Image by Kate Cudden
The truth is, you already do.
Hypnosis is a state of suggestibility and your kids are already incredibly susceptible to your suggestions -even though it may not always feel that way! From the moment they were born, your children mimicked your facial expressions and, as they grew, they tried on your mannerisms, your language (especially the bits you didn’t want them to hear) and behaviours. Even as adults, we are sometimes jolted by the sudden recognition of our parents echoing through us.
Young children are wide open to suggestion from any trusted source in their lives: TV, teachers, relatives, friends and any other adult who takes on a cameo or starring role in their lives. Prior to the age of 8, we do not develop the critical consciousness that acts as a firewall of sorts, protecting us, in part, from the constant barrage of influence.
Understanding the process of hypnosis and becoming conscious of how you and others are hypnotising your kids is a crucial part of parenting.
Hypnotherapists are experts in getting past this firewall, empowering you to gain conscious control over your own programming as well as gaining insight into the ways you may be programming those around you.
Did you ever play Simon says as a child? You are given an instruction, but unless the instruction is preceded by the phrase ‘Simon says’, you don’t do it. Simple enough? But, processing the negative involves the critical factor: you first have to think of thing you’re not supposed to do, then decide not to do it. This takes time, particularly in children, which is why it’s such a great game! The instruction itself, however, is processed quickly so the action is often performed before the critical factor has figured out that it was not supposed to be.
How often have you told your child not to do something, only to find they just go right ahead and do it?
Try to change the language you use to give them positive, easier to process, instructions. For example:
‘Don’t run by the pool.’ becomes ‘Walk by the pool.’
‘Don’t hit your sister.’ becomes ‘Step away from your sister.’
You might want to think about these in advance as it can be very difficult to come up with a positive instruction in the heat of the moment.
Teach your child to become the director of the movie in their mind
Nightmares, anxious thoughts and worries are all the product of our imagination. They are the result of seeds planted in our unconscious mind which, left untamed, can grow wild and frightening. Teaching your child to take charge of their mind jungle is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them.
Recently, my 6 year old son was having nightmares about zombies. After a few nights of disturbed sleep, I decided to teach him this hypnotherapy technique:
Our thoughts create our emotions. If you are not already convinced of this, take a moment to close your eyes and conjur up a happy memory. Be sure to see it through your own eyes and to use your memories and imagination to breathe life into it. Remember what you were seeing, hearing, smelling, even tasting and you will begin to feel the familiar sensations of being happy, in your body. Do that now.
What did you notice? Perhaps you felt lighter/ Perhaps the corners of your mouth turned up? Perhaps your posture changed? Maybe your breath became deeper, slower?
Now, try a less resourceful state like anger perhaps? Again, remember a time when you felt this feeling and bring back the sensory memories. Pay attention to how they feel in your body, now.
What did you notice this time? Did you feel more tension in your body? Did your breathing become shallower? Did your posture and facial expression change?
Now, think of a state that would be useful to you right now: calm? Productive? Confident? Allow a memory of feeling this way to come to you and step into it, using your senses.
Children move from one state to another much more easily than we do. We’ve all seen a child sobbing their heart out one minute and totally absorbed in an activity the next. With young children, you can help them to access more resourceful states using distraction, drawing their attention to something new. With older children, you can teach them to find their inner resources simply by remembering a time when they used them.
Building pathways in their brain
For the most part, our brains are on autopilot. When we have learned a process, it gets downloaded almost like a computer programme and we no longer have to think about it. Picture a piece of open park land. If you want to get from A to B, you plot a course and walk across it. In doing so, you begin to wear a pathway. The next person to cross the park may well notice your pathway and follow it, flattening the grass and reinforcing the path. Before you know it, the grass has been worn away and no one thinks of making a new path. This process of repetition is the same way that our brains learn. If one thing happens and then another thing happens, our brains connect the two and a pathway is established. For example: if a child whines and is given a sweet or treat to distract them, the child begins to draw a pathway between these two things so, when they want a treat, they automatically whine. Unchecked, these behaviours will often continue into adulthood!
If you notice a behaviour in your child that is not helpful, try to identify their goal. Then teach them new ways to reach it. For young children. Role play is a great way to do this. For older children, you can get them to imagine using the new behaviours. Through repetition of the new behaviours through imagination and play, they will build more favourable pathways.
Have fun exploring these techniques with your child and feel free to contact me for more information on how hypnotherapy can help your child.
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Kerry Dolan Hypnotherapist and nLP practitioner