Getting To the Core of A Child’s Fear Of School

This is a featured article by Gene Monterastelli from EFT Q&A a website dedicated to answering your most pressing EFT Questions. In this article Gene answers a question from a mother whose 11 year old daughter developed a fear of school. In his comprehensive answer, Gene provides an outline of how the mother can approach and get to the core of the problem using EFT. If you have any questions about EFT that you would like answered you can submit your question at

By Gene Monterastelli


My daughter has suddenly developed a fear of school, (she’s 11). She has previously been very very happy there, and has no reason to feel like this. She really wants to go but feels she can’t, and doesn’t know why? Any ideas?


Obviously, with such a little amount of information, there is no real way to answer this question. There are a whole host of reasons that could be contributing to this fear. It could be associated with the classroom, something on the play ground, or something with the other students.

When we don’t know the root cause of an emotion

What the situation does do is give us a good backdrop to talk about how do we approach an emotional response when we have no idea of where the emotions are coming from.

There are two basic tacks that we can take. I would recommend taking both of them at the same time. They are, to deal with the emotions in the moment and to investigate to find the root of the emotions. By doing this we are able to help the fear in the short term and by trying to find the roots of the fear so there won’t be the same response in the future.

The Emotion Right Now

One of the blessings of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is the fact that we are able to use it right now for the emotions we are feeling in this moment. In this case I would recommend two things.

First, I would recommend spending some time before going to bed tapping on the fear about going to school the next day. If the fear is large enough it is not going to happen just as she is walking out the door for school, but more than likely is going to be present the night before. It is good to deal with this at bedtime because this fear is going to affect her quality of sleep.

Second, I would recommend spending some time tapping in the morning before heading out the door to school or even on the ride to school.

In both cases the tapping is very simple. I would have her explain to me how the fear feels, how her body feels, and what she is worried about. I wouldn’t use any complicated tapping phrases. I would have her tell me the story of what is going on in her body and her head while she is tapping.

Investigating the Roots

Now that we have gotten the fear in the moment under a little more control we can start to look around for what the root cause is.  I would start to investigate by asking questions around the common reasons an 11 year old wouldn’t want to go to school.

Questions to ask to get to the core of an issue

My questions would be something like this:

1) Why does she feel like she can’t go? It sounds like the questions has been asked but it is a good place to start every time. Often people, not just kids, have a hard time admitting why they are afraid. By asking again they might give an answer they didn’t before.

2) What could go wrong if she does go to school? When dealing with fear it is usually rooted in not wanting to experience a bad outcome. They might be able to name the outcome they fear and not associate that with the fear itself.

3) The feeling of not wanting to go, what does it remind her of? The is a classic EFT investigation question. When you don’t know the root, see what it reminds you of. Lots of information can be found here.

4) If she could change one thing about school what would it be? Sometimes we don’t want to say what we fear, but we are willing to say what we would like to see different. Fear is often associated with weakness. We don’t like share why we are fearful. This question lets us answer without looking weak.

5) If she could go to a new school how would the new school be different from her old school? This is very much like the last questions. By giving them a chance to say what they want, we are giving them an out of not having to say what they don’t want or fear.

6) If she could go to school tomorrow and know one person was not going to be there, who would she want that person to be? No one likes to be a tattletale. Also for kids there might be fear of retaliation for turning a bully in. This way they don’t have to tell on someone else and still be able to state their needs.

7) When she is not at school, what does she think the other students say about her? People, not just kids, can be ruthless. We don’t like to be place where we are being picked on, but again we don’t like to be tattletales. By asking the question in this fashion we are not asking her to tell on anyone. Instead, she is pretending what they might say. This is a safe way to share what she fears.

Obviously this is just a start, but I think it is a good start. It is important to remember that with EFT we always have two plans of attack. We can deal with what we are feeling right now and we can deal with the roots of the emotions. If we can find our way in with both tacks, then we should use them. Just because we don’t know the root, doesn’t mean we are helpless. We can always go after what is going on right now until we get to the root of the issue.

Gene Monterastelli is a Baltimore based EFT practitioner. He regularly works with clients in the areas of stress, weight loss, limiting beliefs, anxieties, learning disabilities, pain management, and relationship issues. There is a very special place in his practice that is dedicated to parents of special needs children, especially for parents of children who have been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Click here to check out Gene’s Stress Busting Products