Once my son starting sleeping through the night, I hoped we would not revisit this dilemma during the terrible twos. Since putting Brammel in his new toddler bed, though, he has had difficulties getting to sleep at night. The freedom from the bars on his crib is too enticing not to escape his room.
Even with a safety gate on his door, he bulldozed through to get free reign of the house. I was relegated to gatekeeper, a wearisome position stationed outside his bedroom door trying to prevent his escape, until the moment of clarity.
I had almost exhausted all the tools in my parent tool box when I remembered attending an Emotional Freedom Technique training session a few years back. EFT worked on my older son’s nightmares and I was sure it would work again.
I started tapping on the specific points on Brammel's hand, eyebrow, the corner of his eye, under his eye, under his nose and then under his mouth while saying “Brammel goes to sleep” at each point with renewed hope that he might sleep.
EFT, or meridian tapping, “is a gentle method of clearing emotional distress by tapping on the endpoints of the body’s energy channels,” said Meg Deak, MCAT, LPC, Certified EFT Practitioner and member of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.
“This is one of the best self-help tools out there,” said Deak, “It is hard to understand how tapping on a few points could suddenly reduce anger, stress and depression but ... anybody can do it.”
The number one reason why children cannot fall asleep at night is because of anxiety. EFT helps calm and release anxiety or fear. When kids feel calm, they are more likely to talk about what is bothering them. Teaching children to tap on themselves is also empowering because it gives them a tool to help release anxiety and fear on their own.
Within moments of tapping through a few rounds, my restless two year old was asleep and I have been using the technique ever since. Last night Brammel said, “Do the tapping” and he tapped along. We tapped together.
Surrogate tapping, or tapping on yourself while your child taps on themselves, benefits parents as much as it does the children because it clears and relaxes the parent as well. Not only does baby get a good night's sleep, so does mom.
Deak has a private mental health practice in Emmaus where she integrates the use of EFT to help her clients reduce stress, anxiety, depression, grief and cravings among other emotional blockages.
“You can learn, in 20 minutes, the basic process over the internet,” said Deak, “learning the basic formula and the tapping points can cover a lot of ground.”
Gary Craig, the now retired founder of EFT previously offered the tutorials online for free but, other sites offer the information as well. The technique is harmless for parents to learn and use on their kids.
While Deak said that anyone can learn EFT for anxiety or fears and that EFT is safe, those with more complex issues or trauma should use EFT under the guidance of a mental health professional.