Amy rang this morning to complain that Mary, her 10 year-old daughter, was sick, again with a bad cough and cold after it had only been a month since her last illness. I asked Amy whether anything had preceded her getting sick and she said, “No, nothing unusual.” So we continued talking and I kept asking questions about this and that until Amy said, “Gosh, I completely forgot. We went to the dentist last week because she’s been having lots of pain. Apparently her permanent teeth are coming in. It feels just like when she was teething as a toddler!” That sparked off some more questions and bingo! Everything fell into place.
Mary had grown a good inch the previous month. She had become lethargic and pale, not wanting to get up and go in the weeks after her growth spurt. That period coincided with the week before she fell sick, which happened to be when her teeth were coming in. Mary’s mum and I both felt relieved. There was a reason why she was getting sick and it made sense. Amy and Mary were both thankful it wasn’t anything more serious, like an underlying chronic weakness or disease.
The remedy Calcarea phosphorica quickly helped her over her cough and cold and restored her vitality. I suggested Amy dedicate a ‘door jamb’ to Mary’s growth and that she check her height once a month or when Mary seems to be ‘slowing down’ in general. I told Amy to give her daughter Calcarea phosphorica after a growth spurt if it affected her vitality, knowing that it would help her body adjust to the stress and prevent her from falling ill.
a rough guide
It’s good to know what stresses you and what stresses your children, as well! For some kids, growth spurts are no big deal. Others are completely drained by them. Some kids produce teeth without missing a step. Others make a really big palaver out of them.
Use the Holmes and Rahe Stress Chart as a rough guide to review your children’s stresses every so often and look at how they may be impacting their health overall. Add stressors that are known to affect your child, and score them appropriately – giving them a higher or lower score depending on how stressful they are. Involve your child in these ‘Stress Assessments’ and you’ll find yourselves having an interesting conversation before long about life’s many stressors and what your child thinks or feels about them. Be sure to talk about how they affect you, as well. The seeds you sow about we are all different will take root and provide a useful sense of perspective for the rest of your child’s life.
A score of 300 or more points in any one year means that there’s a higher chance of falling ill (up to 80% in adults); a score of 150-299 means that there’s a moderately high chance of falling ill (about 50%); and a score of under 150 means that your chance of falling ill is fairly low (around 30%). Stresses can be cumulative so it can be useful to add up stresses from previous years and compare scores – and also, to look at whether the effects from older stresses are lingering on. Children with a low stress tolerance may fall ill with stress scores as low as 150. Those with a high stress tolerance may need to hit 300 or even 400 before they get sick.
It’s also helpful to make a list of all the things that balance out stress in your child, so that during times of higher stress, you are doing what you can to build their vitality. Our children’s bodies are always grateful for extra sleep and rest when we are under stress. Getting enough sleep can be a challenge with everyone’s busy schedule. Just remember how disrupted that schedule can become by illness and get some extra hours as a preventative measure. Good nutrition, exercise and fresh air also help to strengthen us.
For children who are naturally introverted, some good chunks of time alone – reading or listening to music – will recharge their batteries. The extraverts need to socialize with their friends.
Love and laughter are two great healers. Telling your child you love him or her helps a bit, demonstrating it helps more. We may need to be creative with how we do that depending on our children’s personalities and needs.
Take an occasional ‘health day’ and do things completely unassociated with work or school. Get each person in your family to make a list of the things that they love to do, but don’t do because there isn’t enough time.
Feeling a sense of connectedness, and being loved in the home and/or with friends, alleviates stress. Everyone’s too connected to machines these days. Turn off all televisions and computers for a day. Spend a day doing things to connect with each other and with the creative juices within: like gardening, cooking, reading, playing board games and of course, napping!
Finally, remember that your children each have their own unique characters and needs. Helping your child to learn about themselves, about what stresses them and what alleviates stress is a gift of knowing that will last their whole lives.
Holmes & Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, Thomas H Holmes, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol II. pp. 213-218, reprinted by permission of Pergamon Press, Copyright 1967 by Elsevier Science, Inc.
Death of a parent, boyfriend/girlfriend
Divorce of parents
Breakup with boyfriend or girlfriend
Jail term or probation
Death of another family member
Serious personal injury or illness
Entering university or changing schools
Change in independence or responsibility
Any drug and/or alcohol use
Expelled from school (or fired from work)
Change in alcohol or drug use
Reconciliation with boyfriend/girlfriend or family member
Trouble at school
Working while attending school
Working more than 40 hours a week
Changing course of study
Change in frequency of dating
Sexual adjustment problems (confusion of sexual identity)
Gain of new family member (new baby or step-family through marriage)
Change in work responsibilities
Change in financial state
Death of a close friend
Change to a different kind of work
Change in number of arguments with family or friends
Sleep less than 8 hours per night
Trouble with in-laws or boy/girl friends family
Outstanding personal achievement (awards, grades etc)
Parents start or stop working
Beginning or ending school
Change in living conditions (as adults)
Change in personal habits e.g. dieting, smoking etc
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