The answer to this question could be yes and no. Yes, because, contrary to what people think, research suggests that children are good at doing hypnosis. Also, children do not have all the emotional baggage that adults usually carry with them, which makes it easier to work with them on many different issues. Children must be at least 5 years of age to do Hypnosis because they need to able to concentrate and follow instructions. The great thing about using hypnosis or hypnotherapy with children, is that they can usually enter a hypnotic state almost instantly because they have very good imaginations and their subconscious minds are quite open. For this reason, information is uncritically experienced rather than being processed and critically evaluated (the conscious mind is easily bypassed).
In order for hypnosis to work when working with children, it is important that children are aware of their problem and feel motivated to follow instructions with the therapist and improve. Children need to have a desire to change in order to benefit from the hypnosis sessions and they also need to believe that they can do it. Therefore, it is important for parents to encourage children and help them believe that they can do it through hypnosis. After all, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis and hypnotists don't have mind control to magically change people.
In what cases could Hypnosis not be recommended for children? Having a child come into the office crying and unwilling to talk is never a good idea. If this is the case, the Hypnotherapist can try to talk to the child and build some trust. If this is not possible, it might be best to consider visiting another type of professional.
There are some cases in which the behaviour of one of the parents is contributing directly to the child's problem. When this is the case, it is suggested that the parent does hypnosis in order to change such behaviour and contribute to the child's improvement. We have to remember that children tend to imitate their parents behaviour. In any case, it is always a good idea to mention the child's problem to the family physician to make sure the child is in good physical and mental health.
Hypnotherapy could help with habits and problems such as:
- ADD and ADHD (Hyperactivity and lack of concentration)
- Nail biting
- Thumb sucking
- Sleep disorders
- Social skill
- Organization and discipline
- Test anxiety
Here are a few tips to help children increase their confidence, self-esteem and to develop healthy habits:
- Instead of criticising children, it is better to citizen the action. For example: instead of saying “you’re such a fool”, it is better to say “you should be more careful next time”
- It is important for children to grow up in a place where they feel loved, safe and secure. All the hypnosis in the world can never replace the love and security that children need to experience at home.
- If parents fight often, or if one of the parents is an alcoholic, it can really affect children for the rest of their lives, so it is important for parents to seek professional help and solve their issues.
- Parents should always be careful with what they say, especially if it is something negative. For example, parents who are really negative or complain a lot could transfer the habit of complaining and being negative to their children. In the same way, if parents are overprotective, children could grow up believing that the world is a very dangerous place.
- Parents should always give a good example of practicing discipline at home. After all, children learn what they experience at home.
- Parents should always praise their children and remind them that they are smart and capable when they achieve something, even if it is something small.