In this article I talk about Hypnotherapy for children. Let me start by introducing Chloe. Chloe (not her real name) was 10 years old. She is charming, fun, and smart. Her parents are devoted parents who always think about their kids and spend a lot of time with them.
Chloe also had a not very well-kept secret. She was afraid of cats, dogs and virtually every animal you can think of. When I say afraid, I mean scared to death of them. A complete irrational phobia.
One day, as she did every day, she left home, to go around the corner to her friends’. From there, they would walk with her friends’ mum to school. 15 minutes after she left, Chloe’s mum received a call: where is Chloe? We are waiting for her.
You can imagine how Chloe’s mum felt. She run out of the home, called on doors, stopped people and the whole neighbourhood was searching for her. Luckily, after 15 minutes they found her crying and wandering around.
This is what happened, when Chloe had left her house, on the corner, she saw a cat. Just laying there, doing nothing. Her irrational fear took the best of her and she went into panic. She could not go too close to the cat, so she opted to change sides of the road, but with her mind in a complete panic state, she changed directions as well, lost her bearing, and panic grew even further. After a minute or so, she was in such a state she could not tell right from wrong or reality from imagination.
After this incidence is when Chloe’s parent contacted me to have a hypnotherapy session.
I can imagine many of you saying: what? Hypnotherapy for children? What is this all about?
I can also imagine some others thinking: hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe it’s a good idea. Before I go any further, I want to clarify something. Different to other articles, this time I am not sharing techniques that you can use. Of course, you can get the ideas and learning, and I’d be happy if you so. But Hypnotherapy requires training.
You may ask, “How can hypnotherapy for children help my child”
My reason to write this article is not to sell what I do or my success. My reason is to help you decide on what is the right approach to help your child. I believe that the more honest information you have, the better you will be able to decide and the more sucessful a parent you will be. Like me, you will find many great practitioners and I want you to be able to select the one that will help you and your child the best.
With this in mind, let me tell you more about hypnotherapy for children so, if you need to, you can make a call.
As you might know, I am a life coach specialised in working with children. In my life-coaching I use specially adapted techniques and approaches from Neuro Linguistic Programming and they are fantastic. Just like for adults, CEO’s or fashion designers, this tailored approach works fantastically well for children giving them, and their parents, understanding and strategies.
I have been doing this job for almost 10 years and absolutely love it.
However, a few years ago I was concerned. In some cases, I was just not seeing the difference that the children and parents needed. Or at least, I wasn’t seeing as fast as I expected. In a particular case, I felt the client was feeling frustrated with the outcome. That’s when I started to look for alternative ways to help my young people. Eventually I came across Marisa Peer and Rapid Transformational Therapy.
If I say that doing this training changed my life and that of so many of my clients, it will be totally accurate.
But let’s start with some principles that are important for you to understand about hypnotherapy for children or hypnotherapy for teenagers.
I will only see children over 5 or 6 years of age.
Hypnotherapy is not a substitute or shortcut for day to day parenting.
There is no one size fits all: The hypnotherapy approach for children varies massively by the different age groups, the topic to resolve and their maturity.
Secondly, let’s clarify a few important points.
Hypnotherapy is basically the power of suggestion or, better said, the power of self-suggestion. As simple as that. No dark magic, no messing with the head or anything like that. What hypnotherapy does is to build a vision of how the young person wants to live their life, free of worries or bad habits.
There is no side effect of hypnosis. none, zero, nada.
Hypnosis works by reaching to our less rational mind, our subconscious. In hypnosis we leave our thoughts and connect with our feelings. Children, and especially young children’s brain haven’t developed the rational part, so they are constantly using the more emotional side of their brain. Basically they are in constant hypnosis (as a way of explaining). Hypnotherapy for Children(under 10yo) is as simple as telling them a story that links into what they and their parents want to achieve. As well as they react to story telling, they can react to hypnosis , we just do it more efficiently as we use repetition and a tiny bit of trance.
Will Hypnotherapy for children help Teenagers?
For teenagers, in my experience, the hardest thing is for them to want to want to change something as that implies accepting their role in whatever is happening and facing some difficult emotions. Most teenagers, especially those experiencing very difficult situations, will blame everything under the sun but themselves as a way of avoiding facing those feelings.
And finally, but most importantly: hypnotherapy cannot make anybody do anything they don’t want to. There has to be a desire to change before anything can happen.
I hope the brief points above help to clarify some confusion about hypnotherapy
So, now, to explain how and why hypnotherapy for children works so well
The first thing is to separate children into three groups. My personal groups are: 5-8, 9-10, 10 and older.
I create this separation based on my experience of their maturity and how they respond to working with an adult.
For children between 5 and 8 years old
As mentioned above, hypnosis is as simple as story telling. In this story we make them the primary character. They also find a support character. For girls they could chose Fairies, for boys, they might want a cartoon character or a person they respect. I am always mindful of talking with parents and ensuring that person is acceptable to them as a role model. We then create a story in which they feel empowered to do something, or connected with friends or whatever they want to achieve. Finally, we can then extrapolate those feelings and success to their day to day situation. My very young clients only need one session. Recently I have helped a young girl get rid of her night terrors and a boy get a full head of hair after being bold for over a year. The power of self-suggestion.
For children over ten years old
I follow a two steps approach. Firstly, it is important for them to feel comfortable with the person, so we spend maybe one or two sessions getting to know each other. We talk, play games and I explain the fantastic power of their mind. I share with them some suggestibility games so they can see the effects that sending certain instructions to the brain have on them. It never fails to generate laughter. At the same time, I do what we call “set them up for success”. Many children come to me thinking something is broken, and my first goal is to make them doubt that idea. Help them think: well, if that boy or girl managed to resolve this situation, maybe, just maybe I have a chance.
Once they are comfortable, we can do the session.
In the session, we help the find the root cause of what is happening to them. In hypnotherapy for children, we explore the events, causes or memories that created certain belief in their mind. When in hypnosis we cannot avoid being honest with ourselves. In coaching, many young clients deflect, ignore or openly lie to my questions. I don’t mind as it is not personal, it is only a sign that they can’t face those emotions. In hypnosis, they want to resolve them, they don’t deflect.
Once we have found that core reason, we can then resolve it and empower them to feel great, feel resilience, express their confidence, show their resilience, or whatever they want to achieve. We then create a personalised recording that helps them repeat those great feelings over and over again, until they become second nature to them. The type of the recording depends again on their age and maturity. Some children can take a more adult-like recording others will still love their story telling.
So, how does this all look? Let me give you a summary of what happened in Chloe’s session.
Firstly, while in hypnosis, she could easily point to a birthday party when she was five or six years old. The birthday girl had a new puppy and all the girls were so excited to see and cuddle him. As you can imagine, a young puppy surrounded by screaming girls will quickly become very afraid. What is that the puppy did: bark. That bark took Chloe by surprise and scared her. In that moment, she created the belief that pets are not trustworthy and they can hurt you. As she was exposed to more pets in her daily life, the belief grew in her mind to the proportions already shared.
In the recording, her fairy godmother (that’d be me making a funny voice) gave her the power to understand and listen to the cats and dogs. She could look at dogs (cats, guinea pigs, whatever) and assess if they wanted to be left alone or they felt like a cuddle. She also had the power to respect them, giving them space, and they would respect her. We then did some visualisation rehearsal, all in hypnosis, and she decided how to go about those. Sometimes she chose to leave them in peace and create space between them. In others, she felt comfortable to get closer and even caress the dog or cat.
And that’s it for hypnotherapy for children, the young person listens to the recording consolidating those ideas and visual images they have. As they repeat the listening, it becomes part of them.
There is only one downside to this story. Chloe’s parents have now the dilemma of what dog they will get for the family, as she has done so well (with friends, in the park, etc) around pets, that she is adamant they need a dog in the house.
I can’t thank Marisa Peer enough on my behalf and on behalf of my clients… in fact, also on behalf of my own daughters and they had sessions and have helped them massively.
I hope this article helps you understand more about hypnosis in children. I have hundreds of cases to share, but I think the ones I mentioned are clear enough.
Please feel free to ask me any question. I would be happy to help you find the right solution for you and your child.
While I often write tips for successful parenting, this week’s article is focused on how to help kids with anxiety, and, in extension, help parents from developing parental anxiety too. Through life coaching children I have discovered this is a crucial but neglected topic. While a lot of what you are about to read refers to children of all ages, I have concentrated the content more toward younger children that are aged around 10-12 and younger. However, if your child is older, please continue reading as you will get some helpful ideas too. We also have more articles on helping children with anxiety articles here.
When I meet a young new client for the first time, they don’t know me and most of them don’t even want to talk to somebody. That first meeting with an older stranger often sets off what I call a panic attack in teens. It is critical to set up a friendly environment and to explain things in a way that they understand. I’ll be talking about how I help children with ABC: Anxieties, Behaviour, and Confidence.
When I talk about anxieties, most young people don’t know what it means. Many have heard the word, but they can’t explain it. That’s why when I am life coaching children I mention that “anxieties is a grown-up word. Young people call them worries”. One thing I have noticed is that parents who don’t know how to help kids with anxiety often develop parental anxiety aswell.
This might sound simple. However, the underlying message that I am sending is very powerful: I talk your language.
There is another embedded message in this simple sentence. When we use impressive words to define emotions, that feeling becomes hugely important, and we create/attract a lot of attention towards that.
And, without even trying I just gave you an essential part of what I want to share in this article: don’t make things bigger than they are. By all means, respect the feeling your child is experiencing. Panic attack in teens is not a joke. However, the more manageable you keep it, the easier it is to resolve.
Hopefully, by now, you have read some of my other articles on life coaching children, and you know that I have a tendency to ramble a bit, but always within the topic. When it happens here, don’t think it is because I am having parental anxiety. Just kidding.
In the remaining part of this article, I want to share with you a few important ideas about how children and parents experience anxieties; things we have done as parents or things we haven’t done. I will also provide a few ideas on how to help kids with anxiety. As always, they are based on 10 years of being a life coach for children and teenagers, thousands of conversations with the young people and their parents.
Ah, before anybody thinks this article is about blaming or shaming parents, I want to tell you that nobody gets it right all the time. I am a dad of two and a professional in this field. However, I am constantly assessing my situation. I am also confident that I have made some of these mistakes as well.
The point of this article is to learn from the past for the present and future, a huge part of successful parenting is finding what works for your family.
Anyways, back to my ideas on how to help kids with anxiety
Idea 1: it’s a phase. It will go away
In my first conversation with parents during any life coaching children session, I always ask “how long has your child been experiencing these anxieties”. The answer is mostly something like this: “mostly over the last few weeks or a couple of months”. So far, so good. However, when I enquired a bit further about the child’s early years, the information becomes more critical: “ well, he/she has always been very delicate, a bit shy and somehow demanding.” Or “for the last two years, he/she has been struggling in school, we thought it was some friendship issues (or not getting along with the teacher or not being confident in his/her academic performance) but in the last few months he/she has been all over the place.”
I am the first person who advises parents not to overreact or develop parental anxiety. Thus, we must be very careful about how we react in the presence of kids. Please continue reading for an in-depth clarification of this idea.
Idea 2: Why is my son/daughter experiencing anxiety? How did we get here?
Panic attack in teens or children worries is like a bucket of water. They will be able to manage so much until the bucket is full. Once this happens, any minor issue will spill it over. Most parents will only react after several weeks or months of spilling over.
I guess you will be asking yourself, how do I know when to intervene? My answer is always the same: look at the patterns. One of the secrets to successful parenting is being very observant. In my experience, anxieties have two possible routes:
1- Sudden then hidden: An event has happened that shocked the child (bullying, fear, shock or, in the worst cases, a traumatic experience). The child will immediately react to it. There will be tears and feel the need for comfort. After a few days, typically parents start getting a bit tired of the issue and think the child is attention-seeking. The child will regularise the situation and hide their feelings. However, they don’t go away.
It is important to mention that while certain experiences might create a disproportionate response, it doesn’t mean the experience was especially traumatic. It might be that the child was in a delicate state on that day, or a combination of factors made it more difficult to deal with. The frequency of a panic attack in teens will depend on their mental state at a particular point in time. In fact, in my experience, around 10-20% of issues I see come from what we could understand as a traumatic experience. The vast majority come from perfectly normal situations that the kid, on that day, could not manage properly.
2- Hidden then sudden: Following the analogy of the bucket, in this route, the child is exposed to a low-level repetition of situations. The feelings (fears) start forming early on but the child chooses not to tell or pretend to ignore them. Over time, the repetition alongside with not sharing those worries creates a snowball effect. The worries in our head only get bigger and bigger. At one point the child is expecting things to happen and when something comes up, they validate their own inadequacy to deal with it (“I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I can’t make friends” or “I knew she would not want me to play with them”)
Idea 3: The guilty trip takes us nowhere
Many parents that I have supported have expressed shame or self-blame about what their child is going through. As a coach and a parent, I understand and sympathize with them. However, I am very strict about my views. This approach doesn’t help your child and doesn’t help you. You need to remember the affirmation “Self-blame will only debilitate me. Therefore, I will be in the worst situation to help my child. Maybe I said or did something wrong. Perhaps it had nothing to do with me. It doesn’t matter. It is not a question of blaming but an attitude of belief and resolution .”
I am not saying we should ignore our own behaviour. Of course, there is always room for improvement—and self-awareness is the best route to learning how to be a good parent as well as how to help kids with anxiety. What I am saying is that the most important step now is to help your child. Blaming anybody or anything is not a successful parenting strategy.
4: Is it normal? Should I intervene? Should I ask?
These are probably the questions we all ask ourselves, mostly in the past tense (was it normal? Should I have intervened earlier? Should I have asked somebody?). It is always a delicate balance, and unfortunately, through my years of life coaching children, I haven’t found any checklist or scorecard to follow. We are left with our best tool: our instinct.
Here are a few tips for you to assess your child situation and your next steps in helping your child with anxiety:
Tip 1: inform yourself. If you are reading this article, it means you have an interest, and I can assure you that this is the most crucial part of it. Maybe this article doesn’t clarify everything, but by reading and paying attention, you will be better equipped. There are loads of information, the trick is to ensure you take whatever action works for you. The more you know, the less likely you will be hit by parental anxiety too.
Tip 2: Look for patterns. Children and adults are creatures of habits/patterns. Observe your child’s behaviour over a period and notice if their behaviour is changing over time in a clear direction. Every child will have good and bad days or good and bad periods. That is perfectly normal. However, if the worries or behaviour change is becoming habitual (i.e. sleep is difficult, rejects new initiatives they used to enjoy, starts complaining about going to school or not having fun there, etc.) then it is time to have a conversation. Pull out all the knowledge you have acquired on how to help kids with anxiety and put it to action.
Tip 3: If in doubt, have a conversation. Let’s face it, we all have very busy lives, we are doing school runs, taking them to sports, or play days, working or managing the house. Our days are packed. In this overload of actions, we say to ourselves “I will talk to her later on today or tomorrow”. If you have any doubt or cause of concern, have the conversation as soon as possible. The longer panic attack in teens lasts, the more it becomes difficult to deal with. Set up a quiet time and mention the things you have noticed. As I said earlier in the article, keep it simple and honest. Use words and behaviour that will allow them to express themselves freely.
Let them answer the question and whatever they say, allow it. It is not about being true/false, but about allowing.
Tip 4: keep having the conversation. Most children have a vested interest in not sharing those fears. Let’s be honest if they felt they could, they would have done it already. The reason is that they might be scared of the consequences. Maybe they think it’s their fault, or they are afraid of what we parents will think of them. Ensure you put time aside and bring back the chat. Leave it open, don’t force them to answer, just create the space for them to answer when they are ready.
Tip 5:Get advice from others. Every teacher I have met had the best intentions for their students. Ask for some time with their teacher. Talk to people who observe them in different environments (I found the playground ladies an important source of unbiased information). Also, ask the parents of friends. Don’t seek for a problem, aim for the behaviours that might indicate something else. Ask about what they do—if they relate well to other kids, how they take on challenges, conflict or new situations. Most children will present different behaviour at home than elsewhere. Both will be part of their life and “true”. However, knowing both can provide validation or information for those conversations. Successful parenting has a lot to do with how much you know or are willing to know.
I think I will leave it here. I can continue writing, but I think this article
is already dense enough. I hope it provides a few good ideas.
And this is from me to you for today. I hope you like our article on helping young children with anxiety. As you know, there are other articles on the site and more to come to help you do it, browse around and see what you will find. Feel free to contact me if you want me to address any specific topic PERSONALLY.
HAVE A GREAT DAY AND REMEMBER, KEEP YOURSELF HAPPY, KEEP YOUR KIDS HAPPY, BY HELPING YOURSELF AND HELPING YOUR KIDS’
Let me tell you a tale about anxiety in a young lady called Jane.
Jane was having a bit of a stressful day (let’s call this Young Person Jane, they could be George or Thomas or Penelope, but I am kind of in a Jane day. So let Jane be my character in today’s life coaching for children session). Anyhow, as I was saying, Jane was experiencing some tricky times. Feelings of shyness, unease, irritability, worry or nervousness, all common signs of anxiety in teens; were always at the front of her mind.
In the beginning, her parents commented about it with curiosity. As time evolved, Jane became much better at deflecting, hiding or pretending nothing was happening. Well, this is why parenting classes should be made compulsory for every parent. Just kidding.
You might have noticed I haven’t said how old Jane was. It doesn’t really matter because what her experience will most likely apply to almost every child and young adult. what I want to do is use her experience to show how to help kids with anxiety.
Her parents were busy with their day’s activities. Work, managing other two kids, after school activities, homework and in between trying to have a bit of social life and some rest time.
Jane herself wasn’t sure what she was experiencing. She didn’t know why she was feeling this way, and she didn’t know what to do about it. So, she opted to ignore those feelings and pretend they didn’t exist.
Her parents started noticing something funny. She would become very animated and other days very shy and quiet, annoyed at small things. Her sleep was more or less okay. However, she was not sleeping as much as she used to. Jane’s parents were noticing the signs of anxiety in teens, such as irritability, lack of social interaction and sleeplessness. Unfortunately, they didn’t recognize this as anxiety but still wanted to help their daughter. Allow me to deviate a little. As a professional life coach for kids, I always tell parents never to play down any strange observation in their children.
So, conscious something might be going on, and they talked to her in this way:
· How are you doing?
Did you have fun in school today?
· How are things with Christina (her best friend?)
How are you getting on with your homework?
· Are you sure you are okay?
Jane’s parents were doing their best to communicate with their daughter
Communication is a critical parenting skill to have. Thankfully you can learn them from parenting classes. However, the most important skill to have is knowing how to help a child with anxiety.
Also, as is usually the case, Jane was doing her best to answer those questions. However, what she really wanted was to be left alone. She didn’t know what was going on with her and she clearly couldn’t express it. Every question was placing more responsibility on her. She didn’t know what’s going on. If everybody was asking, it means she should know. However, she didn’t, and that caused additional stress for her.
As things evolved, Jane became closed off and less open about her feelings. Her parents started getting upset and frustrated. Why wasn’t she talking to them? Clearly, something was going on. Was it exam nerves? friendships? Had she been in trouble? As you can imagine, the more upset and frustrated her parents became, the more Jane retreated into herself. I’ve previously spoken about this frustration loop when discussing good parenting skills.
As in my previous articles on life coaching for children, my goal is to provide a double-take on this approach. On one side, I have also brought my ten years of experience as a life coach for kids to share how I go about it.
Secondly, but most importantly, I have noticed how all the advice we can look online is about what we say to the children. However, there is nothing about what we, as parents, need to do about ourselves to help them.
It’s important to work on good parenting skills to help your child with anxiety.
And for that reason, I am going to answer the questions on how to help an anxious child in reverse order.
As a professional life coach for kids and a parent, I have this quote always present
“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.” (Haim Guinott)
Okay, I hear you. What do we do to help a child with anxiety, Javier?
You first build yourself as a foundation. You are the most important thing to help your child after all. The purpose of this article is to share with you my principles and ideas as a professional life coach for kids to help you be in the right frame of mind, so you can help your child. I call this, give yourself permission:
Permission to Chill out. you are doing okay! most parents that I see in parenting classes are taking things way too seriously. They are concerned with their children’s performance, happiness, social interactions…, everything. Let’s face it, if you are reading this article, you probably have your children’s best interest at heart, and you are doing, by and large, a good job (if you still have any doubt, please read my article on good parenting skills). I am aware this sounds simplistic, right? However, the more relaxed you are, the more comfortable your child will be.
Permission to give yourself a timeout. Rest, socialize, look after yourself. Yes, you heard me right: look after yourself. Most parents make their job a full-time dedication and forget to give themselves free time. Of course, I talk about exercising, going for a coffee or anything you can think about. But what I really mean is: give yourself time. Walk a couple of bus stops, take 10 minutes without your phone. Enjoy doing nothing and connect with yourself. This will provide you with a sense of grounding that will translate into calm when talking with your children. In this state, you will act as a better life coach for kids.
Permission to get it wrong. And you will get it wrong…. and it is okay. My parents got things wrong, and I think I turned out okay. I am getting things wrong, and I think my daughters are turning out okay. In fact, as a professional life coach for children, I know I will never get everything right, I will make mistakes, and that’s okay. The secret is to learn from them.
Permission to not know everything. Well, as with the point above, you don’t need to know everything. But, you can be an example of curiosity and learning towards your children. This is especially important when helping children deal with anxieties, you don’t need to know the answers or solutions, but you can work them out together. As a side point, today I have been educated in who Tom Holland is, the latest song from Shan Mendez and how makeup is not makeup but mascara… who knew?
Permission to raise my hand and ask for helpand permission to ignore the advice. I am sure you are all thinking, “I do this already, and I am sure many of you do”. However, if you are not doing it, do it. There is a lot of great advice online, loads of great professionals and loads of caring friends and family. Also, don’t feel obliged to take what they say—unless, maybe they are helping you to discover more signs of anxiety in teens. If it makes sense and you feel you can do it, then great. If not, just thank them for their opinion and keep looking.
Permission to change. This is probably the hardest in my experience when it comes to how to help kids with anxiety. From time to time, we have to admit to ourselves that whatever we are doing, is not working. It is okay, as mentioned above, we don’t know everything, and it’s okay to get things wrong. Now it is time to change what we are doing. Change is good, imposing and unknown, but good. The moment you accept change, you embrace learning, the moment you embrace learning, you embrace solutions. I guess you know where this takes you: yes, eventually you will find whatever works for you and your child.
And now that you understand the importance of looking after yourself, you can start helping your Jane who is showing signs of anxiety in teens.
How do you help a child with anxieties?
Firstly, never brush those worries under the carpet. If something happens sporadically, just keep it in your mind. What you are looking for are patterns, signs of anxiety in teens. If they don’t happen again, park those insinuations in your mind. If you see a pattern of these common signs of anxiety, (disruption of sleep, less talkative, volatile behaviour avoiding situations, people or activities) then there is something going on.
Secondly, remember this behaviour is only a representation of what is happening inside their minds and hearts. No child wants to be aggressive, but they don’t know how to deal with stress—one of the first things I learned during my professional life coaching for children. If you judge the behaviour you are ignoring the emotion. We pass the behaviour and aim to connect with the emotions.
Thirdly, create the opportunities, as many as needed. Be conscious of your schedule and time and place. Aim to create moments of connection — just you and him/her with no rush. Maybe driving on the car, going for coffee, or sitting down on the bed. A lot of parents are busy, and the evening is not ideal because of tiredness. Weekends are a good choice. Those moments rarely happen by themselves, make them happen. Here, I suggest some parents need to take their parenting classes seriously.
Fourth, when you create those moments, listen more than talk. As a good friend says: we have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Many children will be afraid of sharing their feelings. This is because 1) they can’t articulate them 2) they don’t know what they are 3) they are afraid you might think less of them. Be confident of being silent, avoid proposing solutions. The main goal of this conversation is simply to allow them to express whatever is in their mind. If you fill-up the time, they will let you do so, and you’ll miss the opportunity. Considerate listening is a tremendous tool—especially for anyone that wants to act as life coach for kids in some capacity.
Fifth, never ever judge them in any way. Things like “don’t be silly” or “it’s not that important” won’t help. In fact, it might make them feel a bit worse as it is important to them. Whatever they share with you, respect it and honour it.
Sixth: how is that making you feel? This is the end goal, to eventually allow them to express the emotions they are holding back. If you are wondering how to help a child with anxiety, this is where you want to be. The fears such as I will fail, everybody will know I am thick, I won’t have a school to go, you might love me less, is what you will likely hear. In my experience, once we get to this point, we create the hardest part of the job.
Take this moment slowly. Allow time for tears, if they come. Let them express those emotions and release them. This stage is critical and only move to stage seven when you think they have expressed everything they need and are ready to start doing something about it.
Seventh: And now, what? Having a plan is having a possible solution. It doesn’t matter if it’s great, good, average or just okay. We can always change it. What is important is that they come with their own solutions. Younger kids will need more suggestions, but the key part is that they decide what they want to do. Taking ownership of the next steps is hugely empowering, which in turns massively helps the outcome.
I can imagine how many of you are thinking: I cannot do this, or it is too time-consuming. How do I know if I am on the right track? Maybe I will sleep on it for a bit. Perhaps your own anxiety is getting the better of you, and you feel discouraged.
Stay with me here! Take a few minutes and think about a meaningful conversation you had with your partner, great friend, or loving relative. Either talking about your worries, or theirs. Remember those conversations that left you feeling better. I am sure a lot of those seven steps I talked about above were present.
So, what I am saying is that this is nothing new for you. You have done it and, most likely, several times. Doing it to help a child with anxiety shouldn’t feel any different.
Helping children and adults to cope with difficult events
Residents and visitors to North Kensington area are experiencing a terrible situation in many aspects. Many will be affected directly, and others indirectly. Emotions will run wild. As a life coach for kids, I feel responsibe to offer my counsel.
I am hopeful that the counsel will provide the best service available to those affected directly. Also, this document serves as a guide to parent coaching as well as coaching kids who are exposed to the situation but not directly affected.
Whatever happens in the next hours and days, the children and adults in the area will likely experience painful emotions. It is important to remember that, after the main event, people will have a regular reminder of it in the form of police, builders or the simple sight of the building.
After researching on these situations, I have put together a few simple ideas. I have made it as simple as possible, just like every good parenting courses should be.
1- Talk or Don’t Talk. It’s an individual decision. Respect other’s decision and ask them to respect yours.
While for some people talking about the event has a healing effect, for others it could feel like reliving the experience. Thus, this can create further stress. Feel free to say if you don’t want to talk about the event or if you need to talk about it.
If a child or adult wants to talk about it, just be mindful of the amount of time (attention, energy) dedicated to this conversation. If it’s becoming too much, it is time to divert the attention to other things.
When a child doesn’t want to talk about the event, let it be. However, monitor their behaviour and patterns. Look for signs of worry, any spontaneous and unusual outburst of tears or temper, changes of eating or sleeping patterns. If any of these happen, it is time to have a conversation or ask for help. Life coaching for children requires a lot of observation. In some cases you may need to make their decisions for them.
2- Stay connected with your support network (e.g. family, friends).
Make an effort to maintain a healthy social environment around you. A variety of activities, groups and locations can be a good option.
If possible, try to maintain as much of your normal routine as you can. Be aware of your emotions and feel free to give yourself breaks and time to stop and think if needed. As a professional life coach for kids, I also do parent coaching to help them gain skills to handle this kind of situations.
3- Take action
Volunteering or supporting in any way you can have an empowering effect. The work may or may not, be related to the event.
Joining or creating a group with a clear task will help focus effort and create a sense of community. Anything is better than nothing. Taking food or clothes to shelters, raising money, coaching kids to deal with their emotions or helping with other tasks. All will contribute to a sense of focus and purpose.
4- Get moving
Encourage children and adults to move physically; it can be through exercising or long walks. This is more cruicial during life coaching for children sessions. They need the constant distractions to prevent the emotions from building up.
If exercising alone, focus your attention on how your body is responding to the exercise. Keep your eyes focused in narrow areas (on trees at the side walk).
If exercising in a group, be aware and respectful of everybody’s emotions.
5- Self-regulate your emotions
Small things can trigger powerful emotions. Also, the feelings can slowly build up over time. Be aware of how you and the people around you might be feeling.
Use conscious breathing. Breath in slow and deep through the nose and exhale through the mouth for a few minutes. When you are breathing, focus your attention on a single item in the room.
Make an effort to speak slowly and calmly. This will have a significant effect on you and the people around you. Use your voice to convey a message of calm to yourself and others.
6- If in doubt, ask
There are lots of great websites and services that can help you and your children. Don’t hesitate to contact them for advice.
Whatever ideas your collect, ensure they feel suitable to you, your children and your loved ones. If they feel too demanding, reduce the activity or the length of exposure to them. Evey person is unique, let your feelings guide you through what is right for you.
Here are the best two links with powerful advice that I found.
After the tragic events on Friday in Paris, a number of children have experience anxiety and worries. As a life coach for kids, I feel the need to teach parents techniques of talking to children. The article below is a compilation of advice based on research and my professional experience from life coaching for children.
Keep the main goal in mind
When talking to children, the objective is to help your child deal with their emotions constructively, help the child overcome anxieties or tension from the bad news, and allow them to continue enjoying their day to day (and night—as that is when most worries will surface) as much as possible.
Is talking to children about the tragedy relevant?
Not every kid will react the same to these events. Some children might be significantly affected while the kid seating next to him might cope with the information just fine. I see this regularly during kids coaching sessions. Be observant of any changes of conversation or behaviours. Over-reactions or tears appearing easily. Be aware that this doesn’t depend so much on the age of the child. From 4 years on they might be taking in information. However, I personally think the group most likely to be affected is 8-15 years old.
The media is full of coverage about the terrorist attacks. I never advocate to hide things from children. However, a measured approach is very sensible. The pictures, comments, videos etc can be very overpowering for an adult let alone for a child. As a professional life coach for kids, I want you to be aware of what movies or TV programmes they watch, what games they play (specially video games).
Be ready to talk about it
If your children haven’t learnt about the events, they most likely will learn from school friends or other sources. If this is a concern for him/her ensure you are ready to talk. By talking to children about it on your own time you are giving yourself the best chance to lead and manage the conversation constructively. The last thing we want is to be asked this important questions unprepared. Parent coaching on this topic mostly dwell on how to get them ready to talk.
Give yourself time to talk
When talking to children about the events, ensure you have plenty of time to do so. Don’t rush it or you will miss their emotions and it might only exacerbate the worries. Although I am a professional life coach for kids and a dad, I still take my time.
Be aware of your emotions
We take most of the information from the body language and tone of voice. Words account for around 5-10% of the message. Therefore, be aware of your body language, your tone and your general state of calmness when talking to children. The child, most likely, will mirror your state, whatever it is. However, it is important to show your emotions as well, this will give them permission to show theirs. When in a life coaching for children session, I try to make myself vulnerable. This makes the children to show their fears and vulnerability too.
Be open and honest but choose your words carefully
Explain to them in very simple language what happened. The more detail we provide the stronger the image will be in their heads, thus, making the emotions stronger. I personally favour describing the facts in a reasonably generic and impersonal/detached way. This will help the children put some emotional distance with the events. I also conduct parent coaching classes. In my parenting classes, I teach parents how to handle these situations.
Be Patient, it might take time to assimilate it
It’s possible the children may become tearful. If they do, it is a good sign that they are letting their emotions out. It is most likely that the tears are caused by fear than the events themselves. Help them voice them out. Also, be aware that they are most likely to surface at night. If this happens, just be patient. They are not doing in it on purpose, they are not enjoying it. As a life coach for kids expert, I assure you that if they knew how to control their emotions they would. Most times, tearing is from feeling of helplessness.
Help them move on
Kids coaching is very important for them. Let them know that people are looking after them. The police, the government, they are all working to avoid this from happening. Ensure they understand how rare these events are.
Adapt their environment over the next few days
Reduce or eliminate exposure to news in a way you can better control the message. Try to watch uplifting movies and play constructive games. Ensure a positive routine at home especially before bed time. Read with them and give time to talk about some happy memories or future plans.
Finally, always use your commons sense. You are the person who best know your child. Therefore, use your commons sense to adapt these or other advice you receive.
Please contact me if you need any advice on this topic. I am happy to help in any way I can.
Further reading. These are some articles that I have come across which make total sense to me. I highly recommend you read them if this topic affects you or your children: