Understanding NLP

                     By Ragini Annan

When we look at our children's development we almost entirely focus on their academic and social skills. As a result, our children receive sound coaching in arithmetic, reading, writing, sciences, music or sports.

What happens to the development of our child's emotional and spiritual skills? How do they learn to express their true inner feelings and desires? What resources do they draw from to cope with the private difficulties they face at home and at school? How will they learn to stay strong emotionally, spiritually and mentally when they are faced with relationship breakdown, family upheavals, school and social pressures?

We see many problems in our children today: lack of concentration; poor communication; lack of skills in time-management, jealousy; sibling rivalry, anger; fear; depression and sometimes breakdown.

Often we explain away these problems by regurgitating common themes such as "they are having a temper tantrum", "the child has learning difficulties", "the child is going through the terrible sevens", "the child has attention deficit syndrome" or "the hormones are kicking in". These are all labels designed to explain the problem but rarely help us get to the root cause of the situation.

Additionally, our children's time is often back-to-back with school, clubs and peer pressure activities which we often bring upon ourselves. This means that there is no time to find out what our children really think, want or worry about.

Added to this we as parents do not have the necessary skills to create the correct framework for communications mainly due to our proximity to the problem and our own agendas, or often our children feel that they cannot share these things with us because we will be disappointed or not want to understand. It then becomes a learnt behaviour that it is acceptable not to express true feelings, wants, desires or fears: it becomes a given, a habit. There is no solution at home or at school.

We also subconsciously influence the conditioning of our children. If children are repeatedly exposed to a second hand experience or a view, these are then transferred to our children. These conditionings may be in conflict with what the child experiences first hand but they now have difficulty once again in articulating the strength of what they have learnt from their own experience. The conflict within is intense.

These communication failures and conditionings result in a pool of unexpressed emotions that build up a pressure within that may finally find temporary relief through one form of fad or another, such as following the wrong crowd, too much TV or being influenced by a bully. Alcohol or drugs may even play a part. There is nowhere where the unexpressed pool of emotions can flow; there is no get out clause. The spiral continues on a downward path.

An analogy could be: a child can see everything on the other river bank - their future state, better relationship, better learning, better concentration, better communication but they don't know how to get there and whenever they experiment methods of getting to the other bank, their parents are there to remind them of the many reasons why the scheme will fail and that there is nothing of value on the other bank anyhow.

The parents who cannot see the other side of the river bank never asks the child what they see there but often find things on this side of the river bank which are bigger and better that the child is asked to concentrate on. Eventually the child loses interest in both river banks and there is resultant dimming of both the future and the present states. They are now no longer on their own or chosen-by-us life paths, they are on no mans land and are exposed to any outside influence that happens to swing by, claiming them sometimes for good.

A skilled Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) therapist can help provide the much needed get out clause in this analogy and assist the child to define what they see on the other side of the river bank - the future state and also help define the fears and worries felt in creating a path to get there from the current state. In so doing they develop a rapport and work out the resources required to move from the current state to the future state.

NLP therapy provides the child with the skills to define and achieve positive outcomes through a finely tuned awareness and use of their five senses and emotions. It takes a holistic approach to their being rather than a faceted one, allowing them to remain flexible, on track and balanced, and provides strategies to cope with the difficulties they may face in learning, achieving emotional balance and sustaining relationships.

NLP is a powerful study of information about how the human mind works, and has identified over many years of research the strategies employed by successful people. It is these strategies that can be taught to others for their personal growth and development. NLP has a number of presuppositions, these may or may not be true but they have proved to be extremely powerful. For example: You create your own reality; you get what you concentrate on; you have within you all the resources you need to achieve what you want; your behaviour is always purposeful.

NLP is about communication. One of its fundamental premises is that while we are constantly communicating, a very large proportion of this is conveyed by means other than words. So what are we communicating? Is the intent of our communication always understood? The answer is almost always no. So how do we recognise the places where we are not being clearly understood and how can we adjust? One of the goals of NLP is to become better understood, a better communicator of what lies beneath our surface.

NLP is about the language we use. The language affects how we think and respond. Our children need to take their experiences and translate them into language which requires them to condense, summarise and distort what they actually feel in its entirety. NLP provides models of questioning to allow children to communicate what they fully intent. In this way, you can get to the source of any pent up experience or emotion and deal with it quickly before it festers and grows into an unwieldy disorder.

NLP strategies and processes are a result of researching what is the difference that 'makes the difference' in successful children. How do children that learn well, do the learning? Once this is understood then the strategies can be taught to others, giving children new options in how to learn. The NLP Spelling Strategy was modelled from naturally good spellers and is easily taught to children. There are many other examples that can lead to accelerated learning in the areas of sports, schooling, health and personal growth.

NLP helps to describe the images, sounds and feelings that make up the child's inner and outer world. NLP helps to 'code' our experiences, what makes a positive memory and what makes a bad one. How do we like or dislike something? When do we feel happy or scared? When we know how the child constructs the experience then it is easier to make changes.

NLP identifies the prominent sense employed by each child and provides correct strategy for learning through the use of their preferred sense. The child begins to learn methods to do well. NLP offers insights into what inhibits and enhances creativity within us to make better writers, artists and performers.

NLP offers relief from limitations and provides freedom from old restrictive habits or from forming bad habits in the first place. Fear and other limiting beliefs are broken down to give way to empowerment. NLP gives the child more options in the way they communicate, how they respond and how they feel. They can learn, therefore, to make better decisions. If the child is not living the life he or she wants, NLP offers a path to new and satisfying alternatives.

The parent of a child undergoing NLP coaching begins to enjoy better communication with them. Parents begin to notice changes in the behaviour and learning of their child. Parents feel reassured that their child is getting all elements of their learning needs, not simply the academic and social aspects. Very often it is the lack of maturity in the way the child handles emotions and feelings that lets a child down, now there is a means to ensure that this area too is not neglected and is addressed in a timely way before the shortcoming becomes a major problem. The parents also know that a child benefits from an independent ear where there are no agendas. The child sees personal growth and development which begin to fuel the other areas of their development. The parents receive valuable feedback without receiving information on the confidential elements of the NLP therapy. The circle is completed.

All children can benefit from NLP coaching. NLP helps them to grow whilst taking their innermost feelings and desires into account. NLP supplements children’s academic and home learning and helps alleviate any difficulty in learning, worries, tension or fear that accumulates and offers freedom through their discussions.

Ragini Annan is a qualified NLP practitioner and specialises in therapy for children. She practices from a child friendly home in Chiswick, London. Email  to learn more about how Ragini may help you.

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