I just got a question from a reader about doing EFT with children. I thought about it for several days, because I don’t feel like a pro in doing EFT tapping with kids. But, the truth is that I have done quite a bit of tapping with children and I’ve learned a few things in the process.
Here are some things I’ve discovered in doing EFT with kids.
1. Many kids don’t want to talk directly about what they’re thinking – and especially what they’re feeling. But some kids do!
2. Kids often respond much more quickly than adults. And they don’t usually have the patience to tap through 3 Set-ups and multiple rounds of tapping (like in the Growing Up Method). I’ve seen kids go from hopeless despair to joyful optimism in two quick rounds.
3. Whereas with adults, I get great results by verbalizing the ridiculous and often humorous extreme (“I’ve completely destroyed my life – I’m going to end up living in a cardboard box on the street”), I haven’t found that works so well with kids. Kids are more apt to believe the ridiculous extreme and it can make them feel worse.
4. Kids can respond very well to variations on the traditional EFT tapping. For example:
5. You can skip the set-up entirely.
9. You can tap some or all of the tapping points
6. They can tap on a stuffed animal, doll or a pet instead of on their own body (this works for adults too, by the way). The wonderful, soft, huggable Tappy Bear works great for this – it was made for it, with little black tappable beads on the tapping points.
7. Children don’t have to verbalize what they’re thinking an feeling – as long as they’re in the upset state (this is true for anybody). When the emotion is high, just tapping the points will create a shift.
8. YOU can say things while you and the child tap the points – they don’t have to repeat (as long as they are tuned into the issue)
. You don’t have to tap the points in order. They can tap on the wrong spot (like tapping on the cheek, instead of under the eye). As long as you hit three or four points in close to the correct location, EFT will work. This is true for anybody.
(I once did EFT with an adult friend in crisis. She was very upset and crying and it wasn’t the appropriate time to teach her EFT. But I knew she would benefit from it. So I just asked her to do what I did as she told me the story. We both tapped as she talked. Since she was tuned into her story much more than noticing exactly where I was tapping, she pretty much just tapped her fingers down her face, using four fingers, tapping from her forehead down to her chin. I allowed it, since she was in great distress. And, it worked, of course. Later I taught her the correct tapping points.)
10. It’s easy to turn kids off to EFT if you do it too strongly. Kids know what feels bad. So if you botch your first try of doing EFT with a kid, they may never be willing to do it again.
11. Be careful not to tap into core pain (like unworthiness, feeling unlovable , the believing that “something is wrong with me”) with kids. It’s more difficult for kids to have the perspective of an adult (well, adult sometimes have perspective.) We have strong inner protective mechanisms to prevent us feeling that core pain and the level of pain encountered there is not easily felt by kids. (With adults, in order to fully heal, it is necessary to tap into and clear those core areas of pain. But I haven’t found a way to do this with kids, without turning the kid totally off to EFT.)
12. For measuring your progress in EFT tapping, use your arms and hands instead of a SUDS rating of 1-10. Putting your arms all the way stretched out to your sides would be a 10. Hands about shoulder width apart is about a 5. Hands smack together in prayer position is a zero. So instead of asking for a number, you can ask kids to show you how bad they are feeling.
EFT Do’s with Kids
1. Match the mood of the kid.
2. If the child won’t verbalize what’s going on, you can make guesses.
3. Speak in first person when leading tapping (i.e. “I’m so mad.”). Do this instead of saying something like, “I think you’re really mad.” That can cause the child to react defensively, “I’m NOT mad!”
4. Allow the child to follow your tapping without speaking.
5. Be quick and concise. Do one round and check in. One round may be all it takes.
6. Use arms and hands to measure intensity, instead of numbers.
7. Trust your intuition.
EFT with Children – Don’ts
1. Don’t force EFT on him or her.
2. Don’t expect a child to be able to verbalize all she’s thinking and feeling about an issue.
3. Don’t force the child to do a full set-up.
4. Don’t request that the child repeat all your tapping phrases – that can actually get in the way of your success.
5. Don’t be too serious or intense.
6. Don’t expect to go more than a round or two.
7. Don’t expect kids to be ignorant, even though they’re young. Go ahead and ask them how they think this got started, or what’s the first time they felt this way. Their insights may amaze you.
I know there are lots of folks out there who are more experienced in doing EFT with children than me. I’d love to hear what has worked for you.