Our emotions live in our body and we experience them as physical changes like feeling sick, butterflies, tightness in the chest, pounding heart, dry mouth and so on. In this moment we might try to make sense of it but we can't because what has happened is that our amygdala has recorded a panic or threat which has no logical explanation. Why is that?
In utero and up until we reach about the age of 2-3yrs, we are sensing and experiencing rather than processing logically so if during that time, something unexpected and upsetting happens, we can't process it so our subconscious registers that we need to watch out for this happening again. It creates a belief about it such as 'It's my fault' or 'I don't matter' or 'I'm stupid'. We may make a decision to keep ourself safe such as 'I won't say anything' or 'I won't trust anyone'. We also watch out for it happening again and in so doing, we delete all the evidence that we are wrong and just see situations and events that prove we are right. We distort our world view in other words.
Your anxious teen is reliving the belief she or he made in early childhood although by now they actually have the strategies and knowledge to be able to overcome this, if only they could think clearly rather than being in this anxious state.
Here is a helpful diagram to show how EFT helps clear this.
How to do it.
You notice your teen in panicking, looking anxious, worried.
Step 1. Start tapping on the side of your hand (the fleshy part between the base of your little finger and your wrist) and ask them to follow along with you. Encourage them to breathe in for 2 and out for 2, then increase it to 3 and out for 3, then 4 so now they have slowed down their breathing considerably.
Step 2. Now start tapping on the finger points. Here's a diagram
Tap on the thumb, then each finger in turn, gently using two fingers to lightly tap either side of the nail bed, then repeat, finishing up back at the wrist point. We don't need the gamut point for now. We started at the karate chop point if you remember.
As you tap on each point ask them to name what they are feeling, just one word. For example; scared, worried, anxious etc If they can't name the feeling maybe there is a colour. I find children and teens experience emotions as colours like
mad = red, sad = blue, fear = black, worry = green
So they can just say the colour as they tap.
Tapping for a few rounds and breathing, saying the feeling they want to clear, will reduce it significantly very quickly.
Step 3. Ask them how they'd like to feel. Avoid prompting this because the opposite of anxious is not 'not anxious' surprisingly! It may be 'brave' or 'confident' or 'calm'. Leave them to name it or again maybe ask what colour they'd like to feel. Then encourage them to put their hand to their heart and breathe in that feeling or that colour and breathe it right down to their feet and back up again to fill their heart.
They should now feel 100% better and what is more, they know what to do when they feel like that again.
In order to completely clear that anxiety we need to go back to the imprint from their early years and for this I use Matrix Reimprinting which can even be done on their 'baby self'.
If you'd like to know more and get tapping scripts for different issues, my latest book 'Empower your kids! A coaching guide for parents' will be an excellent choice. If you're a coach or an SEN or counsellor, therapist etc then 'Understanding children and teens - a practical guide for parents, teachers and coaches' will be more comprehensive as it focuses on client work.
If you are interested in talking to me about how I can help your child or teen, or indeed yourself, or if you'd like to buy one of my books please send me an enquiry and I'll be right back to you. I offer a specific Anxiety Buster course which may be of interest. All the details of this and all my courses are on the Training Room page of my website.
You can do this!
By showing your child or teen how to manage their emotions you give them a tool for life.