Teddy Bear Tapping with a Resistant, Angry Child

By Lynne Namka, Ed. D.

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He came on like gangbusters running into my room without looking at me and hurled himself onto the couch grabbing the stuffed lion and started wrestling it yelling and making loud growling noises.  This was my introduction to six year old Zane who has came with his highly perplexed mother who said, “None of my other children act this way, I’m overwhelmed.”  Indeed I noticed myself becoming overwhelmed with all the movement and confusion.  I took a deep breath and started an internal silent round of The Emotional Freedom Technique™ to keep myself centered.

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is the fastest, easiest method of releasing any stress or upset.  EFT is easy to do: just own the problem and affirm yourself and tap a few acupressure points while thinking about the bad feelings or the problem.  The technique demonstrates the positive power of the mind while using acupressure to release the negative emotions and beliefs that cause disturbances in the body’s energy system. 

EFT has its roots in Applied Kinesiology, Cognitive Behavioral Psychology and acupuncture.  In Chinese Medicine, energy is believed to flow along meridians on the body through points that Chinese doctors have identified.  Poking or tapping certain parts of the body, while thinking and feeling upset about something, changes the energy in the meridians. 

Most people are amazed how fast these techniques work to release negative emotions and behaviors and energetic emotional blocks. The procedures are easy to learn so that you can apply them yourself and teach them to children.  It helps both children and adults develop forgiveness for themselves for their misdeeds.  It cuts through the shame and fear that children often feel and helps provide the motivation to change for the better.

I offered Zane my collection of stuffed animals that represent the different parts of the personality.  A sad dog represents the sad part; a heart stands for the loving part, etc. He caught on quickly and easily discussed his different feelings as he took the crab and talked about his anger.  He chose the happy face to talk about what he enjoyed.  When he took the heart, he said that he loved his mom, dad and family members.  When I asked who loved him, he said “Mom, for sure, but no one else.”  “Dad?” I inquired.  “No,” he said, “Dad doesn’t love me.  He doesn’t like me.”  Zane looked very sad.

The mother added that his father believed in stern conditional love and let Zane know how displeased he was when Zane acted up.  Which was most of the time recently.

I observed that Zane did not have the attention span to tap on himself and was resistant to having his mother or me touch him.  He jumped around the room talking in a loud voice and told me of the fun things he did such as wrestling with his brother, jumping on the furniture and using his “booty” to bump into the kid behind him in line at school to knock him backwards.  Self-esteem for Zane seemed to be being overactive and attention seeking but this got him in trouble.  He expressed sadness over upsetting others.  I noted that he did have a conscience and wanted help.

Trying to corral him, I had my Super Hero Bear (a teddy bear with a cape) “fly” in to whisper in his ear about learning to let go of his sad and mad feelings.  He listened well and accepted the limits about not jumping off my couch.  I used Super Hero Bear to whisper in his ear:

       Even though I like to yell and be loud, I’m a pretty good kid.

       Even though my loud voice gets me in trouble, I’m okay just as I am.

       Even though I use my hands and “booty” to bother people, I’m okay.

He laughed as I had made Super Hero Bear use its nose to tap on him using the EFT points and anywhere I could reach as he curled up.  He especially loved being tapped on his back and under his arm as that tickled.

       Even though I feel good when I jump on the furniture, I like myself.

Even though I feel bad about being scolded after I feel good about jumping, I’m okay just as I am.

Even though I like to play rough and that gets me in trouble, I’m still a good kid.

Zane relaxed and yawned and asked for more.  I asked the mother if this sudden relaxation was typical of him.  She said she had never seen his calm down before! 

I knew he could not come up with specific events himself with his short attention span.  So I fed him Set Up phrases around the painful idea that his dad did not love him when he misbehaved.   I had to work fast to keep the specific events present in his mind before his attention waned.  Again Super Hero Bear did the tapping:

       Even though I feel bad when Dad is disappointed in me, I still like myself.

       Even though I get mad when Dad yells at me, I’m trying to do the best I can.

       Even though I get mad when I think Dad doesn’t love me, when I’m bad, I choose to love myself.

       Even though I’m sad when Dad is not nice to me, I will be nice to myself.

I suggested to the mother that the excessive rambunctious and aggressive behavior was a way that he had found to compensate for his loss and sadness over his perception that his dad did not love him.  My assumption was that the roughhousing and acting out revved Zane up creating an endorphins release in the brain.  His lack of feeling good about himself as a learned was broken into by the boisterous behavior, which released good neurochemicals bringing him back into homeostasis.  Part of his problem was a form of behavioral hyperactivity, which stemmed from a need to seek self-esteem in the only way he knew how—to delight in being bad, 

Using EFT to address the pain and hurt that Zane made a big difference in how he saw himself.  A different little six year old walked out of the room than the one who came in hurling himself across the room.  Feedback from the school says that he is less rambunctious in class and less combative with the other boys. There are issues still be addressed as he was still impulsive and wiggly in group at school. An evaluation from a psychiatrist said he didn’t need to be on medication.  The Emotional Freedom Technique is an important approach that helps Zane calm his emotions and behavior.


Author's Bio:

Lynne Namka is a psychologist in Tucson, AZ and is the author of Good Bye Ouchies and Grouchies, Hello Happy Feelings:  EFT for Kids of All Ages. Her companion book, Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Children: Fifty Fun Activities for Parents, Teachers and Therapists gives a curriculum and lesson plans plus EFT tapping statements. Over 100 handouts for your clients on relationships, self-esteem and anger management and interactive videos for children and adults can be found at www.AngriesOut.com.




Adrienne Burges
Posted April 09, 2012 08:55 PM

Was there any reason why you did not invite the father in and explain to him how his behaviour was affecting his son?


Lynne Namka
Posted April 10, 2012 01:25 PM

Sorry forgot to mention that I did work with the father who tried to step up his game of fathering. Unfortunately he had a mental condition that left him with limited resources.

Also worked to strengthen the marriage.


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