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8 Year Old Having A Hard Time

by Cindy

Dear Annie,

You were gracious enough to help me with my question 2 days ago to you regarding my 8 year old son who is having a hard time right now.

I received an email from his teacher today that highlights some of the issues that Colin is having at school. His teacher says he is disruptive and defiant, not following directions, needs a lot of attention despite being very capable, and making poor choices in class. He was sent to the office as his behavior became so disruptive. He spoke to them about having a bad week at home and having problems with his brother.

I plan to further explore what’s bothering him with his 11 year old stepbrother but I believe it is that he is 3 years older and is wanting his own friends and time and doesn’t handle it very well when Colin wants to play with him. I keep encouraging him to do his own thing and started inviting friends over more his age to play with. I totally agree with you that he feels like he has lost power at home so he is exerting it at school.

Having recently purchased EFT 4 Kids I would like some ideas for using it to help Colin.

Thank You

Comments for 8 Year Old Having A Hard Time

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Using EFT To Handle Strong Feelings
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Cindy,

It is so hard when a school sends us negative feedback about our kids. Clearly Colin has set up a pattern of getting negative attention, and that could be a good thing to tap out.

As I talked about in the EFT 4 Kids Manual, tapping out the unwanted behavior and then tapping in better choices works really well with children.

The most difficult thing for parents though, is not to impose what WE think they need to tap on. He needs to try it out on things he wants differently. In the email you sent me from the school they talked about him making good choices, but most of the choices at school are imposed to get children to comply and conform. So it is difficult for him to feel very motivated - most of us don't get motivated to avoid pain and punishment. We get motivated when we get what we want.

So the key for you with Colin is to put your own ideas about what he has to change on hold, and help him to get a better understanding of how he feels and what he wants.

When he can learn to cognitively identify how he feels and his needs, then he is half way there to responding differently, rather then just reacting. Plus having your attention and you really listening to him, will make a huge difference to his need to act out to get attention.

Questions like:
"It sounds like you are really frustrated with school (or home) at the moment, can say some more about that and we can tap on that to help you feel better"

You can start with a setup statement (on the Karate Chop Point) something like:
"Even though I get into trouble at school, I am still a cool kid and I am loved"

"Even though I get mad at school (home) I love myself and I am learning to handle it better"

Then you start tapping along with him about anything that comes up. Any strong feeling is fantastic to tap on if he will co-operate. However since he is not familiar with tapping yet, he may not be all that keen on following tapping instructions if he is in the middle of throwing a tantrum. If that is the case, then when he is calmer you can then work with him to learn the process.

Part Two Follows . . .

Using EFT To Handle Strong Feelings - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

More often than not, parents contribute a lot to escalating conflict. We are busy, we just want them to what they are told RIGHT NOW!! So we don't allow them to have their feelings and reactions and they don't learn to gain control of them.

You may well have to learn to put yourself in neutral to be able to help him learn new skills. If you can call a halt early on when you see a situation when he is starting to escalate into defiance or frustration - then you can use it as a learning time for him to be able to process the feelings early on before he gets out of control.

You can present it as a practice time for you both - so it is not just him that is at fault, you are both learning a new tool. In actual fact, you are switching to positive pro-active attention here, which is probably far more what he needed in the first place.

You can say:
"Hey, this is a good example of us starting to get mad with each other, lets try an experiment and try tapping out how we feel"

Then you just start tapping - all your feelings, and any that you suspect he maybe feeling. Suggest he taps along, but you tapping out his stuff also works.

Set up Karate Chop:
"Even though we are getting mad with each other, I totally love and accept myself and all my feelings."

"Even though I hate when I feel I have to start yelling, I totally love and accept myself, and I love my son" (can throw that in every now and then!)

"Even though we get frustrated and stuck in the same sort of arguments, I know we can work better at this and I love how well we are doing"

Then do a round or two of tapping:
"I'm annoyed"
"This frustration . . ."
"Mom always interrupts and bosses me around"
"I hate when I have to get mad to get Colin to do stuff"
"Mom is always mean to me"

Get the idea?

Part Three Follows . . .

Using EFT To Handle Strong Feelings - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

You can even go into the class and teach it to all the kids, that way Colin can tap away at school too! Actually it is something that can be done fairly discretely. Even just tapping on the Karate Chop point under the desk at school, and thinking the statements in his head when he is starting to get mad or frustrated:

"Even though I am bored and frustrated with having to do what the teacher wants, I'm a good kid and I can choose to be happy"

Sometimes with our kids we have to encourage them to try different behavior as an experiment to see if they get a better result.

When kids simply react and act up, they are not getting a chance to actually think about what they want. And when it becomes a pattern, they are not developing new neural pathways in their brain that will help to anchor in other choices and rational thinking ability.

Tapping works on lots of levels, firstly it clears any feelings at the time, but it also allows other feelings to surface to clear. When a pattern of behavior has developed, it usually has a backlog of unresolved feelings and emotions that are kind of stuck.

It sounds like Colin is not getting the kind of attention he wants - at home, with his friends or at school. So he is acting up to get noticed but of course this is backfiring for him, he then ends up feeling more unhappy and then justified in feeling resentful or gets more proof that he is not liked or is being given a hard time. So it all becomes more stuck energy.

Doing EFT with him will be not only a great tool for him to learn, but it will also be a pathway to one on one time with him where you are really listening to his needs and his feelings. When you tap you are also clearing your own stuff about him, your concern, your worry that he won't succeed in school, your frustration and helplessness in knowing what to do.

Part Four Follows . . .

Using EFT To Handle Strong Feelings - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

It is always good if we can clear away as much of our own feelings and issues around our kids as this helps them enormously. Our Junk contributes to how our kids process and handle themselves. If we just try to force them to behave or comply, and if we are not demonstrating how we get control or clear our feelings, then how can we expect them to? Our worries and resentments have a compounding effect on our kids (or any relationships). The more we can clear the way to relating from and open heart, the better.

When Colin gets more familiar with using EFT, you can see if there is something he really wants to change - and be careful here, it needs to be something HE sees would be useful or that he would like to be able to do differently. However we can steer our kids towards practicing skills that we think would help.

When you can see he is struggling with something, or when he gets cross about other kids not wanting to play with him, or if he says he wants to be happier at school, you can suggest a little. Pick the moments when you can see he has a lot of energy about something, rather than "I think you need to tap on this so you behave better in class."

"What if you could figure out a way to be happier in class, would you give it a go?"

"How about we tap out those grumpies about having no friends? Then we can tap in some good friendship stuff?"

"I know school sometimes sucks, but would it be easier if you found a way to get along in class?"

"I know you are mad with your brother, let's tap that out and then find something you really want to do"

Tapping In Affirmations

You can also do lots of simple tapping in affirmations. It can become a little bedtime ritual - you can tap on him quietly as he is tucked up in bed:

"You're a cool kid and I love you so much"
"You did a great job today picking up your toys, I'm so proud of you"
"I love you I love you I love you"

The more you notice the good things he is doing and reinforce it with tapping, the more it anchors his self belief. You can do family rituals over dinner - tapping in affirmations or success for the day - that way everyone is involved. The more he anchors in good experiences or good behavior the more he can let go of the negative pattern.

Part Four Follows . . .

Using EFT To Handle Strong Feelings - Part Five
by: Annie Desantis

I think the important thing with Colin, is giving him the time and energy to be able to express how he feels and learn to communicate that in ways that don't backfire for him.

Getting a lot of practical supportive attention from you will go a long way to helping him learn better skills, but also he will not have to act out so much to get attention. If he feels you are really listening to him and helping him learn better ways to get his needs met, then along with helping those pathways to rational thinking grow, you are also filling his need for attention.

Positive Socialization Experiences

Of course most importantly, have as much fun with him as you can - both one on one, but also include other children too, so he he can relate with others with the support and buffer or you being involved. Don't just have kids over and leave him to it - while he is learning better socialization skills, play board games, go to the park and kick a ball around, go exploring and collect insects together. And the same with his stepbrothers. If you set up lots of family activities, then it is not just him pestering his step brother for attention, you are all hanging out together and he gets lots of opportunity for learning relationship skills.

Good luck with Tapping, it really is a very good tool for clearing strong feelings AND tapping in lots of positives.

Annie D :)

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