COVID-19 has had an impact on all facets of life all over the world. Not a newborn through to aged person has not felt the impact of the decisions made.
In between the hustle and bustle of trying to make sense of our own realities we may have forgotten a very important age group of people.
Between the ages of 10 and 15 our children are undergoing tremendous changes. As a parent I find this age quite enjoyable, as the child develops a cheeky sense of humour, sense of style, and a unique quality that begins to define who they are as an individual. This phase developmentally is vital, both for their personality development as well as their hormone cycles, that will prepare their bodies for the next part of human development, sexual maturity.
We tend to forget that all of this is forming, as we as parents are now able to enjoy our evenings without having to bath, dress and smell breath to ensure the teeth were indeed brushed. But this does not mean that the children at this easier age need us any less.
The social isolation that has been forced on our children has forced the removal of a very necessary developmental aspect for the character of the child. It is at this tween stage that the child begins to develop a character independent of the opinion of the primary carer. But, with being forced to stay home children are being robbed of this skill development. These children may be feeling frustrated, but due to their age, internalise their feelings instead of voice them, so we see “attitude” (Spielberg, Schwarz, & Matyi, 2019). Their need to interact with the outside world has been reduced to what they can glean from social media and conversations over various technologies.
My concern for the stressful impact these restrictions are having on our children is in the long-term impact this could have on their hormone levels. The children are just beginning to form sex hormones, but with the stress response occurring, the adrenal glands are also creating a form of sex hormones known as DHEA’s which are a form of testosterone, that will begin to interfere with their hormone balance (Marakaki et al., 2018). In boys this will be evidenced in an outbreak of acne, in girls we will see early onset of their menstrual cycle, and a cycle that is difficult for them to manage, with heavy bleeding and severe cramping.
As a Herbalist my focus is on reducing the stress response, to reduce the impact the stress response has on hormone regulation. Because of the age of the child, gentle and natural are always the safer option. Herbal Medicine is ideal for this, as Herbal Medicine stimulates a healing response, teaching the body to heal itself.
Marakaki, C., Pervanidou, P., Papassotiriou, I., Mastorakos, G., Hochberg, Z. e., Chrousos, G., & Papadimitriou, A. (2018). Increased symptoms of anxiety and depression in prepubertal girls, but not boys, with premature adrenarche: associations with serum DHEAS and daily salivary cortisol concentrations. Stress, 21(6), 564-568. doi:10.1080/10253890.2018.1484446
Spielberg, J. M., Schwarz, J. M., & Matyi, M. A. (2019). Anxiety in transition: Neuroendocrine mechanisms supporting the development of anxiety pathology in adolescence and young adulthood. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 55, 100791. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2019.100791