EFT with children; preventing mental health problems in the future.

I have done a lot of EFT with my oldest daughter, Nadia, who is now 22.

She was the first person I practiced on, apart from myself.

It worked so well for her that I was really inspired to learn more about it, and to start doing it with my clients.

Nadia was bullied a lot early in high school, and it lead to her developing some anxiety, depression, and a low self esteem.

She’s never been formerly diagnosed or had medication, but has continuously struggled with this, and has seen counsellors in the past.

Primary school was good, but for about nine years now, Nadia has felt weird, strange, unattractive and not likeable. This caused her to feel awkward socially.

So we had plenty to work with when I was learning EFT.

In my experience with Nadia, using EFT during her distress can mean the crying will last for half an hour rather than hours. And within half an hour of tapping and talking, she is able to think more rationally, gain some different, more helpful perspective, and to feel calm again.

What a relief for her, and for me!

There was a time when she didn’t want to do any tapping, saying “I just want to vent Mum!”.

Her distress would escalate into panic, devastation and catastrophizing. She would be imagining the worst possible scenario before anything had even happened.

Like a train heading for a train wreck. And there was nothing I could do to stop that train. .

She would go into her “wailing” phase, and it could go on for hours.

It was very frustrating for me, as I felt like I knew that tapping would help, but my policy is never to force anyone to tap. I didn’t want her to develop any negative associations with tapping.

Nobody else in the family had the patience to deal with Nadia in this state, and after a whole day of counselling at work, sometimes I didn’t either.

Some nights she just cried herself to sleep.

There were times I felt like giving her a Valium, just to calm her down so we could get some sleep. I didn’t of course, but that’s how bad it got.

Thankfully those days seem to be over.

Nadia is more proactive these days, and arranges a phone consult when she knows she needs some EFT. When her old issues get triggered again, as they do, in her relationship or with friendship issues, she will ring and we do EFT over the phone. 

I love to hear the sound of her tapping, and to notice the shift occur as she breathes out the stuck energy and emotional pain.

Tapping is the very best relaxation tool I know of, with the added bonus of re-wiring the brain!

EFT has not made the problems go away all together, but it has really helped to reduce the impact of these traumatic events in childhood, and it has helped her understand how her own mind works now.

She still gets anxious sometimes, or feels “weird”, but she has insight into the fact that these are just old thoughts, and she knows she can tap them away whenever they raise their ugly head again.

We talk about the negative thoughts being weeds in her garden, because she likes plants and gardening. So she thinks about fertilising the positive thoughts, of self acceptance and self love, so they grow into big fat healthy sunflowers.

And ripping out the negative thoughts, when they are seedlings, before they get strong roots and take over her mind garden, strangling her sunflowers.

She told me the other day she and her partner are actually growing some sunflowers from seed, so this metaphor works really well for her.

I can’t help thinking at times how different Nadia’s life might have been had I known how to do EFT when she was 13, when it all started to go wrong for her?

What if we had been able to release those traumas when they were happening, thereby preventing the negative core beliefs from developing and taking hold?

Instead of thinking she was weird and strange, unattractive and unlikeable, maybe she would just remember that she went to high school with some real bitches. Who were absolutely horrible to her.

But maybe she would not have internalised this to mean there was something wrong with her?

Who knows?

But what I do know is that I am now able to offer this opportunity to other people’s children. And I am sure EFT is actually preventing these kids from developing mental health problems in the future.

Take 9 year old “Matilda” (name changed to protect privacy). Brought to me by her mum as she was concerned about Matilda’s negative perception of herself, and because the teachers are starting to notice this trend in her behaviour of not wanting to try if she can’t be “the Best” straight away.

Matilda is a very bright little spark, who tries really hard all the time. She has perfectionistic tendencies; her room is always spotless, and she does really well at almost everything, but in her mind, it is never “good enough”.

As a child therapist, I can tell you this kid was well on the way to anxiety or depression by adolescence. Even though she comes from a really nice family.

Those negative thoughts, going all day every day, for a few years, is all it takes.

The mum said Matilda gets so stressed and wound up about things, that she doesn’t even want to try to do her homework if she doesn’t understand it. And she wont try a new move at dance class, because she is worried she wont be able to do it straight away.

When Matilda gets in this state, her mum reports she is really hard to talk to, and she cannot calm her down. Evenings were becoming painful for everyone.

Matilda was a delight for me to work with. She engaged easily, opening up to tell me she constantly compares herself to others.

And that in her mind, others are always “better” than her.

At swimming if she noticed other kids were faster, that would make her not want to try.

“What’s the point even trying?” she said, when she just never feels good enough.

Matilda doesn’t know where this thought came from or why she feels like that, but it is very constant, affecting all areas of her life.

On the netball court, at dance class, at school in the classroom and at home during homework time.

She rated this feeling as 8-9/10 before starting the tapping.

(Her mum told me later that she had no idea her daughter felt like this so strongly, and in so many areas of her life. It was a real eye opener for Mum to sit in on the session).

We quickly got into the simple four point tapping which we do with children under 10. And I got mum to tap along with us.

In my tapping room, parents can only sit in if they are quiet observers, and if it is what the child wants.

Matilda’s rating came down very quickly, as it often does with young children. (They don’t have thirty years of saying negative things to themselves, only a few!).

She seemed to take it all on board, and felt relaxed and happy at the end of the session, leaving on about a 2/10. She liked the way it felt, and was keen to come back.

When she returned in 2 weeks, her mum said she could hardly believe the change in Matilda.

In a maths test, she got 28/30, and was really proud and happy with herself.

Apparently pre-tapping, Matilda would be annoyed that she didn’t get 30/30, and be cross because someone else did.

She would not have been able to feel happy that she got 93%!

The mum also noticed that Matilda was just getting on and doing her homework at night, no stress or fuss. And she was much happier to just “have a go” at new dance moves, even though she knew she wouldn’t be perfect at it to start with.

Matilda confirmed that she had felt much happier since the tapping, and that she simply had not been having those thoughts of being “not good enough” as much. And when they came along, she was able to shoo them away, like a fly.

She mentioned that she had felt nervous about the maths test that she got 28/30 in, and so she had tapped on the side of her hand under the table, and it helped to calm her down.

I was so excited, it was tricky for me to maintain my professionalism. I was wishing I was filming this kid, as she would be a great advert for preventative tapping with children! I don’t think I even suggested for her to tap when feeling anxious, she just did it!

So it’s an amazingly simple but powerful tool, that I wish I had when my kids were younger. But it’s never too late to start tapping out your negative thoughts, and I’m really pleased my children have embraced it as young adults. Let me know if you would like me to help your child to feel better about themselves.

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