Working with children and teens: Information for parents

As they grow up, children have to deal with change, loss, bullying, violence, criticism, low self-esteem, and changing body image as they move through rapid growth periods over short periods of time. And at the moment, the pandemic is presenting children - and parents - with a whole host of problems around schooling and social isolation. There are numerous challenges to cope with in daily life, such as making friends, moving to a new school, challenging academic work, sports activities, peer pressure, as well as the pressures of social media, and parental expectations.

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Why children and teens experience problems

Children, like adults, show their reaction to stress, change, and traumatic life circumstances in different ways. Performance in school might begin to drop. The child could become forgetful, distracted, perfectionist, self-critical, angry, irritable, depressed, anxious, and even violent. They might become clumsy, sleep too much or too little, have headaches or develop stomach problems or eating issues. Sometimes children compare themselves to others they see online. This can elicit feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem.

 

Some children turn to repetitive, self-soothing habits like nail-biting, or hair-pulling. Others may begin wetting the bed after a period of being dry. Health problems like asthma or allergies may become prevalent. Stuttering may start or get worse. A child might want to stay home from school - perhaps complaining of a sore stomach. There may be trouble with other pupils or teachers. A child could be shy or worried about speaking in front of the class or be unable to understand a subject and feel stupid. Teenagers might be sullen and uncommunicative and turn to maladaptive and potentially addictive coping mechanisms like alcohol or drugs, video games, or pornography.

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Other common concerns are poor sleep, separation from parents, fears of animals or insects, needles, doctors or dentists, or social anxiety. Concerned parents often become frustrated with their own inability to offer support to the child that actually seems to make a difference, and the child may have already gone through rounds of appointments that include physical tests and screenings, psychological assessments, and the prescription of medications. Unfortunately, hypnosis is not often considered until other avenues have been exhausted - along with both parents and children!

 

If the child or teenager is expressing concern about their own behaviour or ability to manage complex situations and is looking for help to address these concerns, then hypnosis can be very beneficial. Hypnosis offers a chance for children to learn more appropriate coping skills to use in daily life.

What to expect in a session

At the first session, I will first listen to your concerns and those of your child in order to gain a complete picture of the problem and its context. With younger children, it is often not necessary to explain in detail to your child that they are going for "hypnosis" or “hypnotherapy”. It may simply be explained that they will be having a relaxed and quiet time in which they use their imagination to solve their problems. They will also learn short, practical techniques that they can practice at home and use in daily life.

The participation and acceptance of the parent in this process is important. A parent’s stress or anxiety about a particular behaviour can often make change more difficult for the child. During the session, for children 12 and under, the parent or guardian is welcome to be present if the child wants the parent to be there. This also allows the parent to experience the benefits of relaxing through hypnosis. With teens, after the initial information gathering in the first session, it is recommended that the parent goes out of the room, unless the teen is particularly anxious about being separated from the parent.

What does a hypnotist do?

When addressing a particular problem, the hypnotist will introduce positive suggestions that are tailored to the child. For example, being more relaxed, having more energy, feeling confident, feeling happy, liking themselves better, improving their sleep, remembering more easily or reading faster. Children are very suggestible and respond well to these types of suggestions. If your child is able to sit still, listen, and follow directions, for a period of time e.g. 15 minutes, then they will be able to take advantage of hypnosis. Children younger than 6 are often not able to do this, but you know your child best.

Hypnosis also works beyond simple suggestions, through metaphor. Children respond very well to stories, and most children have vivid imaginations. The hypnotist will utilize this ability, so the child can mentally rehearse making changes, through visualization. With younger children, this might include using stories, adventures, meeting a hero or character from a favourite TV program, movie or video game who advises the child what to do. These are all ideas that are easily accepted by children. Older children and teens are helped to access their own internal resources to create new mental scenarios for success.

Children have an openness to new ideas that makes them especially good candidates for hypnosis. During hypnosis, they become relaxed and focused quite easily, and are happy to take on ideas that will help them to deal with any problems they are facing and make changes.

Will my child have homework or practise at home?

I will provide mp3 recordings for your child to listen to regularly at home. This homework is usually about 10 minutes per day for younger children and 15-20 minutes for teens.  The practice your child does at home will make all the difference - hypnosis works best with regular repetition to reinforce what the child has done in a session with me. 

Will hypnosis affect or interfere with other therapy?

Hypnosis works well as an adjunct or complement to whatever other therapies your child or teen is receiving.

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Hypnosis can help children and teens with a wide range of problems:

Below is a list of problems and conditions that hypnosis can help with. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and if you have questions about whether your child’s particular problem is amenable to hypnosis, please contact me and I would be happy to discuss your concerns.

  • Allergies

  • Anger

  • Anxiety & repetitive/intrusive thoughts

  • Asthma

  • Athletic ability or performance

  • Bedwetting (Enuresis)

  • Chronic illness or disability

  • Concentration and memory

  • Confidence or self-esteem

  • Divorce

  • Exam nerves

  • Eating issues

  • Fear of medical/dental procedures

  • Fears and phobias

  • Getting along with siblings

  • Grief and loss

  • Headaches

  • IBS (functional stomach/bowel issues and nausea)

  • Illness

  • Motivation

  • Nail biting, nervous habits, behaviours or tics

  • Negative self-talk

  • Pain

  • School problems

  • Shyness or social anxiety

  • Sleep problems or nightmares

  • Stealing

  • Stuttering

  • Stress

  • Time management/procrastination

  • Thumb-sucking

  • Trouble making or keeping friends

  • Weight management