Why Do Children Have So Much Milder Symptoms with COVID?

This pandemic period has lasted a long time. Most everyone I know or talk to feels fatigued and is ready for this to be over. It’s a time that has seen a lot of pain and loss—physical loss, health loss, family loss, movement loss, community loss. 
 
The other thing I hear now, all the time, is that people are also ready to move into a new phase and start to rebuild…
 
I have been thinking about children a lot because they are so wonderfully capable at rebuilding. They heal and adapt very flexibly. Using anthroposophic medicines with children is sometimes much easier than with adults, because children open up to change. They more naturally “drink in” a treatment. With adults, medicines and therapies are still tremendously valuable, but some accompanying shift in consciousness is usually also required for the treatment to last. So what allows children to respond differently? 
 
Part of it, surely, relates to the fact that they are still in a phase of real physical growth. A rough rule of thumb is that a newborn will double its body weight by two months, then double that two-month weight again by two years. Their physiology and their bodies are changing all the time! To do that they have to have a lot of vitality, a lot of forces for change, growth and healing. So, if they are working with a viral illness that makes their lungs inflamed and  they must now breathe twice as hard as normal, they are more up for that challenge. Numbers from the CDC show that as we are approaching ~700,000 COVID deaths overall in the U.S., less than 700 of those have been in those under 18. Children are about 18% of the population, not 0.1%, so this aspect of vitality and flexibility must play an important role in working through COVID infections.
 
A second important characteristic of children is that they are very honest when they are sick. They pretty much show you, without pretense, that they don’t feel well: they cry, sleep, sweat, cough, fever, vomit. They get flushed, fussy, irritable, stop eating and need to rest a lot. They do not compartmentalize the way that adults do. If they really feel badly they stop doing everything: no running, playing, exploring, or conversing. An adult, in contrast, learns to push through all kinds of things, like: ignoring symptoms; using over-the-counter medicines to reduce cough, fever, congestion, and sore throat; staying up later than you know you should; or relying on a steady intake of sugar or caffeine to push through. A common adult refrain: “I don’t have time to be sick, there is too much to do and I’ll get behind!” That’s admittedly a great survival mechanism—to be able to push through things, but what happens when it becomes a habit rather than a special exception? What happens if you have to do it continuously for months, or even a year-and-a-half? Well, then you start to lose you wholeness.
 
We have all been pushed a lot in that direction. We’ve had to be separated, physically and socially. We’ve become very compartmentalized, politically and philosophically—another word for that might be polarized. The usual physiologic softening and emotional easing that usually happens during the warm summer months hasn’t really been able to manifest the last two years. And now, as we head into the cold of winter, instead of saying “I can push through it all” a better mantra might be: “Rather than just controlling or ignoring everything, how can I regularly start to foster my own loosening, healing process?” If you listen to the news you might think that outside measures are the only possible solutions for this period of time, but that comes from only using a very limited set of tools and perspectives. We carry a lot more goodness, growth and flexibility inside of us, if we can connect to it. 
 
What else can we do as for ourselves and for our families? 
Foster REST, WARMTH and CLEANSING. 
Why those three things? Because if you get sick, those are three primarily tools your body uses. Your body is very wise, it knows what to do. 
Our (conscious job) is that we need to better differentiate symptoms of disease from our body’s own tools for healing. Working with these three companions—rest, warmth, and cleansing–can go a long way.
 
Don’t just wait to be well, cultivate some wellness!
Dr. Blanning
 
Next month’s newsletter: REST

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