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. You can read Part 1 of this article here.
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. You can read the full explanation of the Doodle Tapping process in Masha Bennett's Doodle Tapping article.
Doodle Tapping with Tell The Story/Movie Technique or Tearless Trauma
I’ve successfully used Doodle Tapping with children to work through the emotional crescendos of a specific event, including some that were traumatic. I do all the usual steps of the TTS/M or TTT technique, doing just a doodle first and then tapping round while describing the doodle. I do this instead of doing normal rounds with a Setup Up and Reminder Phrases. For the children I've worked with, this process seemed to keep the emotional clearing less frightening.
As needed, we might do DT on just the title to start with. We clarify that we’re focussing on just the title, and say we're putting it over there. We do the doodle for about one minute, followed by 1-2 rounds of tapping. Or I may get them to put the event behind a wall, and guess the intensity but not think about it, just do a doodle and then we tap. I find that even in a 30-minute or 45-minute child-friendly session we often clear at least one issue or story/movie. Sometimes we clear two or more.
Masha recommends that speed is of the essence in Doodle Tapping, and recommends no more than one minute per doodle. For children, I set a timer for 60 seconds and give them a gentle reminder that “we have about 5 seconds to go”. But often they finish sooner. It can be astonishing how much a child can draw in 30-60 seconds!
Words or No Words?
For children, I usually ask what they’d like to call their doodling. It’s usually just a simple description such as “Yellow stars”. If they seem stuck on what to call it, or they’re a child who has a fear of getting things wrong or a core belief of not feeling good enough, then I don't push it. I might make a few suggestions, or we just tap without words as they look at their drawing.
With children, I start by asking them to look at the doodling while we tap and say the description on each point. I remind them which point to go to next so they don’t need to look up from the drawing until the end of the round. However, for each child I also experiment with what happens if we just tap without words. With or without words, sometimes they will go off into a trance as if they are processing more deeply, and so I wait until they return to looking at me or the doodle before we tap the next point.
A child who is quite anxious may find it particularly hard to choose from a large selection of pens, so it’s important they don’t have too many there. I find a way to help them choose.
When working in an online session, children will, of course, need to be prepared with their own paper and pens near their computer/device. Some children come with a pencil case or tin full of a huge array of pens. I usually ask the parents beforehand to get them to choose a small selection so that they don't get overwhelmed when trying to make a choice of which pen to use each time. They can always bring a different selection next time.
Online Doodle Tapping Sessions
I’ve used Doodle Tapping successfully in online sessions with children. It’s more or less the same as tapping in the same room. I ask the parent to get the child ready ahead of time with paper or an exercise book, and a small selection of pens. Once they’ve done this in one session, they usually have the materials ready in case they feel like using DT next time.
I also get the parent to check that the device is working and that the child can see and hear me well. Of course, I usually can’t see what they’re doodling as it's on a surface below their screen, but when the time’s up I get them to hold the paper up to show me. I’ll say something non-judgmental such as “So what are we working on this round?” If we’re using words, they decide or I suggest what words we’ll use for the tapping rounds, e.g. “This yellow flower”, “This angry zigzag”.
Help from Teddies, Dolls, Other Toys and Parents
For some children, I ask if they’d like a favourite teddy, doll or other toy to tap with them. Either the toy can sit propped nearby (for mutual support) or they can tap on the toy instead of on themselves. This can help change things up if the child seems to be losing interest in tapping on themselves. In one session we had a whole menagerie of toys supporting and being tapped on! You'd be surprised how much the toys said they enjoyed it and felt calmer by the session end. Alternatively, the parent can tap on the child if the child seems to be getting sleepy as their nervous system calms with further tapping.
I’m trying to come up with an alternative term for doodle tapping in Australia, as the term “doodle” is for a particular part of a boy that makes everyone giggle - I’m sure you can work out what it is! I’m leaning towards "Texta Tapping" because "texta" is the Aussie word for a felt-tipped pen.
Lareen Newman PhD is an accredited, certified Advanced EFT Practitioner.