A few people I’ve talked with recently have had concerns when talking about Five-Phase theory and children. The big question is: if you identify a child’s Phase early in life and adjust habits, supplements and lifestyle accordingly, doesn’t this just box the child into a stereotype? Couldn’t a caring parent actually be harming a child’s individuality by telling her who she is, who she must become?
Truthfully, the answer is a resounding no. If any person’s Phase is correctly identified and supported, then that person should feel both more grounded, accepted and understood, and also better able to express themselves, understand and accept the self-expression of others. This goes for children as well as adults.
During the formative years of life, children begin to explore what it means to be human. Although it’s easy to think of a baby as a little bundle of pure, unformed potential, every child does come into the world with some unique characteristics. It’s true that environment can affect and mold the way a child develops, but it’s just as important to acknowledge who a child is as it is to encourage her to explore her options in life. Pushing a shy, insecure child in a way that doesn’t support her unique needs for support and security may make her more shy and fearful- but given the right sort of acknowledgement and encouragement, the same child may overcome her fears and experience more freedom and enjoyment throughout life.
Remember, too, that every person needs to express and experience all of the Five Phases in order to live a balanced, full life. Chinese Medicine in all its forms is also relational, meaning that being a “Wood” person simply means you naturally see and experience life from a certain perspective. Knowing what Phase you correspond with allows you the freedom to make more informed decisions about how to include all the different Phases in your life for maximum support and efficacy.
For example, everyone needs some sort of physical exercise or movement, which is a Wood-phase area. But a Fire person, a Metal person and a Water person will find different types and amounts of movement most helpful. The Water person may benefit most from gentle runs or walks in nature, which bring him out of his introspective world and create more concrete connections and awareness of the outside world. The Fire person may need to simply burn off steam, finding rigorous, varied routines in a group setting most helpful and easy to maintain. The Metal person may find the soothing, spiritual qualities of a yoga class under a competent instructor opening and invigorating- yoga also allows the opportunity for perfecting poses but the body gains benefit from the workout itself as well as the end-goal of beautiful, strong stances.
In short, the main goal of Five-Phase theory is self-awareness with opportunities for self-help. It takes courage and honesty to accurately see where anyone, regardless of age, fits into this paradigm. But when a person is able to use Five-Phase theory to his advantage, rather than feeling boxed-in, he will feel free, supported and validated to explore and grow in the world.