Childhood anxiety is very common. Small children – infants and toddlers – routinely show fear of strangers, new places and people, animals, loud noises, the dark and many other things. Most of these fears will melt away by the time a child is five or so. However, some children will continue to experience significant amounts of anxiety because they are “anxious by nature.” They have inherited “anxious genes.”
Fortunately, there are many new techniques available to help anxious kids (and adults!). We’ll look at one in this article – an intervention called “WHEE” which stands for Wholistic Hybrid of EMDR and EFT. For those unfamiliar with these names of psychological treatments, WHEE can also stand for Wholistic Healing Easily and Effectively.
WHEE is a self-help technique. A parent can learn it and teach it to their child or they can take their child to a psychological practitioner who is familiar with it. Parents can learn all about WHEE at www.wholistichealingresearch.com where it is explained in depth by its developer, psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Benor.
Here is an introduction to the WHEE method. Try it on yourself first. Once you see how it can help calm and relax you, then teach it to your child.
- Think of something you are worried about. Rate how worried you are about the issue between 1 and 10, 10 being “extremely worried.”
- Fold your arms across your chest so that your right hand is resting on your left upper arm and your left hand is resting on your right upper arm. This is called the “Indian Chief” position, or the “Butterfly” position. You will be tapping alternately on your arms, left/right, left/right, left/right throughout the treatment (one tap on your left arm, followed by one tap on your right arm, repeating continuously for about 30 seconds).
- Close your eyes and start your alternate tapping. Say, “Even though I’m worried about (name your worry in as much detail as you possibly can), I know I am a good person (and God is with me and will help me). Include that last bracketed phrase if you believe it to be true. Continue tapping and worrying for about 30 seconds.
- Keeping eyes closed, put your hands on your lap and take a deep breath in and out. Let your energy settle. Notice what thoughts, feelings, sensations and images are coming into your awareness. If you have more worry than before, or there is a new disturbing thought, or you are less worried but still worried, start at step 1 and do all 4 steps again. If all the worry is gone, tap on your lap (left/right, left/right, etc.) SLOWLY, for only about 10 seconds, stating a positive thought as you are tapping (i.e. “I know it will be fine” or “God will help us through this” or “I feel calm and confident” or any other positive thought that now comes to your mind. Pause after 10 seconds of tapping and then repeat another 10 seconds with the positive thought. Finally, do one more round.
WHEE for Everything
A parent can help a child using WHEE for a phobia. For instance, suppose you are going to be visiting people who own a dog and your child is terrified of dogs. Before you go, you can ask the youngster to picture the dog and feel the fear. While he is feeling the fear, guide him through the WHEE steps, until he feels calm and confident.
A child may be anxious about an examination or test. WHEE can reduce the anxiety to zero. A child may be afraid to stay alone in his bedroom. WHEE can make the monsters disappear! WHEE can be used for any sort of distress such as sadness about a friend moving away, a pet dying or parents divorcing. WHEE can be used to help reduce anger, jealousy and overwhelm. It can eliminate all kinds of fears – such as the fear of public speaking, first time experiences, being away at camp and so on.
Once a child knows how to help himself with WHEE, his confidence will soar. He’ll have instant healing whenever he needs it – right at his fingertips!