Helping Children be at Ease with Needles, A Guest Blog by Samara White, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Isn’t Scary

 What did you imagine when you first heard about acupuncture? Perhaps a person lying alone on a table with needles poking out everywhere. What do you think kids imagine?

Trying to explain to them the insertion of needles into their body can conjure up some pretty scary images. A friend of mine’s child imagined that the needles were threaded through her body’s acupuncture channels and never came out. I would be pretty hesitant to try acupuncture if this were the picture I had in my head! Fortunately acupuncture isn’t really scary; it’s actually quite pleasant and can even be fun. 

Showing your child acupuncture can be fun

How can you possibly convince your child that acupuncture can be fun? When I first got curious about pediatric acupuncture, I began researching how to explain it to children. I figured I would look at a few children’s books that explained acupuncture. But there was one problem: I didn’t find any.

That’s when I decided to write Maya & Friends Visit the Acupuncturist, a children’s book about acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

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In creating the book, I utilized my knowledge of acupuncture and my husband’s ability as an illustrator to bring the story to life visually. I wanted to demystify acupuncture for children while still retaining its sense of fun and wonder. Children have great imaginations and are well equipped to make the leap to understanding Chinese medicine concepts. However, children might imagine something unknown to be far scarier than it actually is.

 

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Rather than minimizing needles, I wanted to honestly show an acupuncture visit and not hide anything, thus allowing children to relax knowing what the visit might look like.

In the book, a young girl named Maya takes the initiative to go to the acupuncturist along with her animal friends. In doing so, she takes her health into her own hands. It was important for me to illustrate to kids that acupuncture can be something that they would want to try, and that it can even be an exciting adventure.

In the story, getting to the acupuncture office itself is fun—it’s not a chore and it’s not compared to going to a typical doctor’s office. The acupuncture office itself, Dr. Meow’s office, is full of fun items and interesting things to learn about.

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I wanted it to be an environment that had an element of mystery, but also comfort.

Maya’s perspective of the world around her and her place in it shifts as a result of everything she learns at the acupuncturist’s office. She realizes she is connected to the world around her, and her body is connected to itself in surprising ways, like how a point on her hand can affect her nose, or how an acupuncture needle touching a channel pathway running down her legs can help her belly feel better.

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Each of the techniques are clearly illustrated, so that it takes out the fear or unknown and shows how fun these techniques can be.

Speaking of fear, not once do I say in the book, “don’t be scared,” because if you say “don’t be scared,” then all of a sudden there’s something to be scared about. It was important for me to be really mindful about the picture that demonstrates the needle—there’s an energetic aspect to it, and the characters are very curious, rather than scared—the illustration is meant to be comforting and inviting.

There’s an element of warmth, play, dance, movement and looseness throughout the treatment, which is meant to appeal to children and make things feel less clinical. Children like to move and are full of kinetic energy — full of yang. They don’t need to lie still on a table to receive acupuncture.

Needles and shots are not the same!

And, the book does not compare acupuncture needles to shots. Not because we’re hiding anything, but because acupuncture needles really aren’t anything like hypodermic needles, so no need to ever mention shots and acupuncture in the same sentence!

Warm Herbs

As for the herbs, I try to make that fun, almost like a potion.

Instead of just some yucky drink, they get to drink something made of flowers and roots, and plants with interesting sounding names. Kids pay attention to their surroundings and to their parents. If parents make a face that something tastes bad, then kids might not want to drink it, even if they otherwise might try it.

One of the main reasons for writing this book was to illustrate to children what an acupuncture treatment might look like, how simple and easy acupuncture is, and how it helps us to feel better. The methods I used in creating this book can be a great resource for you to connect with the kids in your life about the subject of acupuncture and the innate wisdom of our bodies.

 

About Samara White, L.Ac.

samara bio picSamara has been working in the health and wellness field for over a decade, and is a licensed acupuncture and craniosacral practitioner with a master’s degree from the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine. She was inspired to write the acupunture children’s book, Maya & Friends Visit the Acupuncturist to communicate the concepts of Chinese medicine in a fun and educational way that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Samara welcomes adults, infants and children to her practice, Counterpoint Wellness  and lives with her husband, who is also the illustrator of the book in Seattle, Washington.

 

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Comments

  1. Liz Ross, L.Ac. says:

    What a great idea!! I’m so happy someone has written a kid’s acupuncture book! Thanks for posting about this.

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