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Using EFT to Help Students with Focus and ADHD

Dear EFT Community,

EFT practitioner Jackie Poinier shares how she worked with an 8-year-old girl who had problems with focusing and completing simple tasks like sitting long enough to complete her homework. Jackie used EFT tapping to help the child gain control over her ADHD distraction issues and become the success she was meant to be. The article also illustrates the EFT technique Sneaking Away from the Problem.

– EFT Universe

By Jackie Poinier

I work as an energy practitioner to remove limiting beliefs keeping women and children from experiencing their highest life potential. I have recently incorporated EFT into my work.

I began assisting an 8-year-old girl approximately seven months ago. She struggles in school with achievement, organization and motivation because of learning setbacks including ADHD and Dysgraphia. I explained EFT to the mother after a regular session of tutoring and energy work with her daughter, who l will call Wendy. I explained EFT’s holistic benefit in reducing the stress of negatively charged emotions attached to self esteem, work-related stress and anxiety. I offered to do a brief, 10-minute session with her before working on her daughter. She agreed.

We worked on her irritation toward Wendy’s slow IEP process (applying for special need assistance in school). She felt so much calmer that she agreed to introduce her daughter to tapping. By the next week, Rachel had an interest in what “tapping” was because of what her mom relayed about her own brief experience. I explained that we tap parts of our face and neck while talking about the aspects of schoolwork that we don’t like.

Since Wendy has a hard time sequencing letters, organizing spatial information and staying focused, she struggles in a classroom setting.

She is currently repeating the second grade and in the process of moving to a one-on-one learning setting. Her teacher is pushing her to switch schools since she has already repeated the second grade.

I help her with her fluency and writing skills once a week for 60-90 minutes. I support the educational side with energy healing. My energy work released learning blocks attached to performance anxiety rooted in infant fears of disappointing her parents. She developed the coping mechanism of avoiding work in order to avoid failing and disappointing them. Her learning disabilities make it even harder to impress her parents. I used all of this information to guide her pain points.

To introduce tapping, I tapped my own face and said example problems one could have with schoolwork.

We both tapped the karate chop point as she answered, “What is your favorite part about our homework sessions? What is your least favorite part?”

I wrote down each aspect in her own words. I asked Wendy if it is scary to fail because it makes teachers and parents mad. Her responses became new aspects. I used all of this information to guide the setup phrases and pain points. I explained that I would repeat all of these sentences while we tapped our faces together. I explained that we can feel better about “sad” things by tapping special points that connect to how we feel. I tapped each point on my face once, and tapped each point on her face once to model.

I modeled finding a SUD number by saying, “I know I feel bad when I feel yucky in my stomach. Sometimes it feels worse, like a 9 out of 10. Sometimes it is only a 3 out of 10. Where do you feel yucky about homework? How badly?”

She said it was a 10 all over her tummy. I then tested some sample setup phrases. I modeled that even though I sometimes feel “yucky,” I can still like myself.

The positive affirmations that resonated with her were:

  • I am an awesome kid
  • I am a princess
  • My parents are still proud of me
  • I can do it anyway
  • I can still do my best

We tapped the Karate chop point and went through the two main symptoms that were affecting our session at the moment. Her constant urge to leave her chair was the most disruptive avoidance tactic. The biggest factor pulling her out of her chair was the desire to play with her cat. I treated these as two separate aspects.

Round 1

Karate Chop:

  • Even though I can’t stay in my seat, I am an awesome kid.
  • Even though I want to play with my cat, I am an awesome kid. 

 Then, we talked about getting up and playing with her cat as we tapped through the face points. I did one round about getting out of her seat and one round about playing with her cat.

Round 2

After a deep breath, I asked if it felt easier to stay in her seat. Her anxiety had subsided to a five. Even though it was easier, she still wanted to get up and play with the cat. I switched the focus to choosing to do homework even though she would rather get up. Insert any of your student’s avoidance tactics within the, “I would rather,” statement:

  • Even though I want to do (symptom), than to do my homework.
  • Even though I want to do other things…
  • Even though I want to stand up…
  • Even though I wan’t to play with cat (used cat’s name) more than work…

We then chased the symptoms as I saw the more prominent symptoms subside. I suggest looking for a reduction in the anxious and wiggly behavior.

Round 3

Common Symptoms that we chased in each new round of taps:

  • I can’t stay in my seat
  • I’m distracted by my cat, noises outside, my piano, snack-time etc.
  • I need to go to the bathroom
  • I would rather eat, play, look outside etc

After she became comfortable voicing her opinion I asked her how she felt about the homework. I suggest prompting with questions about what work the child likes to do and what work they don’t like to do. Wendy expressed that she doesn’t like to do homework when she doesn’t get it or when she forgets what she learned in class.

Round 4

I did the karate chop reversal point about the feelings of inadequacy and then tapped through the face points on the statements that she mentioned, lingering on feelings that sent her gaze toward the floor. I ended face point rounds with even though statement since she needed the positive reinforcement.

  • Even though I hate spelling
  • Even though I feel confused when I try to spell
  • Even though I feel bad when I don’t get it right/I don’t get it
  • Even though I forget how to do it Even though it is hard
  • Even though it is easy for other kids
  • Even though I might get it wrong
  • Even though my parents/teacher will tell me it is wrong

After the four rounds, she shifted from physically looking ashamed to looking peaceful. She cognitively understands that she can work on homework problems even if she occasionally gets them wrong.

Round 5

Once I saw this shift, we did a round of tapping on her negative feelings toward wrong answers and school confusion. We tapped through the face points, “sneaking away” from the anxiety of difficult schoolwork.

  • Even when I get problems wrong I can still get the work done.
  • Even though I may not know it now, I can learn it soon.
  • Even though some problems are hard… I will do it anyway because I’m an awesome kid.

Last Round

I ended by “Sneaking Away from the Problem” with a round of facial tapping.

  • Even though some question are hard and some are easy…
  • Even though I can’t know everything before I practice it…
  • Even though no one, including me, knows everything… I am an awesome kid that can do easy and hard problems.

The final shift was her understanding that nothing is easy before she learns it. We talked about how different grades have different lessons because students aren’t supposed to know everything all at once. To assess how anxious she still was about failing, I asked her to imagine getting a problem wrong. Her embarrassment and shame dropped significantly. She could accept wrong answers, but enjoyed right answers. Since she was self-accepting, I asked about the opinion of her parents and teachers. She could see that they could accept wrong answers as well, but enjoyed right answers because they cared about her.

To ground the cognitive shifts, I did an energy clearing to let go of the subconscious fear of disappointing teachers and parent figures, which led to schoolwork avoidance. At this point, she seemed so much calmer that I told her it was time to start working. She normally can’t make it through 90-minute sessions without standing up to avoid the work every 10 minutes. It had already been 20 minutes, so I knew we could start her homework. As we worked on her spelling and reading, she would look to the side at a noise or at her playful cat.

I would use the language triggered in the tapping to refocus her, “I know that you would rather get up, but let’s choose to do this now. You can choose to play with her (cat’s name) in 15 minutes.”

Like most ADHD students, she stays on task when she knows how long she has until a future break. After EFT, she could actually make it to the break without getting up in between.

The parent’s goal is for Wendy to work with me for 90 minutes. Normally we complete only 60-75 minutes of work, interjected with many distractions, until she loses too much focus to be productive. This EFT session was the first time she sat still for 90 minutes with one break at the 60-minute mark.

I just had a followup session with her and she could easily sit through 75 minutes without standing up every 10 minutes. I gave her a break after an hour. When she became antsy with 15 more minutes left in the session, we tapped on the distractions.

She actually proposed the idea: “Can we do that tap thing?”

A major shift was her willingness to express her feelings about difficult problems.

It was no longer scary for Wendy to admit it was hard for her. Her ability to verbalize her struggle kept her in her seat. Her focus has inspired me to create more engaging activities, which increases her attention more. Another important cognitive shift is her recognition that she can think school is hard. She knows that she doesn’t need to be an expert at everything. She understands that she can choose to continue trying, even when she wants to do other activities.

Since I work with her weekly, I will observe and target the specific triggers that distract her. I also am waiting on her teacher and aide for updated feedback on which ADHD and disorganization symptoms still disrupt her in a classroom setting. The next step is to target the most prominent classroom disruptors that reduce her ability to focus. Now that the fear of failing has subsided, we can work on the actual focus that is necessary to succeed. I also will work on developing enjoyment around schoolwork. To do this, I will target aspects that cause dislike for reading and writing. As trust grows, I will relive the moments when she first felt bad about teacher expectations, parent pressure and peer competition.

The goal is to find and clear each blocks and limiting belief, so that she can achieve her highest potential.