Tunbridge Wells based hypnotherapist Karen Martin spends a great deal of her working day helping children, teens and adolescents. So, she’s busy at this time of year helping to banish back to school blues. Karen’s passion and expertise in this field have enabled her to help many hundreds of young people and she has established an enviable reputation as the ‘go-to’ therapist for young people and their parents.
The Three R’s: Relaxed, Receptive, Ready to learn
Children are typically brilliant hypnotherapy subjects as they are frequently entranced by their own creative imagination. I help them to relax and immerse themselves in a fascinating story to transport them into their own carefree world where all fears are vanquished and back to school blues can be banished. This positive mental rehearsal can be directed to boosting confidence, managing change and coping with a variety of childhood issues like bullying, exam nerves and family conflict. It is also extremely effective at helping children and teens deal with the transition to school life – primary or secondary.
It is often said that school days are the best days of your life. A platitude lacking any basis in reality. Even with hindsight, a lens that usually casts a rosy glow over human perspective, not everyone can realise school as a positive, life-affirming experience. For many, happily, it is. Others spend their lives recovering. One universal truth about school however is that it has a significant impact on the fate and fortunes of the adults that schoolchildren become.
Even for those blessed with halcyon school days, the very real pressures associated with starting school, returning to school or transitioning to senior school must not be overlooked or ignored. Researchers from Bath University found that children have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol up to six months before their first day at primary school, rising significantly when school begins and not dropping for up to six months after their first day.
Keep calm and enjoy the best days of your life
Whether your child is beginning their school journey, transitioning to secondary school, moving schools or simply beginning a new academic year, there are some simple ways to ensure they are able to remain calm and enjoy the new experience.
- The change that school brings to the family is tough on both parents and children. Rather than glossing over the change ahead, be positive about it. If your child feels you are fine and excited, they are likely to reflect this confidence.
- Sleep is essential for children and teens to function properly. Ensure you implement your school routine a week or so before term begins. Having a well-established routine in place will help prevent insomnia when school starts and ensure your child is well rested. A well rested child can handle stress much better than one who is sleep deprived and tired.
- For many, the comfort of routine is important in helping to control anxiety. Visit the school, practice the school run, consider any new skills your child or teen may have to learn and help them with these. Being fully prepared, in a safe unpressured environment, with a parent’s support, will make them more comfortable with their new environment and routine. Even for those returning to a school they know well, there can still be anticipatory anxiety over timetables, teachers and a new routine, new friends, new subjects.
- Some children thrive on being prepared. Back to school shopping is an easy way to ensure they feel confident and ready to face the school year. New shoes, new school bag, new stationery – all may distract enough to help fill the first day with excitement.
- Talk to your child or teen. Talking can relieve anxiety. Don’t dismiss their concerns, help them find solutions and always ensure there is a focus on positive things too. We all need to learn to handle change, and this is a good time to create open lines of communication and teach your child that you are there for support, and also that they have control over their emotions.
This is a big step for your child, but it is nothing more than change. However, anxiety is often triggered by change, even if it is positive. I provide a toolbox of techniques and strategies which can be of lifelong benefit. Working with children and young people is one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of my job. They are receptive because they feel happy and safe during our sessions and are willing to embrace positive new ideas about themselves.
The benefits of overcoming their anxieties can continue throughout the rest of their lives. Calm, confident children are far more likely to thrive and succeed in their studies and personal development. If all children, teenagers and young adults were given hypnotic training of the kind they get from me to treat anxiety, there would be far fewer anxious adults in the world. It is wonderful to be able to help anxious and fearful young people blossom into optimistic achievers who are looking forward to life’s challenges.