By Steve Wells
Note from Steve: This article was written a few years back when our kids were younger, both Josh and Olivia are now young adults who can tap for themselves. Back then, however, we had to teach them how to tap.
I am awakened in the middle of the night by my daughter’s voice. She is pleading with my wife. “I’m scared!” Then a resigned response from Louise, “Ok, hop in here then…” The next minute my daughter’s body is encroaching on my sleeping space as she lies down between me and my wife, who is now fast asleep. I am wide awake. I say quietly to Olivia, “Have you done any tapping yet?” “No”, she replies, “I forgot!” “Then start tapping!” I respond. I hear the sounds of her lightly tapping on her face. Soon she says “It’s just the wind blowing all the time and its making shadows in my room and that makes me scared.” “Then think about that while you tap,” I respond. She continues tapping. I hear a few yawns. Soon I can feel she has settled down, and her breathing is much more easy. “Are you ready to go back to bed then?” I ask. “Yes,” she replies, with conviction, and gives me a kiss, “Love you.” “Love you, sweet dreams” I respond. A little while later I go and check. She is sound asleep.
In the morning she tells me she was more tired than scared and that is why she went off to sleep. I laugh, and tell her I am proud that she was able to do the tapping for herself and get herself back to bed and to sleep even though she was scared.
It occurs to me that we have gone through a process over several years to get to this point. I have used tapping with Olivia, who is now 10, since she was a newborn baby (and at times on myself about her). I’ve also done the same with her older brother Josh since he was 3, and her twin brother Callum also since birth, although with the gift of Down Syndrome seeming to keep him upbeat and very much in the moment he rarely needs tapping.
Josh is quite independent with the tapping now, often letting us know afterwards that he’s used it in various situations to calm himself. He sometimes needs to be reminded to tap, as does Olivia, but like her he is able to do it for himself most of the time now. I should point out that we don’t overemphasise the tapping in our home, or expect our kids to do it everytime they are upset, we’ve tend to reserve it for those situations where the emotions are not “moving through” and the problem is not resolving itself. The only problem with negative emotions is when they become “stuck” or “toxic” or resisted…
When my kids were younger I would do the tapping on them and for them, while simply talking about whatever was upsetting to them. When they were very very young, I’d just tap lightly on their points to calm them. When they were old enough to speak I would sometimes guess at what they were feeling rather than expecting them to be able to tell me. Later I could ask them what they were feeling.
Even when using EFT I found that for kids there is no real need for set-up statements, as they have few blocking beliefs to treat. IN the early days however I did sometimes use a statement such as “Even though you’re upset (or scared, or whatever) I still love you” or “Even though you are frightened you are still a good kid” because I wanted to remove the judgment that adults often associate with kids having a bad feeling. I wanted them to know having “bad” feelings didn’t make them bad. Over the years I have dropped these statements, because the tapping in SET allows whatever is there to just be there and then adds tapping. It’s all about acceptance, even of that which appears in the moment to be unacceptable. The key for me is to just talk about what is upsetting them and tap at the same time. Or don’t even talk, just be there with them and tap, whoever is doing the tapping.
Most times if my kids were emotionally upset I would do the tapping on their points whilst asking about or talking about what was upsetting them. Then as they got older, I would do a bit of tapping to calm them down then encourage them to continue with the tapping for themselves, adding in my own tapping only if necessary. Later, I would just be there with them and talk with them and encourage them to tap on the points themselves while telling me about whatever was upsetting them. Sometimes I would join in and tap on them at the same time, to multiply the effects, and also let them know I was there to support them. And now, as with Olivia the other night, I tend to encourage them to do the tapping for themselves, and remain available to them to talk about the problem if they want.
Of course, I don’t want to totally do myself out of a “job” - and as a parent who knows that sometimes it is just good to be able to rest in the arms of someone else, I will always be willing at times to tap on them and for them, just as I’ll be willing to give them a supportive hug. But since I have wanted them to learn that they can do this for themselves, I have had to restrain myself at times from rushing in and doing it for them and instead focused on teaching and encouraging them to do the tapping. Knowing that they can do this for themselves gives me a great sense of calm that as they encounter the inevitable challenges in life ahead they have available an invaluable tool to make their journey easier.
Many parents have used our children’s book Rose and the Night Monsters to teach their 2-8 year old children tapping. This is a beautiful picture-based story of a child who learns tapping to overcome her night-time fears. There are guidelines for parents, teachers and counsellors at the back of the book. You can find out more and purchase your copy here