“Should I be doing NLP work with children?”
It’s a question I often get from students whom plan to apply NLP on someone other than their own kids. Especially going into the therapeutic realm, much like with adults, you are at risk to travel slippery slopes.
I think in the application on NLP and children not your own, there are a few things that could be useful for you to consider.
1. The age and maturity of the child + the presenting NLP application or problem.
There is a big difference between teaching a 6 year old how to self anchor to feel happy, versus doing an NLP timeline of some sort of deep traumatizing event. There is a difference between working with a 4 year old, and 14 year old.
2. When there is mental illness at play, refer out. Regardless of the age. When self harm or suicide is at play, refer out. If it requires a medical doctor, refer out. And I could go on. Unless of course, you are an MD, or a therapist.
3. “When in doubt, refer out.” I will say it again “when in doubt, refer out.”
4. Are you the best person to help them? If the answer is no, refer out.
5. If it was one of your children, would you send your children to someone like you, with your ability, skill level, practice, training, familiarity with children, and the modalities you use?
6. Did you practice your tools on adults properly first? Are you clear as to exactly what you need to say or do, and to observe? Consider ecology, always.
7. Be an experienced NLP Practitioner or Master Practitioner, before working any significant patterns with children. I personally would decide against, doing anything you wouldn’t be willing to do over the phone in terms of NLP application. Unless, you are very experienced. Again, keep in mind there is a big difference between talking to kids using the meta-model, or a fun New Behavior Generator versus a phobia cure or significant emotional event in the past.
8. Do all your patterns age appropriate, the way to work with a 4 year old is different from a 10 year old. Meet the children in their map of the world, be creative!
9. Never do something on someone else’s children in terms of any coaching, without permission of the parents when it oversteps the point between an adult helping a child or coaching in a more professional sense.
10. Using NLP Practitioner skills to help kids learn, typical fears kids have, motivation, creating powerful resourceful states, make them feel happy and good….are all good. Significant emotional events, trauma’s, large fears, only if you got the experience and the know-how.
11. Raising kids using NLP, or with the thought process of NLP, is a WONDERFUL thing.
I know it isn’t NLP-cool, to look at your own limitions. Or to use the famous pretend “as if” frame. But where it comes to children, I think it isn’t time for cool experiments! What if they were your kids? We must set up our children to become happy and successful people. Part of NLP should and must be used, on every child for that matter. And other parts of NLP only if you are super skilled (and NLP is the right modality for the children involved.)