Halloween can be great fun – after all, spooky face-painting, elaborate dressing up and spider cupcakes make kids laugh. But for some, it can trigger off a sequence of fears, phobias and nightmares that are hard to shift afterwards.
The mind and body are very closely connected so if your child is experiencing a feeling of fear, it’s being triggered off by their own thoughts. Thoughts are made up of pictures and internal dialogue. These are what cause the body to create those nervous feelings such as palpitations, sweaty palms, butterflies in the tummy, sickness and headaches. If you think back to the last time you watched a scary movie, you probably also experienced anxious feelings and knowing that the movie was just make-believe, didn’t make any difference. You know it’s not real, you know it’s not true, you know it can’t happen in real-life, but your body can’t tell the difference. It naturally responds to the pictures that it’s seeing inside the imagination.
Once you understand how this process works, you can take steps to fix it really easily. All you have to do is change those images inside your child’s mind. Use this great NLP technique:
1. Ask your child to imagine they have a magic TV control in their hands.
2. Next, ask them to conjure up the scary image – can they describe it to you? If you feel it will frighten them even more to describe it in full technicolour detail, then you can simply talk about “the picture inside their imagination”.
3. Then ask them use the ‘magic TV control’ that they have in their hands. First of all, turn the colour down on those pictures, making them less bright.
4. And if there’s any dialogue, music or sounds that goes with that picture, ask them to turn the volume right down, using the ‘magic control’ once more.
5. Continue adjusting the picture in this way – drain all the colour out of it, making it black and white and removing any traces of sound.
6. Next, start shrinking it right down till it’s nothing more than a dot.
7. Then press the ‘off’ button on this imaginary TV control.
After all, if you were watching something on a real TV that you weren’t enjoying, you’d switch it off, wouldn’t you?
You can finish by asking your child to put a good picture in place instead. What’s their favourite TV show? Conjure up a new image and allow them to relax and sleep looking at good pictures instead.
Alicia Eaton is an Children’s Emotional and Behavioural Change Specialist based in London’s Harley Street. She’s also the best-selling author of: “Words that Work: How to Get Kids to Do Almost Anything”; “Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days” and “Fix Your Life with NLP”.