If my kids have taught me anything at all, it’s the value of physical touch. I’m not naturally a touchy-feely kind of person, but I’ve learned to adapt, and it’s been the most rewarding experience. If you’ve been around kids for any amount of time, you likely know kids don’t have much regard for the personal bubble thing.
Instead of trying to put a damper on my kids’ enthusiasm for physical affection, I’ve learned to steer it into a productive activity by teaching them how to locate pressure points on the body for a variety of purposes. Before trying any at-home treatments whatsoever, be sure to contact your doctor to explain your child’s complaints and get her expert opinion first. If she agrees, try a few acupressure points before reaching for the conventional medicines. Your child may need medical attention beyond just soothing minor aches and pain, so defer to professions first whenever these situations arise.
Here are five pressure points, how they connect to other parts of your body, and when best to use them to bond with (and comfort) your little ones.
Headache and Toothache
For the occasional mild headache or teething discomfort, find the “Large Intestine (LI) 4,” a pain point located in the web between your thumb and pointer finger. This is a well-known acupressure point, possibly because it tends to be effective. With circular motions, massage this muscle until your child’s complaints subside.
Lower Extremity Owies
For superficial foot owies, leg cramps, and lower-body growing pains, my husband and I administer acupressure points on the tops of our kids’ feet. Specifically, Lv3, also called “Bigger Rushing,” which I learned about from Dr. Michael Reed Gach, founder of Acupressure.com. To find it, simply maneuver your thumbs between the foot bones of the first and second toe and apply the gentlest pressure. I maintain constant movement so my kids don’t get too squirmy as I work, but I keep emphasis on that one vital spot.
Perhaps the second most well-known of all pressure points on the body, the “Pericardium 6,” is located between the two tendons on the inside of your child’s wrist, approximately an inch and a half up the arm from the joint. Tapping this spot gently with your own fingers both stimulates and calms the mind while engaging the body’s natural energy for healing abdominal pain and digestive issues.
The Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital pain management experts show how you can potentially calm your child’s entire body just by touching different points on the ear. For distress related to pain or sickness, they recommend using three pain points at once. Start by having your child lie down on his back, with his head toward you. With your fingers, find the outside edges of the eyebrows, and travel about a half inch toward the ears on both sides, until you locate the small divots (often called the “temples”) and apply gentle pressure. As your fingers keep slight pressure there, let your thumbs push very gently on the hairline straight “north” of your child’s nose.
The Sleepy Button
Experts at Bastyr University recommend a couple pressure points on the body to encourage sleep—something all parents can appreciate. The one I’ve found most helpful for youngsters is the divot just above the nose, between the eyes. To ease kids into it, I suggest having them locate your sleepy button first. This familiarizes them with the concept before it’s their turn. Dramatize the effect for them to elicit a smile as they work. Collapse, for example, and fake snore. Pretend your slumber is an extraordinarily deep one, and you (momentarily) cannot be shaken awake.
Tui na (pronounced “twee-naw”) is a gentler form of traditional Chinese medicine that, according to the University of Minnesota, benefits children when used to address those unsurprising bumps and bruises so common to “being a kid.” It’s simply using your fingers to massage pressure points (as opposed to the iconic needles known in acupuncture).
What are some lesser known acupressure points for kids and their most common ailments or boo-boos? Let us know on Twitter.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.