child from birth to adulthood also involves making 'contractual agreements'—agreements which need to be re-negotiated from time to time. Like every contract, the parent/child relationship is always a two-way deal. It has to be fair on both sides and nurture both people involved. How well your own contracts develop and how much joy there is for both of you in living them will depend to a great extent on how clearly the agreements between you are understood. Let me show you what I mean. In establishing 'contracts' with my own children, I decided I wanted to supply them with wholesome food and clean surroundings, as well as physical warmth, safety, and the right to their own needs and opinions even if they differed from mine. In return I expected them to accept the home and food and care I provided even though it would never be perfect, and to be as honest, respectful of my decisions and as reasonable with me as their age would allow. What I would never ask of a child—and where so many parents, in my opinion, go wrong—is to ask that the child love me. Get into that contract and you automatically create trouble. For whether or not your child loves you is ultimately beside the point. Your responsibility is simply to use the best of your wisdom and physical resources to help that child grow. I decided long ago that I would do my best for my children always, but that they were stuck with me as a parent for better or for worse—complete with all my warts. I also decided that, while I didn't expect them to love me, I did expect them to know that whatever I did, I did because I believed it to be right. When some decision I made or action I took turned out to be wrong, I owned up and, where appropriate, asked for their forgiveness, just as I forgave them their mistakes. MAGIC HAPPENS I discovered quite by accident that there is a certain magic to all this. For when you genuinely give up all claim to being a 'good parent' or to having your child love you, you create a remarkable expanse of freedom for you both. In the end, not only do your children end up loving you of their own accord, they also respect you (even when they don't agree with you). Most important of all, they feel safe because they know that although at times you may seem unreasonable and unbending, your strength—on which they rely for security—remains uncorrupted by flattery or emotional blackmail (which even very young children can be very good at). They learn that your strength is there to serve them.

Inner Child

Inner Child

Children have astonishing potential for creativity built into their genes. In fact, the innate capacities of the human mind are almost limitless. Yet brain research shows that even when we grow up, we use only a small portion of the brain's capacity. And our society is peopled with children of all ages who have never fully grown up - never become whole - never experienced the joy of simply being who they are and the excitement of facing each day ahead as though it were their last. Why? Just as physical growth is determined through DNA coding, so does there appear to be a finely coordinated plan for each child's inner development - the growth of his intelligence and emotional reactions, and the expanding of his creativity. This too is all part of his own individual seedpower unfolding so it eventually comes into full flower. However, it is a plan of which most of us as parents are not only unaware, but which we often unknowingly disrupt - sometimes with disastrous results - from loss of discipline in our children and a greater incidence of brain damage and schizophrenia in childhood, to the growth in infantile autism and widespread aggression - all of which we see growing in the societies around us year by year. I believe that we will only begin to be able to deal with such problems once we understand a bit more about Nature's biological plan for a child's inner development, and have enough trust and respect to work with it rather than against it.

Children: Go Easy

Children: Go Easy

Where we do the damage to nature's biological plan is by providing an environment which is inappropriate to the needs of a child in a particular matrix period. We do this either by not supplying these needs - for instance by not allowing the constant physical closeness at the breast right from birth, not providing the infant with a myriad of physical objects and experiences in early childhood, not giving him the opportunity to begin classifying and ordering the relationships between things after he is seven, and so on - or by trying to force on a child a way of thinking or behaving for which his brain is not yet ripe. The Japanese for instance place their children into schools at two or three years, where they are forced to read, work with numbers, and wrestle with other abstract concepts long before they are ready to do so according to their biological clocks. As a result, not only do the Japanese have a big problem with dyslexia, their children wear more glasses per capita than any other children in the world, and when they reach adulthood also have one of the world's highest suicide rates. Pearce believes that we are trying to teach our children to read far too early. `I can stand up here and attack people's notion of Mother, Country, even God, and nobody will protest,' he says, `but when I say that we are doing severe damage to our children by forcing them to read before their brain's development is ready, all hell breaks loose.' Pearce insists that the practice of forcing five year olds (or even three and two year olds) to read can do irreparable damage to their development - damage, which he points out, is beginning to show up in widespread dyslexia, illiteracy and anxiety in our society. For by forcing him to read before his brain development is ripe for the task, we are not allowing the child to complete the intelligence and brain growth at his current stage of his development before going on to the next. Of course, because the human mind is enormously adaptable - with effort and a great deal of approval from teachers and parents - many children do learn to read. Yet this may be at great cost to them. After all, Einstein not only learned to read late, he did not even learn to talk until he was three. Forcing children to read early - which includes `encouraging' them to read early - is not the only grave mistake we make, insists Pearce. Equally damaging is our discouraging daydreaming in young children. You know the kind of thing - your child sits gazing blankly out the window, or lies on the floor sucking his thumb for minutes at a time. Meanwhile the parent, who has been taught that daydreaming is `an escape from reality' says to him, `Johnny, for heaven's sake, take your thumb out of your mouth and do something...' magical child Not only is such daydreaming harmless, like any activity which is natural to a particular matrix, it is absolutely essential to a child's inner growth processes. Daydreaming - which takes place when children sit looking blank - is a form of natural meditation helpful for his brain development. The child who has been excited and stressed in a positive way by interactions with his environment one moment will retreat into a state of restorative and calming relaxation the next. The two create a balance. Another early practice which we parents discourage, with poor consequence for our children, is what Piaget called magical thinking. A child sees the world as something not separate from himself but closely connected to him, and believes that he is able to influence concrete external reality by his thoughts and actions - much in the way primitive people do. He may fantasize, make up stories of dragons and fairies, and dream dreams of wonder and power. Many parents spend a lot of our time trying to get the child to give up such magical thinking and `attend to reality.' But such behavior has an important part to play in the child's genetic organization and development. (The notion of the interconnectedness of thought and physical reality has recently been validated by findings in high-level physics, by the way.) Indeed, such childlike perceptions may even be the link between the so-called real world and what we call extrasensory perception, as well as a key to the development of man's awareness of more subtle realms of consciousness which primitive peoples and psychically endowed individuals share. It may also be an important part of man's spiritual equipment which we, by our repression of our children's `blank staring' and `magical thinking' are thwarting. What Pearce and Piaget are really asking is simply that we stop and look at what our developing child really needs, and that we set aside for a moment what we think he needs. They ask that we listen to his `heartbeat' instead of badgering him - that we give him time to grow in safety from one matrix to another. Once we learn to do this then perhaps his birthright - the enormous creativity and intelligence embodied within his seedpower - will have a far greater chance of fulfilling itself.

First Foods

First Foods

From the time he is ready to start weaning until he is five or six - or even beyond - how do you feed a child well? It is the question mothers most frequently ask me. If you really care about your child eating the best possible way for his long-term health and emotional balance, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. Babies and children always do - not what you tell them to do - but what they see you do. The way to feed a child well is to feed yourself well on simple, wholesome, natural foods and not to keep any foods in the house which are not health promoting - right from the beginning. Introducing a breast-fed baby to new drinks and to solid food is easy and lots of fun provided you don't get seduced by advertisers into believing that the best foods to feed him on come ready made in jars and packets from the shelves of supermarkets. They don't. Commercially prepared baby foods are not only more expensive, they are far less nutritious than wholesome homemade dishes from your own table since most of them have been processed to death. The best foods for weaning a baby are the same foods you eat yourself provided you prepare your meals from scratch and don't rely on the manufactured convenience stuff. Your breast-fed baby will not need solid foods at all for the first four or five months of his life. Until then any solids fed him - cereals or fruits or what have you - will tend to pass right through him. His digestive system is not developed enough to process them. Also, during the early months of a baby's life his defenses against allergies are rudimentary. If you give him solids too early there is a much greater chance that he could end up allergic to milk or grains or eggs or just about anything else. By the time he is five or six months old, however he will not only enjoy sitting up at the table with you while he eats but will also want to explore the world around him. For a baby that means putting whatever is offered into his mouth. This is the time for him to begin experimenting with new drinks and foods. learning to eat and drink Begin by offering him a little fresh fruit juice or vegetable juice diluted one part juice to three parts spring or filtered water. I started Aaron, my youngest, on diluted carrot juice made from an organic carrot or two in a centrifuge juice extractor and offered it to him immediately so it was full of vitamins, minerals and life energies. He adored the stuff. Fresh carrot and apple juice diluted in the same way is also a favorite with babies and children. Give them just a taste to begin with either on a little spoon or in a bottle. If your baby doesn't like the taste then forget it for the moment and try him again in another week or two. As they get older you can gradually decrease the water until they are taking it full strength. Offer your baby his first taste of solid foods while he is sitting at the table watching you eat. Mash a banana and give him just a taste, or a little flesh from a baked potato with a tiny bit of butter on it. Make it a game. If he likes it, great, let him have a bit more. If not, eat it yourself and forget it. You can buy one of the inexpensive hand held blenders and puree just about any wholesome natural food you are eating - from soups to nuts and from Brussels sprouts to whole grain bread to which a little spring water has been added. Let it be a game for the both of you - not some serious effort to get him to eat. If you want to avoid eating problems both now and later, never, ever, force food or drink on a baby or child. This is one of the cardinal rules of child rearing. Above all stop worrying about how much he needs to take. He will show you that himself by his responses. What so many parents forget is that the powerful will to live which lies at the core of his own seedpower and has brought your baby into the world will continue to sustain him. He will know how much food he needs now and later as he grows (provided of course his natural mechanisms for knowing have not become distorted by force feeding or being given lots of convenience foods loaded with refined sugar, junk fats and chemical additives). Children who have been raised on breast milk when gradually introduced to simple wholesome fruits and vegetables, grains and home made protein foods right from the table, learn to eat simply and gleefully. Every new taste is an adventure. a little of what he fancies Interesting studies have been carried out with small children. They show that provided the only foods offered them are good foods - that is not highly processed or filled with refined sugar, white flour or additives - babies and children left to their own devices will instinctively choose a wholesome diet. A child may eat nothing but bananas one day, then turn to carrots or whole grain bread or eggs the next. Looked at over a period of a week or two, his picking and choosing prompted by his own internal messages and instincts, spontaneously selects for him a diet which is virtually ideal when measured against what nutritional science says a growing child needs. Because his palate and instincts have not become distorted by manufactured foods, Nature's child is in touch with his body and its needs. He never has to give a thought to eating well. He does it the same way a bird sings or a waterfall tumbles over rocks down into a pool a hundred feet below. He not only supports his health and well-being in the best possible way, his own inner wisdom enables his own brand of individual seedpower to unfold beautifully into the unique individual he is designed to be - physically, emotionally and spiritually. When what your child eats day after day, year after year, supports the energy balancing, energy-producing functions in his body it creates for him an experience of grace in his life and in yours. He is far more likely to be centered in his demeanor, resistant to illness and cheerful in his outlook. When, on the other hand his diet is made up of highly processed convenience foods filled with junk fats and chemical additives - foods which have lost the complex balance and synergy in all living things - then you create metabolic confusion in his body and a greater susceptibility to illness and behavioral disturbances from hyperactivity to aggression.

Motivation From Within

Motivation From Within

We think we must teach our children about discipline - particularly self-discipline. But have you ever watched a baby at play? If a baby sees a toy he wants across the room, he doesn't stop to consider whether it's worthwhile going to get it. Neither does he begrudge the time taken to crawl across the room. The seeing, the crawling, the taking it in his hand are all of a piece, all part of the experience, all a source of pleasure. For a young child there is no separation between the work of seeking a reward and the pleasure of having it, as is so often the case in my life. Like most adults, I have learned to live for goals. I have lost the great joy of the seeking itself by relegating that part of my life to the `unpleasant duty of working for what I want.' Yet many of life's pleasures are to be found as much in the seeking as in the finding. Young children have helped me see this - although I am a long way from putting it into practice in everything I do. As parents, we feel obliged to correct our children when they make mistakes in speaking. Yet so often the words they coin seem much more sensible and charming than their proper counterparts. `It's a froggy day,' Jesse used to say when he meant `foggy.' `Where are the `ouches'?' Susannah would ask when she wanted to hang something on the clothesline. (She had once caught a finger in a clothes peg and her great-grandmother had consoled her by saying, `Ouch, that hurts.') Then there were `flat tireds', the things you get when your car runs over a nail in the road, and the `constructions' which you read to find out how to use something for the first time. Aaron, my youngest, announced one day after playing with one of our Burmese cats `Mummy, guess what, pussy cats have dangerous toes'. Children have also taught me to express anger and not be afraid of it. Watch two children fight. They sling the most appalling insults at each other. One gives the other a whack and swears not to play with him or her again. Two hours later they are best friends once more. They know so much better than we do how to forgive. Somehow they will seem to understand that being angry with someone, no matter how important it seems at the time, is not half as interesting as all the things you can do, see, say and make together as soon as the anger has passed.

Health Nature's Way

Health Nature's Way

In sickness and in health - such is the commitment to care, nurturing and to love that each parent makes towards a child. The health part is manageable, but when sickness strikes it can get scary. Yet this is when Nature's power can shine brightest of all. Natural healing views the doctor's and the parent's role in caring for a sick child as that of a helper. It sees illness - from vomiting to measles to a simple cold - as a manifestation of the body's attempt to eliminate whatever does not belong to it, and by doing so restore order and balance. It also recognizes that the only true healing can come from within. And it identifies the helper's role as that of supporting the body of the sick child in what it is attempting to do - to banish the microbe, remove the poison from his system, readjust hormonal balance or whatever else happens to be necessary to restore equilibrium. When I was young, I was lucky to become good friends with a handful of inspired doctors who not only understood the theory behind natural healing, but some of whom had been practicing it for as much as half a century. The techniques they taught me - from using a compress to quell a fever or calm vomiting, to methods of hydrotherapy for treating earache and athletic injuries - have served me well not only in helping all four of my children to heal themselves, but in helping myself and many others too. Each of these techniques, in its own way, supports the body's own wisdom in healing and/or helps the sick child feel more relaxed and comfortable while healing takes place. beware of antibiotics Antibiotics are great for life-threatening diseases. To employ them for anything less can be a big mistake. Thanks to their overuse by doctors in the past 30 years, malevolent microbes which they were designed to kill have fought back valiantly by developing strains of resistant super bugs. As a result, what once were easily treated bacterial ailments now often do not respond to drugs. Antibiotics are also completely useless in the treatment of viral conditions such as colds, even though some doctors still prescribe them. When they do work on bacterial conditions they not only kill the bacteria they have been designed to kill, they also wipe out a lot of the `good guys' too - helpful bacteria which are part of a child's intestinal flora, on which the continued competence of his immune system depends. I, like the doctors from whom I have learned about natural healing, do not give them to my children. The only way I would ever consider using antibiotics would be in case of a disease which was literally life-threatening and even then I would only do it after consulting a handful of doctors in whose judgment I trust, one of whom would be my second son, Jesse, who is himself a doctor. If for any reason your child has to be treated with antibiotics, it is wise for up to six weeks afterwards to give him supplements of enteric bacteria including acidophilus to help recolonize the good intestinal flora they will have destroyed. the healing power of fever Illness is his body's attempt to reestablish balance and harmony both energetically and biochemically. When it strikes, whether it be cold or sore throat, or childhood disease such as chickenpox or German measles, the parent of a Nature's child is most concerned with how to work together with the child's own natural processes of healing: First, to help speed recovery without causing long term health risks, and second, to help the child be as comfortable and pain free as possible while healing is taking place. Let's look at fever first since that is the thing most parents are most frightened of. Fever is not something which needs, as most parents these days believe, to be suppressed the moment it appears using aspirin or other drugs - for fear it will damage the child. Far from it. Fever is a sign that your child's body is trying to burn off something which is not supposed to be there - a virus for instance, a bacteria, or some element in his food or his environment to which his body takes exception. When an infection develops, your child responds by manufacturing new white blood cells called leukocytes, whose purpose is the destruction of viruses and bacteria and the elimination of wastes and other damaging materials from his body. Then white blood cells become very active in his body - dashing to the site of infection to fight the `baddies'. In the process - which is known as leukotaxis - certain chemicals called pyrogens are released, designed to raise body temperature and make the cleansing more efficient. So important a part does this rise in temperature - fever - play in the process of healing, that artificially created fevers have been used throughout history as a way of treating illness in people who do not have the vitality to produce high enough fevers in themselves. Luckily, kids do. One of the reasons children develop such high fevers when they are ill is that their bodies are enormously vital. That is also why a child can get very sick suddenly, as well as why the sickness will frequently clear just as rapidly. Governed from within, the natural process of healing in a vital young body is intense and highly efficient. As we get older, our bodies lose that efficiency so we heal less rapidly and less effectively. We are taught that 98.6 F is the normal temperature. Yet temperatures vary from person to person. They also depend on how the temperature has been taken - for instance by mouth, under the arm, or rectally. Generally speaking the best - and safest - way of taking a young child's temperature is axillary - by tucking the thermometer in the fold beneath his armpit and leaving it there for five minutes. It is far safer than trying to do it rectally and risk damaging the child, or putting a thermometer into his mouth where he might crunch on it and break it. Not all fevers are dangerous, nor is the degree of your child's temperature much measure of how sick he is. Unless there are other symptoms such as great listlessness, difficulty in breathing, severe pain or some other sign which could indicate the presence of a serious illness such as meningitis or diphtheria, doctors who use natural methods of treating illness will wisely tell you that you should keep an eye on the fever but leave well enough alone. hot for what? There are lots of reasons why your child may develop a fever - overexposure to heat as a result of being too bundled up (particularly in babies), a reaction to food or some poisonous substance, too much sun, a long journey, changes in the weather, a tooth breaking through, over-excitement. If you suspect that he has swallowed some poisonous substance, you need to seek medical help immediately. And in newborn babies, it is important to pay more attention to fever and get a doctor's advice since there is always the chance of an infection having developed as a result of fetal monitoring during birth, or forced obstetric procedures, such as the overmedication of women in labor. Most fevers, however, occur as a result of viral or bacterial infection and are part of the body's own immune response to invasion which, left alone, the body will clear. When your child is running a temperature it is important to make sure he is not dehydrated since the perspiration, runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea which often accompany fever can deplete his body of fluid. This is easy to do by giving plenty of cool water and pure fruit juice - not the so-called fruit drinks which contain sugar and other additives. brain damage and other fears Ninety five percent of childhood fevers never reach 105F, which to many parents represents the so-called danger level. In fact, a fever of 105F which in an adult is extremely high can be quite normal in a child who is fighting off infection. The greatest fear most parents have of fever is that it will cause convulsions. In truth, it is not the size of a fever which is indicative of the likelihood of convulsion but the rapidity with which it rises. If you have ever seen a child in a convulsive seizure it can be a very frightening thing to witness. I have lived through a number - strangely enough, not with my own children, but with other people's. In the midst of watching a child in the throws of convulsion, it is hard to remember that this kind of seizure is uncommon, and that even when it does occur it seldom results in any serious side effects. For instance, in one large study involving 1706 children who had experienced febrile convulsions, not one of them suffered death or motor defects. My doctor friends have always taught me to work with fever, to allow it to burn through while making sure it does not get high enough to cause seizures. This practice was first introduced to me by my grandmother who looked after me when I was sick as a child. She kept my fevers within `safe' range by sponging my body every hour or so with cool water. In the beginning when I had a sick child I would ring one of my doctor friends, worried by my child's temperature and his crying and say, `My son is ill, should I bring him to see you?' After asking me a few questions such as, `How high is his temperature? When did it start? Is he eating?' and so forth, the doctor would advise me to keep an eye on him, give him plenty of fluids and use a compress around his middle to keep the fever under control. So that was what I did. And it has worked beautifully. the abdominal compress This is one of the most effective techniques for helping to eliminate wastes from the body and to keep fever under control while it carries out its job of cleansing. Applying cold water around the middle of the body in the form of a compress charges the local cells with energy, activates circulation and stimulates the liver - the body's organ of detoxification - so that stored wastes can be released more efficiently. Here's how: Tear a piece of old cotton cloth wide enough to reach from under your child's arms down to his hips and long enough to wrap around him once comfortably. An old cotton sheet or pillowcase (not nylon or cotton and polyester) is ideal. Dip the cloth into cold water and wring it out. Then wrap it around the child's middle and secure with safety pins. Wrap a thick dry towel around this and put him into a warm bed. You may want to put a pair of thick socks on him, too. It is important that he doesn't feel cold. Keep it on him for half an hour. If he drops off to sleep for the night you can remove the compress in the morning. Repeat several times a day as needed depending upon the level of his temperature. don't insist your child eats When animals are ill they stop eating. So do children. This is a natural part of their body's attempt to heal itself. It is also a source of great concern to parents. It shouldn't be - especially during an acute illness. Your child's body knows that its energies should be directed towards clearing itself of viruses, bacteria, or what have you, which lie at the core of his illness. To put unwanted food into a body in such circumstances is not only unhelpful, it can actually undermine the healing process by making your child's body turn its attention away from the elimination processes to having to deal with digestion and assimilation - both of which take a lot of energy. Instead, offer him plenty of water and fruit or carrot juices - preferably made fresh with a juice extractor - and keep him in bed until he gets better. Freshly made juices require almost no energy to be assimilated yet they carry a high degree of structural information for health and healing, including many of the most important vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene, which helps strengthen immunity, and vitamin C. Such juices also encourage the elimination of toxicity from the body. Your child can literally live on juices alone during any minor illness. Most kids love them. I also believe in a lot of tender loving care when your child is sick. Massaging his feet with a little ordinary kitchen oil while he lies in bed well covered can be a wonderful way of giving it. You don't need to know how. There isn't any right way, it is just a matter of intuitively letting your hands follow where they want to go. It is enormously soothing, and helps draw the negative energy in his body down towards the feet to be eliminated from his body. It also helps reassure him that you are there and love him, in a way that words can never do. waterpower Hydrotherapy can help too. Particularly if he has an earache - a condition which is agonizing yet rarely dangerous. This technique was taught me by one of the doctors I admire most in the world, Gordon Latto, who has looked after my family - mostly by phone - for almost thirty years. I have used it again and again - for earache in kids, for conjunctivitis myself, for headaches and for childhood and adult athletic injuries to ankles and legs and feet. It, too, works on the principle of drawing energy downwards in the body. In doing so, it not only relieves pain, but also congestion. Finally it increases circulation to the leg and feet area, speeding any healing that is needed there, say, from a turned ankle at football practice. Here's how: Take two buckets large enough to put the child's feet in and deep enough to submerge his legs up to the knee. Fill the first with water as hot as he can take. Fill the second with cold water. Let him plunge his calves and feet into the hot water and stay there for 3 minutes. Then get him to take them out and put them into the cold water for 30 seconds, then back immediately into the hot again (you might have to top up with more hot before you do since it does tend to cool down during the procedure). Do this until you have repeated both hot and cold three times, ending with cold. While this is going on, it is important he is kept warm. Make sure he is in a warm room and that his body is well clothed, so that on no account is he allowed to get chilled. Immediately afterward, put warm socks on his feet and pop him into bed. Repeat this procedure three times a day - or even more often when there is pain. care for colds and coughs In the tradition of natural medicine, a cold is considered the body's most common way of eliminating waste from the system rapidly. In addition to offering a child fresh raw fruit juices I have always given extra supplements of vitamin C and beta carotene - the precursor to Vitamin A - which comes in good quantity in carrots and green vegetables. Both are natural anti-viral agents. I like to give children these nutrients in supplement form (but in much smaller quantities) when they are healthy too, as a way of helping to support their immune system so they become resistant to disease. One of the most important things I have learned from some of my doctor friends has been that at the first sign of a sniffle you cut out any and all dairy products from a child's diet - milk, yogurt, cream, butter, cheese, and any other food which might even have the tiniest bit of any of these things in it. This helps speed recovery and stops even more mucous from forming. Aromatherapy can help with colds too. If you have a little aromatherapy burner - the kind you put water into the top of then light a candle underneath - you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to the water and let its molecules fill the room to help ease a child's breathing. Sage is another essential oil good for this. Both have anti-microbial properties. If you don't have a burner, try heating a saucepan on the stove. When it is steaming drop five or six drops of the essential oil into the water. (Be sure to keep it well out of harm's way in the room your child is in and never leave it unattended with a young child.) You can also fill a basin with hot water, drop some essential oil into it and let the child put his head, covered loosely by a towel, over the steam for five minutes several times a day to clear his head. Manuka Honey with a little lemon juice is excellent for sore throats. This honey, from New Zealand, is unique in the world. It has been shown to destroy many strains of bacteria including staphylococcus, streptococcus, staphaureus - even heliobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with peptic ulcers. Mix it with a little fresh lemon juice and give it on a teaspoon as a soothing linctus. choose supplements carefully When choosing a multiple vitamin or mineral supplement for your child, be careful. His body has a natural affinity for vitamins and minerals as they occur in Nature and are found in wholesome fresh unprocessed foods, not for the synthetic form. Not all vitamins and minerals are the same. The human body cannot easily absorb most of the synthetic, chemical vitamins on the market. And regardless of what the labels say about being `natural', the truth is almost every vitamin you can buy these days is synthetic, and therefore not very bio-available. This means your body or your child's body can absorb very little of them, because the chemical form of vitamins is so different from the natural form you find in good wholesome food. `Food-state' vitamins are different. They are grown instead of being chemically made, using a unique bio-tech process which allows living plant cells to take up vitamin concentrates and transform them into a form the human body can easily assimilate and use. This means you don't have to go for megadoses to get real benefits. Food-state nutrients are particularly good for children. They are the only kind I give mine. I began with a liquid multi vitamin and mineral when they were babies (plus some extra vitamin C) and then gradually increased the amounts as they grew. At 12 for instance, I gave Aaron two 250 milligram tablets of food-state vitamin C a day with his breakfast along with a food-state multiple vitamin and mineral. During the winter months, I also give him one or two 4.5 milligram tablets of beta carotene a day. So protective an influence can vitamin A exert, and so supporting is it to a child's immune system, that a recent study published in the British Medical Journal states that vitamin A may also play an important role in those with life threatening infections. While on the subject of protection, I would never let my children drink fluoridated water. There is too much evidence that, while it does help protect against dental carries, it has also been implicated in the development of degenerative conditions later in life. I believe it is far better to have a child's teeth painted with fluoride once every 6 months at the dentist if you want, or to give him fluoride toothpaste to use. Then at least it doesn't pervade his whole system. herbs and homeopathy I use only a few herbs. I find that red sage, for instance, over which you have poured boiling water and allowed to steep for ten minutes then let cool for later use, makes an excellent gargle for an older child (or adult) with any kind of head or throat or chest infection. Mint tea sweetened with a little honey can do wonders for upset tummies and flatulence. So can the American Indian herb slippery elm, which you mix with a little warm water and add some honey to (preferably Manuka). With older children in bed with any kind of head or throat or chest infection, I also ask them to place a small clove of garlic - complete with its skin coating - between the cheek and the teeth inside their mouth and to keep it there for an hour morning and night. (Not possible if they are up and about or too young since they might choke.) Garlic kills the `nasties' quickly and efficiently. I use only a little homeopathy, it is all I find I need. I use Arnica 30 for instance. It is good for shock, or any kind of injury or emotional upset. I give two tablets immediately and then two every half hour until the crisis has passed. The second remedy I like is Aconite 30, which I give every three or four hours when there is fever to help in the cleansing process that is taking place. Long ago I put together what in the family is known as `Mummy's First Aid Kit'. There you will find vitamin C, some zinc and beta carotene, herbs and homeopathics, plus a compress or two torn from an old sheet, a couple of unipolar magnets and crepe bandages for helping to heal bruises and sprains. It goes everywhere with us throughout the world and has become so popular as a result of being used by children and adults outside the family that I have been forced to put together several for other people as well. Of course, it won't fix broken legs. And if my child's fever suddenly shot up to 106 in the space of an hour or there was any emergency I felt incapable of handling I would be on the phone in a minute for help from the doctor. But for over thirty years, this little collection of things - together with some hydrotherapy, a good dollop of patience, great respect for Nature's ways and a lot of tender loving care - has been all that was required to see my kids through everything that has ailed them. All I can ever hope to be is a helper. It is Nature that does the real work.

More Stuff Kids Done Taught Me

More Stuff Kids Done Taught Me

A few years ago I had lunch with a beautiful and successful American woman in her mid thirties. Sooner or later the conversation got around - as it often does with me - to children. This woman told me that she had a five year old daughter. I asked her if it was difficult living and working in New York while raising a child on her own. She replied that it had been hard but that now it should get better since she and her little girl were going to parenting classes. `Parenting classes,' I asked, `whatever are they?' `You know, where you learn how to be a parent. We go twice a week together,' she reported with enthusiasm. Curious about what was taught in these new programs, and at the same time suppressing a smile at the latest American attempt to package up something as rich and complex as parenthood and spoonfeed it to clients well-heeled enough to afford the indulgence, I asked, `What do they teach you?' `Oh, they teach you just everything’ she screeched, sweeping her hand across the table in a way that makes British head waiters loathe American clients. `For instance, when your child goes to pick up something from the coffee table which you don't want her to have you must never be negative,' she said. `Negativity is not good for children,' she added, leaning closer in a conspiratorial fashion. `So instead of saying, "No, no," which might crush your child's spirit, you say, "Now darling that is a no, but this is a yes (pointing to other objects near by), and this is a yes and this is a yes."' OUT OF PATIENCE I have little patience with such practices - nor do I believe there are a lot of set rules to follow to raise a child well. That is because, like a lot of seasoned parents, I have learned about parenthood the hard way. When my first child was born—more than fifty years ago now—I was determined to bring him up right: not to make the mistakes that my parents had made with me, to ensure that he developed quickly both physically and mentally, and that he turned into the kind of person that I thought he should be. I worked hard at it. I read everything I could get my hands on about child development - all the latest theories and all the traditional wisdom. No time or expense was to be spared in bringing up this child. He would be breast-fed, disciplined, and taught to read by the time he was a year old using special equipment designed for the task. I would instill in him a strong sense of moral rectitude and good manners and he would be given every kind of educational toy I could lay my hands on to help develop his creativity. Also I would never lose my temper, always be patient and kind (but firm of course) and make sure he didn't watch too much television. My master plan for child rearing might have sounded good on paper, but it had a couple of big drawbacks. First, no human being could ever have carried it out. Second, it completely ignored the most important truth there is about child rearing - a truth which I did not myself come to know until I had two or three more children under my belt. It is this: You don't have to read a thousand books and follow a lot of rules the so-called experts make up to raise a healthy, happy, creative child. You only need to learn to trust in yourself and in the incredible powers of Nature. You also need to develop the art of listening—with your heart and mind and instincts as well as your ears—to your child. Most of the time he will tell you what you need to know. TO HELL WITH “PERFECT PARENTING” Once I finally figured this out - many tried and failed strategies down the road - I let go of my anxieties and theories. Then motherhood became not only a joy for me but a source of never-ending wonder. I discovered that each child—not only my own children, but boys and girls with whom I worked as a nursery school teacher, and others—is utterly unique and perfect in his or her own way. I also learned that your relationship to a child has a life of its own. So long as you are willing to face each child honestly and openly day by day and so long as you honor and respect this relationship, not only does this empower you to give the best guidance and care for the child. In some magic way which I still don't fully understand, it can even help heal deep emotional wounds within you yourself as a learning parent. Most important of all I discovered that the whole idea of perfect parenthood is a big fraud. There ain't nothing perfect when it comes to parenthood. Perfect by whose criteria anyway? The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can get down to the business of child rearing and enjoying it. For me, raising children—whether it be dealing with a tiny baby or seeing your twenty-five year old develop year by year—has been the most exciting and rewarding thing I have ever done—or for that matter, ever hope to do. And as for the widespread belief that unless you have been well mothered while you were growing up you are doomed to be a bad mother yourself. It just ain’t so—no matter what those high falutin’ experts keep sayin’.

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