All children go through illnesses at some point in their growth. Their bodies are organisms performing miraculous feats and will sometimes create an illness just for an opportunity to slow down, rest and grow. We see illness as a very spiritual time and when children have a fever, they are many times in a very quiet meditative or dreamlike state. We must respect this “space” they are in and allow them absolute peace and quiet when they are ill. Being available to your child and honoring the space of this time is what best facilitates the healing process.
We like to use the time of illness to renew our love and commitment to our children. It is a great opportunity for holding, comforting and increased bonding. Of course, children are still children! They will often use the illness to ask for things that they normally do not get, such as watching television. Parents need to be especially strong during these times, as such stimulation would only slow the healing process. Avoid all media, radio, music, tapes, etc. The best thing you can do is to just “be there” for your child. Turn on the answering machine, get into your own pajamas and spend the day in bed with your child. This is not a time to hurry, keep appointments, go to work out, have friends visit or go to work.
Your child is going through a spiritual process and NEEDS you to be there. People who pop a pill into their child to suppress the symptoms and then drop the child off at school or daycare and damaging the child’s growth, both spiritually and physically. Normal and naturally occurring childhood diseases a very necessary rite of passage for children. On a deeper soul level, I truly believe they need to “suffer” through them. Most of us had the chicken pox and measles and we came through them just fine. With proper care, support and understanding, the human body does its best to take care of itself.
Childhood illness is a soul cleansing process necessary for the full and complete development of the child. From a spiritual perspective, childhood illnesses are the means by which the individual adapts her inherited body to her own needs. As a result, her body can become an increasingly adapted and adequate instrument for the tasks which she has set herself on earth and which will unfold in the future.
We must also consider that illness is a very important time of neurological growth for the child. From the book Natural Childhood: “Illness in childhood has an important role to play in building up the child’s immune system for healthy adulthood. So we must ALLOW the child to be ill and then give her enough time to convalesce thoroughly.”
Modern medicine tends to consider only the material aspect of human beings, an approach that fails to bring the individual to a state of complete wellness. Rudolf Steiner had a much more holistic view of humanity. He believed that we are beings composed of body, soul, and spirit. He also believed in the seven-year cycles of human development and the spiritual balance that characterizes true health.
When a child gets ill and has a fever, this is the “fire” of the immune system becoming ignited to fight off the pending danger. This fire is the body’s natural defense system and to suppress it is to only prolong illness and potentially cause more harm. Fever is a healthy response to the presence of something foreign or toxic that the body needs to get rid of. If the child is uncomfortable aching or even delirious remember that these are symptoms caused by the toxicity and the poisons, in his system. The fever is part of the solution! Giving the child anti-inflammatory drugs to suppress the fever prevents the child’s body from fully discharging its toxins. When this happens the inflammation will come back and the tendency to allergies and/or asthma will be increased.
Julian Scott, in his book Natural Medicine for Children writes: “In Eastern medical philosophy, poisons are believed to accumulate in the baby’s body during life in the womb. After birth, the body at some time attempts to rid itself of the poisons. This leads to the many childhood diseases with eruptive rashes, and in particular, measles. Since the 16th century, it has been realized in Eastern medicine that measles is connected with infection. However the basic function of the disease is the same: the infection is regarded as the necessary agent for poisons to “come out”. So, although the dangers of measles are clear, the illness is seen as a step towards overall health.”
He also writes that childhood illnesses act as a transition which children must go through to foster a healthy state of development. “The impact of measles can be best understood by observing changes in your child’s behavior, attention and attitude before and after the illness. Often, he or she is restless and irritable for some weeks or months before developing measles as though a storm is brewing. The family and other people around the child often greet the appearance of measles with relief, because at last the cause of the problem is evident. As the rash develops, and the disease goes into its second stage, the child becomes more confused and irrational. This is the most dangerous phase, and it represents the transition point.
At this time, the body turns the corner as the poison leaves and the immune system gains the upper hand against the invaders. Then, as the crisis passes and the fever subsides, the child’s awareness returns – but with a different outlook. The negative and irritable behavior has gone, and he or she is emotionally delicate and open to new influences. The child sees ordinary and familiar things in life for the first time, but through new eyes, as though he or she has had a form of ritual experience.
On the physical level, the poisons accumulated during life the womb have been expelled. At the higher emotional and mental levels, negative forces such as greed and selfishness have also been expelled. So a child who has measles is afterwards less self-centered and more openhearted, and often more able to express his or her individuality. The personality becomes rounder and fuller, and more joyful and contented, as a step towards maturity and adulthood.”
When a child gets ill, be it inflammation, common cold, sore throat, ear ache, fever or rash remember that this “illness” is not an illness at all, but rather a cleansing process. Also known as a healing crisis, this miracle is a strong effort by the human spirit to repair and readjust the body so it can be a more suitable dwelling.
When we use common sense, we remember that while it may be frightening at first to see our child uncomfortable, powerful healing forces are at work. If we can sit with the child, comforting and consoling and offering gentle support, we will open ourselves to learning and experiencing the body’s very powerful self preserving and perfecting techniques. We must strive to gain a healthy sense of respect for the child’s emerging new body and the soul forces which are at work. With each illness, the forces of body, soul and spirit are working to bring to birth a new order and a new balance to the developing child.
Children, when supported and reassured that this is a normal process, often come through it with a great leap in development and emotional maturity.
Laurieann Quiry tells us that “the Soul arises from Spirit yet expresses itself through the physical body. The health of our Soul takes attention and cultivation. Giving attention to our Soul can be difficult in the fast-paced world of work, family and responsibilities, yet taking time to pause and let the day’s impressions be reflected upon gives it that attention and awareness.” The same holds true for childhood illness.
Remember simple living and common sense: Your child’s illness is not about YOU. Your child’s illness is not about missing a day at work. Your child’s illness is not about the stress of going to the physician… The universe has called upon this event for a very specific reason: The positive inner workings of your child, in a very deep spiritual as well as physical sense. This is a time when as a parent, you must be fully aware, available and present. It is a sacred time of greater depth than we can propose to understand.
Use this time to watch your child sleep, to hold your child, to look at how much he has grown. Look at your child and count your blessings. Your child chose you to be his parents! Your child came to you in this life, as a pupil, as a teacher, as a fellow soul. Use this time of illness to renew your promise of caring for your child’s delicate being.
Recommended Reading for further study:
- Fundamentals of Anthroposophical Healing by Rudolf Steiner
- Facing Karma by Rudolf Steiner
- Natural Medicine for Children: Drug-Free Health Care for Children from Birth to Age Twelve: A Practical, Comprehensive Guide to Herbs, Homeopathy by Julian Scott
- Blessed by Illness by L.F.C. Mees
- Introducing Anthroposophical Medicine by Rudolf Steiner
- The Healing Process: Spirit, Nature & Our Bodies by Rudolf Steiner
- Healing at Home : A Guide to Using Alternative Remedies and Conventional Medicine That Will Change Your Approach to Illnessby Sandra Greenstone
- Spiritual Science and the Art of Healing by Rudolf Steiner
- Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness As a Soul Journey by Jean Shinoda Bolen
- The Healing Path: A Soul Approach to Illness by Marc Barasch
- Body and Soul: The Other Side of Illness by Albert Kreinheder