To intervene or not to intervene? My husband and I have different views on this topic so when it comes to our children we've talked a lot about it. Of course Natural medicine is about prevention – so you never get sick. But while you are on your way to getting healthy or if you get out of balance, then Natural medicines work best at the first sign of imbalance/illness. When it comes to young children it is often hard to know when an imbalance is first approaching, further complicating the decision to medicate.
Here are the 3 rules of thumb I came up with to know when to automatically give the kids some extra immune system help (rather than letting them 'fight it out'):
1. If they are in Pain.
2. If they are having trouble breathing (stuffy nose, etc.)
3. If they are having trouble sleeping.
For fevers I try to let it continue and monitor their temperature closely. Since a fever is the body's way of killing off microorganisms, suppressing it should not be your automatic reaction. Keep a log of their temperature in a notebook or on a calendar. And note how it correlates with bowel movements, foods, drink, sleep, etc.
Pain often manifests itself in children as a bad attitude, An increase in violent or aggressive behavior, or incessant/repetitive bouts of crying. Basically a dramatic shift away from their normal personality. Since they often won't or can't tell you when something hurts you'll have to watch for these clues and patterns….a notebook comes in handy for that!(see below).
Breathing is so important I'm sure you can tell why it's on the list.
Sleeping: trouble sleeping and breathing often go together. If your child can't sleep they aren't going to get better.
As with all things there are other times to medicate too. You have to follow your instincts first and foremost. And if you choose natural medicines then erring on the side of giving a 'medicine' too early won't do the child any harm (and just might keep them from getting 'sick').
Keep a Journal. You are too busy to try to remember when you started a medicine or how the child's symptoms are progressing/ebbing. Grab a blank school notebook write the day/month/year in the left margin and put down some notes each day or several times a day.
You can look for patterns and clues over several days or months this way (and years too…does your child get pink eye every April? Then you can start to figure out why and work to eliminate the problem). With multiple children tracking key health information is a must and often gives you advance warning of the next child's pre-symptoms of a cold/flu/etc. I keep my journal on the kitchen counter. Here is a sample of ours (we have 3 kids, First letter of their names are at the top of the page, in birth order to make it simple). It doesn't have to look pretty, as my journal shows you.