photo by Fine Shots
Tapping with children can be a very rewarding experience. In many cases children take to tapping much faster than adults because they are more willing to try new things and aren’t hung up on why something is working. They just want to feel better.
Here are five things to keep in mind when teaching kids to tap. (Note: All five lessons below are hard won. I know them to be true because I have done the opposite of all five at one point.)
1) They Are Smarter Than You Think
I recently spoke to 600 middle school students about bullying. To start the presentation I talked about why bullies bully. I talked about what happens on an emotional level and how that affects our choices. At the end of the presentation the children broke up into to small groups with their adults to talk about what they can do to stop bullying in their schools. After the small group time a number of the adults walked up to me to express how surprised they were with the complexity of thoughts the kids had, the emotions they experienced, and how overall thoughtful they were.
Kids don’t have the vocabulary to express their emotions and thoughts the way adults do, but they are thinking real thoughts about their lives, their emotions, and who they are. Give them space to talk about their emotions, teach them how to talk about them, and they will surprise you (in really good ways).
2) You Must Be Authentic Or They Will Tune You Out
Kids today are very savvy because of their access to information and technology. They are treated by big business as a market place and they are constantly sold to through television and online. Because of this they have very sophisticated BS detectors and they can tell when someone is not being authentic with them.
It is so tempting to want to be cool and hip when talking with kids (especially teens), thinking you are “speaking their language”. It is just the opposite. They don’t want some line or for you to talk like them. They want someone who is just being who they are, even if that means being your dorky self.
You can’t ask a child to honest with their emotions and be comfortable inside their own skin unless you are willing to try to do the same.
3) Your Job Is To Love Them, Not Be Loved By Them
When we are working with teens or children we are doing it because we want better for them. That is the goal. Nothing more. Nothing less. We are not trying to be their friend and we are not trying to gain their admiration. We have our own friends and peers for that. This doesn’t mean that we act like jerks or that we don’t care, forgetting to treat them with respect. Sometimes wanting the best for someone is asking them to do difficult things and things they might not enjoy.
To help them heal we need their respect, not their love and affection. It is OK to be comfortable with that notion.
4) Teach Them Tools
Children (and most people) don’t care how or why tapping works. They are just looking for something that makes them feel better. When working with kids and teens give them tools. They don’t need theory. They want to be better, happier, and healthier. Once they know the tool works they might ask you how it works and why.
I love coming up with little processes that are easy to follow.
For example, a great way for parents to teach kids to tap for themselves is have them tap and explain four things whilst they are tapping.
- What was the best part of the day?
- What was the worst part of the day?
- What are they looking forward to tomorrow?
- What are they worried about tomorrow?
Very simple. It is easy to remember and easy to do. Once they have the tools they can take care of themselves.
5) Start With How The Emotions Feel In The Body
As I said above, children (and many adults) don’t have the skill or vocabulary to talk about their emotions as emotions. I like to have them talk about how the emotions feel in the body to help them to tune in.
They might not have the vocabulary to talk about the disappointment that comes with poor grades vs. fighting with a friend. They might call both of these emotions “mad”. But if you get them to talk about how it feels in the body they will be able to be more specific. By describing where the emotion is in the body (head, throat, stomach…) and how it feels in these places (heavy, tight, hot…) they will be much more successful with their tapping.
Go For It
You don’t have to be perfect when working with teens or children. They are looking for adults who care about them and care about their wellbeing. Show up from a place of love, treat them with respect, be ready for lots of questions and you will be a great tapping teacher and tapping role model for them.
What have you found works well when tapping with kids? What mistakes have you made from which you have learned? Click here to add your own thoughts and comments or read what others have to say. I would really love to know what you think!