A common question I get from parents and caregivers is what to do when their kids won’t tap.
“My 8 year old son has been taught how to tap by an EFT Practitioner and I have done it with him off and on. When something comes up and I tell him to tap on it, he doesn’t want to! Any ideas??”
“I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to teach EFT to a reluctant child. I have tried to teach my grandson EFT but his response has been a very strong no, I don’t want to do that. Do you have any suggestions?”
Let’s look at some of the reasons why children may not tap and what you can do to create an environment where tapping is encouraged.
Why Kids Won’t Tap
Sometimes children will resist tapping even when they have been taught to use it and it has worked for them in the past. Firstly, no matter how much you may want your child to tap on something because you know it will help them, it is important to remember that you can’t “make” a child tap if they don’t want to. It is especially important to understand that EFT is not a strategy for getting children to do what you want or to get them to behave in a certain way. It is a way to help children release their emotions if and when THEY want to. We can show them when and how to tap but the decision to tap must ultimately be the child’s. Sometimes they may prefer to tap alone and other times they may prefer to tap with you or another person.
Some reasons why children may resist tapping:
1. Children may resist tapping because they are being “told” to tap rather than being “encouraged” to tap. When given as a directive children may react with a defiant or rebellious attitude. It can become “another thing mum nags me about” as opposed to when a child realizes that it’s “something I can do whenever I want to feel better.”
2. Children can often pick up on your desperation for them to tap and this can make them more resistant to it. Often the harder you try the more they resist.
3. They may not feel it is “cool” to tap. While some children take to EFT immediately others may feel self conscious or embarrassed about using it.
How To Encourage a “Reluctant” Child To Tap
1. Become an EFT Model. The key to encouraging a “reluctant” child to tap is to actively model it yourself as well as help create an environment where tapping is part of family life. When children see their parents tapping they are more likely to do it themselves. According to Karen Curry, author of EFT For Parents, “children do what we do, not what we say…if your kids see you tapping, especially when you are feeling emotional intensity, they will be encouraged to use it themselves under similar circumstances.” If they see you tapping and how it benefits you they may be more likely to do it with you or on their own.
2. Tap On Your Own Frustration/Desperation First. If you are frustrated or upset about the fact that your child won’t tap, then treat your own frustration or upset first.
“Even though Tim won’t let me teach him to tap, he’s still a wonderful child and I love him unconditionally”
“Even though I want to help him but he won’t let me…”
“Even though I can’t get him to tap with me…”
Even though he pushes me away….”
“Even though he’s doing this just to make me mad…” etc
3. Surrogate Tapping. Once you have brought your emotional intensity down by tapping on your own frustration/desperation first, you can then try surrogate tapping for your child, starting with any beliefs the child may have about EFT such as
“Even though tapping can’t help me, I’m still okay”
“Even though nothing can help me with this problem, I’m still okay”
“Even though I would rather stay mad/sad/upset, I’m still a great kid”
“Even though I’m too scared to tap…”
Also surrogate tap on the child’s actual resistance to tapping using their own words such as:
“NO don’t make me tap”
” I don’t want to tap”
“I hate tapping”
“Stop trying to make me do it”
“I won’t do it, I hate being told what to do” etc.
After a few rounds tap on some positive statements on behalf of the child such as:
“What if tapping makes helps me feel better”
“What if I can do it on my own”
“What if tapping helps me feel really really good”
“What if I don’t have to feel upset anymore”
“This tapping stuff is actually fun”
“What if I like doing it”
After you have finished surrogate tapping pay attention to any changes and notice if the child seems more willing to tap, of their own accord or asks you to help them.
4. Tap On Behalf of Your Child. When you see your child getting upset, rather than telling him to tap, simply start tapping out aloud on yourself so they can hear you, using a set up that reflects what is going on.
“Even though Tim is really mad and hurt because….., he’s still a great kid and I love him”
Encourage your child to join along with you or just keep tapping on their behalf (unless they object) using whatever you think is bothering them to tap on. If they see that you understand how they’re feeling they may start tapping themselves and be more open to telling you why and what they’re really upset about.
5. Add Some Humor. You can also add some humor and tap on something like:
“Even though mum is doing this crazy tapping thing again and I don’t want to do it, I’m still a great kid. I’ll tap if and when I want!”
6. Why It’s Cool To Tap. Reinforce the benefits of tapping to your child, such as “it’s a way to help you feel better whenever you want” “it can help you calm down when you want to” “it helps your anger melt away” etc. When kids find out they can tap on their upset without having to tell you what it is about they start to pay attention! In her work with children, Ann Adams will often tell an upset child in her faculty who hasn’t been introduced to EFT yet that, “I’m going to give you something to calm yourself down and you don’t even have to talk to me.” She points out that “not asking a child to talk ‘sets you apart’ from all other professionals who have tried to help this kid” The Promise Of Energy Psychology pg 168
Tapping For Kids – A Children’s Guide to EFT is a delightful and practical way to introduce children to EFT. Reading this book to your children or giving it to them to read on their own will take them through the entire EFT process allowing them to understand exactly how EFT works, how and when to do EFT and gives examples of the types of daily issues they can use EFT for. After reading and practicing the exercises in this book, children will be skilled, prepared and equipped to use EFT or the “Magic Formula For Feeling Better” when the moment arises, such as before a test or after an argument or after any upsetting incident/event.
Setting up an environment where tapping is encouraged and offered as an option and a choice may go a long way to helping a “reluctant child” to tap. Through teaching, encouraging and modeling the use of EFT within the family, in the classroom etc a “reluctant child” may discover they have a tool for life.
Angie Muccillo BA EFT-ADV
Author of Tapping For Kids
Advanced EFT Practitioner
+61417 391 055