Vata, Pitta and Kapha, the Tridosha, are unique in Ayurveda. The three doshas are found in all that is matter and govern all biological, psychological and physiological functions. They are everywhere, and in everyone of us, but the combination and proportion of doshas will vary per person. This results in unique physical and psychological characteristics for each individual. No two people are or will ever be exactly the same.The dosha that is most dominant at birth will affect our personality, immunity, characteristics etc the most. It is easiest to observe and identify the doshas of children as they tend to act and respond in accordance to their true natures. The body constitution does have genetic components, but a family doesn’t necessarily have to be dominant in one dosha or another. A Kapha mother and father very well could have a Pitta child. A Pitta child, for example, could get her blue eyes from her Pitta grandmother, or her athletic ability from her Pit-ta uncle. According to Ayurveda, it is important to know our body constitution, which dosha(s) is/are dominant, in order to become more “acquainted” with our true nature and become healthier individuals. This also applies to our children. When we know our children’s dominant dosha, we will understand their personalities better, their needs and natural rhythms, but first and foremost: we will be able to parent from a place of love rather than expectation. For instance, a Vata child will have difficulties with changes and will be nervous going to a new school. Knowing this, we will recognize and understand his anxiety beforehand. A Kapha child, on the other hand, will have difficulty waking up in the morning and needs some stimulation to go to school.
Here are some general examples of how the doshas tend to manifest themselves in children.
A Vata child has unlimited imagination, and can easily be caught day-dreaming. He/she is always moving about, doesn’t want to go to bed, eats lots of small meals and has varied appetite. Physically, the Vata child is slight, can be tall or short, but always looks skinny: he/she has narrow hips and shoulders. Vata persons learn things quickly, but forget just as quickly, or lose interest. Very often, children with ADHD are Vata dominant. Vata children really need a point in their day, when they can quiet their minds and relax. Often, this is best done around nap time or bed time. Overall they will be very cre-ative and love to make things, draw, paint, write etc. They need warmth, and definitely also physical warmth (hugs and kisses).
Pitta children love to play in groups and love to be the leader. They have lots of energy and are fond of sports, in which they probably excel, because of their competitive nature. Team sports are great for them: they are very motivated, but also want to be the best in everything. The challenge for them is to come to terms with their competitive nature. They are passionate children, but can be very emotional and dramatic. Pit-ta kids are great at memorizing and love to read. A Pitta child has average build and average appetite, but will get cranky when hungry or late in eating. They are prone to rashes, and food allergies and sensitivities.
Kapha children are very caring and affectionate. They are very loyal, but also very sensitive, with the risk of easily feeling hurt. Overall they are joyful and content. They tend to be more sol-idly built. They’re “thicker” and more resistant to illness. They love to eat and have a sweet tooth. Their diets need to be watched so that they don’t overeat. They need to be stimulated into activities. They love the more quiet activities, but the risk is that they will sit in front of the TV all day or play video-games. They have great memory, but need more time to learn new things (and then they will never forget it). They learn best by association, through story-telling and experiences. You need to be patient with Kapha children, work at their speed and don’t give up. Kapha children need movement and exercise. Even though they may be hesitant to get up and start moving, playing outdoors is vital for them.
Food and diet for children
The doshas are also subject to natural cycles of change, on a daily and seasonal basis, and during the stages of life. Vata is predominant during the latter part of one’s life, during the fall season and during late afternoon. Pitta is predominant during middle age, summer and midday, and Kapha is pre-dominant during childhood, spring and late morning. Hence, it is believed that the majority of childhood diseases are re-lated to Kapha dosha- disturbance. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends to keep children away from foods and activities that would aggravate Kapha. This means that children prone to frequent illnesses are advised to avoid too many sweets, ice-cold food and drinks, (buffalo) milk, playing in water and sleeping during the day (applicable to children older than 4 years). Ayurveda’s key recommendation for maximizing children’s health is: regulating lifestyle and dietary habits. Consistent meal times and regular (early) bedtimes contribute to both physiological and emotional balance for all body constitutions. Irregular routine very quickly aggravates Vata, which in turn will influence Pitta and Kapha, and this can be the basis for all sorts of behavioral or physiological future problems. Irregularity is detrimental to the tender nervous systems of children. They need consistency in their lives. Overall, the child’s diet should be proper and nutritious. This means consisting of fresh and natural (organic) foods, and emphasizing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For each body type, certain foods should be favored and others avoid-ed. Vata types should favor foods with salt, sour, and sweet tastes. They need more ghee, oil or fat in their meals, as this helps soothe Vata. In order to ground them, their foods should be warm and soothing, such as warm milk, warm soup, warm milky cereal, and long-cooked stews and dahls. Pitta children should avoid hot and spicy foods, and eat more foods with bitter, sweet, or astringent tastes. Kaphas benefit from warm, light food, cooked with a minimum of butter, oil, or sugar. Foods with pungent, bitter, or astringent tastes are especially good for Kapha. Sweet, juicy fruits are good for all children. If your child suffers from frequent infections, or has other continuous health problems, please consult with an Ayurvedic specialist. Weakened immunity is a sign that something in your child’s diet, routine or emotions is put-ting a strain on his/her system. An ayurvedic assessment can help determine any imbalances and guide you towards diet, lifestyle and practices which will help to correct these imbal-ances before they develop further.