Behavioural problems in children

Dr Bob Leckridge describes how homeopathic metals can help children with behavioural problems

When children start school they are thrown into quite another world from  that of the family. Not only do they need to form multiple  relationships of different kinds with classmates and teachers but there  are many new pressures for them to deal with – managing to achieve  certain standards of mental and physical performance, pleasing the  teachers, conforming to regulations and rules and so on. In addi­tion to  that not only will the physical environment of the school be unfamiliar  to them but the social and cultural envir­onment will be completely  new, and often quite challenging, too. So it’s no surprise that problems  start to appear in children who up till now had perhaps been quite  healthy and well-adjusted. This is because in life we are contin­ually  subjected to what has been termed “stress”. By stress we really mean  anything which challenges a person, a challenge to which the person has  to react. We all adapt to everyday changes, but adaptation does not  always run smoothly! Under the pressure to react and change, we either  grow or we get sick. It’s important to understand this otherwise  “stress” gets a completely negative press. When we are provoked in  positive ways we are stimulated to grow, to stretch beyond our existing  limitations and to mature. Too much provocation of course produces harm  and there can be a fine line between the stress which encourages  development and that which precipitates illness. A well-chosen remedy,  prescribed correctly by a healthcare professional who has learned  homeopathy, can tip the balance to stop a stress being harmful, but more  than this, it can actually turn it into a stimulus to growth and  development. A good homeopathic prescription will not just relieve  sickness, it will also stimu­late the child to grow and mature.

The homeopathic approach really gives us the chance to take  different, and hopefully better perspectives on people. We can see that  “symptoms” are just the manifestation of a failure to cope with whatever  has challenged or injured a person, and we can also come to under­stand  why a particular person develops a specific pattern of illness. From  this point of view, the materia medica of homeopathic remedies is like a  book of wisdom which throws light on dark or confusing times. The  majority of reme­dies we use are prepared from plants but the next  largest group are prepared from minerals. In particular there are a  number of common metals which, as homeo­pathic remedies, are invaluable  in treat­ing children’s behavioural problems and illnesses.

Alumina

The child who needs homeopathic alu­minium is a confused child, who  lashes out because of violent impulsiveness. These outbursts really  surprise people because normally the Alumina child is quiet and gentle.  In fact they might seem extremely biddable because actually they have  had their natural character sup­pressed usually by a very dominant  par­ent who has repeatedly told the child that whatever their wishes are  they are not going to get what they want. This erodes their  self-confidence and they can be very scared of sharp things and of the  sight of blood. However, there remains a strong tenacity, almost  obstinacy, in their character. This is most evident in the  characteristic they have of not being hurried. It’s impossible to hurry  them. This is not because they want to go slowly though, it is because  they just can­not seem to go as fast as even they them­selves would want  to. Inside they feel hurried but they can’t make their actions go fast  enough so they end up making lots of mistakes. This shows in class  especially with difficulties in reading and writing practice. Their  inner hurried feel­ing also leads to physical restlessness, with fidgety  hands and feet, and even in some cases to sleepwalking. You might find  them anxiously wandering from room to room at night rubbing their  tightly closed eyes.

Argentum nitricum

This remedy is made from silver nitrate and is most commonly used to  treat anticipatory anxiety. There are many possible remedies for  anticipatory anx­iety and Argentum nitricum will only work well when the  features match and the circumstances are right. Key indica­tions are  the physical symptoms of shaky hands and legs accompanied by a shaky  tummy. These children will describe the typical butterflies-in-the-tummy  feeling and might have to run back and forward to the loo with  diarrhoea. They are hot children who easily feel overheated and when  they get anxious their sweet tooth becomes quite excessive. They crave  sugar and sweet things but when they eat too much of them it makes them  feel worse and upsets their tummy more. The most important thing for  these children is their performance. These are children who can be great  performers, whether in music, drama or sport, but they tend to be so  bound up in the importance of performing well that each event becomes  quite an ordeal for them. If they don’t do well they really feel quite  lost! By lost, I mean as if they are all alone in the world. They are  over-excitable and impulsive children which can mean they are great fun,  or that they are hard to contain.

Aurum

Fortunately, gold is not a commonly indicated remedy for children, but  sadly, in this day and age of increasing psy­chological pressures on  children, depres­sion, even severe depression which drives a child to  attempt suicide, has become more common.

The child who needs homeopathic gold is often a very industrious,  hard­working and ambitious child. They might have an over-developed  sense of duty and responsibility and can easily feel guilty that they  are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. They do have a strong  sense of their own unique­ness but this can lead to feelings of being  alone and cut off from others. They are hugely over-sensitive to  contradiction which can result in explosive outbursts of anger and  violence. Their tendency to over-sensitivity extends to almost all  environmental stimuli – noise, music, smells and touch, all of which  they can find overwhelming. When they cannot manage to progress, in  particular when they are contradicted or frustrated, they are likely to  see everything as hopeless and black, a catastrophy. This is when they  tumble into deep depression.

Cuprum

Homeopathic copper is often indicated for children who have  difficult behav­ioural problems. They tend to be fiercely independent  children, never asking for help. As you might imagine this makes them  rather headstrong, or even obsti­nate. They have great abilities to be  focussed and hard-working, really stick­ing at tasks and always playing  by the rules. However in situations where there are confrontations  either with other chil­dren in the class or with a teacher who  antagonises them they tend to blow up both verbally and physically,  lashing out with a sarcastic tongue, mimicking peo­ple and playing  tricks on them and even lashing out destructively, biting, or spit­ting.  They are also breath-holders when angry and can turn spectacularly blue  in the face during these temper tantrums.

Ferrum

The Ferrum child has a will of iron. This can result in them being  both bossy and intolerant to contradiction. They have a tendency to be  physically robust or a bit overweight and their bossiness means they  always want to be in charge. These are often very self-confident  children, the leaders in the class, not the follow­ers. They are  typically hard workers who will really stick at things but they suffer  from a certain lack of flexibility or adaptability. They can be rather  over­sensitive, being easily provoked. When challenged they will either  stand their ground or fight. A common response to a challenging  situation is either to flee or fight. In the case of Ferrum they will  always fight. These kids don’t run away from things. However, if there  is too much chaos around, and particularly if other children are being  especially noisy, the Ferrum child will try to find solitude away from  the others. These children are often very anxious about family members,  worrying that relatives they actually feel responsible for might become  seriously ill or die. The focus for this might be a younger sibling or,  in cases where one or other of the parents is suffering from a chronic,  incapacitat­ing illness to the extent that there is a degree of role  reversal and the child has to be a carer, the focus is on the parent.

Platina

Platinum is a very expensive metal and the indications for its use  homeopathi­cally are centred on this sense of being special. Actually it  is more than being special, these children are likely to feel both  superior to others and cut off from others. They are difficult to make  con­tact with and might even have been diag­nosed as autistic, or  suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. One little girl I successfully  treated with Platina was known by her family as “Little Princess” and  she ruled the household from her bedroom at the top of the house.  Despite her slight physical appearance, her strength of will really  dominated the whole family and she would tell every­one else in the  house what to wear each day. This strange sense of superiority seen in  these children can even lead, as it did in this particular child’s case,  to a refusal to play with any children who are not smaller than them.  The Platina child is easily bored and will shut her­self in her room  saying everything is bor­ing and uninteresting. This is a deep kind of  dissatisfaction with things. They need to have routines and to feel that  they are able to impose their will to the extent that they can control  their surroundings. One focus for this might be eating. Lots of children  are fussy or picky eaters, but the child who needs Platina takes this  to quite another level. They may not only refuse to eat all but  particular foods but they often have a strange insistence on the  position of food on the plate. For example it is common for them to  insist that no two kinds of food on a plate touch each other.

Plumbum

The child who responds to homeopathic lead is equally insistent on  routines and order. But their need for order is more compulsive than in  the child who needs Platina. In fact, they will describe feel­ing  compelled to sort things out, get things done, and get them done in just  the “right” way (by which they mean their usual way). This can make  them rather rigid and they are children who particularly don’t like  change or having to do anything new. The other aspect of the child who  needs Plumbum is a kind of contrariness. They actually love to do what  they’ve been forbidden to do and if they are then permitted to do it  they quickly find they’ve lost interest. This means they are really  susceptible to par­ents’ tried and tested management tech­nique of  “reverse psychology”. In addition to this, these children often present  with a combination of restless­ness, poor memory function and mood  swings. This combination can, as you might imagine, result in  considerable learning difficulties. A physical problem which these  children often have is col­icky abdominal pains which make them double  up and are relieved by applying firm pressure and local heat.

Zincum

Homeopathic zinc is most commonly indicated for the constantly  restless child. These are the greatest of fidgets. I can always spot  them in the waiting room (or even on the train!) because their feet just  never stop moving. It’s like watch­ing perpetual motion! These are  often awkward kids, again of an Asperger’s Syndrome type, who find it  hard to make connections with the other chil­dren, often have a  dominating father and are harbouring a lot of frustration and anger. As  is almost always the case with suppressed anger, it tends to come  burst­ing out with great vehemence and vio­lence which, of course, makes  it increasing difficult for them to fit in socially. They are also  over-sensitive children, particularly to noise and to voices. In most of  the children who are very restless we also see an instability of mood  and the Zincum child is no except­ion. In fact their mood swings can be  quite marked, oscillating between feel­ing down and feeling cheerful,  anger and shyness, and anxiety and contentment.

Dr Bob Leckridge MBChB FFHom is a former GP & a specialist in Homeopathic medicine. He is the author of Homeopathy in Primary Care. He was President of the Faculty of Homeopathy from 1998 to 2005.