Curious how to introduce your kids to herbs?
Are you a mom or dad who has just learned about how awesome herbs are?
Or have you been studying them for awhile and now want to incorporate the medicinal uses of herbs into your household?
Maybe you want to use herbs in your everyday activities and meals but your kids are balking at the idea of taking an herbal syrup because they are used to bubblegum flavored medicine.
Does any of this sound familiar?
One of the most asked questions I get asked is “how do I introduce herbs to my kids? How do I get them excited about using herbal medicine?” so I decided I would write a bit about that today.
First of all, you have come to the right place!
I have devoted the last 11 years of my life to helping teach herbalism to kids as a fun activity.
And this is based on 25 years of parenting and incorporating herbs into our everyday lives combined with my journey into herbal medicine myself.
Often when we get excited about something, we start to make it a big deal which makes kids take notice, for better or worse.
Younger kids, ages 2-8, are often more likely to follow right along, because they love to mimic what mom or dad is doing. So many early childhood toys are geared to chores: play kitchens, play vacuums, play brooms and dust pans, play lawn mowers, etc. because children learn by observation and this age is all about observing their parents daily activities.
Once kids hit 8 or 9, they start to really have their own interests, with that hint of independence coming in to play. They may still observe their surroundings, but they are also exploring things that are not so familiar to them.
And once kids are teenagers, it can feel like they reject their parents’ influence altogether, searching for their own way in life, making this a daunting time to offer any of your own interests, as a parent, into their lives.
So, let’s take a look at these age categories and how you can introduce herbs to your kids without rejection.
The Younger Years – Ages 2-8
This is a big age range that presents a lot of growth and changes. This age often wants to ‘help’ so offering to let them help you make herbal remedies is a great way to introduce herbs to them.
Keep your message short, talk about nutrition that herbs can offer as you are making an herbal salad, dandelion fritters, or elderberry syrup for pancakes and colds.
Let them sample the herbs when they are pleasant tasting – lemon balm and other mint plants are a great way to start.
Stress the importance of asking before they try something on their own, letting them know that most plants help our bodies, but some might make us feel worse than better.
This is a great age to teach them through stories and songs. Make it a daily activity to sing songs about the herbs or tell stories throughout the day.
If you grow a garden, let them help you out in the garden, from planting to weeding to harvest time. They will be empowered from these activities, taking pride and ownership in nurturing plants along.
This also makes using the herbs a big deal, knowing they tended the garden and then made the medicine from the plants in their care.
Teach them corresponding stories and songs about the plants in your garden and make it a ritual to sing those songs or tell those stories as you tend the plants.
Talk about the medicinal uses of the plants as well, in small snippets.
Create crafts from the plants – do plant rubbings, plant dyeing for play silks, plant impressions in clay – that they can reflect back on the individual plants and recall their uses.
The Middle Years – Ages 9-12
This age group starts with a sudden shift. Your happy little helper may no longer be interested in working side by side with you in your daily activities.
They are starting to develop their own interests and activities. Tie this into herbs whenever you can.
For instance, someone who loves to be outdoors might like to go on plant walks, looking for herbs in the woods, fields, or parks near your home.
They may still enjoy creating their own garden, if so, talk about herbs that can help them with any health issues they may have.
As an idea, if they seem to get a lot of stomachaches, introduce them to plants that can help such as chamomile and peppermint.
Even ginger can be grown in a pot on the back patio or in a sunny window.
If they like to draw, enroll them in drawing classes that teach them how to draw plants.
Science enthusiasts would love to try experiments with herbs, from growing plants in various types of soils to litmus papers that can be created from violet.
Little cooks might enjoy cooking recipes from herbs – old fashioned marshmallows, herbal jellies, herb infused cookies and ice cream, herbal popsicles, and more can be created with herbs.
There are so many ways to incorporate herbal fun into this age group. They may also enjoy learning through word searches, crosswords, and other herbally oriented activities.
The Teen Years – Ages 13-18
This age can be so hard! And indeed, of all the age groups, it’s the one I hear the most from their parents. Teens are most self absorbed at this age, worrying about their looks, others’ opinions of them, and the struggles of the teen world dynamic.
It’s a time of growing and seeking independence from their parents and so they often push us away.
It’s a delicate balance for some at this age. Consider their worries and struggles from their point of view.
Girls often are into make-up, face masks, shampoos and soaps, and perfumes. They may struggle with acne and try to cover it up.
Boys often worry about acne and body odor, and being physically fit if they are athletic.
These are things to focus on when you introduce herbs to them.
Bath and beauty products, commercially, have a lot of chemicals that can be horrible for our skin, which absorbs those chemicals and sends them to our livers.
Showing your young woman how to make her own natural products using herbs and other natural materials can create an interest.
Also, sharing ideas how to keep her liver strong and healthy so she can have clear skin is another great approach.
Your young man may also be receptive to learning to support his liver herbally to reduce acne as well as learning about nourishing herbs such as fermented raspberry or blackberry leaf and stinging nettles infusions for building strong muscles.
Both may also be interested in herbal adaptogens that help to strengthen their bodies and herbs such as rosemary, ginkgo, and gotu kola for increasing brain power, especially those who are more study oriented.
But How Do I Get Started?
Wow, all of this sounds great, you may be thinking, but how do I start learning about the specific herbs to teach them???
If after reading this article you are still feeling this way, may I suggest enrolling in one of my online courses?
I have worked hard to start building a curriculum based around my 130+ issues of Herbal Roots zine, designed to help you break down herbal learning in easy to digest chunks.
Plans are in the works to launch more courses, and I’m developing a Teen Herbalism Course that I hope to launch later this year or early next year.
If you have a teen that’s interested in herbalism, I’d love to hear what topics they are interested in, so please email, message me, or leave a comment letting me know!
You are Not Alone!
I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to want to offer your kids knowledge but not know where to start.
I homeschooled two of my children for 10 years and I’ve seen all the ages and stages of growth. I’m currently in the teen years, working to keep their interest in herbs up.
It’s hard, trust me, I know! My goal with Herbal Roots zine is to help you, the parent, to get your kids excited about herbs so that they continue to learn about them throughout their childhood.
And so that they continue to incorporate herbs into their lives when they grow up and have kids of their own.
Tell me, what are your struggles and biggest obstacles when it comes to teaching your kids about herbs?
What has worked for you and what has completely bombed?
I’d love to hear your stories and struggles, please share them with me either in a comment or in an email.
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