by Cynthia Howes, RN, CPNP

We think of childhood as that special time in life where everything should be simple, happy, and carefree. In reality, the period between birth through adolescence is filled with challenges.. There are many developmental milestones children must master to advance to the next phase in their lives. Sometimes, life’s challenges get in the way.

A child’s well-being includes maintaining a healthy body through good nutrition, adequate activity, and sufficient sleep. Nurturing a child’s mental health as well as social well-being is equally as important. This is accomplished through creating and maintaining a safe environment and developing coping skills and strategies.

Cynthia Howes, RN, CPNP
Cynthia Howes, RN, CPNP

Play is a time when children engage in the world around them using their imagination to participate and interact with others and master their fears. When children play they are working hard. Einstein stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Anxiety is a normal emotion. Being faced with situations that stress us helps us develop problem solving strategies to use in the future. Anxiety becomes a problem when it hinders our ability to function. Anxiety can present in many ways including: panic attacks, overwhelming fear, sleep disturbance, sweaty, cold hands and/or feet, shortness of breath, heart racing, dry mouth, nausea, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and dizziness.

Anxiety affects 1 in 8 children. Sometimes anxiety is inherited, and sometimes it is a result of environmental stressors. Children have a lot more pressure and challenges in today’s society and developing strategies to deal with stressors is vital. There are many types of counselling that help address anxiety and nurture healthy coping skills. Sometimes medication is needed.

Self-hypnosis is one tool in learning to develop self-regulation. E.R. Hilgard said that hypnosis is “believed-in imagination.” Hypnosis uses focused attention and suggestion to produce changes in perception, memory, and behavior.

Pediatric applications of Clinical Self Hypnosis include anxiety, stress, fears, and phobias, chronic disease, acute/chronic pain, habit disorders, and sports enhancement. Pediatric Self-Hypnosis is a wonderful addition to other skills that children can learn to deal with the challenges they face as they mature into productive adults.

Being certified to teach children Clinical Self Hypnosis, I teach children at Just So Pediatrics how to relax their body and mind. Through their imagination and imagery, they acquire the skills to control the things they can control. Dr. Leora Kuttner a Clinical Professor with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia and a Registered Psychologist noted that hypnosis involves the absorption of a child into an altered state of consciousness. This creates a therapeutic change in perception, emotion, behavior or experience.

Hippocrates noted that the natural force within each of us is the greatest healer of all. Hypnosis is about helping people help themselves. Children are often excited to learn new skills through Clinical Self-Hypnosis that help them deal with life’s challenges through self-regulation.

Hypnosis is learning what you didn’t know you knew and controlling what you didn’t know you could….Using your mind….Daydreaming on purpose…..Thinking to help yourself….Learning how to control your mind.

Cynthia Howes, RN, CPNP is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at Just So Pediatrics, a department of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.  Just So Pediatrics is located at 19 Belmont Avenue, Brattleboro, VT. In addition to regular hours new evening and Saturday hours are available on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 8 PM and some Saturdays 8 AM – 12 PM. Just So Pediatrics can be reached at 802-251-8626.