Story Massage…… a wonderful massage therapy based activity that can be shared by the whole family. Wether we are singing songs, nursery rhymes or just telling stories for the last two years Story massage has given my children so much joy for the spoken language as well as becoming the staple relaxation method used in our house.
Story massage was created by its founders Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper since 2007 to promote activities using positive touch within the home, school and wider field. These two amazing ladies run a training course which is where I first learnt how to blend 10 simple massage moves with stories. Story massage is used within some schools curriculum, care homes, respite, therapy session’s and by parents all over the world. Being such an adaptive skill set to have it can be used in any language and is especially wonderful to use with special needs and disabilities.
Two daughters who have a mild sensorineural hearing loss and as such the positive touch used in story massage and the contact means that they are able to hear and feel the story.
Another of my other daughters has a hearing loss and ADHD and I find that the end of the day s a great way of using story massage to wind down and aide with calming ready for sleep.
I also have a daughter with no hearing impairments or disabilities who is just a teenager and she loves to make up stories and show her skill’s.
There is no age limit, no discrimination just respect, relaxation and fun. A great activity that can be shared by all.
For me story massage has enable my children to not only learn to positively interact with each other but to also aide their speech and language skills, phonic’s, writing and story telling skills, their concentration, the ability to relax and focus, being able to learn about the environment around them and it is a skill that they will go on to use with their own children one day in the very distant future…..
I also find story massage is great to use as a rainy day activity, while waiting in queues, car journeys, talking about new and exciting subjects and at bedtime there is nothing like settling down to bed with a soothing massage to my off key tones of Lavenders blue, twinkle twinkle and other favourites.
With stories in mind there are some days when my daughter is a little more restless than usual and needs idea’s for a new and interesting story. We have the wonderful book from storymassage.co.uk which has nursery rhymes and stories with something for everyone and the massage moves are there for you which is a fantastic book to take out and about with you. Our’s travelled to Scotland last year where we enjoyed story massage camping style.
So always on the look out for innovative idea’s that I can use I was approached by a wonderful lady at Ignite Imagination’s . This lovely lady create’s wooden story cubes. I was sent a lovely bundle of 6 cubes, hand decorated with a picture on all 6 sides. Well my daughters love them!!!
they came in a handy drawstring bag
3cm cubed perfect for slipping in your handbag and don’t take up to much room
you are able to choose which themed cubes you would like
they are colourful and robust
provide endless material for fun stories
We have fairy tale characters, clothes, food and then three cubes with various object’s on them such as a ballon, car, shield, chair.
When I took them out of the bag my daughters aged 7 and 10 were there within minutes finding pen and paper, rolling the cubes and coming up with lovely stories to share. Here’s a story they made up using the cubes….
A unicorn imagined an egg (circle)
But she magicked a fried egg instead (drums)
Then she magicked some trouser’s and top (wave)
And decided to go pick some flowers ( sprinkle)
When it got dark, she magicked a light (fan)
And sat down to eat her egg ( calm)
Eliza Age 7
Using story massage as a daytime activity with the cubes has been great fun and something that I hope to share with other parent’s and children when sharing Story massage with them.
The last few weeks it’s been nothing if not stressed in our house. Our daughter with ADHD is about to face her SATS along with other year 6’s next week and for us as well as I suspect many it’s been a bumpy ride.
Having ADHD means my daughter has symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsiveness, concentration and working memory problems. While medicated during the day once home the panic of not remembering can cause outbursts of anger and frustration making my job at home all the more harder in trying to keep her calm and in harmony with the rest of the family. This along with Anxiety, hearing loss and the general feelings of stress that taking exams can cause has me counting down the hours to the end of this coming week.
Today we have done no revision if it’s not in her memory now then the chances are it’s not going to be in there. We have tried to keep her relaxed and calm not an easy feat. Repetition, outbursts and continually checking her bag, her schedule, where she is going and what she is doing is her way of trying to control something. Control is something I think we all look for and without it we can feel displaced. My daughter tries hard to control every aspect of her life that she can. It’s how she feels and even if it’s not always easy to live with her feeling out of control is even worse.
We all remember exams and how they make us feel. I had an exam in December and I aged 33 was petrified. Afraid of failure, not being up to scratch and generally not believing in myself. To think that my 10 year old daughter is feeling the same emotions now as I did then is heartbreaking in itself. I wish they didn’t have to sit tests at this age. Isn’t it better to let them learn and progress at their own rate instead of pushing them to learn what they need to know for an exam?
Anyway so no revision this weekend and no I don’t feel that makes me a bad mum. School are their to teach her academics I am here to teach her life skills. I am here to teach all of my children that life Isn’t just about revision and sitting tests. It’s about looking after themselves, working to their strengths and being happy and healthy. Stress can have such powerful symptoms both physically and mentally and do we really want our 10/11 year olds to feel this.
Today we have had fun, relaxed and used story massage to be creative and to relax. Being able to share massage with my children is an amazing thing. Being able to help relieve some of the symptoms caused by stress and anxiety through fun and stories is great. Being able to talk through how we feel and put Massage moves to our words really brings my daughters imagination alive and helps her to put into words what she may otherwise struggle to express or express through anger and tears. Find out more at http://www.storymassage.co.uk
Hopefully by the end of the week we will all be feeling more relaxed.
I have spoken often in my blogs about Story massage and Indian head massage. Why? Because as a parent I firmly believe that these two therapies bring a host of advantages to our family life. Living with a child with Hearing loss, ADD and Anxiety can bring a lot of stress and frustration into our family and especially into my daughters daily life.
language and communication
unable to cope with emotions
unable to cope with routines
I have found that massage can have a positive effect on all of these. Its not just my view point either there are so many articles on the use of massage with disabilities and special needs its a wonder that massage is not more widely available and obtainable by parents. Massage for us has been a life line, a way for all of our children to relax, de-stress and benefit from the healing power of massage as well. Its not just the disabled child that could benefit but sibling’s, parent’s, wider family member’s.
Have you ever been for a massage? For many of us through time and money restraints massage may not be possible, it was only ever a luxury I had had a few times since having children. You don’t need to go out and spend money though even just sitting with your children giving them a cuddle, playing with their hair can be just as relaxing. We bond through touch, we communicate and we reassurance with touch and we can soothe and relax through touch. I initially trained in Indian head massage as a way to help my own children. From there it has grown into a passion due to the benefits I have seen within my own family and its these benefits I hope to pass onto other children and parent’s.
Relax the body which reduces tension and stress
Soothes and comforts
aides concentration, respect, self awareness, relaxes the mind
reduce tiredness, soothe aching muscles
Last year while doing more research into massage I found a wonderful and interesting massage therapy called http://www.Story massage.co.uk
This massage skill is an amazing activity to add to your family life. Story massage is simply 10 massage moves which you use against the backdrop of any nursery rhyme, story, poem, song. The list is endless and I have hours of fun making up my own stories for my children to enjoy. The best thing about story massage is that it is a skill the whole family can learn and enjoy together and it can last 5 minutes or 20 minutes.
As a mother I have found massage to
aide Anxiety which is common in ADD/ADHD suffers
aide relaxation for better sleep
reduce tension built up through Ticks and stress
aide concentration and general self esteem
aide those with Hyperactivity by helping the body and mind to calm and relax
The beauty of story massage is that you can tailor the story or song to your own child’s particular needs. We have stories about holidays, how important it is to eat, stories with my children’s names in them and stories about their individual disabilities. The best thing is there is no right and wrong and you can do it anywhere and anytime
in a queue
at the doctors
when the routine changes
when there is quarrelling and boredom
The list really is endless. Children as young as two can enjoy the stories and I have had a group of teenagers making up stories and then giving each other a massage 🙂 and one of my eldest wrote me a story massage for mothers day
My Super Mum by Charlotte, aged 11
My mum is like Super Mum, (The Circle)
always there when I need her. (The Circle)
She appears like a ninja all ready to help, (The Upwards Fan)
and swoops into save me when I’m feeling lost. (The Downwards Fan)
My mum is a Super Mum, a Super Mum she is (The Circle)
She sorts out my problems and listens to me (The Calm)
She shows me she cares, she makes me so happy (The Squeeze)
I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (The Squeeze)
But sometimes I am naughty (The Drum)
Super Mum can shout – very loud (The Drum)
She tells me to be good, to be kind. (The Calm)
I want to grow up to be just like my Super Mum (The Circle)
My Super Mum brings magic and excitement (the Bounce)
I know how much she cares, she shows me everyday (The Circle)
So I wrote this for you, Mum (The Circle)
To show you how much I care. (The Calm)
As a therapist I do offer sessions in Story massage where you can learn the moves and share story massage with your children. Recently I won the Best Practise Award from Story massage and I feel immensely fortunate in being able to share these skills with other parents.
What ever you do tonight give your child a hug and share with them the power of positive touch
As I sit here writing I almost want to keep the last week to myself. Going on holiday with children can be fun, stressful and tiring. Going on holiday with a child with ADD can make being at home seem like heaven. But we have had significantly more good moments this last week than bad.
Even though I try not to when planning a holiday I have to weigh the pros and cons of how it will affect my daughter. Going abroad for us is not a possibility. Being so far from home would cause more upset than it’s worth and be a huge waste of money. So we holiday in Great Britain.
For the past few years we have gone a little further every time. Right now we are on the bank of Loch Ness and what a magical place it is. The journey here was split with a two night stay at a site in Gretna green. This enable us to rest as well as help our daughter with anxiety. Travelling with her is the worse, even short car journeys so why did we decide to come to Scotland!! I hear you ask? Simple….we adapt so much of our lives to living with disabilities that sometimes I feel like I just want to wish them away and try and be ‘ normal’ I know there is no such thing as normal, it’s just sometimes I don’t want to not go somewhere or do something because of our daughters disabilities. It’s all part of my mantra for wanting them to experience what the world has to offer!!! To not be held back, and to not be defined by their disabilities, as a parent this is getting harder everyday. A few times this week I have thought what the hell am I doing! Am I gluten for punishment?
Why do I have these stupid ideas?……….But for me it’s the magical memories holidays like this can make!!!
While planning this holiday there was also that fear of being beside a body of water and the hills and crags that surround us. What would happen if our daughter got impulsive and fell of somewhere😱, how would we cope mentally being on edge all of the time near water and up high? but again how much do you change what you do to suit the symptoms of ADD/ADHD?? For me my daughter is just as much at risk of jumping of Cromer pier than she is of tumbling down Foyers falls. It’s about keeping on the ball and reacting quickly to any meltdowns and anxiety attacks. It has been far from easy with a refusal to eat as much as she needs to, tantrums, swearing, hitting out I feel her behaviour has hit an all time low. It’s like she turned 10 at the beginning of July and since then we have been on a downward spiral.
Surprisingly though I have felt more able to cope with it this week. Dad is here and while she is more attached to me he has made a huge impact on how much she has taken her anger out on me physically. She dosnt care how much it hurts to be hit, or pelted with a stick because she has to walk a little further up the hill. The arms crossed head down pose has been adopted quite a lot this week but do you know what? We made it a whole 7 days with 4 kids, a dog and husband 😂 we didn’t go home early (our usual trick).
So all in all its amazing here! Where is here?
Camping and caravan club Loch Ness shores Inverness-shire
What a place!! I almost want to keep it secret so no one else comes here. We arrived on Monday and instantly I fell in love. Nestled right on the shore the site has amazing views and lots of space. Ideal for those with hyperactivity. Being nestled quite nicely in the surrounding nooks and crags Loch Ness shores is a stones throw away from amazing walks taking you up to Foyers falls, rope swings galore and beach side campfires where you can sit and Nessie watch. It’s amazingly dog friendly too so we could bring our Labrador poppy.
The site itself has a quaint little shop with your essentials…including marshmallows for those beach side fires! They also have tables where you can sit and plan your day, read or play games. We haven’t this time around but next time we will definitely be renting some kayaks and actually get on the water or if that’s not your thing they also have some small motor boats just perfect for doing a little water side exploring. There’s a small airstream diner offering breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who would like a break from cooking…..the sausage and egg roll we had yesterday morning was divine. There is also a huge, clean and accessible amenities block with toilets, showers, washing machines and a tumble dryer. My daughter likes to come and help fill and empty the machines. I think this is more to do with the fact there is the hum from the machines and it’s a small room ideal for getting away from everything for 10 minutes. While stood waiting a quiet sense of calm comes over you. There is also a play park for the children, mine have spent most evenings there before bed playing and making friends with other campers.
Out and about Inverness is about 40 minutes by car and again with so much scenery to see our daughter coped quite well. Once there there’s so much to see and do. We went on a boat trip with dolphin spirit. Sadly the Dolphins were hiding this time but the girls enjoyed their time on board and there was activities for Louisa to do on board like colouring, animal spotting so she stayed entertained. We also went to a very quaint and quirky free titanic museum. Inverness itself has all the shops you would find at home. We didn’t really explore all that much as our daughter didn’t feel comfortable walking round a strange town. Next time we will….
Culloden battlefield was a interesting walk. We didn’t pay to go in the exhibition as it would have been for us personally a waste of money. Our daughter can’t seem to hold her attention and concentration and I felt it would have been a sensory overload this time around as it was also quite busy. The battlefield itself was free to walk. Dogs on leads allowed which was perfect for us. We walked round and discovered the clan stones (Fraser for the outlander fans :). Louisa was a little worried as we were walking around and her anxiety was high but open space, fresh air, history and free….as a parent what more could you wish for.
With so much to see and do we have hardly had anytime for story massage which is not like us at all. Once the bedtime medicine has been given to Louisa all of the girls have been asleep within minutes. Must be the pure, fresh air and running and walking we have been doing, needless to say it won’t continue when we get home it never does ha ha instead we have been jotting down ideas for a Scottish holiday story massage. This is what we came up with….
Down on the shore of the loch
Taking a trip to the loch (walk)
Wonder if Nessie’s about (claw)
We walk we run we play (wave)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The waves go up and down. (wave)
The birds fly round and round (circle)
The clouds go floating by (wave)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
We love to paddle and play (walk)
In this beautiful magical place (circle)
And roast our marshmallows (bounce)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The Brown family 2016
Speaking of massage, mummies and daddies if you do come this way to the Highlands (and I highly recommend that you do) check out www.libraholistics.com The owner Lindsay is a lovely, friendly local therapist right on the campsites doorstep. Literally as you walk out of the site you are there 😊 Offering a range of treatments Lindsay offers tranquility and relaxation. The treatment room is relaxing and inviting and adds to the whole experience. In keeping with my mantra of how we should all have some relaxation massage is a definite must for those of us caring for disabled children. I had a back,shoulder and neck massage. Sleeping in a caravan does have its drawbacks 😀 but after the massage I felt much calmer, relaxed and ready for the long trip home a couple of days later.
Now the reality is that we are going home. Dad is going back to work and for 8.5 hours a day I am going to be on my own. It’s daunting!!!! In truth it brings an almost sick feeling to my stomach. How will I cope? How will I entertain the children? I am also trying to start the next step in my career as a holistic therapist, how will I cope juggling children, ADD and coursework?
Watch this space…… Take care all, enjoy your time with the children, make magical memories even on bad days and try to make time for yourselves I know I will and remember your not alone!!!!
Its that time of year again when school is winding down and my children are getting excited about the end of the school term and holidays. For weeks now I have been asked “what are we doing in the holidays mummy?” or ‘Can we do this mummy?” and we are not even at half term yet!!!
So far I have tried to not think about what having the children home for six weeks will mean but today I am facing facts.
The six week holidays for us in previous years has been long and boring and arduous.
No routine – This can spell disaster. Anxiety, excitement, boredom all kick in
Food bills escalate – all parents wether they have disabled children or not must find this one of the biggest effects of school holidays
Trips out – unless throughly planned down to the last second can turn from fun to excruciating in seconds
Holidays – planning and packing with the children about….enough said
Car journeys – these are always the worse. Short trips I can get away with long journeys only if necessary
Holidaying on the doorstep – We use to go camping outside of Norfolk until a few years back. Camping on the doorstep where we can go home if we needed to or fetch something we forgot seemed such a better idea.
Sibling rivalry – In one word OUCH. The children can argue about everything and anything. It can drive me up the wall to the point of tears.
Money is another difficult part of the school holidays. Trips out, holidays they all cost money. Even a seemingly free trip to the beach can cost over £5 plus diesel getting there due to parking costs.
School days are easy the children know what they are doing where they are going and so on…. school holidays are a whole different kettle of fish.
This year we decided to go to Scotland with the caravan in the Easter holidays….. But our daughter with ADD, Anxiety suspected ASD, Sensorineural hearing loss and OCD was not coping with the planning. She started to check the weather at every available moment. I would put my phone down and it would go missing. She would keep repeating when are we going? when are we coming back? What if I don’t like it? What about my things I need mummy?
You see I had only given her a months notice that we were going and with the added issue of memory loss she was basically just freaking out. She was becoming Anxious and at one point worrying so much it was affecting her sleep. So we felt that we had to move the Scotland holiday until July. This has given us an extra 3 months in which to prepare her for a week somewhere away from home and to get use to the idea. We talk about the holiday all the time and have maps prepared and marked so she can see where we are going.
On a test run at the bank holiday weekend we went for three nights just down the road. Literally the next village from where we are!! Two seconds from the Grandparents house. I am not kidding that girl had more luggage then her Dad, Me and three siblings put together. What I found worked though at keeping the anxiety levels down was letting her pack her own bags. This helped her to cope with the fact we were going away from the home. She had a limit of two bags well ok three by the time she had convinced me of what she really needed to take. Items included
Teddy who she literally can not sleep without
Story Massage book
fairy book – we read a chapter every night after medication
some other books
other assortment of toys that she promised would not get in the way
own pillow, sheet, quilt
two other cushions that she sleeps with
certain pjs that she had to have
By the time we had finished near enough her whole bedroom was in the caravan. Thank goodness for a fixed bunk bed and a 6 berth van.
The weekend went well so I have high hopes for the actual week spent in Scotland….Maybe!!!
The night time routine was the hardest aspect. Luckily we shopped around before buying a caravan and made sure it had black out blinds to help with this. In our older vans we use to black out the widows using any means necessary including bin bags taped to the windows. We try to keep to the bedtime routine we use at home so that she has that continuity. Its difficult and there are downsides to camping but to what extent do you allow disabilities to encroach into family life. I hope when my children look back in years to come they realise on some level that everything i do and try to do is to maintain as normal a life of them as possible. Holidays abroad I must admit is not something i have considered doing as yet. The girls ask about going on a plane but for now I am just happy to try and show them what Britain has to offer. Even if its just a campsite a mile from home. Distance is not the be all its the family time spent together that really matters and the memories you make.
So our Scottish holiday entails the trip up there to start with. For that we will do what we did at christmas when we travelled to Yorkshire. I made all of my girls a snack bag up. Items included
The bags were an instant hit and kept their hands busy for the majority of the trip there and back. Tip Tap was a game I remember playing in the back of the car as a child…. a very annoying game that can quickly escalate. Not something I want to experience as a parent 🙂
We also played eye spy, count the red cars and count the white vans. I sat in the rear with my daughter’s. That was an experience but one I felt was worth it. My ADD daughter loved that I was sitting with her and her sisters loved it even more because even when medicated she can turn a small crowded space in to battle ground. I was there with her keeping her calm and relaxed. I was able to use Story massage with her to keep her entertained and the calmer environment meant that Dad could concentrate better on the road and that her sisters didn’t all become stressed out as well. Plus I was able to divide my time between the four of them without craning my neck from the front seat.
After 5 hours on the road I can honestly say I was shattered. The constant entertaining and answering questions and singing meant that I really needed a break once we got there so straight away they went for a walk to burn of the excess energy. That week turned out to be a good week. With everything she needed our daughter mostly had a good time though she was very glad when we started to head home. The floods in York happened the week we were there and she was very scared that we would get trapped by the flood water and not get home. At the time we had a 4 x 4 which went some way to helping with her fear. Its not until you are away from home I think that you really get a sense of how scary having any sort of disability can be.
All I can do is hope for the best. I don’t want the children to miss out on going to new places and doing new things because of their disabilities. It just takes more planning and preparation and being to a degree able to change certain aspects at a drop the hat. We shall see….
As mentioned in previous blogs we use massage with our children as a relaxation, concentration, learning activity. We use massage morning, afternoon and night-times in lots of different situations and scenarios. Why? Because for us massage is a way of interacting with our children using a relaxing tool rather than shouting and getting annoyed with them which i previously did. It means less arguements, less tension and stress. It also means quiet time, creativity and respect.
We have four daughter’s ranging from 12 years through to 6 years. On a daily basis as a family unit we live with sensorineural hearing loss and ADD. We are also currently living with two preteens full of hormonal changes, moods and frustration due to thinking they are ready for the adult world.
Primarily on my older two we use Indian head massage. This is a seated massage that is beneficial at the end of the day to calm and relax as well as spending some one to one time with my children. As a therapist I get asked how this works when parents bring their children for a massage? My answer is that attending a massage therapy session can feel daunting to children. They can become more tense and even scared as they do not know what is going to happen. I always work with a parent in the same room and if possible get mum or dad to have a massage first so that the child can see what is going to happen. I always tend to talk through the massage even with my own children so they do not startle when I move from the shoulders to the neck.
Obviously with children you have to adapt some of the massage techniques to take into account their smaller bones and muscles as well as nervousness and this is something I am always conscious off. I also adapt the massage to go with the child’s body language. My daughter with ADD some days just can not tolerate being touched. If her anxiety is particularly bad then no matter how patient I am massage just will not work so we sit and talk instead. You can see when an Indian head massage does start to work as after a few sessions relaxation sets in, fidgets decrease and children comment they have enjoyed their Indian head massage. Indian head massage is a perfect pick me up after a stressful day as well as being perfect for lunch breaks. Massage can last from 15 minutes to 30 minutes meaning it can fit in with almost any lifestyle.
At this time of year exams can place a lot of stress and tension on our children as young as 10. I have also found Indian head massage to be beneficial here. Children can feel stress as much as we can and so they too can benefit from relaxation. Indian head massage can also aide sleeplessness, headaches and eye strain which are common symptoms of revising and exam taking.
Story massage is a treatment you could say ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. It is a wonderful treatment blending 10 simple but effective massage moves with stories, nursery rhymes and songs in a variety of ways. This is a treatment that you as Parents can share with your children at any time of the day and dare I say it night. It is also a treatment you can get the whole family, carers,friends, teachers involved in and having fun.
So far we have used story massage
to explain a new situation
Long car journeys
to celebrate a special occassion
In the supermarket
Waiting for an appointment
To calm down an arguements
When waiting in a queue
Camping in the caravan
Story massage is really easy to learn and you can start enjoying it straight away. Since becoming an instructor I have personally used Story massage nearly everyday at home. My children love to write their own stories and then get mummy to put massage moves with it. It really brings out their creative side and gives the children a sense of achievement. Stories can be short and sweet or longer and there really is no right and wrong way to do it. They all sit on the stairs and tell each other stories with massage. Its perfect for a rainy day activity or when those sibling arguments are starting to get on your nerves.
I have also found story massage to be really useful with coping with symptoms of ADD and Anxiety. Personalised stories reinforced with massage can aide concentration, raise self confidence and relax especially when there is difficult behaviour. This has been especially true for us at teatime when my daughter has refused to eat. During training I along with another participate wrote a story about a magical food unicorn. We still use this story even now to encourage my daughter to eat. I have found in my own personal experience that story massage can also reduce the feelings of anxiety. When my daughter is feeling particularly stressed and upset about something story massage gives her a positive to concentrate on. For example in a previous blog I wrote about a car journey and how Story massage helped to keep her calm and focused in a small space.
I offer Story massage sessions to families here in Norfolk.
fun and informal, relaxing learning approach with plenty of tea’s and coffees
A session typically lasts 2 hours either with just parents / carers or with the children as well.
You will learn more about story massage, the founders, history
get hands on practise learning the massage moves
be able to write your own personalised story massage for your child
feel confident in sharing story massage with your own children anytime anywhere
I am now of to do a 5 minute story massage as its the first day back after a long weekend which my ADD daughter has found confusing and is now starting to feel anxious. Keep in touch as always and look out for the next edition
Ha Ha I love this heading I think its well apt for how I feel massage has helped me with coping with the day to day life, drama and ups and downs of raising a nearly 10 year old with ADD and hearing loss. Hope you enjoy reading as always any comments, feedback very welcome, at the end of the day I am just a mum like you x
Touch…. What is meant by touch?
The media portray touch as sensational headlines made to sell newspapers and get you watching the news. It’s deemed inappropriate, something we should never do, something we should get in trouble for. It’s almost a taboo subject. My six year old daughter came home yesterday and told me that the teachers are no longer allowed to apply suncream? my first thought was thats just stupid…. but this is how our society is going.
The thing is human beings need touch. We are a very touch sensitive race. We find comfort and warmth, love and support in touch. We communicate with touch, we express our feelings through touch. We bond through touch… How could this be wrong? The sad answer is in lots of ways. There are so many bad things in the world that for many of us we are unsure what is right or wrong which is making it all the more harder for us parents. Any child needs to feel love and a connection with another human how can that ever be deemed wrong? My children who have hearing loss have already lost the full use of that sense making touch, sight and smell all the more important for them. What happens if touch becomes taboo…. we will no longer be able to hug our own children, tend to their cuts or help them through the power of touch. How will massage therapists like myself use massage to aide and help those if touch is no longer allowed? Its all very scary and confusing as a parent but here is my take on how positive touch could help you and your children x
As an Indian head massage therapist one of the first things I learnt was the history of Indian head massage. Families, barbers ect in India use massage in everyday daily lives. The whole family gets involved from grandparents and the elderly to new babies, toddlers and everyone in between. As well as the massage benefits touch is an important part of family bonding, promoting respect and spending time together.
For us as a family this is where massage now plays a huge part. There is now a lot of research out there on the internet about the benefits of massage for ADHD / ADD and similar conditions. It was due to this research that I decided to train in Indian head massage and story massage. I could go into great detail and post excerpts from these studies but instead as a mother not a research specialist and having hands on experience of everyday living with a child I decided some weeks ago to write what I know.
My main use of massage is at bedtime. My daughter has a drug called liquid melatonin which for her at the minute is the only medication that allows her to have a modicum of sleep. Trust me we have tried and sort medication as a last resort. Before she was medicated we were up until the early hours with a very awake child. Taking it in turns almost in shift patterns, trying to keep the noise down and just simply trying to be a family. Eventually though our other children were starting to suffer the effects of sleeplessness due to their sister. Tempers were becoming frayed, the house was a tense environment and became a home that no one wanted to come back too. Nothing could and still doesn’t sometimes now get her to sleep.
I use to become frustrated and angry because I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just go to sleep like her sisters. Part of me in a way still feels that I really don’t understand what is going on. We are in the middle of trying to get more information from the specialists but as with anything it’s a long drawn out process. So for now we have to do our best. we medicate her. I as a mother give my child medicine that makes her sleepy even if she doesn’t want to be sleepy. When I say its bedtime it really is bedtime for her. There is no happy medium, its not a joke and its not the easiest thing to do. Watching your child succumb to the effects of drugs is never an easy thing to watch. It does not make me feel good inside to measure out the medication….I am not secretly inside doing a victory dance because tonight I know she will get at least 6 hours sleep. The reality is so much harder to bare.
So bedtime is the main area where we struggle. We have a checklist that we have to methodically stick to :
There’s no electrical devices of any sort an hour before bed. This is to try and help the melatonin produced in the brain do its job.
15, 10,5 minute warnings – this count down ensures the least amount of possible arguing. Our daughter can not be rushed so this helps her to keep track of the time.
medication and snack
Upstairs, wash, dress, teeth
Into bed – check all teddies, blankets are there
read a story
5 – 10 minute massage – in bed where she then does not have to be disturbed.
Maybe 7 – 8 times out of 10 massage is the key to getting our daughter to relax just enough to help the medication do its job. But massage is not a cure. It’s not a fail safe! It’s not a miracle cure. So why do we do it? Because even when you can’t see results massage has helped in some way, it allows our daughter to interact and to feel safe and happy. Its almost like when you swaddle a baby and they feel calmer and content. Its the same with our daughter and massage. We now use massage in so many aspects of her life its almost become a comfort blanket. If she is feeling anxious 5 minutes of massage can make her feel a little better and thats the best that I as a mother can hope for. Its what we do….We find ways of helping our children and making them happy. I feel great achievement if our daughter can manage to sit still for 10 minutes and relax with a massage. I also feel that as her care giver it has strengthened our bond. My voice through story massage can quite often bring her back to herself. A simple story can help her calm herself but also help her with language and counting and just making sense of the world around her.
Back to massage…..
Generally we do 15 minutes of massage every night. I use story massage which is a great way to interact with your child while keeping them engaged. Blending stories, songs or nursery rhymes with simple,gentle, relaxing massage moves promotes relaxation. The massage eases tense muscles and calms the mind while at the same time strengthening the bond between myself and my daughter. Story massage is a great way to end the day. It’s soothing and can be done while my daughter is laid in bed. Twinkle twinkle little star up her arm is her favourite at the minute.
This massage is especially important after a particularly stressful episode. Massage and my voice is sometimes the only way I can get through to my daughter. It can calm her, get her to refocus on the here and now and also get her attention away from whatever caused the problem in the first place.
The way I see it is when I was pregnant I spoke to my bump. I imagine lots of other mothers did this too. Once my daughter was born having failed the new born hearing screening after two years she was diagnosed with hearing loss. Although it took two years for her to get her hearing aids the close contact and endless talking to her ensured we had a strong bond. So she knew my voice. Once the symptoms of ADD started to present themselves aged 2.5 years I figured that on some level she knows my voice and that I am a safe zone. A part of her brain can recognise that I am not a threat and even though her body language is saying one thing generally I am able to calm her down by talking and singing. This can be really hard when she is shouting and swearing at me but I have to persevere. If I can’t look after my own child who else is going to?
Part of this also means that she feels she can take all her anger and frustration out on me as well but that’s for another time.
So when using story massage in a stressful situation it can help to calm and refocus my daughter as she can hear and recognise my voice. Also by telling a story or singing a song there is no room for me to shout or get angry. Have you tried to tell a story while your angry? I have….. By the end I was laughing and so was my husband because it just sounded funny.
Story massage is simple. There is no right or wrong way. It’s all about sharing positive touch with your children. Promoting respect at the same time as being creative and fun. For those with Autism, Anxieties learning disabilities or who just don’t like to be touched all can join in and enjoy the benefits of story massage. You see story massage could be used to promote touch resulting in self confidence. It gives children the chance to be a part of the massage. They can write their own stories, they can join in with siblings or they can share a massage with mum or dad. My own children have endless fun writing their own stories and one of my daughters loves to give massages. She picked up the massage moves easily, as did my 6 year old. Visit http://www.storymassage.co.uk
Indian head massage is reserved for once a week. Concentrating on the upper back, shoulders, neck scalp and face Indian head massage is gentle and a seated massage. The treatment usually lasts 30 minutes. My children all love having a massage. The benefits are lovely.
If you want to find out more then please get in touch. I currently offer sessions in Norfolk to parents, care givers or anyone who wants to learn. To find out more http://www.marshamholistictherapy.co.uk