Blog

08 Sep 2017
The journey to building exam confidence

‘He is not revising enough,’ says the parent. ‘He says he is, but he is not. I can’t imagine how dreadful Christmas is going to be, with his 11+ start in January!’

I work as a Life Coach for children, and exams are a frequent topic. I’ve had many parents quote me this same script, virtually word by word. Often it is for Year 6 children preparing for common entrance exams or 11+. But in secondary schools, especially highly academic ones, the pressure never lets up.

When children are under pressure, even the basic parts of the day, such as breakfast and bed, are more difficult, and anxieties surface. They experience spontaneous bursts of emotion and behaviour shifts as the exam approaches. Using maturity and confidence, children manage their worries, but it can be difficult. They know what is at stake.

Some children may hide by projecting over-confidence, while others may disengage completely.  This can be tiring and stressful for both children and parents.

One technique that I use to build exam confidence with my young clients is called ‘The Journey.’ It uses visualisation, and should be started about 10 to 14 days before their first exam. In this technique, children rehearse the time before and during the exam in their minds.  This helps them anticipate challenges and manage potential problems.

You can guide your child through ‘The Journey,’ as if you were making a movie together. At key points, ask them ‘How do you feel?’ If they feel over-excited or anxious, stop the technique. Ask them to take a few deep breaths until they are calm again.

Do ‘The Journey’ at night, just before they go to bed. Before starting, check that they are not too tired, and ensure you both agree to do it together.

Here is a script to follow.

Parent: Take a few deep breaths. We are going to time travel to the evening before your exam (provide dates and schools if possible). It is Sunday, you are preparing what you need for your exam. How are you feeling?

Child: I am ok.

Parent: What do you need for the next day and where will you leave it?

Child: I will need my clothes and my pencil case. I will have 3 pencils, sharpener, rubber, and ruler; I will leave everything in my room by the door.

Parent: How are you feeling now?

Child: I am ok.

Parent: Now you go to sleep and wake up at 7am on the day. What do you do?

Child: I wake up and go to the kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast, I go back to my room to get changed.

Parent: How are you feeling now?

Child: I am feeling a bit anxious now. I dont know why.

Parent: Thats fine. Take a few deep breaths and let those worries go.

Child: (After a few minutes): Ok, I am fine now.

Continue the process using key steps of the day: get in the car, reach the school, wait for the doors to open, get into the exam hall.

At every other step, check how the child is feeling. Pay attention to their tone of voice and breathing. If you perceive the slightest sign of anxiety, simply ask them to breath. If the child encounters a second step where they have anxiety, stop the process, even if they haven’t finished their journey.

Every day of practice will help them get more comfortable. The anxiety will reduce in frequency and strength. After 5 to 7 days, most children will go through the full ‘Journey’ without any major worries.

As you go through the process, set them some challenges. For example, your pen is not working, your pencil broke, you have done question 1, 2 and 3 but you can’t figure out question number 4.

You may remember small details as you go along (eg. take a snack with me, or wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal). Write down these ideas and keep the list with you. Review them with your child the next day.

 

Using ‘The Journey,’ your child will visualise and rehearse their key exam day, and learn to prepare for challenges. Most importantly, your child will realise that they can do it because they have done it already in their mind. This grows their confidence in themselves for any situation.

The best people to tell you about the value of the journey is a parent.

‘Our daughter has a tendency to get anxious, overwhelmed and even shut down when faced with challenges. We practised journey visualisation for 10 days before her intense timetable of 5 exams in 8 days-  from packing her pencil case the night before to what she would have for lunch after the exam. She went into every exam focused, calm and happy – and even enjoyed the whole process. She was offered places at all 7 schools.’

10 Aug 2017
Dealing with tough times

There have been a number of events recently that we’ve all found it hard to deal with. It’s difficult to know what to do when tragedies occur, and the impact can be both direct and indirect, immediate and long term.

Here are a few ways to help deal with a difficult situation.

Talk or Don’t Talk. It’s an individual decision. Respect other people’s decisions and ask them to respect yours. While for some people talking about the event has a healing effect, for others it becomes the source of more stress. If a child doesn’t want to talk about the event, let it be but monitor their behaviour and patterns. Look for signs of worry, any spontaneous and unusual outburst of tears or temper, changes eating or sleeping patterns. If any of these happen, it is time to have a conversation or ask for help.

Stay connected with your support network (e.g. family, friends) and make an effort to maintain a healthy social environment around you that combines a variety of activities, groups and locations.

If possible, try to maintain as much of your normal routine as you can. Be aware of your emotions and feel free to give yourself breaks and time to stop and think if needed.

Keep active and moving. Exercise is great for you physically and mentally.

Keep aware of your responses and learn how to self regulate your emotions. Keeping calm and focused using small techniques such as conscious breathing can have a big impact on your sense of wellbeing.

10 Aug 2017
Ealing Half Marathon

How do you keep going on the road when your mind and body just wants to stop? I practice what I preach and use motivational therapy. Since doing so I’ve shaved time off my half marathon best, and am on track to do the same this year.

I’m offering the same to you. Choose from a Sports Motivation Hypnotherapy Session or Sports Motivation Audio Download. Taking place in person or on Skype, the motivational hypnotherapy session will be specifically geared up for your sporting goals. For a short time I will be offering a discount of £50, making it only £175 rather than £225.

Or motivate yourself to keep going and achieve your goals with an audio download specifically designed for sports motivation. Simply make a purchase and we will send you a link to the download. Worth £30, I’m offering it for just £10.

10 Aug 2017
Setting goals

Goal setting is in every part of our lives, yet we often struggle to do it properly.  As a consequence, we struggle to achieve. From very early on we set goals – ourselves, we want to achieve something good, we want to do great things, and often we want to validate ourselves. As parents, we might set our children goals and push them to do better and more. What we don’t realise is the effects a bad goal might have on us or them.In the corporate world everybody talks about SMART goal setting and things like that, yet so few people do it for themselves.

Finding the right goal and defining it in the right terms will be the difference between failure and success. Here is a simple technique that I work with. It’s great for children and adults. It’s called the excitement scale.

How excited are you about your goal? Really excited? Thrilled? In our sessions I ask children to create their excitement scale. We represent it as a 1-10 scale in which 1 is boredom and falling asleep and 10 is delirious excitement. I then ask them to fill the gaps in between with whatever representation comes to their mind (ie. 8 is fireworks going off, 5 is a clock, precise and constant, half way). Unless you’re up at a 7, 8, 9 or 10 – unless you’re really excited, chances are it will be difficult to achieve. So change your goal. Get excited. And achieve your dreams.

10 Aug 2017
The Power of Stories

Stories are great for understanding the world, gaining perspective, and informing yourself. It helps you take on different points of view, create ideas and solutions, contextualise ideas and understand feelings.What stories do you tell yourself? And your children?

This summer why not read to your children. Whether it’s before bed, over the breakfast table, or whilst out for a walk, tell them a story. This isn’t a one way reading though.Take this opportunity to have a conversation with yourchildren. Be a model and start sharing what the story means to you. Then listen to what it means to them. They will probably have a different perspective to you. That’s great – we are all individuals after all.

Whether reading, writing, or listening, the important part of all of this is the thinking and emotions that you generate after you leave the page. If a tiny fraction of thought, feeling, inspiration stays with you…. the story has done well. That particle of inspiration will grow inside you and help you understand you and your surroundings just a little bit better.

If you want to read more Francesca has written an article for Parents Magazine on what today’s children can learn from Enid Blyton, and a piece here about Bibliotherapy.

What story do you tell yourself? If you’re ready to change it Rapid Transformation Therapy can help.

10 Aug 2017
Yoga & NLP – What’s the link?

Heard of Neuro Linguistic Programming? Wondering what it has to do with yoga? Here’s five reasons that the two go hand in hand.

Words

Neuro refers to your brain and neurology; Linguistic refers to language and Programming refers to how that neural language functions – and what it makes you do. NLP is the basics for both conscious and subconscious communication. Communication with ourselves and others.  When we say ‘namaste’ – ‘the light within me bows to the light within you’ – those words matter.

Union

Yoga isn’t just about the physical asana. There are eight limbs spanning the emotional and physical, mind and body. Yoga helps you by working with the whole person. When the mind and body are in alignment communicate effectively with each other a balance is formed. NLP helps us to focus and create optimal states of presence.  There’s no point being on the mat if our minds are elsewhere.

Attitude

How we treat our bodies depends a lot on the internal messages that we tell ourselves. We are more likely to attend an asana class or take time out to meditate if have the belief that ‘I am worth it.’ NLP helps us to create those beliefs and form thoughts that become embedded beliefs. You might have heard the phrase ‘where attention goes, energy flows.’

Understanding

Yoga helps us to get in tune with our inner selves, just like NLP. Javier Orti is a therapist who works with challenging those internal beliefs. He’s seen the power of combining yoga with his work in NLP and hypnotherapy. ‘Understanding is power and this is the first step into changing our current experience. Letting go of those toxic beliefs and embracing the new powerful and empowering ideas.’ Both yoga and NLPoffer a new perspective on the body and mind and direct energy to a meaningful life.

Off the mat

The work of both NLP and yoga really happens off the mat, in our daily lives. Our bodies reflect our minds and vice versa, so this dual approach can be an incredibly powerful way to enhance our lives.