The aim of outward-focused self-hypnosis is to help your children regain their emotional balance. It is useful for helping them to relax, to free themselves from stress, to control their anxiety (for example, performance anxiety at school, at sport or in an artistic activity), to combat their fears (fear of the coronavirus, various phobias, childhood fears such as fear of the dark, monsters, wolves, etc.), to manage their anger, to overcome their shyness, to combat sleep disorders, to fight against their fears of the world, to fight against their fears of the world, to fight against their fears of the world, to fight against their fears of the world.), to manage their anger, to overcome their shyness, to fight sleep disorders, to chase away negative thoughts and intrusive painful memories (in case of trauma, for example), to reconnect to the present moment, etc.
At the seminar « Rekindling hope and joy in life after trauma » in December 2003 in Paris, the American psychotherapist Yvonne Dolan taught us how externally focused self-hypnosis can be used with children .
This is how she advises to proceed:
Sit next to the child. Name three things you see, your partner names three things he or she sees, and ask your child to do the same. They can repeat what one of you has mentioned. For example, if you say, « I see the water bottle« , your child can say, « I see the water too« . Repeat the procedure with 2 visual things and end with one thing. Do the same with auditory and body things.
Variant by Evelyne Josse
If you are using this technique at bedtime to help your child calm down or fall asleep, start by practising the technique in their room with the light on. Sit on the bed or on a chair near your child. Say three things you see, then ask your partner and then your child to do the same. Do the same with two items and then one. Your child can repeat what you have just said. For example, if you say, « I can see your teddy bear« , he or she can repeat, « I can see my teddy bear too« . If they are agitated, rather than asking for three things they see, ask them to point to three things of a specific colour (e.g. « Tell me three orange things you see in your room« ). It is best to choose a colour that is not often seen in the environment. This is more playful and more likely to capture their attention. If they are sensitive to the challenge, you can stimulate their interest by challenging them: « I want you to find three orange things in your room. I know it’s not easy, and I wonder if you can do it. If they lack confidence, show support: « I want you to find three orange things in your room. I know it’s not easy. We’ll look together. Then ask questions: « Let’s look together. Is there anything orange in the corner over there? When a child is stressed or anxious, he or she often reacts with motor agitation; attention becomes labile and thoughts scattered. In order to find the objects of the chosen colour, they have to focus their attention on the environment and organise their thoughts. In this way, he focuses on the present moment, which helps to calm him down. After the visual stimuli stage, proceed in the same way with the auditory and physical elements (three elements, then two, then one). For sensations, it may be useful to tell the child « the things you feel with your skin and the things you touch with your body« .
Once you have completed this first step, turn off the light. Say three things you see: darkness, a ray of light under the door, moonlight behind the curtain, a teddy bear, the nightlight, etc. Whenever possible, think about pointing to things that reassure the child (e.g. his or her toys or the nightlight), especially when the light is off. They can hold on to these when you leave the room. Then ask your partner and then your child to do the same. Do the same with two items and then with one. Repeat the procedure with the auditory (silence, musical nightlight, noises in the street or in the house) and body elements.
Before leaving the room, state three things that you will see a few minutes later when you are in the kitchen, living room or your own room (« In a few moments I will be in the kitchen and I will see…« ) and invite your partner to do the same. This reminds your child that you are staying close by. Then ask them to name three things they see and will continue to see after you leave their room and are in the next room. Do the same with two items and then one, and do the same for auditory and body items.
Leave the room and ask them to repeat the technique out loud on their own.
Adapt this technique according to your child’s needs. For example, if your child is very anxious, you can add a step. After leaving the room, you and your partner can say three things (then two, then one) that you see where you are (then hear, then feel) and your child can do the same from bed.
This exercise is designed to help your child regain his or her inner peace. It would be counterproductive for you to get upset if he/she has difficulty stating any of the sensory modalities. If they are having difficulty identifying sounds, smells or sensations, you can add a preliminary step. Rather than asking them to name what they see, hear and smell, use a question format. Ask, for example, « Do you see the window?« , « Do you see your nightlight?« , « Do you see your teddy bear? For sounds, you can ask: « Can you hear the cars in the street?« , « Can you hear the silence?« , « Can you hear your voice when you speak? For physical sensations, you can ask: « Do you feel the hair on your arm from your teddy bear?« , « Do you feel the warmth of the duvet?« , « Do you feel your back on the mattress?
Once you know the technique, your child will be able to use it without needing your help.
Variation with Evelyne Josse’s magic place
In the seminar mentioned above, Yvonne Dolan taught us the technique she calls Here and There. It consists of saying three things that the person sees in their environment and then closing their eyes and saying three things that they see in their place of safety . This variation can be applied to children.
This is how I would advise you to proceed:
Start by asking your child what is the magical place where they feel good. This can be a real memory (a recent holiday memory, time spent with a grandparent, a birthday surprise, a day at an amusement park, a successful football match where he/she scored a goal, etc.), a situation that makes him/her feel good (riding a bike, playing football, swimming, playing with his/her pet or toys, etc.), a dream situation (playing football with the big boys at the stadium, racing on a Formula 1 track, performing on stage, etc.), a situation that makes him/her feel good (playing with a friend, a friend, a friend, a friend, a friend, a friend, a friend, a friend).), a dream situation (playing football with the big boys in the stadium, racing on a Formula 1 circuit, going on stage and singing with the stars, etc.) or an imaginary situation (being the hero of a favourite cartoon, visiting the land of unicorns, etc.). If your child is having difficulty, help him/her, as you know him/her well, to identify this magical place.
Ask them for three things they see in their environment. Then ask them to close their eyes and say one thing they see in their magical place/situation. If they don’t want to close their eyes, don’t force them. Most children easily enter their imaginary world even with their eyes open. Then ask them for three things they hear in their environment and then one thing they hear in their magical world. Finish the first phase by asking them three physical sensations they are currently experiencing, then one thing they feel in their magical world. Don’t hesitate to give him a boost by asking questions (« Do you see…?« , « Do you hear…?« , « Do you smell…? »).
Then ask for 2 things they see in the environment and then ask them to say 2 things they see in their magical world. Do the same with what they hear and what they physically feel.
Follow up by asking them for one thing they see in the environment, then three things they see in their magical world. Do the same with what they hear and what they physically feel.
If your child has difficulty falling asleep, after a few days of training with the Here and There technique, you can suggest that he or she skip the real environment stage and focus only on his or her magical world (3 things he or she sees, hears and feels, then 2 things and then one). This phase will help him/her to fall more quickly into a pleasant state of hypnosis conducive to sleep.
Evelyne Josse , May 2020
 The technique is described in detail in the article by the same author: Josse E. (2020). Some techniques of self-hypnosis focused on external phenomena (for adults). http://www.resilience-psy.com/spip.php?article428