I love tapping/EFT and would love my kids to be able to tap as well. How do I introduce tapping to my kids?
I love the fact that parents can (and want to) tap with their kids. When I was home over Christmas visiting my family the year a seven year old, who we will call “T”, walked up to me with a huge grin and said, “Me and mommy still tap together every night before I go to bed.”
photo by Anguskirk
It was obvious that not only was T enjoying the benefits of tapping but she was also enjoying that special time with mom every night before bed.
Tapping with kids is very easy. Often it is easier to tap with kids than adults because they don’t get hung up on how weird tapping/Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can feel when doing it.
Here are 8 things to keep in mind when introducing tapping and actually tapping with your kids.
You Don’t Need To Explain What Is Going On
This might seem obvious, but kids (and most people for that matter) don’t need to know why it works or how it works. They just want to feel better. Often times I just say something as simple as, “Did you know that you have buttons on your body which you can push that will help the bad feelings go away?”
I have never met a child that needed more information than that. Remember, most people care about feeling better over anything else. They are willing to do something that seems weird for the promise feeling better.
Keep It Simple
You don’t need to teach them complicated set-phrases, formulas of how to describe what is going on, or all of the tapping points. I have found it best to just teach them 8 or 9 tapping points. When they are tapping I just have them “tell me what is going on and how do you feel about it?”
By simply tapping and having them tell you the story they are going to tuning in a prefect way. Children’s imagination is so powerful because they are using it all the time. They are using the same imagination when they are telling you about what happened and/or why they are so upset.
Many times I think we make the mistake of having someone tell us about what is going on and then we start tapping on what they just described. Once they know how to tap, just have them start tapping as they tell you what is going on. This will immediately start to clear what ever is going on.
[Note: If you have a really upset child (esp. one that is having a hard time taking because they are so upset) then they are not going to need to say anything out loud to tune into what is going on. They are already there. Just start by tapping. As they calm down you can have them start to tell you what is going on.]
Introduce Tapping Before It Is Needed
It is best to introduce tapping before you are dealing with a major emotional melt down. When a child is having a really hard time it is difficult to get them to focus on anything, much less something new. By teaching your kids how to tap under normal circumstances will make it much easier to tap when things are emotional.
Below there you will find a recommendation on how to tap with your kids before bed. This is a great way to introduce them to tapping so that when things are more emotional they know what to do.
The Nature of Children’s Emotions And How They Talk About Them
Children’s emotions are much more acute than adult emotions. What I mean by this is there are less shades of grey in a child’s emotions. This is not to say that their emotions are real or meaningful, but most children have many few shades of any given emotion than adult.
Also, it is import to keep in mind that talking about your emotions is a skill. Some people are very good at this, while others don’t know how to talk about what they are feeling. Most children don’t have a lot of experience talking about their emotions. Because of this they might not be very skilled at it.
I have found that kids are very good about talking about how they are physically feeling and these physical feelings can be a great way of tuning while tapping. I have found it is best to give them a few examples when getting them to describe what is going on.
“You said you feel angry. How dose that feel in our body? Does it make your feel hot or is there lots of energy like electricity in your chest or do you feel like you want to punch something or does it feel something like else?”
By giving them some examples you are showing them how to do it and by giving them the chance to come up with some other options you are going to tap into their amazing imagination.
The traditional SUDs level is hard to do with children because rating how big an emotion from 0 to 10 is a very abstract activity. I don’t often use any sort of rating scale with kids, but when I do I just have them show me how big the emotion is just like they were showing the size of a fish. Again, I will demonstrate what I am asking.
“Is your anger this big [hands a few inches apart], this big [hands a foot apart], this big [hands a few feet apart], or this big [arms stretched out wide]?”
The base line they give us is only important in showing us progress. All we are looking for is the size to get smaller and smaller after each round of tapping. It doesn’t matter if they start at three feet apart or one foot apart.
Tapping At The End Of The Day
A great way to introduce tapping to kids is to make it part of their daily routine. If it is something they are comfortable doing when they are calm it is going to be easier to do when they are emotional.
Also, tapping daily will help with their general mood, will reduce emotional over reactions, and help them to sleep better.
There is a very easy four step process you can do with your kids to end each day. When you are tucking them into bed have them start tapping. First ask them about what was good about today? You might make the question specific, “What are three good things about today?” Second, (all the time still tapping) ask them what didn’t they like about today. Third, (still tapping) ask them, “If you could change one (or two) things about today what would it be?” Finally ask them (yes…still tapping), “What is something you are hoping will happen tomorrow?”
You will notice that the first and four questions are positive. By opening with a positive question are making it easier start. It can feel much safer to start with the positive than the negative. By asking what they are hoping for tomorrow you are ending the conversation on a positive note, making it easier for a restful night of sleep.
You will also notice that this is a great opportunity to know what is really going on in your child’s life. When you ask a kid “How was school today?” more than likely they will just say “fine” or “good”. By asking these types of specific questions you are going to getting a better idea about what they are experiencing.
Don’t Be Afraid To Share You Life
If you are choosing to tap regularly with your child (like at the end of the day) you might consider not just tapping for your child, but also tapping for yourself. By having a conversation where you are sharing what is going on in your life will provide an opportunity to continue to grow your bond.
Obviously you are not going to share everything that is going on in your life and you are not going to go into the same detail that you would if you were working with a practitioner. You don’t want to be sharing anything that might scare your child. For example sharing that you were really angry with your spouse or that you are worried that you might loose your job is not going build a bond with your child, but instead scare them.
It is best to share things that they can relate to. For example feeling bad because you didn’t do as good of a job as you could with something at work or around the house. This can be a great tool in building your relationship.
Tapping On Your Kids
Kids not only love the one-on-one attention of tapping with a parent, many really like it when the parent does the tapping for them. When you are tapping with a child all you need to do is ask them, “Would you like to do the tapping or have me do the tapping on you?”
(As person who grew up in Montessori schools) I find it a very good thing to give kids choices. If you notice in the question I am not asking “would you like to tap?”, but instead I am asking them how they would like the tapping to happen. I am getting them to do something they need to do, but doing it in a way where they are in control and are getting to make a choice.
Also, if you are taking some time to tap on your issues (as suggested above), don’t be afraid to let your child tap on you (while making sure they don’t poke you in the eye).
There are many great reasons to tap with your kids. They will be happy, healthier, and you are going to be giving them tools that they can use on their own. I have many clients that report that their children (even as young as 6) tap on their own. AND as an added bonus, it will give you a great opportunity to continue to build your bond with your kids.