For a start, children aren’t sure what to expect when their mum or dad suggests coming to see me. Will I ask them difficult questions? Will they have to talk yet again about their problems? So instead, I pass them some clay, or they see I have paints out or some pictures to make a collage, or I might invite them to wander round the garden and collect things that remind them of themselves in some way. The relief is tangible. It’s fun to play and it’s relaxing. They open up and share their thoughts about what they’re making and we achieve a shared space of rapport and joint creativity taking an interest in each others work and talking about what it all means to us.
We all have an internal representation of what happens in our lives based on our beliefs, experiences and our values. This is expressed in everything we do so how a child approaches an art and craft activity, how they use the materials, the questions they ask, what they actually paint or make, all show this internal ‘map’.
While we are working alongside each other, there is no eye contact, we are both busy and although I am fully tuned into them and being curious, I am not judging or making assumptions, I am simply giving them a safe space to express whatever is on their mind. It may not be what their parent has already told me, it may be something else completely. It may be nothing at all. Sometimes children are happier than their parent believes them to be. Sometimes they have other worries that they don’t want to share with a parent, especially if they feel their parent already has more serious worries themselves.
As we talk about what we are doing, I will feed back what I’ve noticed and ask if it is a pattern in their lives, we may use the artwork as a metaphor. Perhaps they have made an animal. How are they like this animal? Maybe they have used some grass or a dry leaf in their collage, how are these natural objects like them? I have found that it’s much easier for a child to explain how they are like a dry leaf (“I just crumble to bits when someone picks on me at school”) than to tell me direct what happens when they feel sad.
Once we have started to talk more specifically about things, I start to think of ways that NLP can help them by maybe reframing something that happens, by anchoring a brave feeling, doing a circle of excellence, thinking about what they do want rather than what they don’t want and so on. It isn’t rocket science. It’s all about listening, watching, playing and trusting my instinct to tell me what might help them.
I keep their artwork here unless they ask to take things home. Usually paint has to dry or clay models need to be fired (yes I have a kiln) and they can return to glaze their work or just collect them…. or not. Sometimes the art itself has worked its spell and they have already moved on and don’t want to revisit the sad place.
If you’d like to book an art and craft session for your child or have me visit your school, get in touch or if you’d like to train as an NLP Kids Practitioner have a look on my website www.nlpfamily.com