How to handle change

This is the summary of a chapter from ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ published by Hodder Education in the Teach Yourself series. The chapter is called ‘Coping with Change’. You will find explanations of all the techniques in the chapter of course; Logical Levels, anchoring, Meta Programmes , Time Lines and reframing but I think this summary gives you some great tips on how to handle change and how to help your children handle change. 


  • We make a huge change in our environment (Logical Levels) when we even first begin thinking of starting a family. We focus on and pay attention to different things, our priorities and values are revisited and our confidence often takes a nose dive.


  • Some changes are ones we make for ourselves and others are made for us by others and we can feel overwhelmed and out of control and out of our comfort zone. A good strategy for keeping calm is to anchor an ‘in control’ state and use it when you need it.


  • Imagine how children feel though when every change in their very small and intense environment is made without reference to them. You can help them using ‘towards thinking’ and focussing on their desirable outcome, anchoring positive steps through the changes.


  • Present changes to children in their preferred language and meta programme giving them the information that they can easily process and reassurances they need.


  • Deal with questions posed in the ‘adult mode’ from children by responding in ‘adult’.


  • We use ‘time lines’ a lot when working through change because it enables us to travel through time in our imagination and associate into each point on the line to adjust to change on a personal level and regain some control.


  • Another useful NLP technique is reframing which allows us to literally look at a change in a different light, a positive one where you and your children can appreciate that every change offers something positive.

If you’d like a signed copy of ‘Be a happier parent’ please use this link .

If you’d like to find out more about training in NLP as a parent or teacher, please complete this form and I’ll send you the information sheet with what we cover, cost and timing.


First day of school

Confidence for kids2

Do you have a child starting school for the first time this week? How are you feeling about it? Do you have a mixture of nerves and excitement? Then that’s probably how your child feels too? Or are you anxious and worried, then again that’s how your child will be. Why? Because they mirror us at this age. If you are worried about how they’ll be then they will pick that up.

I ran a Montessori Nursery School from my home for 7 years and we had capacity for 24 children at any time so as some children did half days and others 3 days we actually had many more than 24 on the register at any one time. Therefore I regularly experienced this ‘first day’ situation and at a younger age of course than those of you whose children are starting Primary School although the age has been reduced of course down to four years old. At the time I ran the Nursery School they started at 5.

So what top tips can I give you?

  1. BE POSITIVE – If you feel positive then so will they. This day without them for the first time is an opportunity for you as well. You can do something you don’t normally have time to do perhaps and this is going to be exciting for you too. I’ve heard lots of Mums joke that they don’t know what to do with themselves and that they will worry all day but this puts a huge pressure on your child if they think this will happen. They need to know that you can enjoy the day without them as you want them to enjoy it without you.
  2. IT WILL BE FUN – Put yourself into their shoes. Think about the school, the facilities, the staff you’ve met, children you know who are going there, what do you think your child will enjoy? Perhaps there is a home corner, great collection of Lego, computers, art and craft. Focus on the things they will like and how you will look forward to hearing all about it.
  3. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – Prepare them in advance for potential awkward moments like asking to go to the toilet. Get them to practice at a friend’s house or local café. They may be worried about using the handle or lock on the door so help them by showing them how to do it themselves. They can also practice doing up their shoes and coat, taking them off and doing up buttons on trousers and skirts.
  4. VISUALISE – Your child will feel overwhelmed and anxious at some point on their first day and their teacher will expect this and have planned fun activities to distract them from and introduce them to the other children in their class. You can also help them by teaching them to visualise. Show them how by looking up and to the right they can imagine seeing you at the end of the day and telling you all about what they’ve done, show you their picture or where they sit, who they’ve played with. You can do the same to visualise how happy you will be to see your child at the end of the day and tell them what you’ve done.
  5. MAKING FRIENDS – Your child will make friends, of that there is no doubt. Their friends will change every day as well! Be prepared for new best friends and learn their names so you can invite them home to play, possibly not the first week as they will be quite tired but gradually start some play dates to enable them to build friendships. You can help them make friends by making new friends yourself. The other mums at the school gates will be around for many years so show your child how to make new friends by saying hello to a different one every day and building up your own network. You already have lots in common.

Judy Bartkowiak is the author of ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ and a number of other NLP titles. She is an NLP Trainer and Parent and Child coach in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Her Ebook ‘Confidence for Kids‘ talks you through how you can use NLP techniques to boosts your child’s confidence.

Details at http://www.nlpkids.com


Parents use ‘clean language’ please!

‘Clean Language’ in NLP (neuro linguistic programming) is when we don’t add our own ‘stuff’ , make assumptions about what they mean and allow them to explore their thinking for themselves rather than us making ‘helpful suggestions’ about what they mean or what they should do next,or think even. We love them and we think we know them so we believe we are in a position to understand what they are trying to say. However, they are changing and growing every day and sometimes we lose track of the fact that the ideas they had yesterday have changed slightly.

Let me tell you a story about how I used clean language with my daughter many years ago now. She was between Year 6 and Year 7, so heading off to Secondary School at the end of the summer holidays. I knew she loved the school she had chosen but no-one else from her year was going to be there. Every face would be new. The school was also not in our local area so she wouldn’t even be likely to know any local children either. She was a little quiet that summer and I wondered how she was feeling about the move. Now had I asked her the direct question, “How do you feel about going to St Bernard’s?” here are some of the answers I could reasonably have predicted:



“Why do you want to know?”

“What do you mean?”


Children don’t tend to respond well to these ‘how do you feel’ questions and in my experience nor do men! These are strictly questions for we women because in general we enjoy talking about our feelings. However, it’s safe to say that children don’t, which makes my job as a Kids Coach very interesting. So instead I asked her

“When you think about going to your new school what sort of animal are you?”

Children relate really well to animal metaphors and by projecting their feelings onto something else they can distance themselves and become more aware of them.

“A tiger.” she said.


Well that’s good I immediately thought. She’s obviously feeling very confident about the move so it must be something else that’s on her mind. But clean questions means that we don’t work with our images and associations we work with theirs. So I needed to know more. I asked

“And what kind of a tiger is that?”

“A baby tiger.” she said

images (8)


Ah , so maybe not so big and strong….

“And what is there about the baby tiger?” I asked.

“She’s at the edge of the great big jungle and she’s feeling a bit scared. She knows it is very exciting in there and she knows it will be a big adventure but she’s just a bit scared to take the first step.”

So now I knew much more about how she was feeling.

“Tell me more about the baby tiger.” I ventured.

“She needs a hug from mummy Tiger.” She said and we did.

I use metaphors a lot with child clients. In fact the other day one of my Skype clients, a boy age 12yrs was lacking confidence. He said he felt like a tortoise. I thought that sounded quite promising, thinking ‘hard shell, could be useful in the school playground’. But in fact he went on to tell me that other children walked all over him, treading on his shell. But he could tuck his head inside and escape into himself. I asked him what animal he would like to be at school.

A Brontosaurus , he replied.



“And what kind of a brontosaurus is that?”

“He is tall and can see around. Everyone respects him and wouldn’t want to mess with him but he’s harmless, he only looks big and strong. He eats plants and he’s quite gentle really. “

When a child has a metaphor like this for his desired state we can anchor it using a gesture such as squeezing your ear lobe and associating into the visualization so that when he needs to feel strong like a Brontosaurus at school he can just squeeze his earlobe to get that confident state.

If you have a child making a major change in their life or with something important coming up that they are worried about, use this technique. Here are the main question structures

1. Just reflect the last word back to them with a questioning tone e.g. “a tiger?”

2. “And what kind of a …………..is that?”

3. “And that …………that’s like what?”

4. “And that ……….where is that?”

5. “And what is there about the ………….?”

6. “In what way is …………………..?”

7. “How do you do that?”

8. “Tell me more about the ………………?”

If you’d like to know more then my book ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ would be a good read. If you think they’d enjoy going through an NLP workbook for themselves this summer holiday then NLP for Children is for children aged 5-10yrs, NLP for Tweens is for 10-14yrs and NLP for Teens is for 15-21yrs. You can buy all my books or book an NLP consultation in person or on Skype here  or of course on Amazon and my website  will give you a lot more information about NLP Kids.


Back to work with confidence

Are you thinking of going back to work once your child goes back to school in September? Maybe you’re thinking of starting your own business? Or are you due to return to your old job after Maternity Leave? Whatever the situation, you’ll need to think through not only the practicalities of this change but also the emotional aspects. How will you prepare yourself emotionally? How do you know whether your choice will be the right one?

images (6)

I’m not sure we would identify with the image above but if you’re thinking about returning to work or setting up your own business and you have a child at home, you will feel happier about it if you’re doing something you enjoy.

I can coach you through the stages ahead via my ‘nlp4mums back to work’ coaching programme which is done via Skype at a time to suit you. It starts with a one day workshop which will be held on September 13th from 10am – 4pm in my home in Burnham, Bucks and the day will be organised like this.

Morning Session – Goal Setting

- What is your compelling vision – what drives you?

- Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Lunchtime session delivered by HR professional

Afternoon Session – Confidence tips and tricks

- Confidence tips

- Interview/networking skills

- Giving and receiving feedback

Then we will meet every week on Skype to discuss progress and tweak what needs rethinking.

You can sign up for the September Workshop for £100 for the day and then decide whether you want weekly or monthly ongoing coaching or just individual sessions whenever you need them or you can opt for email coaching. The ongoing sessions/emails will be costed individually depending on your needs.

I have a background in agency and corporate and have set up several businesses myself as well as being an experienced NLP Business Practitioner and Master Practitioner, Trainer and Coach. I am the author of NLP for Back to Work and the Self-Esteem Workbook. Both are great workbooks with plenty of practical exercises you can work through yourself.

Self Esteem cover high resBack to work web


If you’d like to have a chat about this course, please contact me via this form



How to give effective feedback

As parents or teachers, carers of children, you have a very important role to play in giving them feedback. Feedback is a gift of love that shows you care about them and have an investment in their personal development. Can there be anything worse than being ignored? Children need to know that you’re paying attention to them and they want to know where they need to make changes because that’s your job as a parent, to guide them so they can achieve all they can in life.

images (5)

The giving and receiving of feedback is how we learn. At its simplest level a stand-up comedian will adapt his programme constantly to suit his audience with more of what they are clapping and cheering and less of what gets no reaction. We need to be a bit like the stand-up comedian and notice where we get a connection with our children when they do what we asked and being resourceful. When they are not we need to use feedback to get them back on track. We need to constantly be open and curious to what is working and getting a result, the result we want anyway! We are getting feedback from them and giving them feedback, it is a constant flow of energy and learning.

Many people feel that they learn more from their mistakes than from successes. In fact, apparently pupils who struggled with maths at school become excellent maths teachers because they understand how to get it wrong. As parents we can be inclined to jump in and do things for our children, take responsibility for organising them and their free time, even decide when and where homework should be done. Allowing children to take responsibility from an early age means that they will make mistakes and our job is to allow them to do that and let them get the learning so that the next time they do it, they do it better. Encourage them to be curious because that is how children learn, by wanting to know more and to understand rather than being told.

Feedback is how they learn whether that is feedback in terms of a bad mark at school or school report, losing a tennis match or football game, losing a friend, missing the miss, getting a detention for homework not completed correctly; these are all feedback from which they will learn how to improve and get a better result. When these sort of things happen to children let them get the feedback rather than believing that unless you tell them they won’t know.

When we aren’t introduced to feedback as learning we can find ourselves taking it as criticism and becoming defensive or we feel a failure and lose self-esteem. You can show your children how to respond to feedback by how you demonstrate it yourself. The best way to show them how to respond is to pause, be curious about the learning and thank the giver of the feedback.

Encourage children to give themselves feedback. We all, even children, have a nagging little inner voice that gets cross and tells us off but it needs to learn how to give feedback in a way that we can learn from it, not feel permanently stupid and lose confidence.

Here’s how to do it:

a)      What specifically went well today? (3 things)

b)      What could have been better? (1 thing)

c)       How could I do that better next time?

d)      Overall, what lessons have I learnt?

You can teach this to pre-school children upwards. Encourage them to ‘read’ feedback non verbally so ask them how they know something went well. What were the signs? Were they noticing what people said or how they looked or what they did?

We have a tendency to have a preference whether visual, auditory or kinaesthetic so if your child generally tends to notice people’s visual response to them, encourage them to also listen to what is said and what I done so that you can open their minds up to all three types of feedback.

Can you give yourself feedback?

Give feedback to your children with love and focus on how they can learn from it and become the excellent human being you want them to be. Show them how to respond to feedback by demonstrating it and by being flexible about your choices of how to give and receive it because sometimes feedback not given in a resourceful way can be demeaning and hurtful.

Abridged from ‘Secrets of the NLP Masters’ to be published August 2014 and available on pre-order through Amazon. If you have a parenting issue I can help you with, get in touch. 


Sibling Rivalry and the Drama Triangle

As we begin the Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and then half term week (it seems to have been a very short time since Easter doesn’t it?) I thought you’d find it interesting to know something about the Drama Triangle. Think of Fairy Stories; Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and so on. In each of them there is a victim (Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel) there is a persecutor (the wolf, the ugly sisters, the witch) and there is a rescuer (the woodcutter, Fairy Godmother, handsome Prince). Let’s place them like this

Drama Triangle

The victim is the ‘poor me’, ‘it wasn’t my fault’, ‘she started it’, ‘ow it hurts’ and so on. Do you start to recognise this? Body physiology is hunched up, shoulders rounded, belly in, head drooped.

The persecutor exists because there is a victim. You will hear ‘ she started it’, ‘it’s her fault’, ‘you should tell him off’, ‘I hate you’. There will be shouting, finger pointing, accusations, belly out, head up, shoulders back.

Then we have the rescuer who wades into the battle wanting peace and calm, but also wanting to take responsibility for something that wasn’t their issue because it’s ‘their job’ to be the rescuer. They want to feel valued and useful, important, relied upon. Voice tone will start placating and physiology will be nurturing.

But what happens next? Battle continues. Rescuer gets annoyed and moves into Persecutor role blaming, shouting and finger pointing. Or they move into victim role ‘poor me, I’m only trying to help’. As Rescuer moves, so does former Victim and Persecutor. But essentially the Drama Triangle continues but just with different people in each role.

download (3)

The pattern repeats itself again and again so how do we change this and break free of it?

You stop rescuing. It’s as simple as that.

When you stop rescuing and let your children take responsibility themselves, you allow them to learn how to do it in school and in life. If you always step in to ‘protect them’ they believe they can’t do it alone, they need you to fight their battles. How confident will they be? Not very. So they will be at the mercy of all those persecutors out there in the playground because they can’t stand up for themselves.

This half term notice who plays victim, who is persecutor, who is the rescuer. How does it switch? What happens then? Is there a pattern? Experiment with stepping out of the Drama Triangle and see how they take responsibility for themselves. Teach them some simple techniques.

1. Victim – make it clear when their sibling has gone too far by giving eye contact, stand tall, belly out (that’s where your energy is) and say ‘stop’ . They can add a hand up to indicate where their personal space is to show it’s being invaded.

2. Victim – they can suggest a solution, compromise or win win.

3. Persecutor – remind themselves that they have more than one choice, other options are available such as walking away, playing with something else etc

4. Rescuer – ask yourself why are you rescuing? Is this your responsibility or theirs? What are you adding by rescuing? What are you taking away? How will they learn in future?



Stephen Karpman wrote the Drama Triangle in 1968 and it is largely based on the work of Eric Berne in Transactional Analysis. There is a chapter on it in my book Self Esteem Workbook and Secrets of the NLP Masters (due out August 2014) and of course there is a chapter on Sibling Rivalry in ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’. If you think your child needs help with confidence issues read ‘Confidence for Kids’ or the Engaging NLP series of Workbooks. You’ll find them all on my website www.nlpkids.com


If you’d like to arrange a Skype Consultation please Skype me on judy.bartkowiak and you pay here £50


Get your baby to sleep with NLP

One of the core principles of NLP is modeling. Now I don’t mean modeling fashion, I’m talking about modeling in its truest meaning which is to copy something, to mimic.


Babies watch what you do from the moment they are born and they want to copy you. This is how they learn and develop the socialising skills they will need in life. They are so in tune with you that they will pick up on your moods and copy your mannerisms and facial expressions.

mum holding baby up

We’ve all experienced those times when exasperated or just incredibly tired and fraught we pass baby to someone else and their mood changes. From being fractious they suddenly seem more relaxed. This is because they have picked up on our mood.


We can use this to our advantage but rarely do. Here’s how to do it. Put your baby where you want her to sleep but somewhere where she can see you when you lie down. A good place is by the sofa or by your bed in her cot or basket. Turn down the lighting and put some quiet music on. I like to use classical music but choose something she won’t associate with singing along to because you want the music to be in the background.


Now spend some time facing your baby and get her attention. Start by copying what she does, mirror her. Avoid mirroring any crying but you can copy any hand movements and head movements. This is called matching and mirroring. At the moment she is taking the lead, you are copying her. After a while she will be intrigued by this and engage with the activity. Make your movements quite clear and definite so she can see you are copying what she does.


Now you need to take the lead because it is you who should be in control, not her. Start to take the lead and make funny noises or clap your hands gently, tap your nose and get her watching everything you do. You need to get her to mirror your behaviour now.


It may take some time especially if she is crying when you start but as long as you know she is fed and changed, she should be ready for a sleep.


Once she is mirroring and matching your behaviour you can start the sleepy routine. Yawn very obviously and say things like ‘Mummy’s tired’, ‘Mummy’s going to sleep now’ and lie down so she can see you. Now it’s important that you don’t get up because she needs to be lying down as well. If you sit up again, she won’t settle because she’s now expecting you to do something else that she can copy so turn your phone off and really focus on going to sleep (even if you’re actually dressed to go out and the babysitter is due any minute!).


Once you are laid down, breathe heavily and slowly as if you are sleeping. She will hear this and copy you. Keep very still and keep up the sleeping breathing. I promise you this works but the only problem is that you are very likely to fall asleep as well. This may be fine because you need all the sleep you can get when you have a baby or toddler but if you’re about to go out you may have to ask your partner to come and gently wake you!


This is just one of many uses for matching and mirroring and we’ll talk about others in my website blog.


Judy Bartkowiak – author of ‘How to be a happier parent with NLP’ to be published by Hodder 2010 and NLP for New Mums