Life Stages

General childhood illness

Children can be quick to get sick but equally quick to recover, and essentially they have the potential for greater resilience and strength if every illness is treated correctly. Those who are supported with herbs, baths, massage, and good food, and left to fight out their illnesses without antibiotics and invasive, suppressive medicines, will build up better longterm defenses and consequently require less nursing in the long run.


There is nothing better than parental care, home, and bed to deal with sickness; early, good support can keep the child out of both the doctor’s office and the hospital. Having been involved in the parenting of four
children, two from birth and two from the ages of nine and twelve, I know it takes effort, input, patience, and knowledge, but that the results are worth it.

First signs of illness can be anything from a lack of appetite to high or low facial color with shivering or fever. A child can be restless, loud, and angry or quiet, withdrawn, vulnerable, weepy, and in need of holding (or being near you). Be alert to behavior that seems odd for a particular child. Very often they complain of headaches or nausea or will simply need sleep at odd hours.

Knowing when to call in professional help is difficult, for we have fewer large family groups nowadays in which grandparents, aunts, and so on can help and advise: but seek help if you feel that you need it. This list of warning signs may help you to know when to call for help: prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, convulsions, a temperature that fluctuates quickly between hot and cold, blurred vision, drowsiness, headache after a bang on the head, drifting in and out of consciousness during fever, turning pale or blue, shallow breathing, or eyes dull, sullen, or glazed can all be signs that you need prompt professional help. In fact, you will probably feel it when something is really wrong: you will know it by instinct — and trust your instinct.

Giving lots of water but less food helps all illnesses. Children generally know what is best for them in these situations, much as animals do. But these gut instincts are becoming blurred as natural healing skills in the home diminish and nutrition loses its true value.

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