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With the first day of school around the corner, there is no time like the present to get you and your kids ready for a healthy school year. The first step is to find out who your kids are: mentally, emotionally, physically and behaviorally. For starters, take my Body Type Quiz for Children. For more on the topic of back-to-school health for our kids, check out my book, Perfect Health For Kids. (1)
I could not imagine being a parent of six kids and not having these tools. In past winters, our six kids would go cold-free. It really isn’t difficult – as parents we just need to know what to do and when. With a little knowledge, it is really so easy to keep them healthy. It is when they get sick and pass it to each other that things get messy. A little focus on prevention delivered us six pounds of cure. You will be surprised just how simple it is.
Understanding Your Child’s Body Type
If you take your car to a mechanic the first question you’re asked is: “What is the make, model, and year of your car?”
In the same way we should ask:
- What is the model of this child?
- Is he or she a Ford, a Chevy, or a high-maintenance Porsche?
Some kids get allergies and some don’t. Some tend to gain weight and others struggle to keep weight on. Some kids are interested in sports and others have no interest.
Understanding the subtleties of your child’s body type can help you better support your child to be who they are, and can pave the way to a well-balanced childhood.
We RecommendDecode Your Children
Elle – The Spontaneous Winter Child
A few years back Elle, an adorable eight-year-old, came into my office with her mom. Her mom was a little worried about her because she would get tummy aches and headaches. She was also not doing great in school. When I examined her tongue and took her pulse, I noticed that her nails were bitten to the core, so I asked her if she liked school. She of course said, “Yes,” but when I dug deeper it was clear that while she had lots of friends, her social radar was on overdrive. When she would be working at her desk, she was also aware of what the person next to her was doing, who her best friend across the room was joking with, where the teacher was, and also spending a ton of energy worrying if anyone would discover her secret. Her secret was that she was that she didn’t think she was smart, and did whatever she could to hide it.
Elle was a classic vata type. She was on the thinner side, and she definitely did not like the cold—in fact, she said she wouldn’t go skiing because it was too cold. Her mom told me she was fantastically creative and loved to draw, and that she worried a lot. I told Elle that her secret wasn’t actually about how smart she was. I told her she was plenty smart, but no one can do their work while having their radar or attention on so many things at once. So we gave her some strategies, which included herbs like ashwagandha and bacopa to strengthen her nervous system and focus, and soon she was able to lock in to her work without being so distracted. A simple understanding of your child’s type may help explain what they are going through and why.
Of the three learning styles recognized by most educators, Elle learns best auditorily, rather than visually or kinesthetically. She usually does well in school, which strongly favors this body type, as almost all the information is delivered verbally. Elle tends to be a little nervous or even anxious at times, but her natural mental and physical quickness will ultimately prove to be her greatest assets.
At home, she is the one with dry flaky skin and possibly even eczema. If her skin is dry, then her intestines might be also, making her susceptible to constipation.
Elle may also not be the best sleeper. She may wake up easily and find herself in Mom and Dad’s bed way too often. Because of her quick-minded temperament, she will be a thinker, so it is important to take precautions to prevent her from thinking too much and becoming a worrier. The winter type is a higher maintenance body type and these children should be carefully guided through the stressful childhood years.
Tara – The Fiery Summer Child
Tara is a fiery summer, or pitta type. She learns best visually and excels in schoolwork, particularly in math and other visually oriented subjects. She wears a face full of adorable freckles and sports two long and slightly curly red pigtails. While Tara is of northern European descent, all races reflect these constitutional variations, although often more subtly. Tara is an extremely competitive girl who is quick to take command and lead the class if necessary. Her fiery mind tends to drive her body hard, and she is something of a perfectionist. This trait often makes her the best at whatever she chooses to do, but on the negative side, it sometimes makes her overly demanding of herself. If she doesn’t win or come out on top, it can really get her down. In the summer months, Tara’s face turns bright red when she gets overheated, which isn’t hard for her to do since her body type naturally carries a lot of heat.
Tara is a bit more durable physically and mentally than quick-minded Elle, but her parents need to be aware of her weaknesses in order for her to maintain perfect health. Because she runs hot, she has a tendency to get more skin rashes and acne than other types. This heat may also affect her emotionally and she may tend towards anger, bad sportsmanship, and bullying if not guided at a young age.
She is a natural leader but may not always be well-liked, as she can put other children down in an effort to make herself feel more important, thus making more enemies than friends. We all know children like this and parents can surely intervene here and support more balanced behavior.
Scott – The Steady Spring Child
The third basic constitutional type couldn’t be more accurately embodied than Scott. One of the bigger boys in his class, Scott is a spring, or kapha, type. By nature, he is slow to learn, but once he “gets” it, he’s got it for life. He is just the opposite of Elle, who takes in information quickly but can’t remember it for very long. Scott learns best kinesthetically. Scott is a late bloomer, and when older, will be able to command any field of activity. Scott’s demeanor is calm and tranquil; people like him and feel comfortable around him. He moves slowly and methodically with no wasted effort. In our fast-paced world, Scott runs the risk of being labeled “slow” because he is a methodical thinker, but he has just as much or more natural talent and ability as the other two types.
Scott is a spring type and because he naturally possesses more of the water and earth elements, he naturally produces more mucus than the other two types. He will tend to be prone to colds and coughs, and parents have to be careful not to feed him excessive amounts of mucus-producing foods, like mac-n-cheese, pizza for dinner, and cold milk and cereal for breakfast.
Scott may be at risk of gaining weight — this can easily be avoided if his proclivities for eating and slower metabolism are detected and prevented early. Exercise will be important for Scott, but it had best be fun or he will have no interest in it. Scott enjoys team sports and games that involve being with other people. His natural strength will make him popular when choosing up sides for football, and he will probably bat clean-up on the baseball team.
By knowing what traits make your children who they are, you can also learn to identify behaviors they exhibit when they are out of balance. Once you become familiar with the normal traits of yours child’s types, then the abnormal or imbalanced traits will be obvious and treatable days or weeks before a symptom may arise.
Note: For more detailed descriptions of the body types and how to keep your child in balance, check out my book, Perfect Health For Kids. (1)