The metaphor of an anchor is very appropriate because when we feel adrift, lost, confused and overwhelmed by parenting it is helpful to put down an anchor to stabilise ourselves and find a calm place in my mind and body. We can rely on the anchor because it is heavy and solid and it won’t let us down.
From there we can access our resources to move on in what we’re doing. We use anchoring to achieve a sense of control and resourcefulness in any situation. As parents we might use it when:
The baby’s crying and you’ve done everything (changed nappy, fed her, cuddled her etc). You want to cry too.
School holidays and the kids are screaming at each other they are bored and you’re clean out of ideas.
Your toddler’s has just refused to eat his food again and you’ve cooked it just the way he likes it.
Your boss wants you to do a presentation but it’s on your son’s sports day and you feel torn
The sense of calm you get from anchoring can help you find that inner resource and bring it out when and where you need it. You can anchor anywhere at any time and it takes seconds. And you can teach this technique to your child or young person. What is it? Your anchor could be an image or a picture (if they are visual), a sound or piece of music (if they are auditory) or an action (if they are kinaesthetic). If they're not sure, there is a quiz in NLP for Children Help them choose an anchor that they can easily access anywhere because you need it to be something that doesn’t draw attention to themselves at school or with their friends. If they are in the playground or park, a friend’s house or a birthday party they won’t want to be doing anything strange that their friends will notice. Good anchors are natural actions such as picturing you or their pet if they are visual, quietly humming some music if they are auditory or maybe a 'thumbs up sign' if they are kinaesthetic. Step 1 – Establishing the anchor Ask them to close their eyes and think about a time or situation when they feel calm and relaxed, strong and in control. Suggest they imagine themselves there now. Maybe they'd like to go there, draw it or talk about it. Ask them - What can you see? Describe the scene as if they are there now, maybe they are actually there. Suggest they increase the brightness and focus on everything in their picture. What can they hear? Is there music, are people talking? What are they doing? What is happening? Is it hot or cold, how do they feel? When they are really feel associated into the situation and as calm and confident as you think they could possibly be, fire the anchor. Do the thing you have decided to do as your anchor. Step 2 – Break state When they seem to have lost the calm state - you can tell because they might open their eyes or start fidgeting, ask them to pretend to sneeze on an imaginary ice cream. This is a great way to 'break state' . Step 3 – Fire it again Repeat step 1 and ask them again to make the images, sounds and feelings very strong before they fire the anchor. Step 4 – Break state Change their state for a minute Step 5 – Fire it again Repeat the process. It will probably be quite quick by now. Now they have their anchor, suggest they use it whenever they need that resource. You can help them establish different anchors for other resources. Even very small children can quickly anchor a feeling of being brave. You will need to help them recall when they were brave and describe it to them as they establish the anchor. Use the same words each time as this helps them remember it for themselves. If you want any help with this process please email me and I'll go through it with you one on one.
Also please check out the Events page where you'll find several free workshops for parents including one for anxiety.