Whatever the situation your child is going through at the moment, there is a process. It starts with Position 1 when there is some fear of failure. If they opt out at that point or if you ‘rescue’ them by allowing them to opt out, they can safely return to the Low Fear place. They have escaped having to do that thing they fear but they don’t feel good about it. They know that they haven’t made the most of an opportunity, they’ve perhaps allowed others less good than them to take the opportunity and ultimately they have made it more difficult to take a challenge next time. They actually lower their ability to perform.
If however, you encourage them to push themselves they have the chance to move round to Position 2. Here they get a sense of having pushed themselves out of their comfort zone and are beginning to feel a bit brave. They are doing better than others who have dropped back down and if they’ve managed to get to this position on their own, then they are feeling quite empowered. You can notice this and comment on what skills they’ve used to make this initial push. It’s a bit uncomfortable at Position 2 and they will be feeling nervous. If this is the first time they’ve ventured out of their comfort zone it will seem a bit of a scary unfamiliar place.
Now they’re on their way to Position 3 where things feel more uncomfortable. They may experience butterflies or knots in the tummy, they may feel hot and cold alternately and they may be tempted to quit. Encourage them by reminding them how well they’re doing and how proud you are of them and importantly how proud they should be of how far they’ve come. Remind them of where they want to be, what they’re aiming for. I help children with the symptoms for fear by using metaphors.
This fear, it’s like what?
If it was an animal what animal would it be?
Can you pet this animal and calm it down?
Can you quieten it, stroke it, tell it you’re OK?
And breathe…..breathing is a great way of getting yourself in a calm place.
Use mindfulness by stopping and notice how your body feels:
What is my experience right now?
Breathe and notice your breathing by counting it out and in
Reconnect with the present
As they move into Position 4 they will be experiencing the worst of the fear and it’s really important that they hang on in there because if they give up at this stage they will feel really bad about themselves because they were so close to achieving what they want. If they are visual remind them how they will feel when they see the results of their efforts. If they are more auditory, remind them of how they’ll feel when they hear how well they’ve done. If they are kinaesthetic, remind them how they will feel.
As they do that they are now on their way to Position 5 and are experiencing a feeling of relief that the worst is over. They’ve done it and survived! It was terrible but they did it. It doesn’t matter what the result might be because they’ve challenged themselves and overcome the hurdles themselves. They’ve learnt something about themselves and they have recognised that they have skills they didn’t realise they had. They are now in a great position for whatever challenge comes up next.
Each of these stages is a decision point when you need to be there to support them with reminders about what specific skills it is that they need at that point. This might be about putting themselves forward for selection, it might be about approaching someone to make friends, trying a new club, deciding to say ‘no’ to someone. Invite your child to identify what the steps are in their particular fear journey. Ask them what (if anything) they need from you at each stage. What skill would be useful at that point, do they have it? The certainly do so perhaps you need to remind them where you’ve observed them using that skill.
Rescue them at any of these points and they drop back down to the position below and eventually to the LOW FEAR position from where it will be even harder to do anything challenging. By rescuing I don’t mean helping. Helping your child to find their own bravery and resourcefulness by giving them information and supporting them with your time and money these are not examples of rescuing. Rescuing is taking away the pain or the fear by allowing them to opt out of it completely. Examples I’ve heard of are changing schools because the child isn’t making friends, going into school to explain things to teachers that your child could have said, doing your child’s homework for them, writing your child’s personal statement for Uni, paying off your child’s mobile phone bill, tidying up your grown- up child’s bedroom and doing their washing etc. Basically rescuing is doing things for your child that, had they done them themselves, would have enabled them to feel good about themselves. In the context of fear of failure, rescuing is saving your child from the chance of failure. I hope I’ve shown that by doing this you are also saving your child from the success of overcoming it and experiencing self-esteem as a result.
Judy Bartkowiak is the author of the Engaging NLP series of Workbooks, other NLP books including ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ and ‘Self-Esteem Workbook’. She offers workshops and individual consultation in Marlow or Burnham and via Skype. If you have a child taking the 11+ exam you might be interested in ‘Passing the 11+ with NLP’. If you email me I can send you a free PDF of the book firstname.lastname@example.org
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Be a Happier Parent with NLP
Passing the 11+ with NLP
Building self esteem
Focus and concentration
Understanding how they learn best
Coping with stress and anxiety building the skills needed to pass.