How can reflexology help children?

Susan Quayle, author of the ‘Mouse’ series, spoke to us to discuss her background in reflexology, the concept behind her books and how the practice of reflexology can help children.

 

Susan, you’ve been a reflexologist for a number of years. How did you discover reflexology?

I actually believe that reflexology discovered me, despite my resistance to it.

I first came across it at a green festival in Dorset. I tried it and found it extremely relaxing. At the time I was a hardcore horticulturalist, plants were my passion, but I did buy Laura Norman’s book and was fascinated with the whole idea.

Shortly after this my sister-in-law became pregnant and suffered very badly with Hyperemisis Gravidarum and my first step on the road to becoming a maternity reflexologist, unbeknownst to me, was when I would visit her and give her the treatment for morning sickness from Laura’s book. It always made her feel better.

 

It was another ten years before I retrained in massage therapy and followed this training with sports massage. Unfortunately, the sports massage tutor wasn’t very good and we all felt that we would never get through the exam or have the required knowledge to work in this field so we left en-mass. The only other course that was running was the reflexology diploma, which I was very unsure about joining. Fortunately I did and came to realise very quickly what an incredible therapy it is. I have trained in many therapies but reflexology has been the focus of my career followed closely by aromatherapy.

 

What do you think it is about reflexology that is so beneficial for children’s physical and mental well-being?

I have seen reflexology totally relax children, almost instantly; their eyes glaze and have a far away look in them and it happens very quickly if the child is in need of the treatment.

Reflexology promotes a profoundly deep relaxation that often feels like a switch being flicked and a part of you just sinks into a deep restfulness. It is during this deep rest and quiet space that the body is able to begin a healing response.

Children are open to new experiences and engage fully, when they feel safe and comfortable, which enables them to reach this place of healing and relaxation very quickly. As they are so young and untainted by life-long indulgences their body can rebalance quickly and often does.

Every day our children are put under more and more pressure to perform, conform and do well. Their physical and mental health is constantly under threat and children with supportive families are just as likely as those without to be prescribed drugs for depression now.

Complementary therapies are an important part of family life. In so many cultures around the world, where appropriate, nurturing touch is shared by the whole family not just given to the babies and young children.

Touch helps children to be more accepting of their body and the changes taking place, touch is an important part of being human and I think is particularly important for teenagers, who would accept it more readily if it had been part of their every day life delivered within the safety of a loving family.

 

Your new book (and the other books in your series) focuses around characters and a story to accompany a reflexology exercise. How did you find this process?

As with all processes that appear to arrive from nowhere, my first book had actually been many years in the making; deep inside my head where all the creativity is happening without me even really knowing about it.

Both my children were brought up with a love of books; we read to them every day and sang songs, our favourites were always the rhyming stories and songs. So it all began with Slinky Malinky, The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale, Green Eggs and Ham and all those wonderful books for children. I have always been pretty good at putting little rhymes together for children’s cards and things so the rhyming was fixed a long time ago.

The actual ‘Eureka’ moment, like Archimedes, occurred in the bath, a great place for parents to get a moment’s peace and actually lose themselves in thoughts. I jumped out and wrote the first draft instantly, that was the effect of all those years of preparation in the hidden corners of my brain! Many months’ work followed but that very first draft took place on October 12th 2012. I have never been so excited or bewildered!

Once I had the idea it was only really a matter of allowing the story to develop in my head. I think I could come up with them forever!

 

What reaction have you had to your books so far?

The reaction to the books has been wonderful. They have been embraced by the reflexology community and have even won awards, along with The Children’s Reflexology Programme, (the teaching programme that now goes with them). I think it was such a unique and novel idea to put reflexology to a story and also to make this lovely, gentle complementary therapy available to children. Children have embraced it whole heartedly; they love the animal characters, finding the animals on their own feet but also sharing such healthy, positive touch with family and friends. Complementary therapy made accessible through play offers a positive understanding of issues relating to health, self care and nurturing, positive touch within families but also within communities.

 

How is Mouse and the Storm different from the other books in your series?

My latest book Mouse and the Storm differs from the first two in that it contains hand reflexology. The first two books use foot reflexology so are more about giving and receiving reflexology. Book three is about giving and receiving too, but it also focuses on self treatment. Mouse and the Storm was written specifically to support parents of children with additional needs and to go with our courses for these parents.

Being able to self treat offers many children who have challenges with day-to-day transitions, between places and activities, strategies to help them. It also allows children with sensitivity issues to take control of the pressure and touch that is used on them. We have seen some wonderful results with both the book and the course, and with these children loving and engaging with the animal characters too. We have had reports of children coming home from school and telling their parents how many times they visited Mouse that day.

 

Are there any challenges you have encountered when using reflexology with children?

Using reflexology with children can be as challenging as trying to get them to engage in anything else. It can take time to build a relationship with them, which can create some awkward moments! If a child doesn’t want reflexology the chances are that today you won’t be giving any. However if you are careful you may well sow the seeds that will allow you to treat them next time. Children are naturally curious and once they have made a connection with you they will put their trust in you and love to learn. You can’t force a child so really it is about releasing your own ego and making it all about the child. I had one little boy whose mum used to come to me for reflexology and I always gave him a bit too. He wouldn’t allow anyone to give him reflexology except me – he grew out of it soon enough and now gives his baby sister reflexology as well as his parents; he’s only five.

 

Lastly, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

My passion is reflexology. I wrote my books so that I could share the huge benefits of reflexology with as many families as I could. I hope that the next generation will grow up not only knowing what reflexology is but what it feels like to receive and what it feels like to give, and value it as a resource available to them with little cost or effort. Hopefully these children will grow up wanting to share these books with their own children and so pass their knowledge on to the next generation.

Reflexology is an experience, a powerful human connection on a deeply personal and nurturing level that I hope will resonate with every child that encounters it through my books at a young age. To value connection and humanity through our basic human need, touch, is a value worth instilling from as early an age as possible. Complementary therapies are a gentle way of bringing communities together in health, well being, nurture and caring. Our children need to grow up in the warm embrace of these life skills for their own good health and that of each other. Our families and communities need to reconnect on the most basic level. This is a part of what I hope my books can bring about.

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


To view the whole series by Susan Quayle, please click here.

Mouse and the Storm

A hand reflexology programme designed to relieve anxiety in children, accompanied by a soothing story about dealing with unexpected disruptions

 

Mouse’s Best Day Ever

A charming story about Mouse and her friends as they find fun on a stormy day with an accompanying simple reflexology treatment to help relieve discomfort from teething, constipation and colic

 

The Mouse’s House

An enchanting story about a mouse’s mission to make a cosy home for Winter with an accompanying simple reflexology massage for parents or carers to perform on a child

Striker, Slow Down! – Colouring Page

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To celebrate the release of Striker, Slow Down!, we have released a downloadable colouring page to help children use mindfulness to control their emotions.

Striker, Slow Down! tells the story of Striker the cat, who is unstoppable! He thinks that there is too much fun to be had, and no matter what his mama tells him, he never slows down. One day, a bump to the head brings this busy cat to a standstill. Will Striker finally listen to his mama and learn to make time for a little calmness?

You can use our colouring page with your children or pupils and you can share your finished pages with us on Facebook or Twitter.

To download the colouring page, please click here.

Inside the Mouse’s House…

by Susan Quayle, author of Mouse’s Best Day Ever

Sitting at the kitchen table were my two children and my daughter’s two friends, who had come over to play. They were having lunch and chattering away as children do, when I heard, “Poppy’s got a reward chart,” after which there was a brief silence, followed by, “for going to the toilet.” I have to admit that this was not exactly what I was expecting to hear. I turned around to join in the conversation, asking “how does that work then?”

Continue reading

Can Yoga Improve a Child’s Behaviour?

In this article, Michael Chissick, author of  Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences, Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation and Frog’s Breathtaking Speech answers the question ‘Can Yoga Improve a Child’s Behaviour?’

Overview

In the following case study you can read how *Sinclair’s behaviour improved significantly because of his success in the yoga lessons over two terms. The plan, to teach challenging postures with aspects of social & emotional of learning at the core of the programme, helped change Sinclair’s attitude and behaviour. Continue reading

What is ‘Story Massage’?

We all love stories, and when combined with the therapeutic benefits of simple massage strokes, stories can present wonderful opportunities for creativity and nurturing for children of all ages and abilities. Below, Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper, co-authors of Once Upon A Touch… Story Massage for Children, explain more about their innovative Story Massage project.

Once upon a touch_authors Continue reading

Giuliana Fenwick on her book, ‘Indian Head Massage for Special Needs’

As a new author to Singing Dragon, Giuliana Fenwick’s first book, Indian Head Massage For Special Needs, sees the pinnacle of her work so far in a very short space of time. However, it is very much the beginning of the platform as she continues work as an author, public speaker and fundraiser for special needs, helping to give a voice to those who so often do not have one. Hear her story below…
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My Transition from Practitioner to Teacher

Quayle_Mouses-House-Ch_978-1-84819-247-8_colourjpg-printby Susan Quayle, author of The Mouse’s House: Children’s Reflexology for Bedtime or Anytime, illustrated by Melissa Muldoon

If you are thinking of transitioning from a practitioner to a teacher I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have created your own beautiful course and have a passion to share it with the world. On the whole, the world is just waiting for you to share your vision with them.

As a maternity and fertility reflexologist I build powerful relationships with women at the most amazing times in their lives. Working with pregnant women is such an awe inspiring privilege with the therapist developing a connection to both mother and child. Very soon after making this career choice I realised that all too often the relationship ends abruptly after the child is born when really a whole new relationship should be starting. Babies absolutely love reflexology, whilst inside their mothers womb as well as skin to skin, so to speak!

For a long time after having this realisation I thought about how I could continue to see parents after their babies were born and the answer I came up with was to run a course for them. There was a problem with this idea though, what and how would I teach them? Just coming along for a session would be great but wouldn’t really be building any relationships or offering them the chance to bond with other new mothers. So the content needed to last for more than one session, be engaging, attractive and fun. I thought I might be able to create a course but there was a lot of work to consider and I really felt that without a proper concept it would feel a bit flat. I thought a lot more, for months, years even! As with all ideas they come after a lot of ground work has already been put in and one day in the bath an idea came to me of The Children’s Reflexology Programme, TCRP, and a lovely, simple story about a mouse that would visit all her friends and ask for help to make her new-found house cosy. The Mouse’s House and the development possibly for future courses were born. I have become a strong believer in the concept that if you work on ideas for long enough everything falls into place.

There was a lot of work involved in creating the book and finding Melissa Muldoon, the amazing illustrator, but after a year we self-published and shortly after that Lucy Buckridge, an editor from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, approached me and we now have the beautiful book that we see today. The Mouse’s House is a rhyming story of short verses where each of the animal characters represents one of the important reflexes and as you read the story to your child you work the reflexes as the characters appear. The result is a simple but complete treatment.

Almost two years after the creation of The Mouse’s House I started writing the first parent course to supplement the material in the book and help parents understand the reflexology better in a workshop style environment. The book with the animal characters had given me the concept that I had felt was missing from a course in the first place. I added a few more reflexes to the course which meant coming up with more characters. I felt that this would add value and would allow me to create specific treatments for a variety of minor conditions of childhood.

The first courses went out in the autumn of 2014 and I was a nervous wreck! I felt pretty exposed standing in front of an audience and teaching my course for the first time….but the mums loved it! I received messages from the very first day telling me how the reflexology had worked for a variety of conditions that their children were suffering and they couldn’t wait for the next session. I ran three courses for one hour a week over six weeks. The youngest we had on a course was four days old and he was suffering from constipation – but not for long! Everyone got something out of the course and all of them have continued to give their children reflexology since with the beautiful handouts that they received and their own copy of The Mouse’s House, which make up a parent pack and which the children loved.

The feedback was fabulous and inspired me to continue, so after Christmas I began writing an instructors course. I realised that if I wanted this to reach the number of people that I was thinking of I would need more than me out there teaching it to parents. I had already been thinking about the concept of a website that would link the instructors to their courses and allow anyone anywhere to find an instructor in their area. I had been asking my husband, who is a programmer, if he could design such a website for me and in January he started to work on what we have now. A large part of the instructor business is based online with lots of marketing materials and the Google Earth link to the site. So we had a way of instructors reaching their parents and telling the world that they were here.

One of the most important factors for me in creating TCRP was empowering parents. I wanted to bring the powerful effects of reflexology to them in a simple fun package that they could utilise anywhere and at any time. So now that I was writing an instructor course I thought about what I wanted to achieve from this course and again I wanted to be able to empower parents. I thought about the baby massage business model where there is no pre-requisite to be a massage therapist to train and I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to offer parents, mothers in particular, the option of having a sustainable, ethical business that they could work at alongside their parenting and which would be holistic and positive in supporting other families in such a beneficial way. Having seen mothers who’d had to go back to work, leaving their baby when they didn’t want to, it felt great to be able to give them another option, as a long term business plan or for a short time until they were ready to resume a career.

For me this was a huge thing. I felt that I was breaking many rules. As far as I was aware, in this country, all infant reflexology courses were taught by qualified reflexologists and mine would be the first to change this ideology. It wasn’t just parents that I wanted to offer this training to. Baby massage teachers, baby yoga teachers indeed anyone who worked or had a healthy interest in helping parents and their children would be able to train as an instructor.

By March I was pretty much done. The coursework was beautiful and there was lots of it! All the reflexology was wonderfully simple, clear and most importantly engaging. All the reflexology protocols had been carefully created by a professional reflexologist and the marketing material was all to a very high standard.

On a whim, in March, I published details of the first course – just to see what the reaction would be – and I got an instant response from several people. The first course ran in April and was a great success and a huge amount of fun. As I was aware that being the focus of attention wasn’t my favourite thing I built in lots of things for the students to do to draw it away from me. So much came out of this first course. Once you create something new it is often surprising how many different avenues can open up. The second instructor course ran in June and this enabled me to apply for approval from the Association of Refelxologists in the UK. I sent all the course work off, feeling very nervous about what they would say in regards to the not needing to be qualified to train. I have to admit to being quite flabbergasted by their response! They loved it and wanted to approve it but wanted me to make a couple of small changes – mostly in relation to teaching the reflexology to trained reflexologists, which was fair enough. I now have approval and the good news is that reflexologists only need to do two of the normal three days’ training.

I have lots of courses planned and have been in close contact with many wonderful reflexologists around the country who are helping me to set up all sorts of new initiatives with this concept. There are a lot of areas opening up that I had never really thought of and whole new concepts coming out of this one too.

I have also continued to write books and have written two more and am half way through a third for older children. Writing has become my passion and empowering parents through reflexology my mission. I really hope that infant reflexology can become as mainstream, accepted and appreciated as baby massage – but let’s not take forty years to make it happen this time!

Susan Quayle is an experienced reflexologist and complementary therapist who has developed her skills and qualifications to specialise in the areas of fertility, maternity, babies and children. Susan has created and developed ‘The Children’s Reflexology Programme’, which uses her guide The Mouse’s House. The course has been approved by the Association of Reflexologist. To find out more, including dates and venues across the UK, please visit www.kidsreflex.co.uk.

Susan lives in Devon, UK and her clinic is based in Exeter and at her home, she now spends much of her time empowering parents with reflexology through her innovative books and courses.

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Four day old asleep

Shōnishin – The Art of Japanese Acupuncture Without Needles

What is ShōniOppenheimer-Wer_Shonishin_978-1-84819-160-0_colourjpg-webshin?

Shōnishin (from Japanese shōni = little child, shin = needling) is a non-invasive method of acupuncture which was developed in Japan for pediatric treatment around 100 years ago. Instead of using needles there are different tools and instruments. They are used for rubbing and tapping on certain reflex zones and meridian areas, as well as on acupuncture points for gentle stimulation along the torso and the extremities.

The therapeutic effect of Shōnishin is to regulate and support the specific development of children, especially the central and autonomous nervous systems. Therefore the treatment is very effective, especially for children with different disharmonies or illnesses from birth to school age. As Shōnishin has no side effects and is absolutely painless, this kind of treatment is made-to-measure for the needs, complaints, and illnesses of babies and children.

Other client groups who can benefit from Shōnishin

Shōnishin is being used as an alternative to acupuncture in women’s shelters, mother-child facilities and nurseries. This aids women and children, who are in difficult social or monetary situations, abandoned and without any obvious way out. This includes traumatized women and children (e.g. survivors of rape), who are only able to permit touching via the “interposed” Shōnishin instrument where no skin-to-skin contact happens.

Another field of application for Shōnishin will be in the treatment of older adults. Particular parameters like skin conditions and mental conditions seem to show retrogression into childhood. First experiences with Shōnishin in homes for the aged show promising treatment approaches. Even here it becomes obvious, that treatment with a Shōnishin instrument is advantageous as older adults often suffer from a shortage of caring touch. With Shōnishin the contact doesn’t take place directly, but indirectly with an instrument. Thus, older adults have no fear of contact and are willing to allow the treatment. Yet another advantage of treating elderly people with Shōnishin is that as many of them have to take blood-thinning medicines, with the non-invasive and gentle treatment technique with Shōnishin, there is no contraindication.

Training in Shōnishin

Training in Shōnishin varies a lot in the way it is done outside Japan. In Germany there are trainers who offer one-day courses. This, of course, entails the risk that therapists with minimal training could bring Shōnishin into public disrepute if they treat children outside their own household.

As a member of the Japanese Scientific Association of Acupuncture for Children (Nihon Shōni Hari Gakkai), my main aim in running courses is to set a high quality standard in the interest of both small and older children. My courses are based on current traditional Japanese medicine research and on Western health sciences on the other.

Knowledge on child development from both Western and Eastern points of view are an essential lesson of the course. Shōnishin training is best acquired after a basic training in a meridian therapy (e.g. acupuncture, Tuina or Shiatsu) and a minimum six days course. Since, ultimately, children are going to be treated, the motor and sensory aspects of child development in the first 12 months of life are taught, as is energetic development. The most important thing is to understand how the meridians develop, and their influence on child development and development in later life.

Theoretical Basics of Shōnishin

I have based my training of Shonishin upon my nearly 30 years’ experience of working with children. My wife, Karin, initially trained as a physiotherapist and and went on to study shiatsu in Japan. In 1985, she and I founded an institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine just outside Frankfurt, Germany. Karin teaches baby and child shiatsu internationally and is a Founder of the German Shiatsu Society. She has written a number of books on the subject, including Children at Their Best and Baby Shiatsu.

Together, we have developed a modShonishin2el of energetic development that can serve as the theoretical foundation for Shōnishin. It is the basis for understanding child development in its energetic aspect, and ultimately for diagnostic and therapeutic processes that depends on the stages of development.

The model of energetic development is an attempt to bring the knowledge of modern neuroscience, developmental psychology and developmental physiology into harmony with the knowledge and experience of oriental medicine.

The model states that each energetic stage of motor and sensory development builds on the previous developmental stage. The meridians play a primary role in this and represent a communications network connecting the child with her external world. They are then also responsible for the child’s development of posture, movement, patterns of behavior and personality.

Knowing about the ways motor, sensory and energetic functioning are interwoven, opens up new perspectives on child development, resulting in specific treatment approaches. Ultimately, it is the knowledge of meridians in developmental stages forms the foundation for treatment of children of all ages with Shōnishin.

 

Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke in the UK:
3 day course as part of the 6 day Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke:
When: Saturday 30th May to Monday 1st June 2015
Where: Edinburgh
Cost: Early Bird booking by 31st March 2015 £235, full cost thereafter £260
For more information and to book your place (places limited to 12 people) contact:
Svenja Schaper, Shiatsu Practitioner, Dip. BSS, MRSS, PGCE
svenjashiatsu@movingtouch.co.uk mobile: 07842 563 298

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Thomas Wernicke is a licensed General Practitioner with qualifications in complementary medicine, Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, as well as manual therapies including craniosacral therapy and osteopathy for adults, children and babies, psychosomatic therapy and homeopathy. He is a member of the Japanese Scientific Society for Shonishin, and since 2004, he has been the Training Manager for Daishi Hari Shonishin in Europe. Thomas is also Founding Member and President of the International Society for Traditional Japanese Medicine. He lives in Hochheim, Germany. He has written Shonishin: The Art of Non-Invasive Paediatric Acupuncture publishing by Singing Dragon.

 

Winter Water Element Activities for Children

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

winter waterBrrrr… Winter winds and frosty mornings bring the natural contraction of our muscles and bodies to conserve our energy and find a warm cozy place to warm our hands and feet.  Winter represents the Element of Water, the source of our life energy and keeper of our reservoirs.  All around us nature shows us that earth has her natural cycle of decline and rest in the winter season, with the hibernation of the animals and foliage in snowy lands, and the decline of growth and fruits in the tropical regions.  Winter shows us the two sides of the life force through its pure, silencing, stillness that takes us deep into our unconscious minds and souls, to the raging power of a glacier or iceberg cutting through the earth and leaving its imprint for all of life to spring forth from.

The Water Element provides the same instincts to our bodies, minds, and spirit as it gives expression to our need and capacity for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. This inward movement is what cultivates the resources of our energy and reserves for all growth and development in our lives.    In children, the Water Element is most obvious when they express a whiny, cranky hour where we know they need a nap, or quiet time to allow their bodies to integrate a busy or exciting day.  Some children will just quietly disappear to a resting spot or activity on their own, while others might show bursts of energy until they drop suddenly into a sleep.  And then there are those children that seem to have an endless, steadfast flow of energy, with no peaks or valleys, just a consistent capacity to move from one activity to another…

Respecting and sensing the natural rhythm of our children’s life force and need for rest is important, as it builds the foundation of one’s ability to relax and rest in life.  The following exercises are examples of some winter/Water Element activities that can be enjoyed with a family, group, or one on one with a child.

Calm Water

Supplies:  a lot of newspaper and a little bell (or jingle bells found at Christmas time)

If working with a group or family, everyone but one person lays down on their stomach, while the person/child left standing covers everyone with newspaper sheets from head to toe.  The individuals lying down have to remain perfectly still, not moving the paper or making a sound. The person left standing silently walks around trying to surprise the quiet still ones with a sound or stomp, giving lots of room for those lying down to listen sharply and be very still for the approaching noise maker!    After this fun and anticipating game, the person left standing rings the bell and everyone jumps up shaking the paper sheets off their bodies.  The person with the bell chooses the next person to be the bell keeper and the game can begin again.

Getting Taller

Divide everyone in the group into pairs, and have one partner face the back of the other partner.   The person facing the back of their partner asks them, what kind of rain they want to fall on their back; a soft spring rain, powerful summer thunder storm, or gentle snow falling down. The rain maker then makes a soft, loose fist, or flexible fingertips, and taps down the back on the right and left side of the spine, all the way down to the feet (the Bladder Meridian in the Water Element).  It is important to always start from the top and tap down toward the feet, like the rain or snow falling down the body. Repeat 2 times, and always start from the top again.  When done raining, “dry” the back with flat hands down the back from shoulders to feet, and then change roles.

This is also fun, if a group stands in a line and everyone behind the other in the line tries to do this at the same time, then reverse the direction of the line.

Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development, read Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists released in 2014 with Singing Dragon.