Emotional Freedom Therapy is a wonderful way to help children process their negative emotions. Children are very teachable at younger ages. They are just beginning to experience and understand emotions. EFT for children is a great aid in teaching them to be accountable for their thoughts and feelings.
It works to help calm a child when they are overcome with intense negative emotions such as fear and anger. There are three basic age groups of children: toddlers/ preschool, grade-school, and pre-teen/teens. The age of the child and when they were first introduced to EFT will depend on how to utilize EFT with them.
EFT for Children
With the youngest group of children, it helps to get down on the floor with them. Approach your EFT for children instruction in a playful manner. Let the child lead the discussion. Realize that they articulate their feelings differently. It helps to explain the process of tapping with a stuffed animal or doll. Show them the different tapping points on the toy. Let the child tap on the stuffed animal while talking about what is going on. From time to time have the child shift over from the toy to themself, while telling their story.
It may also be possible to get their permission to have you tap on the points for them or with them by holding onto their hand. In order to determine the SUD intensity, it’s easier to use a visual scale. Ask the child to tell you how scared they are by showing you with their hands. They can either hold their two hands way far apart for “really big feelings” or close together if the feeling is only a “little one.”
With the grade school children, it helps to turn it into a game. This age, along with the earlier age group, are the ideal times to introduce and use EFT for children. Just be aware that the grade-school age child still be conscious of the fact that tapping is not a common practice that is understood by their friends. They will likely still rely on it but they will want it to be done in privacy.
It is during grade school that children become subject to stress and anxiety with learning new academic skills such as reading and testing. Learning disorders become evident at this time and some children find it challenging to focus. One schoolteacher experienced great results when teaching her students a fast EFT tapping shortcut sequence without the set-up phrase. This simply required taps to the top of the head, slapping the collar-bone points with an open hand, tapping the inside of each wrist, and last, tapping the inside of each leg right above the ankle. The teacher used this tapping technique whenever the class had been interrupted. She even eventually was able to help parents implement this at home when their child’s feelings got intense.
Teens and Pre-Teens
The adolescent and pre-adolescent age group is a more challenging time to introduce a child to EFT. If they are already familiar with it, they usually naturally utilize it on themselves. It is a vital part of a child’s emotional development at this time in their lives to be self-conscious about what their peers think of them. It’s important for them to be accepted and validated by their peer group. When this tapping technique is introduced, they will be skeptical. Be ok with that.
Give the youth opportunities to invite you in. Simply explain the value it has had in your own life or give examples of others. When they are experiencing difficult emotions that arise with friendships, decision-making or common fears, they will have a tool to release the crippling hold this negative energy can have. Often, the surging hormonal imbalances can lead to depression or anger. EFT is a critical tool to help teens shift into soothing and rational thoughts.
More and more highly skilled practitioners, youth workers, parents and care givers are teaching children about Emotional Freedom Therapy so that they can help themselves. When an intervention technique as simple and effective as tapping is available, it would be a shame to not take advantage of it just because it is outside the awareness of the mainstream population. In fact, the potential for EFT to change every child, adolescent or teen’s emotional and physical path in life is too great NOT to put it forward for them to use as their own self-help tool.