Anxiety in children affects not only the child who suffers, but the entire family. When you have a child who has frightening or worrisome thoughts constantly about things that most children never give a second thought to, it can impact your life dramatically. NLP, or Neuro-linguistic Programming, is a therapy that has been used successfully in children who suffer with anxiety disorders. Is this something you should consider for your child? Let’s take a look.
Description of NLP and Its Affect on Anxiety in Children
To put it in simple terms, NLP is often an effective tool for developing behavioral flexibility and competence. Neuro typically refers to the brain and neural network, while linguistic is essentially the content or words, whether spoken aloud or only thought. There are many things in life that the general population is frightened of, whether it is snakes, flying in an airplane, or elevators. Why are so many people terrified of certain objects or activities? Much of it has to do with how the brain interprets signals and processes information.
Some children are terrified about going to school on the first day, or fear that their parent will not return to pick them up. Anxiety in children often results in irrational thoughts which can lead to physical symptoms such as stomach aches, a racing heart, or even sweating. Usually, by the time the child starts having the physical symptoms, they don’t even realize which thought they had that caused these symptoms. Children who suffer from anxiety often have frightening thoughts about the most common things; they feel inadequate, nervous, and often depressed.
Since Neuro-linguistic Programming deals with the brain, language, and programming, it’s often effective in helping to reduce anxiety in children. In essence, NLP describes the dynamics between the mind and language, and how that connection affects the body and behavior. NLP often helps build confidence in children with anxiety while also helping them manage stress, reduce guilt and depression, and minimize those fearful thoughts that make them so anxious.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming Helps Change Beliefs, Helping to Reduce Anxiety
NLP is believed to work on several levels, including beliefs, identity, purpose, behavior, and environment. These levels are essential and help children to achieve improvements and change negative values, improving self-esteem, confidence, and self-motivation. Children who are shy (and often anxious) can become confident and able to express their thoughts and feelings.
Children are often anxious or fearful because of traumatic periods in their life which could range from being sexually abused, being exposed to turmoil and fighting in their parents’ relationship, divorce, or even a death in the family. They put a protective “shell” around themselves because of their insecurities, which is part of the reason for the constantly frightening or worrying thoughts. In their minds, any traumatic or scary experience is likely to happen again, although at the same time, they realize it probably won’t. Anxious children cannot rationalize their thoughts; NLP therapy helps children by providing not only emotional support, but the ability to understand why they feel the way they feel and resolve these conflicts.
With the help of visual aids, use of language and various neural pathways used in NLP therapy, new neural pathways can be formed that help the strengthen to brain in children who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Children and NLP – Changing Lives
While all of this talk of neural pathways, language, and programming may sound a bit complex, NLP is basically the study of how humans make mental maps inside the brain, and how those maps are used to make sense out of what can be a confusing life. In children, uncomfortable feelings and anxiousness can often be eliminated because they are taught how to change these maps, resulting in increased confidence and decreased fear. For some children, NLP can be profoundly powerful.
Think about how as adults, we interpret things differently at times. For example, two witnesses to a car accident may have different opinions about how it happened. This is due to the fact that all people have different “mental maps;” it is the same way with children.
For children, changing their mental map can help them overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Imagine if your child no longer suffered with constant fear and worry, and had an increased level of confidence and self esteem. Both your child and your entire family would lead happier, more fulfilled lives without the constant anxiety. Anxiety in children is common today, and among the many therapies and techniques that can help your child lead a productive, happy life, NLP is one that should be considered.