Deborah Mitnick used EFT quite creatively on her-then 3-year-old grandson Avi, who had an intense fear of water. Children respond well to EFT but finding a rapport while applying it is often a challenge. Deborah’s rapport skills, together with the treating of many aspects of the fear, make this case an important one to study. Deborah’s report is available to us with her kind permission.
My grandson Avi has always been afraid of water and has refused to go into or even close to any swimming pool, and has even resisted putting on a bathing suit. Avi’s not too crazy about taking baths, either, and won’t sit down in the tub. Instead, he stands up the entire time during his bath. This has made for some challenging bath times for his parents!
Next week, we are taking a family trip to the beach. Avi is terrified to get wet and told me very clearly that “Water is Dangerous! Getting wet is dangerous! Putting on a bathing suit is dangerous! Water is scary.”
His parents, David and Racheli, asked me if I could help him. We try EFT on everything, but I was a bit nervous about tapping on Avi: Would he accept me? Would he let me tap on him? Would it work? My “what-ifs” set in with a vengeance. What if Avi has a short attention span? What if I damage my relationship with him or his parents? What if I make a fool of myself? What if my kids are disappointed in me? What if they watch me fail and then feel reinforced in their belief that EFT is weird and that it just doesn’t work and here’s proof?
I borrowed some picture books from the library about going to the ocean. I also found some beautiful photographs of the ocean. Avi and I read through a couple of these books at his house. And he again insisted that “Water is Dangerous!”
I didn’t think Avi would let me touch him, so, I tapped on myself and Avi watched. “Even though Avi thinks water is dangerous, he’s OK.” I tapped the EFT short cut (7 different points) and Avi watched me carefully.
I asked him if he’d like to come to my house and see my kiddie pool (newly borrowed) and my sprinkler (newly purchased). He said yes, but he also said, “Water is Dangerous!”
So, I “set the stage” before Avi and his babysitter Aliza got here. I turned on the sprinkler and had it oscillating in only one direction, from straight up and then to the left. It was in the center of the driveway, so half of the driveway stayed dry. I put a few inches of water in the pool the day before and let it get warm overnight. There were three chairs set up on the driveway and a towel on each chair. There was a table with the library books about the ocean. There was a bowl with a few jelly beans (as a bribe!) on the table.
When I picked Avi up to drive him to my house, I mentioned the pool and the sprinkler. He whimpered, “Water is Dangerous!”
Although he was in the back seat while I drove, I tapped on myself and said, “Even though Avi thinks water is dangerous, he’s OK.” I went through the shortcut version while driving and while he watched me. (I never hold a cell phone to my ear while I drive, but I do enjoy tapping while driving when the spirit moves me!)
When we got to my house, Avi was not at all impressed with the pool and the sprinkler. He was willing to sit on a chair on Aliza’s lap but he wanted nothing to do with the water!
When I tried to move him toward the water, he’d pull back and whine and cry. (I’d say his discomfort intensity or SUDS level was a 10 on the 0-10 scale at this point.)
I tapped on myself again and ran through the short cut. Avi watched carefully. I asked if I could tap on him and he said I could. I tapped my eyebrow point and said, “Avi thinks water is dangerous, and that’s OK.”
I then tapped on his eyebrow point and said the same thing. Avi looked interested, so I kept going, alternating my “side of the eye” point and then his. I continued with my “under the eye” point and then his.
We tapped all of my points and all of his points in an alternating fashion. (He giggled at the underarm spot!) After two full rounds of the above, I asked Avi if we could get one finger wet. He said, “No finger wet!” So, we tapped, “Even though Avi doesn’t want to get even one finger wet, he’s OK!”
After a bit of laughing at all of the tapping, Avi seemed ready to get off Aliza’s lap. We walked toward the sprinkler. He held out one finger, as if to touch the water, but pulled back. I asked if I could touch him with my one wet finger. He whimpered and said no. We tapped, “Even though Avi doesn’t want Mom-Mom (that’s his name for me) to touch him with even one wet finger, he’s OK.”
And then he let me touch him with that one wet finger. And then he touched the water. And again. And again. And he laughed. We then splatted our hands in the sprinkler. And he laughed. But we were nowhere near done.
I asked Avi if he’d like to touch the water in the pool. “NO!” Again we tapped: “Even though Avi doesn’t even want to touch the water in the pool, he’s OK.” After a round of that, Avi bent over and touched the water when I did. And then he splashed the water. And then he splashed me! And I splashed him! And we both laughed. He was all wet. I asked if water was dangerous and he shouted, “NO!” He admitted it was now OK to be wet when he said, “I’ll be dry soon.”
I took off my shoes and stood in the water. Avi said he didn’t want to take off his shoes, although he looked as if he really wanted to! We tapped, “Even though Avi isn’t ready to take his shoes off yet and put his feet in the water, he’s OK.”
We’d been together for 90 minutes and I suggested to Avi that he go home to eat lunch. I also suggested that when he came back, he’d be ready to take off his shoes and go in the water. He agreed. I told Aliza to put him in dry clothes, but not to put shoes on him.
When I picked them up after lunch, Avi was barefoot. He whimpered and refused to walk on my driveway and Aliza carried him to the chair. We tapped for “Even though Avi doesn’t want to walk on the driveway, he’s OK.” With that, he walked on the driveway to the pool and got in. He kicked his feet and marched and splashed in place. He splashed me with his hands. I called David and excitedly told him to drive by my house because Avi was now sitting in the pool!
David told Racheli and they could hardly believe their ears! They were ecstatic with the progress that Avi and I had made! David drove by to take a peek. Avi saw him and invited him to come get wet.
What a thrill this was for me. And my constantly skeptical, head-shaking, EFT-disbelieving David asked if I would work with Avi that afternoon to help him overcome his fears of sitting in the bathtub and having water poured over his hair so they could shampoo him. So, for the next two hours, we tapped for many aspects, alternating between the remaining fears of the pool and the remaining fears of the sprinkler and occasionally throwing in some new fears of the bath. The aspects of these fears included: “Getting wet, water is scary and dangerous, not wanting to sit in the water, getting wet is dangerous, not wanting water in my eyes, not wanting to pour water on my head and afraid to sit in the bathtub afraid of washing my hair.”
By the end of our time together, Avi was standing in the middle of the sprinkler, just letting the water cascade over him. He was sitting in the pool and using a cup to pour water over his hair and mine. I told him that I would come over that night before he took his bath. I asked if he’d now be able to sit down in the water, and he assured me that he would!
Later that night, I went to his house for the BATH. After a tentative moment and one round of tapping, Avi immediately sat down. He wanted to pour water on my hair and I let him while I was leaning over the tub. I then asked if I could pour water on his hair and he agreed. His parents were totally shocked and excited and said, “This is a first!” However, Avi saw nothing to be excited about. This was a “normal” bath and he saw no difference in his before-and-after behaviors.
Baths have been going fine since this tapping. At this point, I’d spent about four hours with him on this day. I invited him back to my house the next morning. We spent about two hours in the pool and we talked about going to the ocean in a few days. We discussed the ocean, the waves, the sand, the heat of the sand, getting water in our eyes, wiping our eyes with a towel. For each of these aspects, we did a round or two of tapping. But I wouldn’t know the result until we got to the beach.
We’ve just returned from our week at the beach and I want to let you know we’ve had a total success with Avi!
At first he was hesitant, pulling back, and whining, but after three rounds of tapping, he held my hand and we walked toward the ocean. As the water ebbed away, I yelled, “Come back, Water!” as I beckoned to it. Avi laughed and yelled, “Come back, Water!” as he motioned with his hands to order the water to return. The water came closer. And then just that quickly, Avi began jumping the waves, getting all wet, getting water in his eyes, walking on the hot sand, getting all sandy! He loved the ocean. (And he now calls it “Mom-Mom’s ocean.”)
Getting him to put on his special swim diaper and bathing suit was a bit of a challenge and a very amusing scene for the rest of the family to watch!After I chased a naked Avi around the apartment for a while and then added just two rounds of tapping, he willingly put on these new pieces of clothing!
Again his parents were amazed. They still think that I’m “weird” and of course, they attribute my work with Avi to everything but the tapping! But that’s OK with me. They also think that I’m “great” and they’ve thanked me over and over again for my help. I’m just so happy! I’ve made a real difference in Avi’s life and I know it.
I also learned how to use EFT on such a young child. Avi generally hates to be poked at, but he didn’t mind my touching and tapping on his meridian points.
Through this experience with Avi, I’ve learned so much about building rapport and relationship with a little kid!
Many thanks to Deborah Mitnick for her generosity in allowing RelaxnSwim.com to reproduce this material.