Have you tried massage or reflexology with your children? Do they enjoy it? Do you have any favourite massage or reflexology resources to recommend?
My children love massage. It's relaxing, it's soul connecting, calming, centering, warming. At night before bed or with Otis just about any time of the day it helps to 'reset' and bring some peace.
We have been using massage so often I thought it was time to explore some further techniques and options. I have been pretty much just giving Otis a back rub and I knew there was more out there. I found four resources I would look into including reflexology, Qigong and Story Massage. I know there are many courses dedicated to children's massage however I found these (DVD, book and CD) resources inspiring and educational.
Many of these resources claim to assist with ailments although I have not tried them for this purpose. I can attest that each of these massage therapies work for promoting wellness and positivity.
Prior to reading this book I had basically no knowledge of reflexology. It sounded good but I had no idea if it was suitable for our family. While not an everyday occurrence I love having this story book and some very basic reflexology knowledge to use with Otis.
This book features easy to follow diagrams and instructions for giving basic reflexology while reading the charming story. Designed to help strengthen the bond process between parent/carer and child and offers a gentle remedy for sleep difficulties and anxiety. Definitely no prior reflexology knowledge or experience required. This book is non-intimidating, I found it a fantastic introduction to reflexology for children.
A wiggly child may have difficulty staying still and for a ticklish child it will take a little getting used to. However this is just about getting them and you/me familiar with the process and being about to put some heart into the process/story telling which is/will be much more engaging.
Qigong Massage. "Our love is Qi and Qigong is a way for us to give our love to our child in a way that makes them stronger and healthier."
This method is based on a 15 minute massage, using twelve movements which are detailed in the book and in the DVD. Research has shown the program is effective for children with autism who are six years and under (who are not undergoing other intensive medical treatments). This research is based on the parent doing the massage treatment everyday for five months. Qigong Massage can also assist with sensory problems, stress and relaxation problems, repetitive behaviours, tantrums and meltdowns, aggressive behaviours, sleep and digestive problems. However Qigong massage is also totally suited to typically developing children for wellness.
To understand Qigong massage it is important to have some understanding of "qi" (chee) energy. The book and DVD are very thorough, asserting that the person who is best to do the massage is the parent of other adult close to the child - not someone professionally trained in Qigong massage.
The twelve movements are easy to do and with the movement chart at the back of the book are easy to remember/reference. To get the most out of this massage it needs to be done regularly and suited to the need of the child - the book/DVD helps with this such as moving from a energy clearing to filling movement. This is also an all body massage.
I don't have children with or any experience with autism, however this massage comes highly recommended for all children. It takes a bit of patience and practice to have the child stay in one place for this massage however I have found my children to really take to it, in the moment they are responding to the movements. This turns out not to be a regular method for us however it has been so insightful and has influenced my interaction and my massage techniques with my children.
This method is the most fun and the one we use all the time! This is light and easy massage that goes along with a story.
The book is ring bound (as pictured above) making it easy to sit open while you do the massage. It contains 35 stories including traditional tales (nursery rhymes), seasonal and imaginative stories, personalised stories and educational prose. There are ten different massage strokes - all very easy to remember and can be used on the child who is seated or lying on their front. The book has small symbols next to the story for you (the adult/parent to follow).
Each story and massage is brief. Sometimes at bed time I will read/massage Otis 10-12 stories. I can definitely see the difference with Otis after the story massage. We will use this book before bed or even when I can tell Otis is tired but resisting sleep, or feeling grumpy/unhappy or even angry or frustrated. I feel it rejuvenates him, he regains his positivity and is relaxed. This book will stay off the shelves and next to the bed for a long time to come.
This is also an easy type of massage for children to do on each other. My children are not at this point. Both would rather receive a massage then give it.
With some types of massage, where I can, I like to use massage oil because I find it warming and the essential oils are an additional aspect to the process that contributes to calmness and feeling of wellness. I also purchase massage oil rather than make my own blend - perhaps one day I will feel confident to make this up myself.
The essential oils in the massage blend are calming for the nervous system and soothing for the digestive system. Recommended to use at bedtime to calm and relax your child in preparation for a good night's sleep.
"Massage has a stimulating effect on the immune system, reduces anxiety and stress hormone levels and is an aid in relaxation. It also enhances the parent-child bond through skin to skin contact, and releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has a calming and relaxing effect on your child. By offering your child a massage at bedtime, for example, you are calming your child’s brain, from the fight or flight (primitive brain), to the midbrain and limbic system (responsible for the emotional, social and compassionate experiences and for the ability to bond with others). Massage and nurturing touch activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Heartbeat slows, breathing becomes easier and stomach secretions increase. This is an ideal time for your child to receive massage, as this will prepare them for a great night’s sleep!"- Natalie Garmson iDibiDi Kids Massage.
This is a lovely guide all about children's massage including massage rhymes, songs and games. Most valuably it also has a section on massage for childhood ailments such as congestion, headaches, abdominal problems with some colour diagrams and photographs. My children don't suffer from these but if/when they do I will be reaching for this guide.
This guide also includes lots of lovely little tips that I hadn't thought of before such as introducing massage with relaxation music or doing the massage on a special soft rug or blanket.
The best part of reading widely is being able to adapt the massage to the exact needs of the child at that exact point in time. There is also something very nurturing and reassuring about child massage. I think it also helps to build trust. I'd love to know your thoughts.