Using ‘anchors’ with children

Published Categorized as emotional literacy, resilience, Uncategorized

You know how when you listen to a tune that evokes instant (and strong) happy memories and how you are immediately uplifted – the same way as when you smell something that has strong positive associations? Tunes and smells can trigger automatic responses. A tool from Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) cashes in on the brain’s ability to have automated responses and this tool can be very helpful for you and certainly for your children.

It works quite simply to help your child manage in situations they find tricky. So if, for example, your child found it really difficult when they first arrive at school, you can set up an anchor to help them cope. Here is how you do it.

  1. Ask your child to sit down and relax. You could ask them to take some deep breaths and close their eyes if they feel comfortable to do so. You could count down from ten or ask them to think about where in their body they feel most relaxed and ask them to imagine this relaxation spreading throughout their body.
  2. Ask your child to think about their tricky situation and how it makes them feel. Next ask them what would be a better feeling to have at this point. (e.g. calm, happy, excited).
  3. Ask your child to recall a time in the past when they felt this more comfortable feeling.
  4. Ask your child to tune into that memory and start to feel the emotion they associate with it as intensely as they can. When it is as intense as they can make it, simply ask your child to pinch together their thumb and forefinger and keep them pinched for a few seconds while this feeling is most intense.

Once you have done this, your child has created an anchor. When they next face the situation they find tricky, they simply pinch their thumb and forefinger together and they will find themselves in a more resourceful state and able to cope better with the situation they usually find tricky. It is as simple as that.

I created an anchor in my son when he was about six. He told me (eleven years later) that he still uses it sometimes. He told me he sometimes uses it without thinking and it still helps.