- In the morning when you’re getting dressed, imagine what a great day you’ll have. Think of the skills and qualities you’ll need and imagine putting them on as you dress, like your armour, to keep you safe and strong. You have a great many skills and qualities. If you find yourself thinking of an activity rather than a skill, ask yourself “so what skills must I have to be good at that thing?” and the same if you mention a school subject, “so what skills do I have that make me good at that subject?”.
- As you have breakfast, imagine stoking up on positive energy. Calibrate how positive you feel on a scale of 1-10 and start thinking of things that make you happy that can take it up the scale.
- On the way to school, list the things you’re looking forward to; making new friends, seeing old friends, meeting new teachers, exploring new topics, learning new sports, enjoying familiar sports and so on.
- As you walk into the school playground, make eye contact with someone you know and walk over for a chat. Someone on their own will be very glad you did. If there’s a group, join in their conversation rather than starting a new one.
- Everyone’s a bit nervous on the first day, so go easy on yourself and others. Be friendly. If you don’t get a good response, it may not be about you. If you haven’t said or done anything wrong, it may just be nerves on their part. Give them another chance.
- If you feel a bit overwhelmed, which is perfectly normal, take yourself somewhere quiet and breathe. Breathe in for 6 and out for 6. Moving your breath around the body is the fastest way to ease any anxiety.
- Smile, laugh and respond positively when you can. It eases the tension everyone will be feeling on the first days. Be agreeable. You may not support the same football team or like the same music, but you are all in the same situation, probably missing home, feeling sad the holidays are over and worrying about anything and everything so look for what you have in common, not the differences.
- You will feel resilient when you take responsibility for yourself. Make a note of your homework, what you need each day and focus in the lessons. It’s so hard after weeks of not having to, so go easy on yourself and get some early nights and eat well. It’s called self-care.
- If things really haven’t gone well here’s what to do to build yourself up for tomorrow. Fine a quiet place and put your phone on silent. Now do that breathe in for 6 and breathe out for 6 (it’s called heartmath breathing). Then think of one thing that has gone well. Now think of what one thing you want to do more of or less of tomorrow and imagine yourself doing it. Then remind yourself what you’re grateful for even if it’s just the chance to do better tomorrow.
- To help you get to sleep do a body scan. Lie in bed and imagine a beam of energy from your eyes to your big left toe then imagine that beam going across your toes and under your feet. Feel the bedclothes under them. Then travel that beam up your body, squeeze and relax each muscle as you move towards your head. Then take the beam back down the right side of the body, again squeezing and relaxing each muscle along the way.
If I can help you in any way, give me a call or email. Check out my workbooks for children, tweens and teens.....parents and teachers.
As a children’s therapist, I see a lot of children who are afraid to fail. It’s a real problem and you are in the best position to help your own child. Here’s what happens.
This curve represents fear, fear of failure, not passing the 11+, fear of looking stupid, people laughing, parents being disappointed, not getting to the school they want to go to, or the university, fear of coming third in the race, not making the school team, not being in the popular crowd, not attracting the boy/girl …….…..the list seems endless. Children have such high expectations of themselves and are very quick to be self-critical and slow to recognise their gifts and skills, shrugging them off as unimportant. No matter how much praise we give them, ultimately they need to believe in themselves.
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 email@example.com
Get in touch using the contact form to book a Skype consultation for you or your child or young person.
Be a Happier Parent with NLP
Be A Happier Parent with NLP will give you exactly the skills you need to raise a confident, secure child in a confident and secure manner. It uses the tried, trusted and proven techniques of neuro-linguistic programming to help tackle areas in which you feel you lack confidence as a parent, while at the same time giving you the skills to help your child be happy, fulfilled and confident themselves. You will find yourself feeling less guilty, more in control, and communicating better with your child - at the same time you will be able to support your child in difficult situations and help them grow into a well-rounded adult.
Passing the 11+ with NLP
The 11+ process is lengthy and tortuous for the children taking the exam and you their parents and teachers. How can we ease the pressure on everyone involved and give our children the very best chance of success? Neuro Linguistic Programming offers strategies for;
Building self esteem
Focus and concentration
Understanding how they learn best
Coping with stress and anxiety building the skills needed to pass.
The Self-Esteem Workbook
People of all ages and all walks of life suffer to a greater or lesser extent from low self esteem, even those who appear to radiate confidence. This book will enable you to understand why you have low self-esteem and will address the issues around it by getting to the roots of your self-esteem, setting the goals you want to achieve through enhanced self-esteem and taking practical steps to improve. You will learn how to turn criticism into positive feedback, how to improve your relationships at home and work, how to stay positive and how to communicate clearly and with confidence.
Exams are stressful, for adults and for children. The pressure to succeed, to get good results can put even the hardiest of grownups in a spin. Below are my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) tips and techniques to help your child through the exam period avoiding the pitfalls of stress, doubt and anxiety.
Anchor a good learning state
Children (and grown-ups) can tend to get themselves in a state and having the ability to change that state is a very useful tool! Teach them how to Anchor a good state.
Ask them to think about a fun time, something they really enjoyed, a moment they were really pleased with life or proud of themselves and ask them to squeeze their earlobe and capture the moment. Tell them that every time they are feeling on top of the world, then when they are feeling stressed or sad they can repeat that physical action and it will remind them what it’s like to feel good about themselves again. Details here.
One reason why children don’t always feel confident is that they compare themselves with other children, usually ones who are better at something then them. Encourage them to compare themselves with how they were last month, or last term, so they can see how much they have improved in something.
Remind yourself of your skills
Children very easily notice someone who can do something they can’t do, getting top marks or doing a handstand. They don’t so easily notice what they themselves do well and although modern parents are quick to praise their child, unless your child believes in their own abilities, the praise is quite empty and meaningless.
Ask your child what person they want to be like, and then ask in what ways are they already like them? “If you can spot it, you’ve got it” is an NLP saying. It means we can easily recognize qualities in others that we have in ourselves. Point this out to your child where and when you have observed this quality in them.
Switch their negative talk to positive. Children are inclined to use generalisations and distortions such as ‘everyone is better than me’. Ask them ‘Who exactly?’ and ‘How are they better?’ to encourage them to see the situation more realistically. Another way to switch to more positive orientation is to notice whether they talk about what they want or what they don’t want. Working ‘towards’ rather than ‘away from’ things tends to result in a more confident result.
How does your child learn? Revamping revision strategy
Working out how best your child learns can really help them build confidence and get results.
Visual learners tend to speak fast, remember what they saw not heard, notice their surroundings, are good at thinking ahead, good readers, tend to doodle, like reading themselves (rather than being read to) answer questions briefly, would rather be shown than told, sometimes stumble over finding the right words, are not really bothered by noise.
Revision Tips: Visual children should use sticky notes, mind maps, lists, read and make notes. This will help them visualise the exam.
Auditory learners can be easily distracted by noise, like to read out loud, speak well, find writing difficult, learn by talking, love discussion, talk to themselves, more musical than arty, tend to speak in rhythmic patterns, are good mimics, can spell better out loud than by writing it down.
Revision tips: Auditory children should get a revision buddy to rest them verbally. This will help recall what they said as the answered the questions.
Kinaesthetic learners respond well to physical rewards, stand close when speaking to someone, learn by doing, want to act things out, move hands when speaking, speak slowly, like games, have messy handwriting, use action words, are physical and fidgety.
Revision tips: Kinaesthetic children should use computer programs for bite size revision. Interacting and testing themselves – the act of physically doing something- will help reinforce the facts they need.
Chunk down, to avoid overwhelm
Children, just like adults, have a preference for information presented either in details (small chunks) or in general (big chunks). If you present it in the ‘wrong’ way it can be difficult for them to process. Be aware of your own preference (too much detail! Not enough details) and see how your child responds. Perhaps they chunk differently to you. Then apply this to revision, help them split up the learning they need to do into a format that works for them.
Overcoming limiting beliefs
If your child is adamant they can’t do the exam, that they will fail then we can challenge that limiting belief and overcome it. Argue with the negative voice and question it. Sit down with your child and ask them ‘What if you could?’ Follow this with other phrases that focus on achieving their goal ‘What would it look like?’ What would it sound like?’ What would it feel like?’ By asking these questions of our children we associate with their goals. This means we get them to acknowledge that not only that they can happen, but that they will, because they can only happen if we visualise them. If we can imagine it happening then it will happen.
Mindfulness to ease anxiety
Children and teenagers need to learn how to mindfully choose what to focus on rather than allowing themselves to get distracted by worries and fears, anger and stress.
Mindfulness can enable you to stand back and review your patterns, the way you respond to situations that may not be terribly helpful. In a sense you are giving yourself therapy but it isn't about talk, it's silent meditation where your breathing is your focus and anchors the calm state where you can notice the thoughts, name them, accept that your mind will wander, and gently and kindly without judgement, bring yourself back to the present.
If you're interested in having a go and experiencing mindfulness - download the free Headspace app.
If you’d like to know more about what I do or my new Exam Stress Buster courses, which consist of 4 x skype sessions please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org 07917 451245
Lots of us are thinking about diets at the moment and certainly over the Christmas period I'm aware that it's been very easy to just eat without thinking. #Mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment with full attention in a non-judgemental way. I was asked by Hodder to update my book 'Self-Esteem Workbook' and I added a section on Mindfulness. I thought I'd share one of the exercises with you.
Take a raisin or a chocolate, something that has taste and smell.
Step 1. Visual. Hold the raisin in the palm of your hand and look at it with amazement and curiosity as if you’ve never seen one before. What do you notice? Look at it from different angles, from close up and further away, are there any features that take your eye? Can you imagine the country where it comes from? Can you imagine it growing, being picked, being packed?
Step 2. Touch. Turn it over in your palm and feel it on your skin. It may help to close your eyes so you can focus on the texture of the raisin. Use the finger of your other hand to gently touch the raisin. How does it feel? Does it remind you of anything?
Step 3. Smell. Now raise it to your nose and smell it. What can you smell? Where do you feel the smell? Does it remind you of anything else? Smell can be very evocative, let the smell take you where your mind wants to travel.
Step 4. Touch. Put the raisin against your lips, what can you feel? Run it along your lip and then pop it in your mouth, on your tongue. What sensation do you get? Move it around your mouth. What is happening?
Step 5. Taste. You can eat it now! Slowly start to let your teeth bite into it and start to chew it. What is going on now? Where are you getting sensations as the saliva drips down the back of your throat. Where are you experiencing taste? How do you feel now that you have swallowed the raisin?
This exercise gives you the experience of living completely in the moment and becoming aware of your different senses as you do one single simple thing. It is mindful eating and you can apply this type of mindfulness to other things you do daily such as showering or brushing your hair, making a cup of tea and so on. That intense focus pushes thoughts from your mind but if you do find your attention wandering and find that thoughts are popping into your head then notice them and label them; worrying thought, planning, remembering or whatever they are. Then return to the exercise. There is nothing else you need to be doing. You are enough just as you are. There is nothing you need to fix or do.
Lots of us have low self-esteem because of how we think we look, but, these two things are connected. When we love ourselves, and are kind to ourselves then we eat differently because we care. If you'd like either the first chapter of 'NLP for Weight Loss' or the first chapter of 'Self-Esteem Workbook' or both, email me at email@example.com and I'll send you the pdfs.