Hypnosis is simply a state of mind where one’s concentration is focused and it’s like daydreaming. It bypasses the conscious and rational parts of the mind, which allows access to the highly suggestible subconscious. The conscious mind and it’s logic are turned down, like a dimmer switch, which turns up the subconscious mind, occupying it with feelings and images.
Children’s cognitive processes haven’t fully developed until about age of 11 or 12. Because of this, children don’t analyze information as adults do. They experience by perception – how it looks and feels. Children aren’t as jaded about the world and accept things at face value!
A child, literally, is in a constant state of hypnosis, or trance (just another word to describe that state of mind where there is no logical analysis). Try telling your 5 year old about the dangers of running down the stairs and 5 minutes later you hear his/her wail as the thump down a flight of stairs. YOU, the rational one, think, “I told her 5 minutes ago not to do that and yet she forgets and look at the results!” It’s not that the child forgot. It’s they don’t see the consequences rationally and put it together in the moment.
Children are also constantly using their imaginations. This is the basis of the subconscious. It is the part of us that imagines, using all of our 5 senses and emotions. Because of this, they go into trance much easier than adults do. Their focus is sharp and they can move in and out of trance states in a very natural and relaxed way. What differs is that they cannot maintain the state of focused concentration for as long as an adult. The upside is that more gets done in a shorter time without all the preconceived notions about Hypnosis as well as a much greater responsiveness to suggestion. Metaphors are used to guide clients while in hypnosis. Children love stories and easily apply the “moral” to their own worlds.
As a Clinical Hypnotherapist who works with children, keeping it simple is best. And another important point is that I never deal with the issue directly. This causes unnecessary embarrassment on the part of the child and sets a negative stage for healing. An example is bed wetting. It’s hard enough for the child toawaken in a wet bed knowing it will meet with Mom and/or Dad’s disapproval. It has cause the child to not be able to have 'overnights' with friends for fear of wetting the bed and being laughed at. The words may not be said by the Parent but the child has amazing antenna for body language and detect frustration fast. I work to take the focus from the obvious to, “How would you like to wake every morning fresh and rested, feeling good about yourself?”. There is a big difference here in the approach.
Age is also a factor to the success of hypnotic sessions. My work has shown me that the most responsive age begins at about 8 years old. Children 6 or 7 may also be good candidates depending on their ability understand simple directions and hold focus for 15 – 20 minutes.
I welcome children as they are amazing to work with and the results they attain is very rewarding for them and their families.