As always, the long summer holidays seemed to disappear in a flash and before we know it the kids are heading back to school for another year. My eldest daughter started secondary school this morning. Here she is cycling off for her first day with her friends, looking so grown up and independent!
It’s easy to forget, that underneath this new found independence, tweenagers are in the midst of a years-long process, throughout which they will transition from being a child to an adult. There are several physiological changes that occur during this time, an awareness of which can help both the parents to support their child in navigating this process more smoothly. I will describe them from a Chinese medicine perspective.
The first is that there is an enormous surge of yangin the body. This is the energy which helps fuel the enormous physical and psychological growth that takes places in the lead up to and during adolescence. It’s necessary and important however, at times, it can cause problems. It’s as if the child has been used to driving a clapped-out old banger, and suddenly gets put behind the wheels of a powerful sports car. It may take some time to be able to handle this new power and, in the meantime, there may be a few crashes along the way. These could manifest in a child as moodiness, tantrums and sometimes even physical recklessness.
Secondly, the qi of a tweenager is more ‘open’, as always happens when a person is in transition from one stage to the next. This means that, although the child may act as if they know everything, you (the parent) are the biggest embarrassment in the world and know absolutely nothing, actually they are especially vulnerable to anything that is going on in their external environment. So as parents, while we may need to play more of a hands-off role, making sure that the home is stable and as devoid as possible of extreme emotions, and that we are available when the car crashes do happen, is vitally important.
Lastly, as a result of the rapid growth and development taking place, tweenagers and young teenagers are prone to developing deficiency of various Organs and substances (to use Chinese medicine speak). So trying to ensure that they eat properly, get a reasonable amount of sleep and some downtime will make a big difference. As any parent of a child this age will know, this is not always easy. But it’s important to keep trying, while at the same time remembering the importance of maintaining rapport with your child.
So, with these points in mind, here’s hoping for a happy start to the new school year for everyone!