How to use EFT tapping with children
My soon-to-be-seven-year-old daughter had decided that it would be a fabulous idea to grab one of the bed mattresses and use it a sledge to speed down the stairs. Instead of gracefully sliding down, she was flung off the mattress mid-way down and crash-landed at the bottom of the stairs, screaming from shock and pain. Both her elbows and knees were badly bruised and she had a small cut on her hip.
The number one First Aid in our household is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), or Tapping, a fabulous technique I picked up as I was searching for something that would resolve trauma and grief in my work as a Grief Recovery Specialist. Little did I know how useful it would be in my own life!
I sat with my daughter on the stairs, gently EFT tapping the top of my daughter’s head and on her chest (two of the official eight tapping points, more on that later), while she tearfully told me the whole story of what happened. We sat like that for a few minutes, talking, tapping and hugging. Then all of a sudden she looked up at me and said, “Thanks Mum, now I feel a lot better!” and rushed off.
In pre-EFT times, a drama like that would have kept going for up to an hour or more. EFT also comes in handy when my kids are worried or upset about something, sad about what someone has said or done in school, upset with Mummy or Daddy, or too restless to fall asleep.
We use EFT for working on the emotions of the parents as well! We have found that it is fantastic for calming down an angry Mummy! There are occasions when “normal” Mum has been replaced by a screaming, slightly hysterical lunatic (I hate to admit it, but this happens to me every now and then), and tapping comes to the rescue! It is so ingrained in my kids that they actually just look at me and say calmly, “Mum, why don’t you go tap for a while?” Clever kids!
So what does EFT actually do?
Emotional Freedom Techniques is a type of meridian tapping that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology with startling results. You could say that it’s like acupuncture without the needles.
Simply explained, EFT helps the body’s stress response (fight-or-flight response) to stop, and it re-balances the emotional and hormonal states in the body. You only need to try it out for a couple of minutes and you will notice how the body relaxes. Why don’t you give it a go right now?
Start by thinking about something that recently upset you, notice the feelings in your body and give the level of frustration/anger/sadness a number on a scale from zero to 10. Write the number down on a piece of paper.
Then start tapping lightly on the side of your hand known as the karate chop point (see diagram below), and breathe. Just tap, breathe, and notice what happens in your body as you are thinking about the situation or issue you chose. It could be anything from physical pain, irritation, frustration, sadness, worry or the feeling of not being in control over a life situation. Continue tapping seven or eight times on each point as seen on the below picture. The tapping pressure is the same as if you would “drum” your fingers on a flat surface.
Do two rounds of tapping, then go back and focus on the situation or issue again and give it a number again. How upsetting does it make you to think about it now? Has it gone up or down? If it has gone up, continue tapping for a few more rounds until you feel more relaxed.
Remember to focus on the negative feeling – that’s the point of it all, even if it feels really odd. We have been trained to only think positively, repressing and pushing all the “bad feelings” further and further down.
We pass this “coping strategy” on to our children as they mirror how we, the parents, handle our emotions. My belief is that children learn from what they see and not from what they are told. I always start by teaching EFT tapping to the parents so they have access to the tool and start using it in their everyday lives. I recommend tapping on the top of the head and collarbone points as they are easily accessible and give a soothing effect immediately.
Let’s use an example from my own life again. I was out on the balcony emptying a huge flowerpot, which slipped out of my hands and onto my big toe. I was barefoot, so it felt like I had broken my toe! My first reaction was to get to the sofa, put my foot high and start tapping, crying and cursing (a lot). My daughter came to the rescue, putting a little band aid on it, bless her! I kept tapping for about 15 minutes, as that was all the time I could allow myself to lie down. I was alone with two kids at home, one due for dance class in less than an hour. Even as a certified EFT practitioner, I must admit that I was very sceptical whether EFT would indeed heal a badly bruised toe. I mean, surely not! Well, 30 minutes later I was on my kick-bike heading for dance class with NO PAIN in my toe. And it stayed pain free. To this day I refer to that event whenever one of my kids gets hurt and refuses EFT as a first aid treatment. They then immediately ask me to start tapping!
Here is what Gary Craig, the founder of EFT, says on the topic of EFT for children:
As the child tells the story s/he is clearly “tuned into” the problem. Thus tapping on the EFT points is likely to resolve the issues or, at the very least, lighten their impacts on the child.
This is critical for children because they are constantly picking up “stuff” from parents, teachers, peers, television and so on. These inputs go on daily and accumulate over the years to fill what we adults often call our “emotional garbage bags.” If these inputs go unresolved, of course, they form unnecessary “limits” and thwart the attainment of our true potentials. These unnecessary fears, guilts, griefs and traumas often have a thunderous effect on our “adult realities” and cost us dearly in both our personal peace and our pocketbooks…. (Gary Craig, www.emofree.com)
By Karin Hagelin Andersson
Karin Andersson Hagelin is a trained EFT Tapping practitioner & Grief Recovery Specialist®, running her coaching practice via Skype or in person . She is of Swedish origin but has been living in Zürich since 2005. To find out more, like her on Facebook or visit her website www.hagelingriefrecovery.com.
This article was originally featured in Mothering Matters, February 2015