Essential Oil Training and Safety for Your ChildSep 30, 2021 12:56PM ● By Bijou Julia Pounds
Many people have smelled something that brings them back to a comforting and happy moment. This is how powerful our sense of smell is. It calls in an entire experience through the nervous system. We can harness this natural process to redirect our energy when in states of distress. For parents that want to support their children throughout their development, this concept provides a powerful course of action.
Our brains process data all around us even before we are fully developed or born. The olfactory sense is one of the initial ways we take in information. It’s the first sense that we use while still in the womb. We subconsciously remember aromas based on the feelings we are feeling when we first experience them. Our sense of smell travels directly to the emotion-regulating part of the brain, the amygdala. This process tells our system what to expect and how to feel when we smell that smell. For example, as a baby, if we smell our mother’s milk and receive tender care when sensing this smell, we will relate the smell to nourishment and safety.
This science offers a way for us to train our brains into accessing a desired mood. We can use a special aroma when relaxing, then apply it to our olfactory sense when agitated and it will tell our brains to change the current wavelength of our nervous system to reflect the relaxing state to which we associate the scent. As parents, this strategy can really help our children cope with triggers. It’s important to teach our children essential oil safety and application, and empower them to take the best action when their system goes into fight or flight mode.
The first experience with a scent guides this process. It’s why, as parents, we have a lot of power in the exposure we provide for our children. In the first few years, we can lay a foundation for what aromas our children learn and what kind of emotional associations they will grow up with. With a lot of mindfulness, parents can influence their child’s responses to many smells.
The key part of the training process is teaching our children to go to the aroma when they notice their nervous system going into distress. They can keep an essential oil inhaler with them. Encourage them to breathe it in when they display uncertainty or struggle. Making this a main coping strategy will set children up to take action for themselves when they move forward in life.
The act of deep breathing already soothes the nervous system and tells our body that we are in control. Adding an essential oil aroma to it puts a safe supplement into their bloodstream and guarantees that the nervous system will receive helpful medicine. The body responds to inhaling essential oils within seconds of receiving them. The benefits last one to four hours.
Be sure to test a child for allergies before starting aromatherapy. Children under 5 don’t need as much. A higher dilution rate should keep children safe. Furthermore, it’s not necessary to actually be able to smell the oil. The healing properties are present regardless of aromatic strength. If one notice any kind of irritation of skin, eyes, nose, mouth or lungs, stop exposure, get into fresh air as soon as possible and discontinue use. Essential oils are very strong. Even if they haven’t been applied to skin, they can still affect all the organs of the body.
Most oils are considered too strong for children under 5. Children under 3 months shouldn’t be given essential oils at all. Test for allergies as they get older to gain awesome knowledge about what the child likes and can tolerate. To do this, dilute the essential oil with a carrier, applying the proper proportion for the child’s age and size, and then test a small patch of skin where the child won’t rub it to avoid accidental ingestion. Wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction.
Oils that are gentle enough for children under 5 are chamomile and lavender. Both promote a calm nervous system and sleep.
Chamomile oil is cooling, soothing and sweet. It comes from distilling the delicate flower. The apple-like aroma works well in an inhaler. This aroma will relax tension in the belly and back.
Lavender oil is cooling, floral and fresh. It comes from distilled buds. The lush aroma diffuses well as a spray or inhaler. It will calm the mind and the breath.
To train the mind and body to respond, use when naturally in a desired state of being such as a drop in the bath or diffuse during bedtime or playtime. Practice calming technique like deep breathing, long sighs or meditation, when using the oil in the naturally desired state of being. Apply the oil and calming technique when agitated.
Ways to use include drops in bath or shower, diffuse in a candle or electric diffuser, inhalation of one to two drops on a cotton ball or inhaler, dilution with carrier oil and apply to pulse points. For ages up to 5, suggest one to two drops per 10 millileters (ml) of carrier oil and for ages 5 and older, two to 10 drops per 10 ml carrier oil.
Model these techniques as a way to encourage children to apply them. Prioritizing self-care into a routine will provide an opportunity to destigmatize negative emotions and bring everyone closer together through practicing effective coping strategies. A family that smells together, stays well together.
Bijou Julia Pounds is a teacher and healer in South Jersey. As the soul behind Bijou Blessings, she connects with varying spiritual beliefs and philosophies. Her yoga classes reflect the influences of Wicca, Hinduism, the Medicine Wheel, Christianity and more. She also practices herbalism and reiki. Her spiritual journey has evolved over many years. Her connection with the Earth stems from severe allergies to synthetics of all kinds. She has earned her aromatherapy certification, reiki I & II, herbalism certification and 200-hour yoga teacher training from local master healers, and appears at wellness events in the Philadelphia area. She also empowers people lifestyle coaching and group healing sessions. For more information, arrange for a session with her or downloard her e-book Chakra Yoga : A Guide to Interpret and Align Energy, visit BijouBlessings.com.