I’m getting lots of calls and emails from parents who are experiencing behaviour in their child that is concerning them. Many parents are also behaving in a way that isn’t normal for them and they feel guilty and ashamed of themselves, upset and remorseful. Children pick this up and it adds to their own anxiety when their parents also don’t seem to be coping very well.
Many parents aren’t getting much time alone together to share their worries or just to comfort and support each other as children are staying up later, struggle to get to sleep, have nightmares and want to sleep with their parents.
We all need new tools for coping with our mental health. We also need to go easy on ourselves. Now is not the time to set ourselves challenging goals nor expect our children to be able to concentrate on their schoolwork when they are wondering when they will see their friends again. Some children will of course find attention to schoolwork reassuring, it is what they want to do but others will find it hard some days.
It is natural to be afraid, fear keeps us safe. It is fear that stops us getting too close to someone walking by us. It is fear that makes us sanitise when picking up some post or put away our food shopping, when we’ve returned from an activity outside our home.
In her book ‘Big Magic’ Elizabeth Gilbert talks about inviting ‘fear’ into the car on a road trip and asking them to sit on the back seat. By fear being on the journey (a metaphor for our life) it will stop us driving too fast, taking the bends too tight, going too near the edge of the road. Fear keeps us safe. It is a good thing to have.
However, Gilbert warns us that we should never let fear drive our car or fiddle with the controls. In fact when I was speaking at an event in London earlier this year, I suggested we imagine reaching back and pulling the screen across between us and our back seat passenger. They can be there and indeed we are grateful that they are but they may not control our driving.
When I explain this to children, they completely get it and understand that they should not be embarrassed or upset with themselves when they are fearful or anxious but instead be grateful and appreciative that they have this passenger to keep them safe. Having thanked fear for being there, they then need to acknowledge that they are ok , they can cope with the situation and have the skills they need and tell ‘fear’ that they can relax, all is well.
Another little explanation I give that they find helpful is to explain that our fear and anxiety is a bit like a smoke alarm going off when all we’ve done is burn the toast.
The amygdala in the brain is designed to send out an alarm when danger is near but whilst that was essential in caveman times when they might encounter a sabre tooth tiger, being asked a difficult question by your teacher really isn’t a life or death situation and there is no need for the smoke alarm.
Children find these explanations helpful because teachers and parents frequently ask ‘why’ they feel this way. The ‘why’ question send them to their conscious mind to find a logical answer that makes sense. But they can’t find it. Why? Because of course it isn’t about logical answers, their anxiety stems from core beliefs imprinted at birth or during the early years before their prefrontal cortex was even developed sufficient to process what happened. Understanding what happens, understanding that it is just their brain’s smoke alarm being a bit over enthusiastic and knowing that it is a good thing that they are aware of their emotions, really comforts them so that when it happens next they can just stop and say ‘there’s that smoke alarm, no need to panic, it’s just burnt toast’.
I also teach them how to do EFT Tapping and I have regular weekly groups for children, teens and parents every week. There they can drop in and tap with their own age group. They don’t have to even say what’s troubling them. They can put their mic on mute and even turn their camera off. They can send me a message in the chat box about what they want to tap on and I will include it in the process. We usually tap on missing friends, worrying about mum and dad, missing grandparents, annoying brothers and things like that.
If you think your child or teen would like to drop in just look for my Time To Tap Facebook group where you’ll find the session times under ‘events’. RSVP and I’ll send you the zoom link. If they would prefer a private session, I’m just charging £50 for a 45 minute private tapping session at the moment. The usual price for a consultation of an hour is £85 and first exploratory sessions of 90 minutes are £125.
If you’re not sure how I can help or just want a chat, please email me at email@example.com
Have a look at my book page because NLP for Children, NLP for Tweens and NLP for Teens all have some great exercises and ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ will give you a good understanding of how to help children develop these essential emotional skills for life.
Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP Trainer, EFT Trainer, Owner of NLP & EFT Kids and author of many NLP books for families , teachers and practitioners. Her website is www.nlpfamily.com and Facebook Page is NLP Kids. Judy has been working with children and teens for 40 years, first as a Qualitative Market Research Consultant and then since 2000 as a Children’s Therapist and Trainer. Judy and her husband Edward have four grown up children, one grandchild, a rather shaggy retriever called Zebedee and 5 hens. They live in Taplow, Berkshire, UK.
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