Kids and Community Acupuncture

Getting to be a ringleader among a room-full of sleeping people of various backgrounds, vocations, genders and colors can be incredibly humbling and satisfying. ‘Holding space’ for folks to work out their stuff and come closer to themselves is an honor.  

More often over the past couple of years, we are seeing younger kids included in the group treatment mix at our clinic.  I’m referring to ages around 7-11.  The kids sometimes will sit with parents, sometimes all by themselves, while parents wait out front.

A particularly adorable 7 yr. old comes to mind as I write this…

She’s been in several times over the past year with a main complaint of ‘stress’. She’ll walk into the treatment room, find a recliner, climb up, curl up with a blanket, book and soon, thumb in mouth. She’ll normally let us know what points she’d like needled that afternoon by pointing to them.  Needles in, head on pillow and g’night. Along with all of the people getting treated, she’ll let us know when she wants her needles out by giving us a look or a nod to come over.

Not all kids are of the temperment or age to be resting in a quiet room with 12 other people, but those that are seem to ‘get it’ right away.  It’s simply nap time all over again.

I’ve begun to notice when kids are present in the treatment rooms along with adults of varying ages, it’s difficult to deny a palpable change in the feeling inside the clinic.  Everyone seems to be holding space for the young ones, and in this way it’s the kids who end up highlighting some form of ‘community’ or ‘cooperation’ that was always potentially present, but previously unhatched.

I’m curious how other Community Acupuncturists have experienced having kids treated in their group spaces, and if any of what I’m trying to convey (slippery as it is to put into words) rings true to them.

Author: andy-wegman

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  1. I have a few kids coming in

    I have a few kids coming in for treatment right now, ranging from about 5-10 (then I have the teens- they are a totally different and fantastic group).  I definitely notice a shift in the room as soon as the kids walk in.  Everyone is curious to see how the kids react and very happy to quietly whisper how they feel or show off needles to the children. 

    I love to see everyone brighten and hold the space for the children. Total strangers become invested in these little people and are so excited to see them each week.  Even my grumpiest of patients admitted that he really was so happy to see one little girl napping and enjoying her needles. 

     Thanks for the post, Andy!  

  2. I’ve treated a few kids.

    I’ve treated a few kids. With one of them a 3 year old usually would treat the family in a seperate room of recliners because the little boy would sometimes take a while to settle down. His favorite point is du20, says it makes him feel like a spaceman. I saw some kids recliners at big lots that I was thinking of having one or two in the treatment room for kids and as a reminder for patients that kids can be treated too. One girl who would come with her mom was 10. Her first few visits she would only allow 2 or 3 needles until I brought her and her mom into a treatment room with other patients. When she saw one patient with a bunch of needles in her face, legs, etc (for sinus stuff) she requested more needles and actually relaxed a little more into the treatment. It was fun to see. 

  3. kids

    i have been treating my stepdaughter since she was 6 years old (she is 13 now). we usually just do the treatment at home on her bed, and she listens to music or a book on tape while resting with the needles. she is often “done” in about 20 minutes. a couple of years ago, i treated her in the clinic for the 1st time and she completely zonked out for about an hour. also, in case some of you have not seen it before, when she was 11, she read Acupuncture is Like Noodles and wrote a review of it, and you can read it here. it is a nice illustration of how a child perceives community acupuncture.

    we have had kids / teens from 3 – 17 y.o. treated in the clinic. it is always such a special experience. other patients  notice and smile. the kids “get” the whole community thing really quickly and plug right in to participate.

    andy, thanks for this post.


  4. Also relating…

    I have to say it is a true highlight for me to be able to treat kids – I never would have anticipated this to be true, but it is.

    I’ve been treating a 7 y.o. for asthma and bedwetting, and a 5 y.o. for cough, sinus congestion and irritability/anxiety.  I treat both of them them in the reception area on our comfy couch – they sit with their moms, get needled and read books together. 

    I started with this arrangement because the 7 y.o., while very much of a quiet demeanor, is also a bit shy and comes in with his mother and 3 y.o. sister who is quite opposite of him – very talkative and a bit rambunctious.  I figured they’d be happy to be together for the treatment and it works out nicely this way.  Mom can keep an eye on both of them and everyone is happy.  They bring some library books and read some of the childrens’ books I have here, too.

    Initially I was reluctant to treat children here because I didn’t think it would work out in the treatment room – I thought perhaps they would be loud or be scared without their mothers next to them.  Of course your story makes me think otherwise – of course kids are used to nap time, and can be quiet when explained it is necessary.  But I think both kids and parents are happy with this arrangement and unless the parents want to be treated at the times their children are I would continue doing it this way simply because it has been working well.

    And as a side note, it is absolutely adorable having them sitting on the couch with needles in – and all the other patients who are coming in and out of the reception area and seeing them think it is very cute – and it has also served to put some new patients at ease.  Just yesterday I had a new patient (adult) with main complaint of anxiety – who mentioned to me she had fainted with needles at the doctor’s office in the past.  I think when she saw the 5 year old being treated without any fuss her worries were quelled just a bit.

  5. I have a 9-year old karate kid

    I have a 9-year old karate kid who likes to read very thick books while she’s being treated. Last time she was in, she was a little leery of yintang, but I heard from her babysitter-aunties later on that it was her favorite point, and she talked about it quite a lot afterwards.

    I wish all of my patients had her nuanced awareness of an oncoming cold, and the willingness to treat it at the sniffles and sneezing stage like she does.

    And the mood is definitely just a little sweeter in the clinic when she’s in the mix. I notice a distinct softening among her co-nappers.

    Michelle Faucher, Chico Community Acupuncture

  6. My Favorite Kid Treatment

     I have a patient who is a single Mom and sometimes she brings her daughter and/or her twin boys (age 11).  Once she came with the boys and I only had one extra recliner open.  So the boys climbed into the one recliner side by side.  I did a treatment as if it was one person.  They loved it.

     Steve Kingsbury

    Ashland Community Acupuncture, LLC

  7. As the mother of identical twin boys, I love this image.

    My guys (age 7) are still a bit needle shy, but I bet this might be a good way to get them more comfortable. thanks for the tip!!! 

  8. Melissa and I totally dig

    Melissa and I totally dig our fierce little kiddos! I think we’ve not needled under 6 yrs old and parents know that the kids have to 1.) be able to vibe with the serene community vibe and not disrupt other nappers and 2.) be willing. We do not needle kids who aren’t into it. That would be more like torture than healthcare.

    Kids are a wonderful ingredient to a real community atmosphere. People rustle a bit, smile at the kids and each other and go back to sleep.

    We even have a shadow box from one of our little warriors of the clinic! It features our blue curtain, a big heart and an invention for holding needles! Rock on acu-kids!


  9. My boys

    are now 9 & 11.  They’re in the clinic with me every Saturday.  11 yo loves acupuncture.  9 yo has to be on his deathbed to accept a single needle of torture.

    11 yo makes a big show of sauntering into the treatment space whenever there’s another tween or teen around.  He loves showing-off that he’s not scared to get punctured; sometimes he’ll even ask for multiple treatments (in a 4-hour-shift!) if there are multiple kids to impress. 

    Anyway, there’s this 12-yo girl who’s been coming-in on Saturdays.  She hangs in the reception area while her mom snoozes.  My 11-yo usually makes a display of getting acupuncture while she’s there.  She *finally* (after about 6 months of coming to the clinic with her mom) asked to get needled this past Saturday, and she LOVED it!  She was back for more tonight.  On her way out the door, she grabbed fistfulls of cards and Rosie tatoos, saying she’d tell all the kids at school about it cuz it’s SO COOL!

    (My story is mostly about taking advantage of pre-adolescent peer-pressure as a WOM marketing ploy.  Tongue out)

  10. Where can I get one?

    Please please pleeeeeeeeeeeease can I have a kid recliner in my treatment room?  Dang, that would be the pinnacle of cool.

    I agree, kids “get” CA right away.  I treat a few kids and also have kids hanging around while parents get treated (or my own girl holds court in my office over Clifford videos and pretzel sticks).  It’s a lovely feeling when kids are around.  The older the patient, the more they love the kid energy.

  11. Gotta love ’em.

    I don’t get them too often, but whenever one does come for treatment, the clinic vibe does change measurably.  I miss the little 7 year-old whose mom used to drive over 50 miles to get here.  We both dropped our jaws when she accidentally knocked out her Hegu point, and then picked up the needle and jabbed it back into her hand.  Initially she wasn’t sure she could handle acupuncture, but after the first Seirin went in, she relaxed and asked for more needles.

  12. So far just a couple of

    So far just a couple of teens, both very good
    at napping, but not young enough to turn heads! In the summer my own
    kids came in with me sometimes. My daughter (7) WANTS to like having
    needles (she gets that people are having a good time) so she usually
    gets me to do one for a few seconds, and then she needles her stuffed

    Great idea having some Seirin on hand for the kids, Lumiel. Kelly, I was wondering if anyone else reads during their treatment. I
    usually discourage it, wanting them to relax more deeply, but maybe
    I should just let folks do what they want.

  13. I find it interesting that most of the threds I have found for kids & CA are at least 2 or more years old. Am thinking that a family based CA clinic may be a great idea and am wondering how things are going with people who set up child centered CA shifts in the past…do you still have those shifts? Thanks.