Hypnotic Language: How To Talk So Kids Can Listen
What is hypnosis?
You might have the image of a necklace swinging back and forth in front of your child’s eye to make him fess up that he did stole the cookie from the cookie jar.
Hypnosis is simply being in a relaxed, deep meditative state bypassing the critical mind who usually wants to be the boss of everyone including you.
So, is it possible to speak in a hypnotic language? Leading him to take you to the scene of the crime as you follow the cookie crumbs he’s left behind?
Yes and No.
The most important in helping children listen with ease is your attachment and relationship with your child. As language comes into play, it is the way you attune to your child that will help your child perk up their ears to your new-found lingo.
You must begin there. Check out the blog on Collective CoRegulation: Anatomy Of Filipino Affection.
But, if you have a fairly secure relationship with your children, sprinkling everyday hypnotic language can be immensely helpful.
In this blog, I share ideas on how to use hypnotic language when you speak so your child can listen with ease. This means less fussing and less frustration on your part.
It’s important to understand that hypnotic language is a way to communicate with your child with trust and not with coercion. You simply open wide a locked gate so that they can begin to step inside.
Using bribery and constant reward system to make kids do what you want them to do can dampen their creativity and their intrinsic trust within themselves.
HYPNOSIS GONE BAD
In my practice, hypnotherapy is a tool I often use. Most of my clients leave with a personal recorded hypnotherapy tailored to heal and reach their deepest desires. To learn more about this read on Hypnotherapy for Filipino Women: Is it Effective?
Many times, Filipinx women I see have been hypnotized growing up with labels that serve everyone around them except for them.
These labels shaped your persona and become the story you believe and kept telling yourself.
A.K.A. Hypnosis gone bad.
If you were told that you were:
The Sickly Child (sakitin)
The Black Sheep
The Good Child
The Clumsy One
The One Who Will Succeed
The Pretty One
The Ugly One
…and many more.
Others around you have been using negative hypnotic language patterns that made you believed exactly what was recommended to you.
Of course, children are prone to this because developmentally they lean into their caregiver’s good sense to help them distinguish the so called right from wrong.
Using hypnotherapy as a psychotherapist is NOT my way to recommend how-you-need-to-be but to UN-RECOMMEND what have been prescribed to you by well-intentioned adults BUT stripped you of who you truly are. It’s simply a process of peeling away, excavating, leading you back to you. Check out Story Therapy here.
I NEED TO PEE
My children and I rode the ferry to San Francisco Pier one weekend. As we enjoyed the sights of seals, the scent of brewing coffee that reminds me of the Islands; I noticed that we need to head back to catch our ferry back home.
As we paced to the ferry boat direction, one of my daughters told me that she needed to pee. As we only have 15 minutes to spare with a 10 minute hike, I told her that there’s a restroom by the ferry port and asked if she could wait. She responded that she could.
I was relieved but paced my walking hurriedly. When we reached the port, the line spiraled like a cobra snake in a woven basket. It feels like a tooting sound, that of the coming of the ferry boat will begin to unleash the coiled snake.
I remember that we needed to make a pit stop to the restroom. I overheard the unleashing of the coiled snake line which meant we have 5 minutes tops to the completion of our Pee Rescue Mission.
When we got to the restroom, the custodian shouted-” This is close. Someone made a mess here!” I asked to pardon my daughter but the mess seemed too overwhelming for the man and he ordered me to leave.
So I did with a full-bladdered daughter.
I brought my daughter back to the line and she began to cry. The coiling of the cobra line has halted. Taking her back to the closest restroom would be at least a 10 minute hike and then back.
Dysregulated with my daughter’s anguish; I began to relax myself and began to whisper in her ears as I held her to calmness.
I told her a story about the bag inside her body that holds her pee. I made her visualize that I will be placing a very tight rubber band on it so that her pee can nestle inside without the need to spill. I told her that the bag is so tight that she can begin to relax her legs, her body and that she can begin to take natural breaths. I continued this process in detail, in long elongated pauses in between, in a deep relaxed calming voice.
We ended up waiting for 10 more minutes. It would’ve been excruciating for my daughter and without the hypnotic language embedded in my story, possibly traumatic. Peeing on yourself can leave devastating imprints (it’s important to note that if my daughter is not responding to hypnotic interventions that I’d rather wait 2-3 more hours for the next ferry boat than to have her pee on herself).
I share this story not for you to have a tool to delay a pee plea but to give you a sense of how magical learning hypnotic language can be. Please don’t try this at home will be a caution. But all these can be nurtured and learned.
Before this pee incident, my children are accustomed to visualization and meditation practices. At 3 years old, I have began teaching them about being silent to hear their bodies and I often create magical stories to their liking and amusement.
EVERYDAY HYPNOTIC LANGUAGE AND TOOLS
Before beginning the tools below, it is paramount that you as a caregiver find a way to calm and relax your mental state before applying any of these.
They don’t work when you are stressed out and dysregulated. If you’re a bit overwhelmed, this is ok, sometimes this is part of parenting. It’s important to check your emotional temperature first by asking yourself-
How am I feeling right now?
If I were the child, would I be at ease listening to me?
Is my body calm?
Do I feel stiff?
If you feel dysregulated, rigid and frustrated. Take a moment to find ways to express yourself. You can do this by journaling, getting fresh air, pacing back and forth, doing a quick mandala art and many other forms of expression.
Once you feel calm. You can begin to try these tools. Hypnotic language is not just about verbal language but also about your rhythm and movement. Please tailor the language to your child’s developmental needs.
- PREPARATION WITH MENTAL IMAGE
If you want your child to wash their hands and put their shoes away when you touchdown to home. Use preparation language. This would look like you being very clear with your expectations but using mental images in your home to anchor instructions to your child’s memory. For example-
Juan when we get home, I need you to remove your shoes by the doormat. Keep walking to the next room and place your shoes in the shoe rack and while at it, go to the bathroom please and wash your hands.
All the italicized words are mental images. Speakers who need to remember long speeches use this similar technique to remember important points about their talks.
- SPEAK IN STORIES AND METAPHORS
Rather than telling your child to stop being grumpy which makes them grump-ier. You can attune to their feelings by working on an image that represents their emotional content. For example, one time when I was nature-walking with my children, one of my daughters began to be upset because she started to get sweaty. She started to drag her feet, walking grumpily (is this a word!?).
After acknowledging how yucky it may feel to her to have her shirt stick on her back, I began to speak in metaphors, like this-
I see you dragging your feet like you’re carrying a humongous rock in your hands. Don’t worry as you begin to walk, you can choose to make that humongous rock smaller and smaller until it turns into a pebble. Imagine walking with just a tiny pebble in your hand! You can even choose to drop that pebble when you choose to.
I continue this type of language with pauses, a lower tone of voice and calmly-almost giving my child a meditative visualization of what’s to happen. In less than 5 minutes, my daughter announced, “ mommy, I just threw the pebbles!.”
- PREDICTING THE FUTURE. THE MAGIC OF COUNTING 1-10
You can count 1-10 until you’re blue and may not get your child to do anything. The difference with using preposition with 1-10 counting is the undeniable trust of the parent on their child.
Two people can seemingly do the same thing with very different results. It boils down to intention and mindful deliberation.
If your child refuse to wash his hands. You can begin counting 1-10, slowly and fortune-telling what your child is about to do. It’s even better when you allow your child to count on their own so they can temper to their own rhythm rather than yours. For example-
Johnny, I need you to wash your hands. Do you want to count 1-10 or blast off from 10-1? You can then begin fortune-telling every step of the process.
10, you’re getting ready to walk up to the sink.
9, you’re getting up to meet mommy
8, I see you trying. I can’t wait to see you.
7, those little feet are moving towards me.
6, there walking slow
5, there you go, keep going.
4, almost there.
3, you got it. Can’t wait to wash those sticky hands!
2, hands are telling me, please wash me now.
1, yeay, you made it!
Now, if you’ve struggled or carried your child to the sink kicking and screaming in the past. It will take at least a week for you to practice this with your child. Also, note that the above example should be tailored to your child. If you’re child isn’t moving, trust that he will. It begins with that feeling of trust that children can sniff miles away.
You want to build on your child’s successes. So, if you’re counting, make 8 longer before getting to 9 if you know you’re child is trying. One success leads to the other. Reward your child with a high-five and lots of smile from you.
If you’re child isn’t buying it, asks, “ Shall mommy start counting again in 2 or 3 minutes?”
When you don’t know what to say to your child, mirror them. Mirroring is not an act of sarcasm to elicit more annoyance but a movement that communicates joining. As a psychotherapist, one way I communicate understanding is through mirroring.
If you’re child crosses her arms or looks up because she’s annoyed. You can mirror her frustration by looking up and sighing as she would.
If you’re toddler throws himself on the floor because his blocks got knocked off, don’t throw yourself on the floor. That would be weird :). Instead, copy his hands in the way he expressed his frustration and add words to his emotions. For example, you may form your hands into a fist and growl, “ oh men, I worked so hard to build my city!”
Children are able to listen when you have the ability to join them rather than being on a tyrant to correct them. Noone enjoys being corrected.
Language is not just verbal but more so, movements in our faces, our bodies, our pacing, and even in our breathing. You can calm your child faster by communicating a language that they understand.
- DANCING TO YOUR CHILD’S RHYTHM
If you’re child is upset, telling them to stop being upset causes them to be more upset or tuck away their upset to build up for the next time. Your uneasiness with crying and whining causes more in the future. Putting a lid on a boiling pot will eventually cause it to explode.
When your child is upset that you’re no longer able to console her, take the lid off and slowly turn the burner down.
Sense your child’s upset in your body. It’s likely you are also getting dysregulated (out of rhythm) with the overwhelming situation. Watch your child expression of being upset, do they need space? If they do, dance to that rhythm.
If you see your child jumping up and down while in a tantrum, asks permission if mommy can help and begin to jump up and down with your child. There are many ways you can support your child in this way-
Swaying from left to right.
Swaying forward to back.
Putting your hands on your child’s forehead and begin to hum.
Push and pull motion. Putting a fabric between you and your child as you push and pull like a tug of war movement.
By watching your child, you can discover more movements. If your child is stumping his right foot, asks him to stump with the left. There is a reason why children are magnetized with nursery rhymes, there is a predictable tune, a melodic hymn that lulls their nervous system to calmness.
You can be hypnotic or persuasive to your children by being a keen observer, having indelible trust, and being deliberate with your suggestions to them.
The word hypnotic may conjure up thoughts on manipulation and coercion which is a facet of using bribery in shaping children’s behavior. The hypnotic language in this article is about the language of persuasion that offers the least resistance in the caregiver-child dyad.
Rather than picking up your child at the third time for not doing what they’re supposed to do, your child picks up his own feet with no (or little) coercion from you.
The result is a child who feels intrinsically confident in his own agency and a parent who feels more joyful in her parenting journey.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 13 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. Check out her Free Webinar Speak the Pinoy Love Language here.
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