Oxytocin is a hormone that is released in the body if you extend a hug a with a person you have a strong loving bond with for a period of about twenty seconds. Oxytocin is a hormone produced naturally in the body and it is a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety hormone. So what has this to do with children and activities….. here’s the link.
Another way to release Oxytocin is to maintain eye contact for a period of up to twenty seconds. If a child doesn’t want to go swimming, for example, and you as their parent feel that it is good for them to learn to swim, you could take the following approach.
- Understand that the activity may trigger a negative emotion for the child such as anxiety, sadness, frustration, fear especially if the activity is something the child finds challenging or unenjoyable.
- Ask your child to look you in the eye and keep eye contact with you and keep this up for at least 20 seconds.
- Ask your child to continue to look at you while you chat together about swimming.
- Understand that starting the conversation after 20 seconds of eye contact means the Oxytocin will probably have been released and any anxiety that is felt by the child when swimming is mentioned should be neutralised.
- Explain to the child that the way they feel about swimming is related to the way they are thinking about it and brainstorm with the child other ways to think about it….
- Ask them what feeling they have as you talk. If it’s now a happy feeling, ask them to close their eyes, feel the happy feeling in their body and think of swimming at the same time.
- Continue to have these ‘chats’ which begin with eye contact for a period of about 10 days.
- Believe in yourself and that what you are doing is going to work and this will be communicated to the child through your eyes.
- Support and encourage your child when they are able to express a more positive sentiment towards the activity.
- You can influence a child’s beliefs and this will then influence their thinking and their feeling………this approach works best if you intervene when the anxiety or frustration starts.