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The Families from the Sleeping Beautyz Trust

We’ve all heard the fairytale about Sleeping Beauty haven’t we?  Well, for those of you who haven’t heard it for a while, Sleeping Beauty was enchanted by a magic spell. When she pricked her finger on the needle of a spinning-wheel she fell asleep for a hundred years.  The spell could only be broken by true love’s kiss.  Of course there was a happy ending when Prince Charming came along on his white horse, chopped through the brambles and bestowed Sleeping Beauty with the magical kiss to wake her.

If only it could be the same for the wonderful children we worked with recently from Sleeping Beautyz Trust.  These children from across the North West all suffer from narcolepsy and cataplexy, which makes them very sleepy all the time and prone to going into a kind of wakened paralysis/trance when faced with certain triggers.  Other side effects include significant loss of the energy and usual drive and motivation you see in young children, together with weight gain because they are much less active than their healthier peers.  All of this combined tends to mean a loss of self-confidence and esteem that is heartbreaking for their devoted families to experience.

We were approached the founder of this new charity, whose own son suffers from narcolepsy and cataplexy.  This lady started the charity in order to raise funds to supply specially adapted seatbelts, give affected children and families days out, weekends away and hopefully holiday homes to go and make some good memories and fun times.  Basically to turn the daily struggle they have with their condition into happier times.    She specifically asked what we could do to help these children rebuild their confidence and self esteem.

After months of planning the workshops finally took place in Whitley Village Hall, Cheshire, on one of the hottest days of the year.  Whilst initially we had 4 families, there was the inevitable last minute change of plan for one family whose son was asked to take part in a musical show.

As an NLP practitioners we always enjoy running workshops for children and we carefully planned a good mix of activities to inspire the children and help them learn whilst having fun.  This time though we were unsure how the children’s medical conditions would affect their ability to participate so we made two decisions: one, that we would ask parents to remain on site during the workshop (more about that later!) and two, that we would also invite some children who did not suffer from narcolepsy and cataplexy to help with pacing the workshop and keep energy levels as high as possible.

Our seven participants, aged between five-and-a-half and 10 years old quite simply, had a ball!  Our little learners crept into the village hall with their parents, perhaps unsure what to expect.  We needn’t have worried though – within minutes of being left in the capable hands of Coralie Hobson and Lynne Turpin there was lots of music, laughter and happy voices coming from the main hall!

The Sleeping Beautyz parents were treated to their own Parents Workshop in another part of the village hall, however after our own introductions curiosity got the better of our concerned parents and our practitioner Lisa Birtles, and we could not resist taking a peep at the kids in action! We were delighted (some might say relieved) to see, hear and feel that they were all joining in and making new friends.

The children and parents learnt all about the NLP communication model and how our brains process information in different ways.  We learnt that not everybody “sees” things in the same way as us and we learnt about feeling and communicating positively.

Everybody learnt that NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, and they learnt that it can help them to understand what makes them, and the people around them, tick, and how to communicate better with their friends and families.

During the break parents and children chatted informally.  The children enjoyed meeting “other children like them” and the parents found it helpful to share experiences of parenting a child with narcolepsy and cataplexy.  For most of them it was the first time they found someone else who really understood what it was like.

Just one of our children with narcolepsy needed to take a nap after part one – even though the rest of the children made it through to the end.  We are sure there were probably some snoozy children in their parents’ cars on the way home though!

At the end of the Kids and Parents workshops we all came together to listen to a special piece of music “You’re a Superstar” by Love Inc

We all danced together and then it was time to hand out certificates – to both parents and children.  It had been a big step for them all to try something new.

5 Reasons Why Children Struggle with Literacy

Every child is different. In NLP terms, every child has a different map of the world. Which is why traditional teaching methods don’t always engage everybody in the same way, and why national scales and achievement targets are not always helpful since children learn and develop at different rates. Of course the benchmarks set averages, but in NLP we don’t do average – only excellence!

Through our work with children of all ages we have identified 5 key reasons why some struggle with literacy:

  1. UK teacher training programmes fall short

In her book “Bridges to Success” Olive Hickmott, herself dyslexic but undiagnosed until long after she had finished school, notes that teachers are taught how to teach using multi-sensory activities, but they don’t necessarily learn how to teach children to learn in a multi-sensory way.

At Life Career Coaching we spend time in our workshops and 1:1s with children simply getting in touch with all of their senses and noting which one(s) are strongest for them.

We know that a child with a strong VISUAL preference will benefit from using different strategies to develop their literacy skills than a child with a strong AUDITORY preference.

So, in practice getting that magical 10 out of 10 for a spelling test might be achieved by looking at the spellings and the shape of the letters and whole words for a visual child, whereas saying or singing them might be better for an auditory child. A kinaesthetic (feelings) child usually benefits from air-writing, writing in sand or on a steamed-up mirror.

  1. Children just want to have fun

Let’s be honest – just how exciting is grammar and punctuation to a seven year old?! Many children just don’t see the point, or where their learning is going.

At Life Career Coaching we have found it helpful to have children set well-formed goals for themselves by identifying what will be better/easier when they can read and write with confidence. Some of the responses we get from our small clients include: “My teacher won’t tell me off” “I can read the text boxes on my computer game without asking my mum” or “I can go out to play when I know my spellings”.

Since we also recognize that 9-year old boys may not be that enthused by punctuating random sentences, we take time to find out their interests and hobbies so that we can tailor our exercises to something they can actually get excited about!

  1. Inability to concentrate or focus

 Yes that old chestnut, I’m afraid. We’ve all seen the school report that says “Billy would do better if he stopped fidgeting and distracting the person next to him”.

At Life Career Coaching we have had huge success with teaching children how to get grounded. Using simple, fun techniques we can help even the most fidgety of kids to calm themselves and remain focused within less than a minute. We also teach their parents so that they can do this together at home.

It’s a small tweak really but we have found that with greater concentration and focus come improvements in literacy and all aspects of learning.

  1. Lack of confidence or self-belief

Put simply, when children can’t learn to read, they cannot read to learn. Almost every other school subject relies on reading for children to progress

We help children recognise their interests, strengths and achievements by using a fancy-sounding but essentially simple technique called re-framing. We also use our specialist knowledge of language patterns to challenge the limiting beliefs that children build up about themselves such as “I am rubbish at spelling”.

Instead of focusing on what they think they can’t do, we first work with what they can do to build their trust and confidence.

  1. A specific reason

 For some children there may be a specific reason why they are struggling with literacy eg dyslexia.

Lisa has also trained as Empowering LearningTM Practitioner, which enables her to combine her NLP expertise with techniques and exercises designed to work with a child’s strengths to develop their literacy skills. She can also point you in the direction of more specialist forms of assessment and support should these be needed.

There are many reasons why children (and adults) struggle with literacy. These are just a few. That’s why using NLP with children and young people works so well. We take the time to get to know each unique individual and work with them in a creative and enjoyable way to build their belief, confidence and skills.

To learn more contact Lisa:


07815 057975

How to beat the bullies

Bullying is when someone is being hurt either by repeated words or actions and feels bad because of it. It can take many forms and result in low self-esteem and confidence, lower school grades, withdrawal, anxiety, rage and anger for a child who is a victim. As a caring parent it is hard to see your child in pain or distress and this may in turn cause anger and anxiety for you.

The first step is to address the source of the bullying. Your child has a right to be and feel safe, a human need so fundamental it is the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs.

Your child needs to know that they are believed and that they will be listened to, and that action will be taken against the perpetrator. Natural justice and fairness is important to children. We recommend you work in partnership with your school to find a buddy or peer mentor that your child can talk to during the day if they are feeling vulnerable. I asked one 10-year old client what advice he would give to a child who has been bullied and he wisely said they needed to find an adult they trusted and a place at school where they could feel safe and quiet to do an activity that makes them feel good such as drawing or reading.

Once the bullying has been addressed the recovery and rebuilding begins. In my practice I often start with a “magic magnet” exercise that draws out the bad thoughts, feelings and energy and enables the child or young person to let them go. Its an intense experience, both physical and cognitive but more importantly it is quick and easy to do.

Talking therapy and associated exercises come next and these might include “Circle of Friends” and the use of metaphor to create a bright new future. The beauty of NLP is that it is focussed on positive change and it works quickly. It took just four hours of NLP based therapy for one of my young clients to feel, think and behave confidently and calmly at school.

We also work on beliefs about self – because a bullied child can suffer feelings of lack of worthiness or self-esteem “I’m not good enough”, “Nobody likes me”, “I have got no friends”, and they will have strong beliefs about the bullies: “They are mean all the time”, “They tell lies”.  We have so many ways to change the perspectives of our young clients including our famous “chairs” exercise and a popular letter-writing exercise where we create a character to whom we write a rude letter telling them we don’t need them anymore!

We also have anchoring, a technique for inducing a certain frame of mind or emotion such as confidence that can be recalled when needed by children.   We can further cement all these new changes a child has learnt using hypnosis.

Above all improving confidence after bullying comes down to kids knowing that as parents we have their back when they need us and that don’t keep obsessing about it when it has been resolved. Most kids just want to fit in and they are actually great of letting go of things and moving on; sometimes much better than their parents!

Techniques to Manage Dyslexia in Children

Approximately 10% percent of the population is thought to be dyslexic, of which of those are 4% severely affected. It is estimated that there are about 375,000 pupils in the UK with dyslexia and a total of some two million people who are severely affected.

However, whilst there is no set “cure” for dyslexia, there are some “work around” methods that can really ease the challenges a dyslexic faces, depending upon how the disorder affects them.

You may have noticed that your child had delayed language development, which can sometimes be a clue to dyslexia later on. Some children jumble up the pronunciation of words or use the wrong words in the wrong context, or find it tricky to string a sentence together. They may struggle with learning the alphabet or with hearing patterns in words such as rhymes. However it’s important to recognize that children learn at different paces and some will master these skills later. If they miss a developmental milestone, it isn’t yet cause for a diagnosis.

School work will often highlight challenges that might then lead to some further investigation.

As well as continuing to experience some of the difficulties mentioned above, it may become apparent that there are further challenges with spellings and getting numbers or figures around the wrong way.

Some dyslexics report that the letters seem to move around the page and may put letters in words in the wrong order.

They may have difficulty in reading too, causing them to be slow or distracted by the layout or format of pages.

Often dyslexic children will have the correct answer and are able to talk to you about it, but they freeze up when they have to write it, their handwriting may be poor or it might take them a long time to complete written tasks.

They may also find sequences challenging, such as following set directions or remembering the order of days of the week.

The NHS recommends that if your child is experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, you should first speak to your GP, to check that your child has good hearing and vision as defects in these areas may also cause similar problems.

It is worthwhile speaking to your child’s teacher too. There may need to be a small adjustment in how your child is taught to overcome the challenges.

If having tried these steps and your child is still experiencing difficulties, it may be worth pursuing an assessment for a formal diagnosis so that provisions can be made for the needs that they have.

It’s very important that your child doesn’t perceive their dyslexia as a disability. In fact many of the worlds best entrepreneurs are dyslexic. Many famous dyslexics report that their dyslexia provides them with the kind of mind that thinks in a different way, which has contributed to their success.

Knowing that your child’s mind works in a different way, consider what techniques can be used to help them work around the standard ways, that they will likely be taught throughout their school life. Some of these techniques may be quite practical, such as allowing your child to engage with audio books instead of physical books, so that they can still develop a passion for literacy.

However there are techniques within NLP that will encourage better memory skills, and help them to keep letters still as they spell them. Helping children control their visual data (their images they see in their mind), can be of great use to those who are dyslexic. An NLP4Kids trained practitioner like Lisa Birtles (lisa@lifecareercoaching.co.uk) who is based in Manchester, can talk you through how these techniques work.

Only dead fish go with the flow, or why career planning pays!

It’s coming up to the end of yet another busy year at work and your line manager has scheduled your performance review…yes, most of us experience that sick feeling of dread in the pit of our stomach as we start to look for a copy of our year’s performance objectives/plan.  We scratch our heads, metaphorically at least, and wonder what we can say this year to differentiate our performance from the rest of the workforce: demonstrate that our behaviours were congruent with the stated competencies or capabilities of the organisation and show that our actions have ‘added value’.

I’m guessing, based on personal experience and from talking to friends and associates, that you’ll have a couple of anxious moments, maybe the odd night -time wakening, even a ‘why didn’t I do/say that’ thought and you’ll spend maybe several hours retro-fitting your year’s work to the objectives you agreed back at the beginning of the year…

Now, imagine how it would feel to be looking forward positively to that meeting with your manager: in you walk, head held high, brimming with self-confidence and purpose, clear that your actions and behaviours have contributed to the effectiveness of the organisation, that you’ve made a positive contribution to the delivery of the team’s objectives and that you have even provided feedback and coaching to your manager?

By taking control of your career: by being clear about your purpose at work and your values and beliefs; and by ensuring that all these are brought together in a career plan, you can feel confident at work, you can progress your career and you can still be popular with your colleagues.

Lisa Birtles (LifeCareerCoaching) and Ruth Price (Minerva Consulting) have found their passion in life: helping others to reach their potential and, in 2014, they want to help YOU to reach yours.

They’ll be running an eight-week programme of face-to-face group sessions and supported home-based learning to help you:

  • Build your confidence and self-belief
  • Understand the importance of networking and social media
  • Build your tailored CV and prepare for interviews

They believe that even if you think your career has reached a dead-end, that you’ll never reach your full potential or you just don’t know where to start, they can help you change: take ownership of your career, develop your personal brand and market yourself successfully.

For a no-obligation discussion, call Lisa on 07815 058975 or Ruth on 07803 606346 and find out more about the career planning workshops that they’ll be running in a Manchester location starting at the end of January 2014.

Or continue to be a dead fish going with the flow.

(Written by Ruth N Price, Guest Blogger).

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Positive feedback always gives you a boost!

Tonight I received some unsolicited feedback from the parent of a child I have been working with!  I have seen this little boy just twice and I was delighted by the progress I could see in our second session.  After 6 weeks of practise at home he came back to me excited by his developing skills and I could see this had given him a new confidence and sparkle.  For a 9-year old boy to be enjoying literacy so much that he has asked to come back for a third session was good enough feedback for me, or so I thought.  Tonight his lovely mum told me “you have worked wonders with my J”.  That, for me, is exactly why I do what I do, and a big part of the reason I am able to cope with being in a hotel 200 miles away from my own amazing family on a Sunday evening.  (I’m topping up my skills to work with the parents and teachers of the wonderful children I work with)!

Here’s to a great June week of sunshine, learning and the joy of self-belief!

Lisa B