Do you ever hear your kids say, “I feel so misunderstood. Nobody “gets” me,” “I don’t know why I always get in trouble,” “I’m always in pain!” “Life’s too hard. I’d rather play video games.” Do you ever hear yourself say, “Why is my child so fussy/irritable/difficult/sensitive?” “Why is my child sick so often?” “Why isn’t my child developing/maturing like others the same age?” “How can I help my child not have such a hard time with ___”.
In previous generations, parents were told, “It’s just a phase/stage their going through” and that was that. A certain subset of kids were fated to have a difficult time with what we call a compromised nervous system. A growing subset of Generation X and Millennial parents are bucking this trend. Accepting a dreadful fate is not good enough for them or their kids. These parents take action and do what they can to help their kids thrive in health, school and life. Setting up a good foundation of health for their kids is a priority, not an afterthought.
For the longest time, the essentials of life were thought to be air, water and food. Millennials understand that there’s more to health than these 3 factors. In addition to these, the body and mind need to sense internal and external conditions, integrate them in the brain and nervous system, then coordinate the most appropriate response. Miscommunication between the brain and nervous system directly affects integration of sensory input, understanding, decision-making and response. It’s only a matter of time or accumulation of dysfunctional responses before health impairment becomes noticeable. Most people do not know of the key role of the nervous system for brain development, emotional maturation, organ and system function, growth, healing, mood, learning, and even epigenetics – the turning on and off of genes in the body.
All our life experiences, physical, mental and chemical, create new nerve pathways or reinforce existing nerve pathways. “Good” life experience result in effective, efficient pathways for growth, healing and promote further positive experiences. For example, a smiling baby leads to more positive attention from adults and her needs are readily met. “Bad” or “painful” life experiences or injuries lead to negative feelings, and compensatory or protective nerve pathways (aka “layers of dysfunction”) are formed and reinforced instead. These are less-efficient and can even lead to undesired results. For example, a child in distress fusses, leading to frustrated adults who may choose to berate the “bad” behaviour or avoid the child (“time-outs). Since the original discomfort is not addressed, the distress continues and forms a layer of dysfunction. As these layers of dysfunction accumulate, the nervous system becomes more compromised, and the child develops more problems related to mood, adaptability, coordination and learning.
Individually, small injuries and negative experiences may not reach thresholds for lasting dysfunction. More traumatic experiences, repeated or chronic smaller injuries, however, can surpass thresholds for adaptability and lead to outward dysfunction, discomfort and even disease. Outward signs of these layers of dysfunction can take months to years to decades to reach levels of identifiable disability, (aka “pain” or distress) at which time the poor nerve patterns are ingrained and difficult to change. Each layer of dysfunction has both a physical and energetic component. The physical component is the “subluxation” or spinal misalignment to try to minimize the effect of nerve overload onto the end organ. This is like an electrical surge causing a fuse to blow. The energetic component is the “disconnect” that follows. We also call this disconnect “tolerance”. We “tolerate” ongoing neck pain. We “tolerate” a mean person picking on us repeatedly. We “tolerate” a poor diet. We “tolerate” feeling blah, tired, or not happy. Tolerance is a survival tactic when we don’t think we can change our situation, or we are unwilling to do what it takes to change. This tolerance, or disconnect, however, prevents us from reaching our fullest potential, or being truly healthy.
Long before kids can knowingly express their discomfort, “un-wellness” can manifest itself in more subtle ways, like issues with personality, behaviour, emotions, learning, sensory integration and the immune system. In a baby, we might see colic, fussiness, eczema, or difficulty with sleeping, bonding or nursing. In a young child, we may see him or her being very sensitive to textures of clothing or foods, easily overstimulated, chronic or prolonged infections or unable to follow directions. School-age children and teens may present with self-harm (anorexia, cutting), withdrawal from peers and family, irritability/anger issues, auto-immune problems (allergies, type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), difficulty relating to others, anxiety, obsessive or compulsive behaviours, or mood swings. For too long, many of these signs are dismissed as, “its just a phase”, “it’s normal”, or “it’s just hormones” without looking to see if it’s more than that, and if anything can be done to make life easier or better for the kids.
In this day and age, more and more kids are suffering. More kids than ever are on prescription medication, restricted diets, requiring IEP’s (individual educational plans) at school, seeing counsellors, and giving up on school, friendships, or family bonds in favour of a virtual world with immediate rewards. Their suffering affects us all, whether it’s disrupting classroom learning, bullying, self-medicating with illicit drugs, addictions (teen & adult version of “self-soothing” with artificial means), breakdowns in relationships, and overall unhappiness.
As a pediatric chiropractor, a major focus in my office is kid’s health and their developing brains and nervous systems. There is an increasing epidemic of nervous system compromise in children in recent years and many conventional interventions pay no attention to the underlying causes, or wait too long before telling parents to take action. Our goal with chiropractic is to remove layers of accumulated dysfunction on a continual basis, so that children can experience a natural flow towards optimal health.
If you suspect your child is suffering the effects of a compromised nervous system, or you would like to help your child be on track to better health, please call (604-566-9088) or visit www.FamilyWellnessChiro.ca for a FREE Baseline Health Assessment. We believe every child has the birthright to be healthy and vital so they may develop into wonderful, healthy adults.