Hello and welcome to another article, this time I want to share with you a very hot topic: children and technology
I must admit I have been putting this back in my list of articles. In my conversation with parents and children it is almost as controversial a topic as homework. Also, on a personal level, I wasn’t sure if I was getting it right for either my daughters or myself. This was until a few things happened and the result and feedback encouraged me to go ahead and share my experiences and strategies with you.
There is another reason for me to write this article: I have seen parents taking two strategies to deal with children and technologyand neither of them works in the long term.
Option 1: very limited or no technology policy
Option 2: let them regulate themselves, as long as their work is done it’s ok.
If you are in one of those approaches, I truly wish you the best. If you can make it work, let me know.
Let me start narrating what a 15 years old told me.
“Javier, I wake up at 7, and from the very first minute, I am tense. I know I have a long day ahead of me. I go to school thinking about if I got my homework right, if I will get caught by a teacher doing something I shouldn’t, or maybe they think I am doing something I shouldn’t. I must put all my attention into lessons because it is an important year. All through the day in school, I feel under pressure. When I get home, I am mentally tired, and yet I have two or three hours of homework to do. The only way for me to let some steam out is with the Xbox. I play mostly fortnight because it’s quick, and I am good at it. If I don’t do well, I can have another short game. I evade myself; it is fun and I can do well. There are no expectations. Then, I realise I have wasted an hour or two and now it is late, I am more tired than before and less able to concentrate, yet I have to do the homework, my tension is off the scale. My mum comes and tells me off, I know she is right, but I can’t accept it. She is the one putting pressure on me. Well, she is not always doing it, but my problem is the same. At this point, I am only panicking.” This is often a problem with children and technology as a means of procrastination. I mention tips for motivating kids for homework in a previous article you can read it here.
I don’t want to sound scaremongering. Of course, there are thousands of children who play games and use technology that doesn’t go through this process. However, as a dad/mum, do you want to take your chances?
Now, let me give you another very different example about children and technology.
Lola is a very articulated, charming 10 years old girl. All her school friends have an iPad, they use it in school and most of them are creating groups to text each other or play. She is fuming because her mum has a no-technology policy. This is what she says to me:
“Mr Orti, I don’t get it. I am the only one. I thought there were two or three more in my class, but everybody has the iPad, they are sending themselves messages, I am totally excluded. I must make up excuses to not give them my email or details. I tell them my iPad is being repaired because I am so ashamed of being the only one. They all can do whatever they want. I have all this rules and policies that my mum says, and I am very upset and angry. It is not fair; I am the only one. Everybody else has their iPads”
You can think the two examples of children and technology are very different (a boy, a girl, ipad, Xbox, texting, playing, talking with friends, evasion from pressure) and you are right. However, you would be missing the role that technology has in those kids lives. And that role is the same.
Fundamentally, children are using technology for one single purpose: to connect.
Many children use it to connect with their peer group, other children use it to connect with themselves. The latter is what we normally would see as evading themselves, letting behind the busy life and stress and finding a safe space.
When I see young teenagers using Snapchat, Instagram or Tiktok, what they are doing is creating a virtual world/bubble of safety (or so they think) for themselves.
Imagine their use of technology as your use of imagination when you were a child. I can imagine you are thinking this is a silly analogy, but it is not far from the truth.
When we were kids, we would spend hours (at least I did and not always at the right times as some of my teachers will testify) in our heads, creating a safe world of adventures, or fun, or connection. I can think, for most people, those worlds would be populated and there might be challenges, and good guys and bad guys. And we would overcome those challenges, and we would feel amazing and relaxed and having fun.
Well, when children tell me about Minecraft, or Fortnite, it is not a million miles away. It is just that they are doing it via a device rather than their imagination.
So, we could say, children and technology it is not so bad then? In the end, they are just using their imagination through a device.
Well I don’t believe in black or white statements and there is one part that we haven’t yet talked about.
While our imaginary worlds could be amazing, we would either have it on our head or we would need our friends to create them.
Technology allows them to share those worlds or imagination. This forms an even stronger sense of belonging. They share their experiences and they belong to the group. This fact reinforces the sense of connection to a disproportionate level.
So, when a young person is spending time on their games, they will have many reasons, but the fundamental need that is being fulfilled is the need to evade to a world where they feel connected.
There is a big part, too big for this article about children and technology to go into detail about their need for connection. The reality is that the more connected they feel with their family and physical friends, and stronger sense of belonging they have, the less important that technology will be. So, what is driving their need for connection? or in a different way: what is driving their sense of being left out?
As I said, that is a topic for another whole article as what I want to do on this one is to propose strategies for you to guide your thinking, approach to technology and how your children use it.
Here is my experience from hundreds of sessions of life coaching teenagers.
Let’s start with the basics, according to me. Technology, like most things in this life, is not either good or bad. It is what we make of it. Also, like it or not, our world has changed, and our children are living and will live in a world different from us. They will live in a world in which technology will play a fundamental part in their lives.
I have heard the concept that the future generations will be divided (unfortunately human race does always separate) between those that understand and manage technology and those that don’t.
I am sure you have heard or read headlines about how Silicon Valley parents are raising their kids, technology free. I have done some research and have only found anecdotal information about this and, when expressed, it was more a question of restricting usage rather than avoiding it.
As mentioned, this article is not so much about technology, yes or not. It is about how to manage children and technology in a way that empowers children now, and in the future.
Here are my two principles for what I will share with you next:
1. I believe in teaching and empowering children to make decisions in an age appropriated way.
2. Children are not mature to make many decisions and you cannot delegate the one about use of technology. However, you can help them learn.
What I want to say is that, as much as I love my children and want to empower them to make the right choices, I would not give my 14 years old my car keys or let her open a bottle of whisky.
As parents, we have spent a lot of time teaching our children right from wrong (tell the truth, don’t lie, do your homework, don’t play with knives, look before you cross the road, which movies are appropriated for each age). Yet, we haven’t done the same for technology. In many cases, we have delegated that responsibility to them by the mere fact that we haven’t taken it.
Well, it is our responsibility. Any kid below the age of 16, in my opinion, is not suited to make the call of how they use technology.
Going back to my two principles. It is our responsibility and now the question is to help them make their age appropriate choices.
This works in two levels: firstly, it is which games, apps, etc will they be exposed to. Secondly, it is about how long they can use it.
Start thinking about those but be ready to adapt your decisions to your children and technology (keeping your criteria). Then you can continue with the rest of the article.
I am now going to fast forward and assume that a big proportion of you reading this article are finding themselves in the difficult situation of managing your child’s usage of technology (i.e. time). I am going to assume that your young person doesn’t have any restrictions.
Here is a strategy to adopt that has worked very well.
I have built it up in steps and I hope this helps you see the process. If you have read other articles, you’ll know I do like my processes.
Step 1: First things first: start with the data
Use your phone, tablet, or computer data before you do anything. In general, we will all be poor judges of our habits, (we will tend to overestimate what we are doing well and underestimate what we are doing wrong (have you seen the tv program: secret eater?). Your child, of any age, will struggle to give you an accurate estimation of the number of hours (I don’t think you can do this in minutes) they spend on the screen. Using real data is a must if you want to have a reasonably adult to adult conversation.
If you can’t extract data, time them over a few days before you have the conversation, set up parental controls to time them (not to control them yet).
I can imagine this first step of dealing with children and technology overuse can be painful for some of you and your children. It wasn’t easy either for me, but it is critical to do it. An option is to do this as a group, for instance, you will install and share the same information with them reg your usage.
Step 2: have the first conversation (yes, the first, there are a few more to come).
I call it explain the situation. In this conversation it is fundamental to keep a level-headed approach, simply stating what you have observed. It would go something like:
I want to talk to you about your screen time. I have been observing it and I think it is a bit out of control. I have noticed how; on average you have used your phone/iPad/computer for almost two hours per day.
I know it might seem little but if you consider this is 14 hours per week, it is like a whole awake day per week spent on your screen when you could have been doing loads of other things.
I am a bit worried about this and wanted to let you know.
At this point, stop it there and let them explain themselves. Don’t engage in conversations or challenge their assumptions. Simply mention that it is way too much.
Step 3: Defining the problem and setting up the rules.
After a few weeks (two or three is good enough) of continuous monitoring, you will find out that nothing or very little has changed (if it has improved, give them a medal!). It is time to have the second conversation. Again, remained calmed and fact based. If your kids are struggling with homework, exams or other areas they like it is a good time to bring it in. For instance:
A few weeks ago, we talked about your screen time. I have noticed nothing or very little has changed. At the same time, I have noticed your grades haven’t benefited from this (or have noticed you anxious about your friends, or tired in the mornings). Now I am a bit worried and I am not sure you are conscious of how much you are using the screen/games/etc.
I trust you are a clever boy/girl and you can make your own choices, but unless something changes, I will need to make the choice myself. Should we give it a few weeks and see what happens? But I must warn you that unless you manage this, I will have to step in.
My experience is that this will generate some short-term benefit, however most likely it will quickly revert to usual habits.
It is also important to define what you think is a suitable use forchildren and technology. There are loads of information online about this and you can use some of the links below to make up your mind. Obviously, this will depend by age group and maybe you want to bring some weekend/weekday flexibility.
Step 4: Activating the rules.
Now, assuming your children are like the vast majority, is when the potential argument happens. In order to defuse it, we will take a three-step approach. It is time to limit the usage, but it is important to ensure you don’t make a personal fight of this. There was an agreement, you gave them the choice (in several occasions) and they haven’t full-filled their part of the bargain. Here is a small script:
I am afraid nothing much has changed. We agreed to limit your screen time to certain times and a maximum number of hours, and you are still well over what we decided. I am afraid I need to set up some blocks, but I want to do it in a way that helps you. I understand it is important for you, so we have to get to an agreement.
I suggest blocking it during homework time and at certain times before bed time.
Or: I suggest you have a maximum number of hours (hour) per day.
I am not going to limit you to those hours as I know it can be annoying, but I want to trust you and you will make the right choice.
I must admit I feel a bit bad about this because it is almost setting them up for failure, however it is also a big generation of self-awareness. At this point, please continue to bring up the things they like they are not doing or the things they need to do (homework, grades, reading) that they are not achieving. This part is hugely important as it will dictate the next step.
Step 5: Implement the limits.
Now, there is no need to wait a few weeks. A few days will be enough. Most likely they will not change their habits and after a few days, while the conversation and “agreement” stills clear in their mind, prepare for the difficult conversation. It goes something like this:
This is the fifth conversation we have about this and nothing has changed. I have given you as many chances as I could, but I haven’t seen any result. It is now time for me to totally limit the time you spent on screen and when you can use it.
In this step, technology is your ally again. Use the available blocking technology and parental controls rather than physically engaging in shutting down the computer or taking their phones away, this way you can prevent some friction with children and technology while still creating an important boundary reminder.
“I will block the computer for a number of weeks. You still have X minutes during the day, and I am happy to extend that on the weekend to X more minutes.”
My personal advice here: in for a penny, in for a pound. It will be annoying to them and it is likely you will have at least one argument; you might as well go the full length and limit it as much as necessary. You can always give them something back and they might thank you. The other way around (taking further time away from them) will only result in regular conflict.
Step 6: review.
In my experience, you will need between three to six weeks to establish new habits. It is important you don’t deviate from the plan. Be aware they are crafty kids and they will look, and most likely, find ways to bend the rules (find passwords to unlock it or spend time in their friends’ phone). After this week, you will notice a big change in the family dynamics. They will still not like it and you can give them the sporadic change of routine, however, be mindful that if you break the rules too much, it will be hugely difficult to re-establish them.
Step 7: Give them some lead way.
Assuming all has gone according to plan after one or two months, you can have another conversation with your children and technology use. Think about holidays or weekend flexibility, This is about devolving a small part of responsibility to them, under the agreement of sensible usage. For instance, if you have hugely limited their use of screen (i.e. 15 or 30 mins per day) you can give them special dispensation for the weekends. It is important to use this to rather than break the rules, to reinforce them.
“I have noticed how responsible you have been on your screen time (not that they had an option) and I am so pleased. I have noticed you …. (sleeping better, more focussed, less anxious, talking more with us, spending more time with your siblings/friends). I think we can open up the rules a bit but only a bit, you are still in school and it is important to not change them too much. Also, I am counting on you to be mindful on how you use it.”
In this stage, it is important to understand that you can only give them the time you are happy for them to use. Expecting too much from them will only result in frustration.
And this is it. This is my strategy for helping empower children and technology and the one I explain to many parents. I am aware there are thousand of variations (i.e. I need to use the computer for my school work) but I hope it gives you an indication on how to go about it.
Finally, a hugely important point:
how will you do this for yourself? Chances are that you are also abusing your screen time when at home. What is a good amount of time for you? How will you limit it?
You can take this approach and do it with your children, rather than for them, creating something together, spending time playing, talking, cooking, etc.
Are you finding it scary the thought of parting with your phone? if so, it only says that you really need to get going. If it’s not scary, remember we are all poor judges of what we do, get your screen time data and see what you think.
I hope you liked the article about children and technologyand have got some ideas on how to go about it. As always, take the concept and adapt it to your personal situation. It is important you start a process you feel you can deliver. Changing the rules halfway through or not monitoring or avoiding the conversation will not help them.
Have a lovely day and do let us know how you get on with it.
In this article Javier tackles the sense of fairness in children and how to avoid the fairness trap by encoraging uniqueness and individuality.“It’s not fair!”
How many times as parents have we heard this? How many times have we gone over the odds to please everybody only to find the little ones (and not so little) fighting a corner that will only end up in frustration and, most likely, an argument?
I have to be honest, as a dad this was one of the most frustrating things to deal with. I would pride myself on being an honest, fair dad. As a young boy I hated when parents or relatives would award special dispensation to my older brother (oh… how I hated it! It still makes my stomach churn). So, when I became a dad, I made fairness my flag… oh dear, I didn’t know what was coming.
10 years ago, I became a Children and Teenager Life Coach. In this time, I had thousands of conversations with young people and parents and can’t remember how many times this line has come up. As with my own family, it was a source of discomfort as I could sense something was going on and didn’t know how to tackle it.
Let’s illustrate this with a real case with a strong sense of fairness.
We are going to call this girl Gaby, of course, not her real name.
Gaby is a 11 years old girl. She has an older brother. Gaby is showing a very difficult behaviour at home, she is argumentative and would not hesitate to pick up a fight. More importantly, she will not give up until a final decision has been made. In most of the cases, she eventually manages to either get her own way or drag everybody with her, which seems stupid but there is some sense of achievement on this: “now it is fair because everybody is miserable, not only me.”
When I talk with Gaby, she spends most of the time talking about her brother and in virtually every situation, she is comparing herself to him.
Some comparisons made were:
If he does sport, why doesn’t she do it.
If he is not engaging in her arguments, why is he not doing it?
If he engages in argument, why are their parents not punishing him more as he is the oldest one?
If she has to take her exams (her brother already did), why is he not doing them?
If she has to do homework, why doesn’t her brother do more than her, as he is the oldest one?
If her brother was to stay up longer at night or have any specific treat… well, better not think about it.
Ok, granted, this is an extreme case and most parents will not experience this level of conflict, but it is not unusual to find similar situations in our daily parenting duties. Especially where there is a strong sense of fairnessinvolved.
In many conversations I have heard parents (talking about other parents) say things like: they are too soft, they don’t have any rules, they need some discipline with her/him. In my experiences, it is always easier when talking about others than when facing those dilemmas ourselves. My job is not to judge, but to help.
Going back to Gaby and her parents.
Her parents are lost and can’t figure out what to do. If they are too soft, it seems she is taking them for a ride. If they are too strict, hell breaks loose, and the conflict goes to extremes they can’t deal with. It is important to call your attention to the article about control that we published earlier. While the parents will have certain lines, they will not cross, children will not have those lines and will cross every line they can to get their own way.
A lot of the parents are frustrated because they think it is a premeditated behaviour: She is pushing me, she is pushing the limits, she is testing me.
And here comes something I also hear from parents a lot of the time: “but we don’t entertain that behaviour” or “ we never reward those things” “she doesn’t get her way”.
Before I start the next paragraph, I want to issue a disclaimer: I love the parents and children I support. I trust them all. But they tend to be poor judges of their own behaviour. So, take the next part of the article with my best intention in mind and use it to see your actions in a different way.
What are the normal outcomes of this conflict situation? and, most importantly, how it can be perceived by the child and their sense of fairness? Here are a few ideas:
Parents escalate the argument (the kid will not get her way), there are arguments, bad energy, and tension. The whole time is ruined, and everybody is in a bad mood
The child’s potential subconscious perception: “well, at least now we are equal and I am not the only one upset.”
Parents try to sooth the young person (of any age) giving them attention while not giving them whatever they desire
The child’s potential subconscious perception: I got their attention, if I behave a bit more they will eventually forgive me and give it to me.
Parents try to compensate with other options (she can’t have more tv time but she is offered staying around later)
The child’s potential subconscious perception: I got something out of this, I could get something else.
Parents hold for a while, but eventually give up. Maybe you say: “no, you can’t see more telly” and then, after some conflict you concede “ok,you can see five more minutes” which eventually turn to 10 por 15. These events tend to be low to medium intensity, but very frequent. Think about you kid interrupting you as they want you to do something for them right away and you put everything on hold.
The child’s potential subconscious perception: Ok, that worked well.
There is another part of the situation, this one happens a while later after the conflict, in case there has been an argument and/or shouting. Most parents that I know, will aim to make peace at some point, normally before bed time and ensure their kids go to bed in a good mood, as well as them going to bed with the feeling of having resolved the issue. Basically, we kiss, make up and let’s hope for a better day tomorrow.
Do the different situations sound familiar to you? Do you see a sense of fairness causing conflict in your home?
And then, we just have to wait until the next outburst happens.
It is not fair!
But it’s not fair for them, the kids, or for you the parents.
I have to admit the next bit of the writing is a bit hard, but here it goes. If you can recognise yourself repeating one or several of those behaviours: it is not working. It will not work and it will only probably get worse. Sorry to say, but something has to change. You can wait for your child to change but think: who is the adult? who is able to change? who is more mature and can make better decisions?, yeah, it is you. Until you change your approach, your child won’t know what to change.
But let’s go back to thesense of fairness that children feel and how to deal with it.
Well, I have some news. In my personal opinion, my role as a dad it’s not about fairness. In fact, being fair is probably the worst I can do for my children because it doesn’t recognise their individual needs.
As parents, I believe that our job is to provide each of our children with what they need at each time, respecting their uniqueness and boosting their individual opportunities.
From this point, the “it’s not fair” argument doesn’t resonate with me at all, and I hope this article helps you see things in a different light.
If one child is sick, he/she will need more of my attention.
If one child is going through a difficult friendship situation, he/she will need my support more.
If one of my children are struggling with certain work and the others are doing well, then I have a duty of helping the one struggling.
If my teenager daughter wants to go out, it is clear I would not set the same home-time to her than to my pre-teen daughter.
Those are obvious examples, but we can extend that to so many things.
Of course, there are other areas in which fairness is important. Just be careful and clear on which ones they are.
The point of this article is to help you avoid the Fairness trap. When your child tells you “it’s not fair” or displays a misplacedsense of fairness, just stop for a few seconds and consider this: Is this a fairness situation? Or is it a situation of doing what is right for each child independently?
We could complicate this topic as much as possible, but I like to keep things simple and I will leave it there.
Avoid the fairness trap, If you feel it is not appropriate to consider fairness, don’t even go there. Don’t entertain the conversation.
Aim to provide what each of your child needs at each time and they will be fine.
I know, I know
It is a lot easier said than done. But if you ever doubt, just think of the potential of not being clear on this point.
The goal is to make them each feel unique in their own, not by comparing themselves with their other siblings. Reinforce their uniqueness, individuality and self . They won’t take those 15minutes more of tv with them but they will take their sense of self and being appreciated as such with them for the rest of their life.
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.
In this week’s article on successful parenting, I’m probably going to hit some nerves. I’m talking about controlling or dominating children and how to help them. It is a frustrating topic particularly for life coach for kids experts like myself. However, I have to ask you to bear with me, we can get through this together.
We all have pet-hates, some people hate people eating with their mouth open. Others can’t stand leaving food on the plate or go mad when their house is untidy. I don’t have many of them (well, I don’t enjoy people eating with their mouth open but I am working on it), but I have pet-hate words.
The one that raises all my alarms is; control. This is especially crucial in a parent-child relationship. I can’t seem to stand it when in a parent coaching session I hear: “He needs to control his temper” “I can’t control my kid”.
I call it my personal c-word. It just makes me cringe. Let me explain why and how I go about dealing with controlling or dominating children. As always, I will provide examples and some tips for you to read. Also, feel free to read other related articles in the blog like “talking with teenagers” or “managing unruly behaviour”.
Challenging behaviour, controlling behaviour, dominating children, children displaying aggressive behaviour
Unfortunately, this is a lot more common than it appears. I can remember one time in parenting classes that a parent told me “it is not nice to be around him/her” or “he/she is a great kid but I feel he is using me” or “when he/she is like this, he/she can’t control himself/herself and I can’t control myself too”. Consequently, all these conversations tend to be very emotional and parents feel way out of their depth. Their love for their children is mixed with the very human experiences of having a child’s behaviour dominating them and the house.
Let me introduce a case study about a controlling child
A few years ago I was working as a life coach for kids with a 12-year old (we will name her Mary) that was showing early signs of self-harming. Also, her behaviour at home and school was becoming erratic and a lot of the time aggressive towards her parents and friends. We had a number of kids coaching sessions and, in all honesty, the result was, at best, volatile. However, she enjoyed coming to talk with me and I felt the relationship was improving. A big part of the work of coaching kids is to create space for things to eventually happen. I can’t express how frustrating that “eventually” might be and it is sometimes an act of faith to believe that we will get there.
she suddenly changed the topic and said:
was four when I knew I had it.”
happened when you were four?”
Mary: We were getting ready to go to the nursery, we were running late and my mum was a bit tense. I am not sure what happened but I believe I threw something or broke something. My mum started shouting and I was so afraid I started crying. After a few seconds, my mum came to me and apologized, hugged me and was soft.
I knew I had it.
did you have?
I could control my parents.
I frequently use this example during kids coaching and parent coaching sessions to illustrate how our mind makes decisions and then repeats them. The only trouble is that many of those set-in-stone decisions are made when we are way too young and can’t really judge them, like in the case above.
Important note: The girl in the example was not consciously seeking control. It was purely subconscious. It was only through coaching kids’ conversations that the feelings and ideas became conscious to her. I believe this to be the case for the vast majority of children I have supported (and that’s many hundreds of them)
As impactful as that part of the conversation was,
the follow up was a lot more revealing and powerful.
Over the next years, Mary made ‘controlling’ a way of being. Her parents noticed that she was determined and stubborn, but it was all manageable even charming at times. There were two of them and one of her. She was small and most of her demands could easily be met. Even in school, she could be demanding but charming and it was more or less easy to resolve. This is one of the points I find really tough to explain during parent coaching sessions.
However, things changed for the worst when she moved into secondary school. She then realized she didn’t have much control at all. Her teachers and friend would have a defence influence on her (as for any other kid of this age). The work from school got a lot more demanding, failing was a lot more noticeable.
The social clique could set you in the “popular group” or the “boring group” without much to do with her. The more she realized she didn’t have control anymore, the more she craved control. Thus, she started pulling out of school a few days here or there. At home, her behaviour was becoming a tyranny. Her parents would bend backward to please her but at one point or another, she would lash out and they would reciprocate. Doing homework or getting her out of her phone would be a full-blown out battle with only one loser.
As a life coach for kids, the reason why I am bringing this difficult example is that it is all rooted in that word Control. This is the need for something that, according to me, doesn’t really exist. However, like in every article I write, I aim to provide the two sides of the coin—what is it that is happening inside the kid’s mind and what can parents do in this situation.
But, let’s start by giving you a few bullet point
ideas on what to expect when overcoming
Your kid is not enjoying it either
He/she is the kid/teenager. You are the adult. You have different responsibilities in resolving this situation (as well as vested interest)
Yes, I am afraid it’s going to take time and consistency. No magic wand here either.
Yes, it can be done. It’s been done before and it will be done in the future. Believe you will do it.
From my experience as a life coach for kids, I would suggest you write those four kids coaching points on a piece of paper and keep it with you. Put it in your wallet and read it regularly. They are all hugely important. However, I am sure you will rip up the paper, swear at me or cry in desperation in no distant time. But by persisting, I am sure one day you will look back and say: hmmm, maybe Javier was right.
So, what’s going on with your child? Why are they demanding control? Why are they using aggressive behaviour, being a controlling or dominating child or just can’t manage to take no for an answer without starting a personal WWIII
There are many reasons a child can become
dominating or controlling.
Through hundreds of parent coaching and kids coaching sessions, I have found that the reasons come in many ways and shapes. However, in the end, there is a tremendous lack of self-confidence. This creates a fear of being rejected, or less than somebody else (siblings, friends), less than what they think you expect from them. These fears are created early in their formative years for multiple reasons. In the vast majority of the clients I see, they were created in very innocent, well-intentioned situations that got totally messed up (the child was tired, or a combination of conversations happened on the same day) or simply by small repetitions of negative thoughts.
What is most important is the feeling that the situation created. Behind challenging behaviour, comes the need to control the situation. However, behind this need, we can find a lack of confidence and behind this lack of confidence is the need to feel physically, emotionally or sociably safe. Let me give you an example. Place yourself in a 4, 5 or 6 years old kid mentality. He or she has had a couple of situations in school/home, maybe they were over impulsive, or they opted not to listen and got into trouble. Or somebody blamed them for something they hadn’t done. These are everyday situations I encounter as a parent and in my work as a life coach for kids, and, in the majority of cases, we just brush them away. But in some cases, we don’t and a repetitive thought process starts. Something like this:
“I feel I am different, maybe not good enough. I am doing my best but I can’t avoid thinking I will blow it up and everybody will see me for what I am: a failure. This feeling is burning inside me. What if my parents find out? They might prefer my siblings to me. It is so painful I need to control it. I want my parents to think about the world of me, I can’t do the wrong things, but I feel I will do them and if I do…. No, I need to control what’s going on.”
I guess you can see how the little kids can struggle with this situation. Heck, anybody would struggle! As the need for control becomes more pressing, the realization that they don’t have it becomes more clear. As this happens, they will aim to force it and enforce it. Anything that feels like out of control will trigger their response/defense system.
Controlling or dominating children are trying to create a safe haven.
And here, the situation complicates a bit. As they demonstrate negative behaviour, they also observe that sometimes (many times or even almost always), there is a benefit. The parents or friends might eventually give up and concede in their request. Or as described to me by an 11 years old girl during kids coaching session: “after the argument, mum comes and we have a chat. It feels good, she is only with me.”
After repeating this pattern, the combination of the need for control, lack of confidence, and benefit obtained becomes so tangled that the young person can’t differentiate the beginning from the end, the reason from the consequence and it is all a vicious circle. To make things worse, every time they do it, they know they shouldn’t have done it and feel even worse about themselves.
So, here you have it. As I explain in parenting classes, your kid is not enjoying the bad behaviour either. Not a little bit…. well, maybe he or she enjoyed that after-argument connection. However, they would love to have that connection without a negative feeling.
I can imagine many of you now thinking “what did I do?” “How could I get it so wrong?”. Well, let me stop you there. Obviously, I don’t have a magic ball, but if you are taking the trouble of reading this article, it probably means that you have their best interest at heart, your intentions have been good. Therefore, there is no need to get into the Guilty train. That journey takes you nowhere, helps nobody. So, stop it. It’s not worth it.
So, how do we go about helping children who are
controlling or dominating?
As a professional life coach for kids, the first thing I’ll suggest is that you have to put yourself together. Don’t take it personally and don’t blame yourself or others. It is a situation and, most likely, had many reasons. Don’t waste your time on finding the reasons—at least not just yet. Instead, use your energy to keep calm and focus. Subsequently, believe that your kid can overcome those fears (those I mentioned or others) and will become a fantastic kid.
Secondly, aim to connect with the feelings your child is experiencing. This is an important topic in all my parenting classes. I mean, the deeper feelings, not the anger or frustration. Also, aim to connect (not understand) the emotions that are triggering those feelings. One important thing to mention here is that you will never be sure if the feeling you think is the right one. It doesn’t matter, any good connection at that level will be good.
Thirdly, stay with him/her. This doesn’t mean hugging them or constraining them or on being top of them. It means to be physically and emotionally with them. So, it is not the best time to pick up your phone, do dinner or—please never do this—video their actions. Just stay there with and for them.
The main goal is to help them feel safe and
Fourthly, eliminate control from your vocabulary. During parents coaching sessions, I advise them to change it to words that are more empowering and flexible. I tend to use “manage” or “deal with”. The reality is that we don’t have control over almost anything in this life. What we can do is to manage a given situation the best way we can. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it will not work. That’s OK.
I find that many parents make a battleground out of “control” ie. “I can’t let my kid control our lives” or “I should be able to control my child.” Well, if you see this as a battle, you have already lost it. The more you aim to gain control, the more the kid will feel they are losing it, so they will only up their game to regain it. The difference is that you have certain lines you will not cross. Your child doesn’t have any red lines, they will say and do whatever is necessary and that’s when you will lose. So, change the game, forget about controlling them (do you like being controlled?) and start working on how to help them. Eventually, you will be able to manage the situation.
Fifth (is there a fifthly word? Sounds strange to me): Accept and help them accept that things don’t always go according to plan. The key question is: “and now what?” “What is that I can do?” “How do I go forward?” This is a question you can ask your children. Even as young as five or six, they will have some ideas. Perhaps, you may want to suggest others, but remember it is a joint job.
and this is the big one for me, I want you to start thinking, and help your
child thinking on these lines: what is that you want to control vs what is that
you can influence.
Practical parenting exercise in supporting a domineering child.
Take a pen and a piece of paper and draw two boxes. On one side you will write what are the things you want to achieve (most likely, those we want to “control”). On the other side, you will write what are the things you can do to influence the outcome on the first box. I know, it sounds a bit strange and confusing, but bear with me.
instance: The topic is to help my child resolve his temper.
What do I want to achieve? I want to have quiet evenings, happy family time, be able to provide comments to their drawings or homework without having an almighty argument, siblings getting a lot together. Ultimately, I want my child to be happy.
Do you notice anything about that list?
As nice as it sounds, the reality is that we have no control over any of those things. Even as a professional life coach for kids, I still can’t force my way into their heads. It is not within my power to grant those things as it involves other people or family members. Unfortunately, as much as I want all those things, they are not within my power.
Therefore, the more you pay attention to that box (what I want to achieve), the more frustrated you will become. I believe we get frustrated because we can’t get it and we know it. Furthermore, every second, minute, hour or day I spend thinking on that box is double wasted. Wasted once because it is not my “gift to give”, it doesn’t depend on me exclusively. Wasted twice, because I am not using my energy in the right way. Again, this is another point I often find hart to explain in parenting classes. A lot of questions will always come up.
Now, think about the second box. What is that I can do—sort of kids coaching technique—that hopefully,/maybe/fingers-crossed, could influence help my child resolve his temper?
Here I would write things like: I will keep calm, I will ensure he is aware of any change of routine, I will ask how he is feeling, I will allow him to express himself, I will keep an eye on the sibling relationship as maybe he is getting the short straw….., etc.
Did you notice something? Every single thing starts with the pronoun “I” and most of those things are within our reach. We can do something about them. Those are good indications that we are getting it right.
Ok, it is already the longest article I have written so far. As you can imagine I could go on and on. However, I want to leave it here. I hope these ideas help you understand and connect with your child and create strategies to help them. Remember, they are not enjoying it either.
As always, If you like the article, please share and/or subscribe to HelpingKids channel on YouTube and Facebook page, It helps us a lot to spread the word and support other parents.
HAVE A GREAT DAY. REMEMBER, KEEP YOURSELF HAPPY AND KEEP YOUR KIDS HAPPY BY HELPING YOURSELF AND HELPING YOUR KIDS
In this article on practical parenting, I want to share with you four key ideas about teenagers and behaviour. In my experience as a life coach for kids, I have found either one or more issues at the root cause of unruly behaviour in young people.
The first thing I’d like to share with you is that their behaviour is only an outcome; a result, a consequence of something else. When a teenager, or any child, let loose their bad behaviour, what they are really telling us is, “I am hurting so much and feel so angry and afraid I don’t have any other way of telling you”. I found this out through hundreds of kids coaching interactions.
If we judge the young person on this behaviour, we are missing THE POINT, big time! As parents and educators, we want to see beyond the NEGATIVE behaviour and aim to connect with the feeling that is creating that behaviour.
Listen rather than talk. I know that I talk about effective listening a lot, so let me quote a dear friend instead. “We have two ears and one mouth, we have to use them in this proportion”. At least, I know that this is a golden rule for those who aspire to succeed in providing life coaching for children. Don’t aim to fix your child, solve their problem, impart judgment or police them. They don’t need any of those roles from you—or at least not just yet.
Be ready to listen. The most important part of practical parenting is communication, and a large part of that is listening. The more you truly listen to your child, the more your child will listen to you. Make a conscious decision to fully listen to them without judgment, blame or regrets. Silence can be a great help for them and for you. If you are finding this difficult, maybe you need to enroll in parenting classes.
Be ready to ask open questions that allow them to explain themselves and most importantly, will enable you to create a connection with them. By using open questions, I mean questions that encourage proper answers rather than yes/no or any other single word reply.
If you ask: how are you feeling? Do you know the answer? 9 out of 10 times they will say “OK” as a way to avoid any further questioning. They probably don’t feel great talking about whatever is happening. However, we can help them slowly open up by asking the right questions. Successful kids coaching is usually about asking the right questions. Here are some examples:
How do you feel after doing that?
How does that make you feel?
I imagine that feels pretty bad, how is it for you?
What DO you feel(or think) you can do about it?
How can I help you?
Be ready for rejection, challenges, and frustration. This approach might be new to them. Thus, they probably won’t feel comfortable at the beginning. Keep going, adapt these ideas and questions, keep being there for them. At one point, they will accept your time and presence. Then the real conversation starts.
As a professional life coach for kids and a parent, I am aware it can feel a bit overwhelming to take on this approach. Make sure you are in the right place to follow through. Also, you can enroll in my parenting classes for further help.
These tips are what I use at work to provide life coaching for children every day. Also, I use them when talking with my daughters. I don’t want to promise they will work all the time or immediately. However, I can promise you it will change the dynamics in you and in your son or daughter. Over time, these four tips have the potential to change your relationship for the better.
Here are the four life
coaching teenagers’ tips again:
Ignore the behaviour, connect with the emotion that is driving it
We have two ears and one mouth. Listen more to them.
Use open questions to help them express themselves.
As I say in many videos, keep going. Consistency, especially in the face of rejection is fundamental.
There are many articles on practical parenting and effective listening here on my blog. However, if you wish to ask any questions, get in touch with me. It feels fulfilling to spread the word and support other parents.
HAVE A GREAT DAY. REMEMBER, KEEP YOURSELF HAPPY AND KEEP YOUR KIDS HAPPY BY HELPING YOURSELF AND HELPING YOUR KIDS
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.