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The Role of Hypnosis with Children by Ajamu Ayinde

Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned veteran, there’s a good chance that at some point during your child’s life you’ve wished for better ways to help your child deal with their medical and academic challenges. Common concerns include helping your child fall asleep, stop a bad habit or perform better in school. Many of the medications used to manage your child’s symptoms may cause drowsiness, nausea or other side effects. Luckily, hypnosis has no side effects. It has been around since ancient times and the tools have been employed by American doctors and dentists since the 1950’s.

Hypnosis has been the focus of thousands of clinical studies addressing the challenges of children. More and more pediatricians are recommending hypnosis to parents. Some pediatricians are trained in hypnosis and others will refer to a certified hypnotherapist who works with children.

Hypnosis can help with bedwetting, pain, insomnia, test-taking anxiety and asthma. Please bear in mind that any of the above issues can have an organic component so please consult a doctor before consulting a hypnotherapist.

Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned veteran, there’s a good chance that at some point during your child’s life you’ve wished for better ways to help your child deal with their medical and academic challenges. Common concerns include helping your child fall asleep, stop a bad habit or perform better in school. Many of the medications used to manage your child’s symptoms may cause drowsiness, nausea or other side effects. Luckily, hypnosis has no side effects. It has been around since ancient times and the tools have been employed by American doctors and dentists since the 1950’s.
Hypnosis has been the focus of thousands of clinical studies addressing the challenges of children. More and more pediatricians are recommending hypnosis to parents. Some pediatricians are trained in hypnosis and others will refer to a certified hypnotherapist who works with children.
Hypnosis can help with bedwetting, pain, insomnia, test-taking anxiety and asthma. Please bear in mind that any of the above issues can have an organic component so please consult a doctor before consulting a hypnotherapist.
 
Hypnosis Defined
Hypnosis is a safe, naturally occurring, focused state of attention. Hypnotherapists employ relaxation and suggestion to subtly shift beliefs, habits and physical complaints. As long as the child understands the benefits of being free of the problem, hypnosis can work. It is not always necessary for him to understand hypnosis or even know it is being used. Dr. Howard Hall in Medical Hypnosis: An Introduction and Clinical Guide described how he used hypnosis to assist a boy with sickle cell anemia who had great difficulty swallowing pills. The little boy was becoming progressively sicker due to his inability to take the pills that were meant to help him. The child was very motivated to learn a new way and the issue was resolved in a single hypnosis session.
 
Common issues
Nocturnal enuresis or bedwetting: This issue has been shown to respond quite well to hypnotic intervention.
Thumb sucking: A hypnotherapist can help identify the feelings that are prompting the behavior. When a child feels important, loved and secure, the habit goes away.
Pain: At the doctor’s office, parents or medical personnel can distract the young patient from unpleasant activities like getting a shot or having stitches removed.
Test-taking: Teachers can employ relaxation techniques prior to tests and examinations.
Insomnia: Dr. Hall has reported that results can be obtained after two to three sessions.
Asthma: Many published studies have shown that hypnosis can help children with asthma whether therapy is done in an individual or group setting.
 
DIY Guidelines
While it is always best to work with an expert, many times it will be more convenient for parents to apply the techniques of hypnosis with their children. Sometimes an issue comes up at an inconvenient time and getting in touch with your friendly neighborhood hypnotherapist is not an option. Most libraries have books on self-hypnosis.
Personalized Suggestions: The suggestions must be customized to the individual child. For example, make use of the specific word your child uses to describe something good like “epic” rather than your own word such as “cool.”
Brevity: Keep the sessions short. Just a few minutes can be sufficient to help a young child reach a hypnotic state and offer positive suggestions.
Praise: Give the child lots of praise during and after the session.
Use fantasy: Logical arguments are not necessary with children.
 
Remember that imagination is more important than willpower when it comes to entering hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is an essential life skill and, once learned, can be applied to many other areas. Because it is not a pill, the results from hypnosis may not be instant and must be practiced. However, because it is a skill, there is no danger of dependency or harmful side effects.

Ajamu Ayinde, M.A., A.C.H. is a local certified medical hypnotherapist and hypnosis trainer, who has taught in hospitals, medical schools and complementary medical centers around the country as well as Canada and the UK. He was the 2012 NATH Outstanding Transpersonal Contribution award recipient and the 2004 IACT Therapist of the Year. He offers sessions in person and via Skype. For further information, visit HarnessTheAdvantage.com or call 240-6470.

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