Flower essences for children
It’s important for parents to find something that is both natural and gentle on the body to help guide their family through challenges. After being exposed to the power of Bach flower essences during my pregnancy, I wanted to explore the role these amazing healing remedies could play in her own progress as a mum and also in her children’s ever-growing world.
What are flower essences?
Flower essences are the energetic imprint of a flower used to shift energy within the body and help it heal. It has nothing to do with the scent of the flower or aromatherapy and is in the same therapeutic family as Reiki or acupuncture: it works by moving energies in the body.
Bach flower remedies are perfect for babies, children and animals due to their ability to gently and safely alter mood and disposition, and because they do not contain any chemicals and therefore have no side effects. According to Wendy Norman, a Bach flower remedy practitioner practising and teaching in Adelaide, “In the 16 or so years that I have worked with the Bach flower remedies I have found them to be the most valuable and effective tools in neutralising and rebalancing negative and dysfunctional thoughts and moods.”
Similarly, Victoria Resch, a registered Sydney psychologist, Reiki healer and flower essence practitioner calls flowers essences “personal growth in a bottle. Flower essences facilitate healing on a physical level by addressing the mental, emotional and spiritual imbalances that leave us vulnerable to accident and illness,” she explains. “They can enhance self-awareness and understanding and increase self-confidence. They can help you to deal with the challenges and demands of parenthood and they can help your child with the ups and downs of simply growing up.”
Bach flower essences
Out of all the different flower essences, Bach flowers are probably the most well recognised and easily accessible. Dr Edward Bach was a highly respected physician in London’s Harley Street and was the modern pioneer of flower essences in England in the 1930s. During his work, he began to observe that certain “types” of people reacted the same way to different illnesses and treatments. Or, to put it another way, patients with the same illness would recover differently, depending on their mental and emotional state.
Dr Bach decided to investigate ways of healing and balancing these different mental and emotional states to assist the healing process. Familiar with work in the field of homoeopathy, he looked to nature for a solution and eventually found it in flowers. Over time, he developed 38 remedies for differing states of mental and emotional imbalances and one combination of five of these, which he called Rescue Remedy.
Victoria Resch studied Bach flower essences in Amsterdam in the 1970s before they were even available in Australia, and says Dr Bach was ahead of his time in exploring the mind/body connection.
“In Europe, homoeopathy is more widely known and accepted than it is here,” explains Resch. “In Holland I met a number of perfectly sensible, credible health professionals and psychologists for whom I had a great deal of respect, who were also using Bach’s flower remedies in their practices. This caused me to explore them myself and to my surprise I found them highly effective.
“Dr Edward Bach was certainly ahead of his time in the understanding of the mind/body connection in health, and when the ‘Consciousness Movement’ and the focus on personal growth and spiritual development grew in the 1960s and ‘70s, there was renewed interest in Bach’s work. It’s been growing ever since.”
How to use them
All Bach remedy plants are non-poisonous and entirely harmless due to the way the remedies are made. No part of the actual plant remains in the final remedy — it is only the healing energy that forms the active ingredient.
The most common form of Bach flower usage is in a treatment bottle, which consists of pure water and up to five different remedies, depending on the person and the type of behaviour modification required. Similar to homoeopathy, only a small amount of the essence or dilution is needed for it to be effective. The general rule is two drops from the stock bottle per 25mL.
Four drops from this treatment bottle are taken orally every hour to start with, reducing to four times a day until the bottle is finished. A treatment bottle usually last a couple of weeks and often, as in the case with children, that may be all that is needed to rebalance and “change” the negative to positive. Other times, such as with adults and more enduring issues, it may take longer.
Commonly, practitioners will add brandy as a preservative but Wendy Norman doesn’t suggest that if treating children. “I prefer not to add anything to their drops as they generally dislike the taste.” Resch uses a little vodka in her treatment bottles for adults as it does not leave a lingering alcohol smell on the breath, but she recommends to rather keep the treatment bottle in the fridge if it is for children or if you don’t want to use alcohol for other reasons.
Resch suggests taking the essences at bedtime and immediately upon waking. “These times offer a window to the storehouse and resource of the unconscious mind and to what Carl Jung called the ‘Collective Unconscious’.” However, it’s best to carry the treatment bottle with you to have on hand whenever you may need it. While it’s best to take the treatment four times a day once established, you can also follow your intuition. Rescue Remedy, a preformulated combination of five remedies to deal with shock and stress, can be carried around with you always and used in any emergency, times of high stress or emotional distress. The result can be instant — and very welcoming.
Flower essences can also be added to a bath, lotions and massage oils, or a spray bottle. As a general rule, multiply the number of stock drops three to five times for topical use (eg: six to 10 drops instead of two per 25mL). Seven drops from the stock bottle of each essence is recommended for a bath.
Which ones to use
As mentioned earlier, the most common type of flower essence and the one most people would have heard of is Rescue Remedy. A combination of five Bach flower essences — rock rose, impatiens, clematis, star of Bethlehem and cherry plum — it is carried in handbags, baby bags and school bags around the world. It has saved many a tantrum and meltdown, assisted in school exams and first day of school, and any other family challenge that arises in day-to-day life. And its effect can be instant.
“When I was in labour with my daughter Tara, I began to experience a rigor — an uncontrollable shaking,” Resch recounts. “My mum was there and I kept repeating to her ‘Rescue, Rescue’. The doctors must have thought I was crazy! But the very instant the drops hit my tongue, the shaking stopped completely. It was amazing.”
When it comes to selecting other essences out of the 38 Bach flower remedies (or the numerous flower essences from around the world), you can educate yourself on what to use in which situation but it’s best to get a basic understanding by talking to a flower essence practitioner first.
“As any parent will tell you, no two children are the same,” Wendy Norman points out. “Understanding the temperament and disposition of a person is a key element when considering which remedies to use. And as we tend to have a rather biased view of our offspring, sometimes this requires a professional consultation with a trained practitioner — someone who can see the bigger picture objectively.”
Once you have a basic understanding and collection of essences at home, you can begin to use them yourself. A good start (and certainly only a start) is to have the following on hand for you and your family:
Holly — for temper, envy or the desire for revenge. This could include spitefulness, bullying, pinching, biting and jealousy. It can also help with feelings of anger or resentment by a parent.
Gentian — for those who feel disappointment or are discouraged following a setback. It’s good for children who do not bounce back after a disappointment or lose interest if they didn’t perform as well as they thought they would. It can also be fantastic for parents who feel like they are stuck or not getting anywhere.
Mimulus — great for a fear that can be named, such as a fear of dogs or going to school.
Elm — for parents or children who are usually very capable and self-assured, but suddenly feel overwhelmed and lose faith in themselves.
Crab apple — for children or parents who are fussy and hate mess. It’s also a fantastic remedy for illness and upset stomachs (especially good for the endless bouts of illness affecting childcare and school-aged children).
Olive — this is an amazing remedy for tired parents. Olive is for genuine, bone-tired fatigue that comes from working and parenting, or being up with a sick child. It helps rebuild the immune system and emotional strength when you are rundown.
Walnut — for change. You could say the only thing that doesn’t change in parenting is that it constantly changes! This remedy can help with times of upheaval, change, new beginnings and endings. It’s a great one to add to pretty much every treatment bottle.
And of course the five included in Rescue Remedy:
Cherry plum for loss of control
Clematis for inattentiveness and faintness
Impatiens for agitation, impatience or becoming easily bored
Rock rose for terror or fear (stronger than Mimulus)
Star of Bethlehem for shock, especially good following an accident
Essences in action
“A mother consulted me regarding her five-year-old son whose outbursts and uncontrolled rage were taking their toll on the family as well as the classroom,” Wendy Norman related.
“I used a simple combination of just three Bach remedies: Holly for the aggression and violent outbursts with cherry plum, which alone is useful in cases of irrational behaviour or hysteria, but together these work to remove the emotional state that results in uncontrolled behaviour that leads to attacks of rage. Finally I added impatiens — a perfect choice for children who are restless and constantly fidgeting.
“The child’s mother reported a definite reduction in the outbursts within a couple of days. Although he seemed a little calmer, the complex nature of the underlying cause of his behaviour requires a multifaceted approach involving more than the gentle Bach drops I prescribed.”
And that’s the great thing about working with flower essences in parenting. They are not a solution for all the challenges of a growing family, and deeper issues must be dealt with appropriately, but essences can be a reliable and holistic tool to help you through tough times. As Victoria Resch says, “They are a harmless and natural accompaniment to life’s challenges.”
Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is author of an e-book, 21 Days to Master Reconnection with Yourself (While Still Being a Great Mum!). You can find her book and writing at amytaylorkabbaz.com and follow her on Twitter @amytaylorkabbaz.