So often kids struggle with their emotions and don’t know how to deal with them. They don’t have the tools to process their feelings so they get weighed down by anxiety, stress, and depression with no way to move through them. Luckily, there are techniques that kids can use to help them release emotions. One such technique, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) also known as Tapping, is an easy and fun way to clear negative emotions, ease emotional distress, and release trauma. It’s a simple technique that can help kids enjoy life and experience happiness.
What is EFT Tapping?
EFT is a form of energy medicine based on the ancient Chinese meridians. It has been described as “emotional acupressure.”
By tapping on meridian points on our face and upper body while voicing our emotional issues, it is believed that our energy is re-balanced and we gain relief from emotional distress and anxiety. By releasing the emotional blocks the child faces, they free their mind and body to work in the most optimal way.
How EFT tapping works
By tapping on your body’s meridians with a fingertip, you stimulate specific energy points that help alleviate the fight or flight (stress) response and re-wire your brain to think more clearly about the problem.
By stimulating these pressure points we bring down the amygdala part of our brain, which controls the part of the brain that is responsible for assessing threats, detecting danger, and producing fear. It is hyperactivated when traumatized resulting in feeling chronic stress, vigilance, fear, irritation, lack of safety, and sleep difficulties.
Tapping helps calm kids and bring their emotions back into balance.
Why tapping is good for kids
Many kids struggle to understand their emotions and get easily overwhelmed. Tapping is an easy, fun way to help students release and experience their emotions.
One great thing about working with kids is that they tend to be more intuitive than adults and more connected to their bodies. As adults we have learned to close off to our emotions and hide our feelings. Children tend to have a more immediate connection their emotions.
Kid’s problems also tend to be less complex with fewer layers as they don’t necessarily have years of traumatic experiences to unravel. This allows children to quickly process and resolve their issues. Sometimes it only takes a single session to experience relief.
Before you begin tapping
- Develop trust with the child. It is important kids feel safe and comfortable opening up and sharing their feelings.
- Share with the child that tapping is a special technique that helps their mind and body feel happy and relaxed. Ask if they want to try it. Don’t force them to do it, and let them follow along if they want.
- Show them the tapping points. Let them know that these are special points that help their body feel calm. Practice tapping on the points so they feel comfortable. For smaller children, practice tapping on a stuffed animal.
- Question how they are feeling; physically, emotionally, and mentally.
- Starting with the body, find out if they are tired, sore, or stressed.
- Then go into their emotional well being – find out if there is anything going on at school or what is bothering or annoying them.
- Identify the most pressing issue and let that be basis of the tapping process.
It is very important to tap using the child’s exact words. As you progress through the tapping process, you can begin to introduce the underlying issues you identified. To start, make sure the child feels comfortable and reflected.
Let the child know they can use this technique on their own and practice whenever they feel upset.
How to Tap
Step One: Clearly identify the problem
Ask the child to think about their problem. If they are visibly upset, they are already connected to their problem. Let them know that this tapping exercise will help them calm down and be able to think more clearly about their problem.
To identify the problem, follow these steps:
- Start with what the child is experiencing in the moment.
- Ask them what they are experiencing physically – “Where do feel this in your body?” Get them to describe it with colors, textures, sensations.
- Next move onto the emotions. Get them to identify and name the feelings. Do they feel anxious? Sad? Lonely? Scared?
- What is going on/what events have caused them to experience these feelings. What are the thoughts going through their mind? How is this affecting them mentally?
Step Two: Rate the intensity on a scale of 0-10
- Ask them “How upset are you about this problem?”
- If they are very young you can have them use their arms to show a little or a lot.
Step Three: Create the set-up statement
The set-up statement consists of two parts:
1). Naming the fear or the problem – “Even though I feel bad because my friend is angry…”.
2) A statement of acceptance– “I completely and deeply love and accept myself.” If they are young kids here are a few variations that might feel more comfortable:
- “I know I am a great kid.”
- “I still like myself.”
- “I will be OK.”
You use the set-up statement to tap on the Karate Chop point (see below).
An example of a set-up statement is: Even though I have anxiety about school, I know I am a great kid.
Step Four: Develop a tapping script
Using their exact words fill in the following statements:
- Round 1 – Name the feeling –
- “All this sadness…”
- “So much loneliness…, anxiety, etc.”
- Round 2 – I feel (describe in detail using their words how they feel physically, emotionally, mentally)
- Round 3 – Acknowledge the problem and end with a positive affirmation – Even though I have (state the problem), I choose to release this sadness, be happy, etc or I am loved, safe, etc.
Step Five: Tap
To tap you start on the “Karate Chop” point using the set-up statement.
Even though I have anxiety about school, I know I am a great kid.
Then go through each point using a reminder phrase.
Use the following tapping points:
Karate Chop point
Top of head
Inside of Eyebrows
Side of Eyes
Example of tapping
- Karate Chop point –
- Even though I am anxious about school, I know I am a great kid (repeat 3 times).
- Top of head –
- Round 1 – All this anxiety about school…
- Round 2 – I feel worried that I will fail.
- Round 3 – Even though I have this fear, I choose to be brave.
- Inside of Eyebrows –
- Round 1 – So much fear about school…
- Round 2 – I feel overwhelmed by so much homework.
- Round 3 – Even with all this worry, I know I am smart and can succeed.
- Side of Eyes –
- Round 1 – All this stress about homework…
- Round 2 – I feel anxious I will never get it all done.
- Round 3 – Despite this worry, I believe in myself.
- Under Eyes –
- Round 1 – So much fear of failing…
- Round 2 – I am afraid I will get it wrong.
- Round 3 – Even if I’m unsure, I choose to have faith.
- Under Nose –
- Round 1 – All this worry…
- Round 2 – I don’t know how I will get it all done.
- Round 3 – Even though I have this doubt, I know I will figure it out.
- Chin –
- Round 1 – All this anxiety…
- Round 2 – I feel angry there’s so much work.
- Round 3 – I choose to let my stress go as best I can.
- Collarbone –
- Round 1 – So much fear…
- Round 2 – I am afraid I will fail.
- Round 3 – Despite this fear, I know it will be okay.
- Under arm –
- Round 1 – All this worry…
- Round 2 – What if I’m not good enough?
- Round 3 – I know I can do it.
Step Five: Measure the intensity again
After you finish your rounds of tapping, check in to measure the intensity of the child’s feelings on a scale of 0-10. Hopefully, the intensity has dropped. Your goal is to get to zero.
If they are still at a higher level, ask what is still there or what came up for them during the tapping.
Did they experience anything in their body?
Did they have any new ideas or thoughts?
Did they feel strange or uncomfortable?
Step Six: Do another round of tapping on what came up
Start the process over using their exact words and tapping on the next layer of the issue. Repeat until you get to zero (or a 1 or 2).
With so many students suffering from mental health issues, utilizing the Emotional Freedom Techniques of Tapping is a great way to help children and adults of all ages process and alleviate emotional distress.
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About the Author
Cathy Hartenstein is a Life Coach, EFT/Matrix Re- imprinting, and NLP Practitioner who is dedicated to helping people create more bliss in their lives and realize their highest potential. By constantly investigating what drives us, why we do the things we do, and searching for the beauty that she sees in humanity, she empowers people to release old trauma and live their best life. She has a strong background leading groups to realize their creative vision, having been actively involved in arts and education for over 3 decades as an international theatre artist, theatre professor at many prestigious universities, and workshop facilitator. In her work she strives to help her clients reconnect to themselves and overcome their personal obstacles to realize their greatest potential. Find Cathy at Create More Bliss.