Calming down a disruptive classroom with EFT

Accolades to Eva Chang for successfully using EFT to calm down a classroom full of disruptive students. This case points up yet another essential use for EFT in schools. Eva also provides a one month follow-up to at the end of this article and answers questions that she received.


By Eva Chang

I am the President of a local healers' group, the Healing Arts Alliance of Tampa Bay. The organization was contacted by a teacher at a high school in St. Petersburg. The teacher was hoping that some alternative approaches could be used to de-stress the students for their final exams and for the dreaded FCAT tests. (Achievement tests that must be passed for the students to graduate)

I went and worked with two classes of kids. I would guess that they were about 14 or 15 years of age. I had no idea what pandemonium awaited me when I arrived. The first thing that happened was that the teacher locked my purse in a cabinet in the back of the classroom "because things have a way of disappearing."

As I surveyed the room, I was amazed. The kids don't know the meaning of attention span. They were jumping around, talking, walking around, kicking the doors, shooting baskets in the wastepaper basket, and generally being either hyperactive and disruptive or sullen and non- communicative. Let's just say that it was the "non-magnetic" part of this magnet high school. It was not exactly a sedate suburban environment.

When I asked for a show of hands of who in the class was worried about final exams next week, and only 1 or 2 kids half-heartedly raised their hands, I knew I was in trouble. My usual New Age approach to energy medicine would not have worked for these kids, so I had to do a lot of improvising.

I started out by demonstrating muscle testing a stressful event (final exams next week) and then doing something really fun and enjoyable (I didn't ask!). The boy I worked with was pretty strong, so that got some attention. I then worked with another boy who indicated that he was very anxious about the tests next week

I had the whole class tap along on the one class final test that they dreaded most. I did shortcut tapping for a few rounds, then expanded the tapping sequence to the whole EFT Basic Recipe. As I got to the eye-rolling part, I sensed a strong and strange energy shift in the boy I was working with. I can only describe it as a sense that his eye movements became difficult for him. I usually am able to really tune in and pick up on my patients' issues when we tap, and I usually find myself saying all sorts of reframed affirmations as we tap. This time, I felt almost like the boy went into a trance during the eye-rolling part. In any case, we got his anxiety level down from a "20" to about a 2.

Meanwhile, the rest of the class was actually tapping along, and some admitted that it seemed to help their test anxiety. I had them tap several times on "Even though I think Dr. Chang is a nut case, I love myself and am willing to try this" or something to that effect.

After several rounds of tapping, the whole class had calmed down. I actually had the attention of most of the kids and most of them were actually tapping, doing energy medicine exercises, listening to my suggestions, and even doing some guided imagery exercises. I was actually able to lead the class in some visualizations for success in test taking. The boy that I worked with ended up putting his head on the desk for the rest of the class, and not saying anything after I reduced his test stress. His teacher later told me she was amazed, because he was usually one of the most disruptive kids in the class, and she usually had a problem getting him to be quiet.

Anyway, it was a real eye-opener for me. It was inspirational and depressing at the same time. I don't know if any of the kids will follow up and do what I taught them, but as the saying goes, if even one kid gets something out of what I did, then I will have made a difference. I will be following up with the teacher to see if any of the students are continuing with their EFT.

Eva Chang, AP, CHt, EFT-CC


Follow-up

It has been about a month since I worked with the teens in the classroom. I followed up with the teacher recently to see what, if any changes resulted from my visit.

She was very excited. The boy that I worked with, who went into the trance-like state when I did the eye movement segment with him, had been a problem child. He was overactive and a slow learner. The teacher said he was very low functioning academically. He had received a failing grade on every test he had taken in her class. The week after my visit and his EFT session, he got a "B" on his final exam in her class! She couldn't believe it. She was so pleased that he got the positive feedback of getting a good grade.

I have been invited back to work with a group of juniors and seniors who have already taken and failed the FCAT test. The test in March will be their last chance to pass so that they can graduate. Already, some are talking about dropping out. Maybe EFT and energy work can help some of them. I am excited about the possibilities.

I had many questions after my article was published on the EFT website. Here are some points I made in email responses to these questions:

Questions regarding parental concern over what I was doing:

I am a licensed acupuncturist, so working with the energy meridians is within the scope my practice.

The class I worked with was of a socio-economic background where I wasn't particularly worried about very much parental interest in their children's schooling. Sad, but that's basically true.

With regard to the muscle-testing I used, I felt that I needed to do a little "grandstanding" with muscle testing to get their attention.

I think that if I had been in a suburban environment where I felt that parents might get bent out of shape about voodoo medicine, that I would have taken a slightly different approach.

I made it totally optional for kids to participate. It was sort of "Let's try it and see if it works for you." Almost like a demonstration of something that I do for myself, which works for me, and which they were free to investigate for themselves.

Suggestions if parental concerns might be a problem:

I think if you just had the kids do a shortcut, and maybe just tell them it's a relaxation technique, you could still get good results.

For instance, have them tap on the top of their heads, rub their faces, rub their wrists on both sides, and their ankles on both sides. This still accesses all the meridians, and it doesn't look so wierd. You could suggest that it's a little trick to calm down the nervous system by stimulating and calming the head, face, and arms and legs.

They don't have to tap, either. You can do EFT by holding points and doing a cycle of an inhale and exhale on each point. So if you did the above routine with just an inhale and exhale, it would just look like a simple breathing/calming exercise.

Ways to incorporate EFT and Energy Techniques

I would suggest that you might be able to get the whole class to do some energy exercises including a shortened version of EFT. Done on a regular basis, this will help to calm the whole class down. From my experience, even if you select a specific issue for everyone to tap on, there is a general calming effect from doing the tapping.

I guess I would suggest starting with some shortcuts on a very specific item -- maybe a quiz that you are about to give to the class. See what kind of relaxation and calming effect you can get for the kids after 2-3 rounds or more of tapping. Hopefully, they will recognize the benefits. This will also be enough to get some "halo" effect of calming them down generally.

Later, expand to more of the recipe occasionally, for more topics.

Perhaps you could also use EFT on a "topic of the day" as well as calming students prior to a test or evaluation, just to get them in the habit of doing it.

But most important, do it often and consistently. Put some humor into it. If you poke some fun at yourself while doing it, as I did, ("Even though I think Dr. Chang is a nutcase, I love myself and am willing to give this a try"), I think the kids are more likely to tap along.

I also use some of the energy exercises as described in Donna Eden's book, Energy Medicine. Doing the Wayne Cook posture and figure 8's in particular is very helpful for calming and focusing.

Problem children

As for the individual students that have special problems, you may want to work with them individually. Children with ADD and ADHD as well as allergies and sensitivities that cause negative behaviors can also be helped with NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique). I use NAET a LOT in my practice to help chronic health problems, emotional problems, etc. NAET is used with great success for kids with ADD and ADHD, and even autism. The last annual symposium had a presentation from a nun in India who is using NAET on the kids in the school that she runs for kids who are retarded, autistic, have behavior problems, etc.

I have worked with some kids that are hyperactive, and I have used regular acupuncture/acupressure as well as EFT and NAET. Most of the kids I work with are coming in for other health problems though, including headaches, sinus allergies, food allergies, etc.

Food allergies can be the source of a lot of behavior problems. Putting kids on an elimination diet and then correcting the food sensitivities with NAET works great.

And yes, you could do surrogate tapping for specific children.

Eva Chang, AP, CHt, EFT-CC