The Outside-In Child
Young expectant parents can hardly wait for the arrival of their blessed child. Months, if not years of dreams and preparation go into starting a family. Every detail has been thought of: what schools will our children attend, what will be our spiritual perspective, how will we raise our children and enhance their innate potential in this life.
In a first pregnancy so much attention will go into seeking information about what to expect during those nine months and our child’s first year. Even selecting our birth provider and pediatrician is usually a result of our social circle. Our circle of influence is composed of those who are around us most consistently in our life: friends, siblings/in-laws, business associates and those who we aspire to be like.
Magazines and books will provide us with every detail from the bags we should pack to take to the birthing room, to how to fill the medicine cabinets with the baby items should we want to treat them.
The first year of life can have its challenges with colds, fevers, teething and upset stomachs. And some parents will see more complicated symptoms: colic, reflux and infections.
Every parent has been trained to believe that when his or her child is ill we must immediately treat a problem. This is typically the regimen with over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.
A loving parent would not think twice to follow the advice of their books, friends, families, television ads or well-meaning physicians.
However, lost is the wisdom that our body has an inborn intelligence to heal and self-regulate. Our culture has evolved to a chemical consciousness, assuming that all our ills should be treated. Could it be possible that we could trust our body’s inborn intelligence to know what to do?
Our evolved society leaves little room for time: time for balance, for rest and quietness, or to be sick and heal ourselves.
Parents have also relied on the pharmaceutical management of these childhood symptoms because our busy lifestyles do not afford the time for our children to be sick.
Rather than a watch-and-wait approach, we struggle to comply with our social training of giving immediate relief. Isn’t it the calling of all parents to rush to the aid of their children?
Rather, we should pose the question, “Where has my thinking or programming come from and who benefits from these choices?”
Unfortunately, what begins as the well-meaning parent providing the best for their children, ends up as exposure to chemicals that are unnecessary. We end up teaching our children the cure comes from a bottle and we begin the process of training our next generation that their “relief” and comfort comes from an outside-in approach.
Children model their parents and follow this behavior as they’re growing up. To relieve stress or pain the family pattern is to find answers from outside of us (an outside-in approach): from overthe- counter drugs, prescriptions, or learning to self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs or food.
No longer are we finding a drug culture beginning with teens experimenting or altering their natural state of being, but we find it’s beginning with our elementary school children. The rise of depression, obesity and behavioral problems is the outward symptom of an inside imbalance which has its roots in early outside-in influences.
It has been almost a decade since the first alarm was heard: that the increased use of antibiotics was spiraling out of control. Antibiotics are one of the dozens of medications about which parents never consider the consequences and short- or long-term accumulative effects on their child’s developing body.
Why is it that only westernized cultures have such a large population of ADD/ ADHD children? It’s not a case that diagnosis has improved. Why is it, that, as early as the toddler years, antidepressants are now being used? Many school psychologists are now seeing children in first and second grade who inform their teachers and classmates that they want to commit suicide.
We should be concerned that the pharmaceutical industries are expanding their production of new drugs for the pediatric population spurred on by our out-of-balance culture looking for outside- in health answers.
Many parents are unaware of the growing body of research from the scientific community warning about the lack of proper clinical trials of these new drugs, and no long-term studies to examine any damaging effects to the developing child’s body and mind. The developing years are critical. The first ten to fifteen years of life represent an array of complex and vital development. Brain, nervous system, organs, glands, and the immune system are just some body systems that may be greatly impacted by the introduction and sometimes repetitive usage of drugs.
Should all drug treatment be halted? No. Humanity will continue to have a need for crisis treatment so long as our lifestyle choices remain out of balance. More often than not, parents need to ask themselves: Is this chemical necessary for my child? Is there a natural approach to this symptom? What is the underlying lifestyle cause to this problem: stress, poor diet, fatigue, interference to the nervous system, etc.?
Posing the question to parents, “Would you like to take a natural approach to helping your child’s problem?” the majority would say, “Yes!”, but would not know the correct steps to take. The first step is to realize that, to some extent, we have all been indoctrinated into the outside-in approach. For example, the next time your child has a cold, rather then reaching for over-the-counter or prescription medications slow down and think why and how did my child get this cold? Have they been extremely tired (going to bed late and getting up early), not eating correctly (consuming toxic or fast foods), experiencing an overload of stress or is their nervous system not optimally expressing itself? Perhaps the cold is an insideout expression. Is it really a self-cleaning mechanism that needs to run its course? Usually a cold is a natural means for the body to detoxify or slow down and come back into balance. By understanding the cause, we can more effectively support the body’s own natural processes. Even more importantly, we can become aware of the choices we have to achieve a healthier more balanced lifestyle for our families’ future.
As parents start to practice a more balanced, “inside-out” lifestyle, it is important to realize that on this journey it will be hard to break old patterns or cultural habits. Here are some pointers to guide us towards healthier lifestyles:
Acknowledge that the body has an inborn intelligence to heal and to regulate itself and that this process takes time. Both of these principles run opposite from the outside-in view of health, but trust in these principles are essential for making decisions from the inside-out perspective. Remember to “watch-and-wait” before you give a chemical to your child, and check to see if there is a more natural, supportive approach to help the body heal itself.
Become informed and make your decisions accordingly. There is a growing network of organizations, websites, books, magazines and other sources that will provide you the necessary information to make educated decisions. When uncertain about the recommendations to treat symptoms with drugs, get additional opinions before you decide. Choose from a place of trust, not fear.
Find support in your community for your family. Surrounding yourself with a wellness team is a great start. A family chiropractor can be your strongest advocate for providing an inside-out health approach for your entire family. Other natural health care providers such as naturopaths and homeopaths can round out a great support network.
Finally, know you are not alone. Millions of parents like yourselves have become aware that there is a healthier choice for themselves and their children, and that the inside-out lifestyle will bring greater optimal health and family expression.
Claudia Anrig, D.C. has maintained a family wellness practice in Fresno, CA since 1982. She co-edited the textbook Pediatric Chiropractic and has written numerous articles on children and chiropractic. Dr. Anrig is an active ICPA Board member and frequent contributor to Pathways.