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A Tool for Coping with Childhood Anxiety
Children growing up today face increasing amounts of pressure and anxiety. They worry more and have more to worry about than children who grew up even a decade ago. Competitiveness runs rampant in our school yards and our youth sports teams. Our children’s schedules are packed in preparation for impressive college applications, and parents are harried to ensure their children are the brightest, most talented, and most well-rounded of the crop. The violence, the politics, and the sense of entitlement all contribute to a chaotic and overwhelming life.
While I am exaggerating the challenging lives our children are facing, it is true that more and more children are struggling with anxiety. More and more, it is becoming a crucial responsibility of parents to fill their children’s toolboxes with appropriate and effective stress-reduction or coping techniques. We can all stand to benefit from approaching challenging situations with a bit more ease and a little less restlessness.
The more tools we can offer our children, the better prepared and more confident they will be when facing life’s difficult moments. EFT - or Emotional Freedom Technique - is one of those handy instruments our children can easily master. I am no expert, but I am a fan of EFT which calls for tapping on meridian points used in traditional acupuncture to cause a calming effect on the central nervous system. A body in a relaxed state is not a stressed body, and this method will help your child process and reduce stress.
If that doesn’t makes sense to you - don’t worry. You don’t have to understand it for it to be beneficial. EFT may seem a bit out of the box, but there is no harm in trying it. Truthfully, when I tap for my children (and, yes, you can tap for them or they can do it themselves), they giggle and sometimes they tell me I’m nuts. However, they listen, they participate, and they watch their storms brew over.
Tapping is like a verbal journaling session. As you tap on the various meridian points, you recite affirmations, identify your pains, and describe in detail what is going on. The process allows us to alter the subconscious stories in our minds and invite alternate possibilities into existence.
To give you a better understanding, here is what a tapping session might look like. I will share the specific tapping points that I have learned as well as the scenario that we were tapping on. My oldest son was nervous about getting up in front of a large group of people. This event was a bit more extensive than public speaking, but - for ease - let’s consider it in that realm.
We begin with the “karate chop” - tapping the pinky finger side of the palm on one hand against the point between the pointer finger and thumb (closer to the thumb) on the other hand. While tapping this point, I said, “Even though I am nervous about getting up in front of everyone, I know I am a really great kid. Even though I’m worried I might make a mistake, I know I am a really great kid.” At this point, we are naming the fear - anxiety - or physical pain in as much detail as possible.
The next point is at the end of the eyebrow on the inner part of the face. We continue to name the anxieties. “I can feel my heart pounding.” “I am worried I will disappoint my teacher.” “I have butterflies in my stomach.” You can see that we are beginning to identify where in the body the anxiety or nervousness is being felt.
As you continue to name the anxiety or issue, you continue tapping on the other meridian points.
* The outside edge (toward your ears) below the eye where you can feel the corner of the bone
* Under the eyes where you can also feel the rim of the bone
* Under the nose between your nose and upper lip
* At the chin, where the crease is
* At the collarbone - a bit down and out from the u-shaped notch in the center
* Under your armpit - about four inches down on the side of your body
* Top of your head
The tapping progresses as do the verbal statements. “I have worked really hard for this.” “I am confident in my skills.” “I’ll be okay if I make a mistake.” “I have enjoyed the process of preparing for this.”
Finally, we end with a summarizing “I am ready for this” while tapping at the top of the head. Take a deep breath, and let it out. My children and I continue to giggle throughout the experience. We throw in a few goofy statements too (or, for example, they’ve heard me tapping on some sciatic pain - yes, you can tap on physical pain - and I’ll use the affirmation “... I know I am a really good kid”, and they get a kick out of that).
It is helpful to rate the pain or anxiety prior to the tapping and then again at the end of the tapping. On a scale of one to ten - how nervous are you? If the number has not gone down significantly, you might want to consider another round of tapping.
As I mentioned above, I am not an expert nor a teacher in the realm of EFT. I think it is a valuable tool that allows our children to take responsibility for their emotions and feel in control over life events that don’t often feel controllable. I hope that I have given you enough of an introduction that you are inspired to explore more about tapping.
This is a book I have read with my children to introduce them to tapping. It is best for younger children, say seven and under. I purchased this book on my own and decided I’d like to mention it to you as a possible resource for learning more:
This is a book I am looking forward to reading with my older children. I have not yet purchased it, but I plan to.
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