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ADHD + Acupuncture = Calmer, Happier Kiddos! Part 1.

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

Acupuncturist taking acupuncture needle out of little kid's leg
Photo by Jen Berryman Doula and Photographer

If you're starting to read this blog and thinking, "Acupuncture for kids???!!!" - visit my very first post here to read all about why this medicine is SO incredible for children. And why it's so not scary.

This blog is a two-parter. Mostly because I have lots of cool things to share, and if you're anything like me, your attention span (and time allotment) for reading super lengthy blogs is nil. Treatment for ADHD in my clinic often involves some or all of the techniques specific to East Asian Medicine and can include: acupuncture, non-needle approaches like Shonishin, herbal medicine, and medical massage. My treatment plans are all customized to each little human in front of me, with the goals often of regulating the nervous system and improving sleep, behavior, attention, and emotional landscapes.

I want to start by introducing the Chinese medical concept of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood, as a way to look at different personality and behavioral types. Stick with me. Each of the elements exist in nature, and when Chinese medicine was developed (at least 3,000 years ago), observation of the natural world was a pretty good way to understand cause and effect and relationships, among other things. Fire, for example, burns hot and can be wild and unpredictable, but when controlled has a beautiful warming nature that feels yummy to be around. If we think about wood in nature (let's say in the form of a tree) that tree is solid and unyielding - push with all your might, you're probably not going to tip that established oak tree over. But, grab a chain saw and you can chop it to pieces.

These five elements can serve as lenses through which we can more clearly understand ourselves and our kiddos. This can be especially useful when thinking about helpful approaches for our little ones with ADHD. I wanted to outline each of the five element types as they relate to personality. You might read through one description and think, "Yep! That's my kiddo to a T," or you might notice that your child doesn't fit neatly into one specific category. That makes sense! Every individual is magically unique! While our kids often have traits from many categories, there is usually one specific type that is more dominant than the others. Discovering your child's five element type can provide some insight on best ways to play, challenge, feed, and nurture your little one in a way that is uniquely suited to them! "What five element type is my little one," you might ask? If you did, I'm so glad! Next up...descriptions of each of the five element types:

abstract image of a tree with the text wood underneath representing a wood five element type

Your WOOD child is a brave little explorer - eager to move and always seeking adventure. Their curiosity and drive make them natural leaders! They are always on the go and they love to challenge boundaries. This sometimes means that they find the physical constraints of school a challenge - they would much rather rush through their schoolwork in order to go outside to

compete in a race (and probably win!) They also have difficulty managing their emotions, especially anger, and are prone to outbursts.

abstract image of a yellow earth with the text "earth" underneath representing an earth five element type

Your EARTH child is a sweet little caretaker - attending to other’s needs, sometimes before their own. They are incredibly loyal to family and love being with friends. They are amazing helpers and care deeply about the welfare of those around them. Because of their intense desire to please others and keep peace, your earth child is likely a worrier, perhaps even keeping them up at night. If they have arguments with friends or feel like they don’t fit in at school, they will get clingy with Mom and likely display some separation anxiety.

abstract image of fire with the text "fire" underneath representing a fire five element type

Your FIRE child is a bright, shining star! They seek to be the center of attention and are funny little entertainers with tons of charisma! They are instant friends with most people they meet. This makes the classroom a challenging place, as focusing on boring schoolwork is much less exciting than entertaining the class or chatting it up with friends. Their behavior can be unpredictable at times, as can their rapidly changing moods.

abstract image of metal with the text "metal" underneath representing a metal five element type

Your METAL child is a detail-oriented little alchemist! They are precise and able to recognize patterns where others may not see them. They have a deep sense of right and wrong and enjoy structure and following the rules. This makes them great students, except in classrooms that are disorderly or where they have too many choices. This will likely bring out their inflexible, rigid, and perfectionistic sides.

abstract image of water with the text "water" underneath representing a water five element type

Your WATER child marches to the beat of their own drummer! They are a deep thinker, feeler, and are wise beyond their years. They are quiet and comfortable being alone, where they can immerse themselves in imaginative play. They will have difficulty at school if they are not challenged or motivated by the material - their inner world is much more exciting, after all! Daydreaming or withdrawing are common behaviors and, because of this, they will have

difficulty completing tasks.

In Part 2 of this ADHD series, we'll look at why acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are uniquely equipped to help children with behavioral differences and talk about some practical stuff you can do at home! In the meantime, I HIGHLY recommend these two resources on five element types in children: Heal Your Child From the Inside Out and, even more specific to ADHD, Fire Child, Water Child.

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