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A 7-year-old girl once sat in my clinic room, quietly telling me about the awful bullying she had experienced at school by two of her “friends”. She was downcast and shy and took a while to open up to me about how she was feeling.
After identifying an upsetting event from the past week when she was ostracised from her peers and ended up crying in a school's bathroom, I introduced her to EFT Tapping. Together, we tapped on “magic buttons” on her face and upper body to help ease the emotional discomfort.
By the end of the session, her energy had changed, she had gained clarity and perspective. She even laughed about how “silly” and immature the bullies had been where previously she was visibly upset, feeling vindicated and “wronged”.
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So what exactly is this tapping all about?
“Emotional Freedom Technique” (or EFT) is a clinically proven form of “emotional acupuncture without needles”. Used by therapists, psychologists and millions worldwide to ease emotional distress and clear negative emotions, beliefs, and memories, it’s setting a new tone for how we manage stress in the modern world.
EFT works by tapping a series of acupressure points on the face and upper body with two fingers whilst voicing our issue. This helps to “short-circuit” the fight or flight (stress) response and re-wire our brain to think more clearly about the problem.
Sounds crazy, but science has proven it works! Tapping has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, with results being published in over 100 papers.
Does EFT work for kids?
Yes! EFT can play a major part in helping kids release fear, anxiety, trauma, and doubt in a matter of minutes.
EFT often produces results a lot more quickly with children, as they don’t have the same amount of emotional baggage as adults do. They’re not caught up in the “how’s” and “why’s”, they just want to feel better.
EFT works even if they don’t believe in it, which is especially helpful for older children who might have resistance to working on issues or trying new approaches.
How can you teach tapping to your kids?
Here are 5 easy ways you can incorporate into in your family’s daily routine (in this article, we explain each one in detail).
1. Tap and Talk Technique
A great way to start is at the end of the day before bed. This is most beneficial for younger children who might not have the capability to voice or isolate emotions they’re feeling.
- Ask your child, “what was the best and worst part of your day?”
- As these events are being recounted, you can gently tap through the points (see the printable guide) starting on the top of the head, working your way down systematically. Only light pressure and 7-10 taps on each point are needed.
This helps your child to process the events at a subconscious level and deal with the associated emotions effectively without having to “zero-in” on specific issues.
2. Specific Event Tapping
This application is suitable if your child has experienced a particularly upsetting event i.e.: bullying at school, disappointing academic results, friendship troubles or other distressing experiences.
- Have them recall what happened (they don’t have to tell you out loud, just bring it to their attention) and notice what feelings come up in their body.
- If they are old enough to rate the emotional intensity around the event out of 10 (10 being very intense), ask them to do so. If they are younger, get them to show you how “big” it is with their hands.
- Start off tapping on their karate chop point and create a “set-up” phrase which includes the words “even though ______(name issue)” and a positive affirmation – “I’m a great kid anyway/I’m ok/I accept myself”. An example would be “Even though I didn’t get chosen for the sports team at school today, I’m still a great kid ” Repeat the set-up phrase twice.
- Then tap through the points starting at the top of the head while talking about the issue. Keep it concise and don’t worry if you repeat the same phrases. For example, “I didn’t get chosen for the team”, “I’m not good enough”, “All the other kids performed better than me”, “I feel so disappointed”.
- Go through three “rounds” of this, finishing under the arm and then get them to take a deep breath in and out and re-rate the intensity of the event. It should have gone down. Ideally, you would get it down to 0 but often a 3 out of 10 or below means it’s manageable enough for them to get on with their day.
3. Specific Emotion Tapping
This form is great for older kids who might be better in tune with their feelings and able to name them, or if they can’t connect to a specific event. It might be generalized anxiety, sadness or overwhelm, for instance.
- Have them name the emotion, give it a rating out of 10 and go through the same process as above but focusing on the emotion they’ve described instead of an event.
Don’t worry about making mistakes or skipping points – the great thing about EFT is it’s nearly impossible to get wrong. As long as you tap and talk about the problem, it will be enough to get the benefit, however, the more specific you can get with tapping, the better.
4. Tapping for Sleep
This is great for younger children who have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- Beginning at the top of the head while in bed, tap through the points saying the phrases, “This drifting feeling”, “drifting off to sleep”, “Letting go and choosing to relax now”, “It’s safe for me to let go and fall asleep”, “I’m safe now”, “It’s safe for me to drift off to sleep”, I am going to sleep now.” This helps the body to let go of the stress response that keeps them awake and shifts them into delta brain waves (necessary for relaxation and restorative sleep).
- Repeat the sequence for as long as necessary (around 3-6 minutes).
This method often works the first time, however, can sometimes take a few nights for the child to get used to, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t drift into a peaceful slumber straight away. You are training their subconscious to process information and relax.
As mentioned above, it is so important to recognize our own emotional responses and how we process and manage stress. If you’re a parent of young kids you’ll notice how their behavior often mirrors yours and vice versa.
If you approach your child in a highly anxious or overwhelmed state, how do you think they are going to react? If you find your child has separation anxiety, perhaps examine your beliefs and experiences from your own childhood.
- Are you fearful of not meeting all their emotional needs? Tap on that fear using the “Specific emotion tapping” sequence above.
- Is your own anxiety fueling their behavior? Tap on that too! Often tapping on our own issues (using the methods above) can have a flow-on effect to our child so while you’re healing yourself, you are healing them too – talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Create an atmosphere where all emotions are valid and acceptable for all family members. For example, hang up posters with the quotes as reminders (you can use the quotes from the Inspirational Quotes Bundle.)
Any Useful Tapping Tips?
Yes! Here are our tried-and-true tips to make the tapping easy for you and your kids.
- Familiarise yourself with the technique so you are confident in applying it to your child. Work on your own issues too – be a role model.
- Introduce tapping in a light-hearted manner, don’t “force” them to work on things unless they are open to it. Encourage introducing it as a “self-help technique” they can use anytime for any issue (mainly older kids). This means they are less likely to feel they need “fixing” and fosters a sense of empowerment.
- Make it fun – for younger children try using the words “magic buttons” to describe the tapping points or give them each a name i.e.: “the monkey spot” for the top of the head or the “gorilla spot” for the collarbone point.
- Go slow and steady – concentrate one issue at a time so as not to create an overwhelm for either of you and to allow better cognitive understanding of their improvement.
- Encourage children aged 6 and above to tap on themselves (you can always tap along as well) as this creates confidence in their ability to self-regulate. They can then go and teach their friends how to tap too!
- Don’t give up – every bit of tapping you do is helping to re-program their subconscious and build resilience. Be persistent and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a practitioner, especially for more complex issues.
As you can see, there are many ways in which EFT can help you and your children alleviate stress and other symptoms so prevalent in today’s society.
When negative emotions and beliefs are cleared, the results are happier, more confident and empowered kids and subsequently, adults.
Catharine Ross is a certified EFT Tapping Practitioner passionate about helping parents and kids reduce daily stress and anxiety as well as past traumas using this clinically proven and wonderfully simple self-help tool". She has been in business for over 8 years and is also Mum to 3.5-year-old Lily and 10 month old Zoe. You can find out more about Catharine's work including her passion to bring EFT into schools on her website www.breakfreewitheft.com