Following my EFTi article providing insights and ideas from my application of Masha Bennett’s Doodle Tapping (DT) technique with my adult clients and myself, I thought it would be useful to share tips that I have from using this EFT technique with some child clients.
Doodle Tapping is designed to support tapping on complex or intense issues by externalising feelings on paper. I've found that it can also be a fun and different way to tap for children, especially if they like drawing.
The Doodle Tapping Process
Here’s a summary of Doddle Tapping. You can read the full explanation of the process in Masha Bennett's Doodle Tapping article.
1. ISSUE: Decide on an issue as usual and tune into the feeling about it right now
2. DOODLE: Take one sheet of paper, do a quick doodle or squiggle with a pen (1 minute or less)
3. TAP: Do two rounds of tapping whilst looking at the doodle
4. TURN: Turn the page over, put it aside (doodle side facing away)
5, REPEAT: for up to 8-12 sheets, then REFLECT on your feelings. Have they shifted?
Kids Who Like Drawing
Doodle Tapping can be one good way to engage a child in tapping or get them more excited about it, rather than just using words. My clients - adult and child alike - seem to be more inclined to have a go with doodling if they generally like drawing. And if they haven’t so far had bad experiences with art at kindy or school, or negative comments about their creative attempts by parents or others. First, I say to the child (and parent if they’re present) that I’ve got a different way to do tapping that they might find fun, and would they like to try it. I say it’s really easy. They just put the pen on the page and do whatever shapes they feel like, and then we tap.
I demonstrate how a doodle might look, using my hand in the air. It’s not uncommon for them to actually draw a picture of something, such as a person, a face, a flower or a house. These are often not obviously related to the issue at all, but it still seems to work as an easy way to externalise feelings. I then continue as usual with the rapid Doodle Tapping technique as per Masha Bennett’s original article. If we’re using words as we tap, we simply say phrases like “This picture” or “These yellow stars” or “This green frog”.
Issue and Intensity
With children, I still do the usual approach of clarifying what the issue is and getting an indication of intensity. If they have trouble putting a 0-10 number on the intensity, we might use the arm-measuring technique where they hold out their hands closer or further apart to show the intensity as “It’s this big” or “It’s this small now”. One child asked to use a Traffic Light Intensity that she’d learned at school, where red = very intense, yellow = moderately intense, and green = I’m fine. As she’d previously done regular tapping with me, she added her own “white/cream” to represent zero/it’s completely gone now. When I mentioned measuring the intensity to one young boy, he was very innovative. He rushed off to get a real tape measure and stretched it out to measure that the anger was 75cm originally, but now only 30cm!
As another measure, I also might ask the child if they have a feeling in their body. Some are good at this, others not yet. For example, maybe they feel their nerves as butterflies in their tummy. I check in every two doodles to remind the child what we’re focussing on and measure how intense the issue still feels to them. So far, the children I’ve tapped with seem to need far fewer doodle sheets than adults to completely clear an intensity.
Other Ways to Know “it’s working”
Masha says in her article that one way to gauge if the tapping is having an effect is by noticing the changes in subsequent doodles. For example, the first few doodles might be red angry zigzags, or black dots, while later doodles have a happier, calmer or more resolved feel to them such as a yellow sun, flowers, stars or happy faces. Or I find that I can notice the child is doing the doodles in a calmer way. Perhaps they are doodling with a more flowing action or a softer placing of the pen on the paper.
If children say they don’t know what the intensity is, or they say they don’t know if the issues are shifting, I can usually gauge if it’s releasing tension and bringing relief. They may be yawning, sighing, their face seems calmer, or they appear to be generally relaxing. If their parent is sitting in on the tapping session, they might turn to the parent and smile. Or they might become sleepy and relax on to the chair or the parent.
You can read Part 2 of this article here.
Lareen Newman PhD is an accredited, certified Advanced EFT Practitioner.