1. Chunk information to Make it Easier to Understand
Chunking is (amongst other things) a way of measuring information. When
information is global we have the overall view of everything there is to know,
the bigger picture.
When information is specific, we have the details.
Some children find global information a bit too much to take in and become
overwhelmed, then cease to take action.
To prevent this from happening, present information to children in smaller
chunks or in very specific steps without overwhelming them with the overall
For example, ask child to tidy their bookshelf, then when that is done, put their
clothes away rather than “Go and tidy your whole room.”
Giving the information in small steps makes it much more achievable plus you
have the bonus of being able to give feedback on their progress as
they go along which will be much more encouraging to them.
2. Memory Skills Using Association
A good technique to help children learn more and retain information is to use
association. Turning your important content and information (such as stuff that
needs to be remembered for tests) into crazy stories will help it stick in the
child’s mind more effectively. The more bizarre the story, the better it will stick.
For example, instead of remembering a list of candle, phone, alien, bed, stick,
bottle, fruit machine, candy, box.
You can get them to visualise the following story. Remembering the exact
wording of the story isn’t important.
There once was a little yellow candle that came to life (like the one in beauty
and the beast). It picked up the telephone and on the other end was an alien
who said it was in bed and couldn’t get up because he was feeling sick? He
said he had drunk a whole bottle of red medicine and was now feeling sick
and his skin had turned purple. He had got sick after spending all his money
at the fruit machine and had won lots of candy. He’d eaten the lot and was
now being sick in a wooden toy box.
Remembering the visual images and the content of the strange story is much
easier than just remembering a list of words.
3. Dealing With Worries
Something that can work well in helping children with the transitions they
experience in life (such as changing schools, moving to a new house, or a family
bereavement) is to install a “worry box.” Children write their concerns on a
piece of paper and post them in the box. Just the process of doing this can
help to take the weight off their shoulders, but also offers you the
opportunity to address in a more covert way, issues that you might not have
otherwise been aware of.
4. Giving Responsibility
I once worked with a child who had some challenges with eating. When I met
her she said that she never ate at school even though she is hungry. As soon
as the gets to the canteen she loses her appetite. I asked if she knew what
might cause this and she said she felt it was because the canteen wasn’t
always clean or comfortable.
It turns out she is quite a fussy eater at home too. I suggested that she
become more involved in cooking her dinners (to help her feel a bit more in
control of what she is eating) and about 15 minutes later she suddenly
exclaimed “I could make my own lunch too! And maybe have pasta instead of
sandwiches all the time. Or a bun, or a wrap. I could even have more
vegetables and put them in my lunch!”
Consider where you can give children more responsibility in their life. If you
can make it seem like an exciting treat to do something that is normally
reserved for grownups (rather than something you hate doing and want to
offload on them) they’ll be keen to do it.
Wherever you give them more responsibility, you give them more power and
this is especially useful in areas where they are having challenges.
5. Ignore Them!
Ignoring unwanted behaviour isn’t always appropriate when the behaviour is
unsafe or unsavoury, however it can be a useful technique to use. It works
well because children will often seek any kind of attention, whether it is
positive or negative. So, ignoring the behaviour you do not like for low level
issues, whilst praising the desired behaviour when it is exhibited can be a very
useful technique to help you shape and mould more of the behaviour you
want to see and experience.
This technique is not an overnight fix, and many people give up too soon and
claim it doesn’t work. However, if you persevere and ensure you use the
praise for good behaviour as well as the less responsive reaction to negative
behaviour, you will find that unconsciously they soon start to understand the
effects of their actions and respond appropriately.
When tests and exams loom nearer, consider what exercises and activities
you can do with children and their friends (group activities) to help the tension
When people spend a great deal of time together, a united consciousness can
form (which is a bit like when you try calling a close friend at the same time as
them calling you!). This means each student is easily influenced by the
thoughts and feeling of their peers, so one person getting nervous or worried
can begin to infect the entire group.
Ensuring that the children you interact with are getting some “fun” time
amongst the stress which can help all students maintain a more balanced
state through those challenging few months.
6. Draw Away the Problems
Do not underestimate the power of drawing in your therapy sessions. Drawing
can be used to personify problems, by turning them into gremlins or monsters.
Once you have a character on paper, you can begin to make adjustments to
their power level. One little girl drew a monster for me that lived under her bed
and made her want to go and sleep in her parents’ room each night. As soon
as I saw the monster, I recognised him as one that in fact is a “guard
monster,” who sleeps there to watch over her and protect her through the
night. Once I told he this, she was just fine.
7. Look for What You Want
Some People call it the law of attraction, some say it is caused by the reticular
activating system (a part of your brain which works like a radar to pick up on
whatever it is that you’re looking for or focusing on).
Whatever it is, make sure you look for the results you want. If you put a child’s
dinner in front of them with an expectation of them not eating it, it’s likely that
your expectations will be met.
Think about how your response to this situation would be different if you had a
more positive expectation- would your disappointment at your expectation not
being met be a more powerful response than the way you would respond to a
negative expectation coming true?
So, think about what responses you expect from the children around you, and
consider making your expectations more positive. Even if your expectations
are not met, it’s likely that your response will be a better-quality feedback to
your child than the “typical, that’s exactly what I expected would happen!”
8. Stop Shouting!
Ahhh, the power of quiet. In my past life of running day nurseries, there were
many times, when I forgot that if I have a room full of noisy children and I shout
to get them to be quiet, all I’m really doing it adding to the noise level. Actually
it can be much more powerful to lower your voice in a noisy room and say
something captivating instead. It doesn’t work instantly but within 10-20
seconds the room gets quieter and those who are still talking suddenly
become aware that they’re the only ones not listening.
9. Do Something Nice….
Something I used to do in my nannying days was to encourage the children to
do “something nice” for someone else in their family.
We’d each write down on a piece of paper something we’d like someone else
to do as a favour or treat with our name at the bottom and then put the papers
in a hat. Then we’d draw out a name with their favour on and negotiate a day
to do that thing with them.
In the classroom children could be encourage to ask for things such as “help
tidy my desk” or “learn my French verbs with me.”
Not only does it encourage giving and gratitu also can help new
relationships to form where they previously did not.
10. We Wanna Be Together
When you’re spending time with your children, really be with them.
I had a session with a little chap a few weeks ago and we did a technique
called Perceptual Positions, which involved him becoming his dad and
answering questions as his dad.
During one of his answers he put his hand up to signal me to pause, whilst he
answered an imaginary mobile phone. I had to ask “Dad” to put the phone
down and tell him that his phone should be switched off!
After the exercise I asked the boy what one thing he would change if he could
and he said “I’d like dad to spend more time with me when we are together.”
Being in the same room as your child clearly isn’t the same as giving them
your undivided time and energy.
11. Actions Speak Louder….
Do you know that old saying “actions speak louder than words?” Well it’s true.
If there is something you want your child to do, it’s no good instructing them
from your armchair. You need to get up and show them/lead them into doing
12. Use the Skills of Someone Who Can Do it.
If a child is unsure about how to do something, ask them if they know
someone else who can do it (In NLP we call this modelling). When they have
thought of someone, get them to attempt the activity again whilst role playing
as the person they know who is already able to do it. This will often lead to an
increase in confidence and therefore lead to better results.
13. Focus on What You Want
Always focus on what you do want, instead of what you don’t. So, if you want a
grumpy teenager to tidy their room, don’t say, “Your room is a total mess, why
can’t you be bothered to sort out that dump?” Don’t say this because firstly
you are drawing the attention to the mess when what you really want them to
do is to think about being tidy. Also, the question asked is only going to give
you all the reasons why they cannot be bothered to tidy their room. Use this
instead “Your room is not looking tidy and I want it cleaned up please. When
will you be tidying it?” which gives them the opportunity to think of the room
being tidy and also embeds the command of “you tidying it. “
Written by Gemma Bailey with additional content from Ian Davies NLP4Kids practicioner, www.aylesburytherapyforkids.co.uk
1. Chunk information to Make it Easier to Understand