Child hypnosis: Coping with stress, anxiety and worry
Wouldn’t it be lovely if, as parents, all we had to worry about was fending off the mythical boogie man that haunts our children at night? But the truth is, in this day and age, our children have a lot of real issues that they have to deal with, and as parents, we don’t always have the answers to protect them and keep them safe. Especially in these current, unprecedented times, where the world has entered into a global pandemic, and we have all had our lives tipped upside down as we battle to find our new normal.
For adults, this has been hard enough, and mental health issues are at an all-time high. But at least they have the emotional intelligence to process what is happening and can access up-to-date information, however scary that may be, to stay informed and manage the elements within their control.
For our children, there is very little that they can control. Their life is made of rules that are enforced with consequences, and for the younger children, these rules make no sense. Why is it that they can’t meet up with or hug their grandparents today when in the past this has been a well-loved ritual? Why can’t they go to school anymore and play with their friends? No doubt, their parents and teachers would have tried to explain the situation to them, but how much of it do they really understand?
Children often struggle to express what they are feeling with words. Instead, we notice behavioural changes in them: have they been acting up a lot recently? Or maybe they have gone quiet and withdrawn? Have you noticed that they have been having nightmares lately, or are wetting the bed?
Hypnotherapy creates a safe place for them to face their demons head-on whilst becoming the superhero of their own adventure.
There are many ways in which the pandemic could have impacted your child’s mental health. For instance, they may have developed a fear of bacteria and germs. Having it drummed into them the importance of handwashing, sanitising, and keeping a safe distance from people could have created an overwhelming fear in them that if left untreated, could result in an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Having faced almost a year in lockdown, maybe they are suffering from anxiety. This may be social anxiety, or for the teenagers who have had exams cancelled, perhaps they are anxious about their grades and the impact this could have on their futures. Do they understand why they can’t spend time with their wider family and friends, or are all they left feeling abandoned by the people they love the most? There are so many possible emotions that this pandemic could have triggered, and the knock-on impact I am sure we will see for years to come. However, it is essential to recognise when your child is experiencing an issue or is not coping and getting them the help they need.
The benefits of hypnotherapy for children
Most parents won’t have considered hypnotherapy as a potential option to treat their child’s fear, anxiety, OCD, or abandonment issues. Maybe they’re scared of handing over the ‘control’ of their child’s mind to anyone let alone a stranger. Fears of their child being brainwashed. Or maybe it’s simply that the main hypnotherapy treatments that are well known are stopping smoking or weight loss. Therefore, they may not be aware of the possibilities that can be achieved under hypnosis.
However, hypnotherapy can be a great option for children. Firstly, it teaches them that it is ok to talk openly if you have worries or concerns. This develops a behaviour that allows them to reach out and ask for help if they are struggling so that you, as their parent, can ensure they get the help they need. This also provides them with coping mechanisms and builds resilience to support them as they face new issues as they grow into adults and throughout their lives.
Whilst hypnotherapists can facilitate change, they do not have magic power over anybody’s minds to control or brainwash. Hypnosis enables the client to relax enough to quieten their conscious mind. It pauses the ongoing thoughts we have, such as “What shall I have for dinner?” or “Did I lock the door when I left?”.
When our minds are quiet, the therapist is able to talk directly to the subconscious, where we store all of our learned behaviours and habits and to suggest an alternative. It is merely a suggestion. And like all suggestions, we have the choice of whether we adopt that approach or not. We make the choice; therefore, we are always in control. And as such, if we disagree with the suggestion, we can choose otherwise.
For children, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool. It engages with an individual’s imagination, so the more a person can see, hear and feel the suggestion, the higher the chance of success. As children have a magical ability to whisk themselves away to new worlds and get lost in their stories, this creates a safe place for them to face their demons head-on whilst becoming the superhero of their own adventure.
Children are also a lot quicker at accepting change. They are still shaping their opinions and views. Whereas as adults, we can have deep-rooted thoughts and habits that can be hard to break. The child must get the help they need at the time they need it to adapt and adjust any negative thoughts and behaviours before they take them into adulthood.
Hypnotherapists that work with children will have also developed tools and techniques to help your child deal with the issue they are experiencing in a supportive way. An example of this could be that they have a ‘worry monster’ available in the room. After working with your child to deal with the issue that they are experiencing, and when your child feels like they have addressed the problem and no longer need to worry, they can write this down on a piece of paper and feed it to the monster so it no longer weighs heavy on their shoulders. The worry monster essentially eats their concerns up for them.
As a parent, it is important that you feel comfortable entrusting your child into the care of someone else. Do your research. Find a hypnotherapist that works with children and check their credentials. Like any person who works with under 18s, they should have a current disclosure and barring certificate, providing you with the details upon request. Have a look at what courses they have done in working specifically with children. Write down a list of your questions and concerns and talk them through with them. They will be used to parents feeling anxious and having reservations about the process, so will be able to provide you with the reassurances you need to proceed.
Remember, this is a collaborative process between you, as the parent, your child, and the therapist, to get your child the help they need. So work together on the solution.
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