Luka (age 9) is an incredible kid…smart, funny, intelligent and kind, but his mom contacted us last month because he’d had an outburst in his classroom that had left everyone shaken. It wasn’t a big thing that went wrong, but because Luka’s system was already on high alert, the little thing that happened sent him over the edge and he had ended up throwing some things across the classroom in a rage that shocked his classmates and teacher. His family had been called in and the school spent a few days deciding whether to suspend him or not, whether he posed a threat to the class, and what the most supportive way forward for him would be.
Luka’s mom, Amanda, is pretty sure he has ADHD, though he hasn’t been formally diagnosed, with some careful consideration, and a plan of action for him in place, the school decided to give him another chance. Amanda reached out to us at this point because she really had heard about hypnotherapy and wanted to pursue all options that might help him.
Once we delved a little deeper into his story, it became clear that Luka also has a fairly established screen addiction. A 2018 study showed that although video game playing is relatively prevalent in children regardless of ADHD status, kids with ADHD have a much higher rate of compulsive game use than children without it.
The screens provide a temporary soothing and calming experience and many children turn to them to help with regulating their emotions and attention. Unfortunately the result is short-lived and more and more time on the screens becomes necessary in order for them to achieve the same results.
Excessive screen time causes sensory overload; children struggle to focus when off the screens and become mentally exhausted, often experiencing irrational outbursts of anger and violent conduct, just like Luka did in his classroom.
In addition, recent research shows that kids who spend seven hours every day on screens are twice as likely to show signs of anxiety and depression as children who don’t.
According to Dr. Victoria Dunckley, psychiatrist, electronic screen media overstimulates the nervous system, which the brain interprets as stress. This triggers fight or flight reaction and a high rate of arousal.
"Over time, these changes lead to chronic stress, resulting in blood flow shifting from the more developed part of the brain (frontal lobe) to the more primitive parts of the brain. Because the frontal lobe governs emotional regulation, attention, creativity, and social behavior, any of these areas can become impaired. Chronic stress also raises cortisol levels, which complicates frontal lobe functioning even further. High cortisol impairs the hippocampus (needed for memory), disturbs sleep, and eventually causes atrophy (shrinkage) of the brain"
All of this means that kids like Luka are facing a huge struggle when they’re in an environment where they need to be able to regulate their own emotions. No wonder he was not able to calm himself down when faced with stress in the classroom…his brain has literally altered away from logical frontal lobe, emotional regulation through screen use, and his fight or flight instinct is highly active.
Amanda was aware that the screens likely played a part in his problems - after all, he begs to use his Switch the moment he’s out of school and her afternoons and weekends are spent negotiating with him about the gaming system at home. Everything revolves around his desire to be on the screen and he’s lost interest in most of the things he used to love: drawing, jumping on the trampoline, playing board games with her. She KNOWS there is a problem, but she didn’t have any idea the degree to which the screens were actually making it HARDER for him to cope. After all, he seems so happy and regulated when he’s on them.
Once we had clarified with her that this was one of the things that was likely contributing to Luka’s problems with emotional regulation and overall happiness in the rest of his life, she realized that the best place to start for them might be the Reduce Screen Addiction Hypnotherapy for kids session that is part of our Children’s Wellbeing Essentials Package.
Although Luka was initially not keen on the idea, he did end up listening to the 10 minute session. He seemed bemused when it was over - he hadn’t hated it - and he agreed to listen again the next day (though ironically she had to bargain with extra gaming time). She also had him listen to the Anxiety Elimination session and the Happiness and Wellbeing Session, which he found relaxing. The following week she switched those out for the Anger Management for kids session and the Healthy Food Choices one from the package too. Luka seemed to like listening to them as he fell asleep, so she put them on every bedtime for him.
After a few weeks of this Amanda noticed small changes in Luka. He was less intense in his need to be on the screens, he started showing interest in toys he’d abandoned when the gaming system took over, and he was more agreeable about doing things with the family. Most importantly, his emotional outbursts at home were starting to lessen, and he was coping much better at school. As the weeks went on his screen time stopped being the central motivator in his life, and his mood and outlook brightened considerably.
Ultimately Amanda decided the changes she was seeing were so noticeable that she decided to remove screens temporarily from their home - a ‘screen fast’- and Luka blossomed. His lively, fun-loving self returned, and though he will always be ‘intense’ (in his mom’s words) she is thrilled with how much better he can now regulate his emotions, and how happy he seems. His interests have broadened and Amanda feels like she has ‘got him back’ after the last few years of struggle. She is thrilled at how effectively the hypnotherapy sessions helped her son, and she wants all parents to know that there is hope! It wasn’t easy at first…it took a lot of effort and consistency for her to introduce them and keep him pointed towards using them, but her efforts paid off and her son is thriving again.
If you feel that your child could benefit from reducing screen time, and you need a helping hand to initiate that change in your life, click here to order the Children’s Essential Package and you will get these 9 other hypnotherapy sessions especially for children too:
- Soothe to Sleep Hypnotherapy for kids
- Healthy Food Choices Hypnotherapy for kids
- Anxiety Elimination Hypnotherapy for kids
- Confidence and Positivity Hypnotherapy for kids
- Happiness and Wellbeing Hypnotherapy for kids
- Enjoy Learning Hypnotherapy for kids
- Anger Management Hypnotherapy for kids
- Reduce Screen Addiction Hypnotherapy for kids
- Overcoming Grief Hypnotherapy for kids
- Exam Anxiety Hypnotherapy for kids
You will also get access to our private community group full of like-minded people that help motivate each other on a daily basis, which was an invaluable help to Amanda as she navigated this difficult path with her son.