How to Help Your Child with Anxiety by Tapping (or EFT)

Plus 4 Benefits and a Guided Video Made for Kids

How to Help you child with Anxiety by Tapping and 4 benefitsIt’s painful to watch the dark cloud of anxiety lurk above your child. And while we can’t control the weather, we can bring umbrellas and rain boots while we learn to dance in the rain. One potentially powerful technique that can help children relieve stress and process uncomfortable feelings is called Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). In this blog post, we will explore the basics of Tapping and its benefits for children so you can add it to their anxiety-management toolbox. 

Tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is a method that combines elements of Eastern acupressure with modern psychology. To me, it feels like a guided meditation with a little extra. It involves gently tapping on specific acupressure points on the body while focusing on specific thoughts, emotions, and/or issues. This process is thought to help balance the body’s energy system and release emotional or physical distress. I began tapping to work though my own intense feelings of anxiety. I will admit I was very skeptical at first, but after a couple tries I felt an improvement. 

Benefits of Tapping for Children:

1) Emotional Regulation: Tapping provides children with a simple yet effective way to regulate their emotions. By acknowledging and addressing negative feelings, such as anxiety, anger, or sadness, Tapping helps children to accept the discomfort of these feelings as their feelings come and go. 

2) Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Tapping can significantly reduce the effects of stress by promoting relaxation and calming the nervous system. Research has shown that the targeted pressure points send a calming signal to the brain. 

3) Improved Focus and Concentration: When children feel overwhelmed or distracted, their ability to focus and concentrate may suffer as their thoughts are consumed by the uncomfortable feelings and/or situations. Tapping can help children clear their minds of negative thoughts and allows them to be their best selves. 

4) Enhanced Self-Confidence: Tapping can boost children’s self-esteem and self-confidence by addressing negative beliefs or self-doubt. By tapping with statements that reinforce personal strengths, children can empower themselves. 

Getting Started with Tapping:

Tapping Points for Children EFT emotional freedom technique

1) Introduce the Technique: Explain Tapping to your child in simple terms. You can share that it is similar to a guided meditation or positive affirmations (if they are familiar) but that we will be giving some extra love to our body by pressing on different tapping points. 

2) Teach the Tapping Points: Familiarize your child with the tapping points on their body. Don’t stress about being too specific, allow your child to get the hang of the technique.

3) Go Through a Script: I would suggest using a video that guides your child through the process to begin. I created this Tapping Script that focuses on non-specific anxiety. There is a version that my daughter helps with (it’s a bit distracting, but helpful for children that would be encouraged by seeing a child participate) as well as a version without her help. [Even if you are using a video, follow steps 4,5, and 8 below.]

If you choose to try your own script, you can follow these steps:

4) Identify the Issue: Encourage your child to identify and express their feelings or issues they would like to address through Tapping. It could be a specific emotion, a stressful event, or a challenging situation.

5) Rate the Issue: Ask them to identify, on a scale of 1-10, the intensity of their feelings. Especially for younger children, you can show them a simple smiley face chart, similar to what they may use at a visit to the doctor. 

6) Create Tapping Statements: Help your child create simple, positive statements that address their specific issue or emotion. For example, “Even though I feel nervous about my test, I know it’s okay to feel this way.” Lead them through processing the uncomfortable feelings and be sure to end with positive, encouraging, confidence-building affirmations.

7) Guide the Tapping Process: Guide your child through the tapping process, demonstrating the points and having them tap on each point while repeating the chosen statements. Encourage them to focus on the issue at hand and express any changes they notice in their feelings.

8) Check back in on the intensity. If not reduced (or worse, higher) try again or practice a different coping skill, such as deep breathing, grounding practices, yoga, exercise, etc. If the intensity has lessened, be sure to point out to your child that THEY were able to tame their worry to find a calm state.

Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is a valuable tool that can help children effectively manage their emotions and improve their overall well-being. By introducing Tapping to children and guiding them through the process, we can empower them to become more resilient and emotionally balanced. Remember to be patient and supportive as they navigate their emotions, and celebrate their progress along the way. Additionally, remember to include a variety of coping techniques so that your child’s toolbox will be equipped and able to handle any storm clouds that may come their way. 

If you’re looking for additional coping skills to help your child with anxiety, check out this post. 

Please Note: I am not a doctor and the information presented here is not intended to replace appropriate treatment by a physician or mental health professional. It is recommended that you consult a qualified health practitioner prior to using this technique.

References:

Clond, M. Emotional Freedom Techniques for Anxiety: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.2016;204(5):388-395.

Church D, Yount G, Brooks A. The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2012;200(10):891-896.

König N, Steber S, Seebacher J, et al. How Therapeutic Tapping Can Alter Neural Correlates of Emotional Prosody Processing in Anxiety. Brain Sciences. 2019;9(8):206.