NLP for Difficulties With Writing

Filed Under (NLP coaching learning difficulties) on 01-08-2012

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How can NLP help anyone who has difficulties with writing? 

The issue:

My five year-old son has been trying to trace dotted lines, curves, circles, letters, and numbers for more than a year. He knows all the letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. But when it comes to writing, it’s a struggle.  He even has a hard time tracing a straight line.  When asked to write on the line, he can’t do it.  His fine motor skills seem pretty weak.  He is also very easily distractible and I have received numerous reports that he doesn’t listen at school.  He is otherwise a very active, intelligent, and happy child. Is there anything I can do to help him?

Why does it happen?

It’s very common for people to develop the belief that there’s something wrong with their motor skills if they can’t write after several attempts.  But this is nothing more than a belief which people construct without evidence.  And since our beliefs drive what we do, there’s no wonder that people feel stuck and can’t proceed.

The real issue is that this child is highly visual and uses his visual skills inappropriately for writing and drawing.  The reason which often causes this is that until a child goes to school everything in his life is three-dimensional [3D].  The house in which the child lives, the furniture, people, food, toys, clothing, pets, everything.  When a child comes to school, they start teaching him to read and write words and numbers.  A word and a number are the first things in the child’s life that are two-dimensional [2D].  If a child is highly visual [which means that he processes most information by seeing still or moving pictures in his head], the child’s brain will work hard to recreate the third dimension.

Visual people process information much faster than people who are primarily sound oriented or tactile, because the human brain is allegedly capable of processing 32 frames per second!  Turn your hand 90 degrees in the wrist and back. That’s 2 frames per second.  So imagine the speed of  the brain working at 32 frames per second!  The fact that the brain tries to recreate the third dimension in words and numbers and the third dimension won’t be there every time the child sees another word or number will eventually confuse the brain. And it is exactly this confusion that causes havoc with reading, writing, and drawing.  Not the motor skills.

Highly visual people can use NLP for difficulties with writing

The reports  that this child doesn’t listen at school confirm that he’s highly visual!  Think about it: when you’re busy admiring a dress in a shop, you’re concentrating on the dress VISUALLY so much that for the moment when you’re immersed in admiring the dress you don’t hear activity around you. If you’re painting a wall, embroidering, sewing, or reading something on the internet, you’re busy paying attention to it visually and your hearing and listening are low (or none) at that moment.  The child won’t listen because he’s busy seeing still or moving pictures in his imagination and that takes up all his concentration.

Have you noticed that blind people usually have excellent hearing?  That’s nature’s balancing act.  So if it works one way, i.e. where sight [visual] is low or none and hearing is stronger, then it definitely works the other way, i.e. highly visual, low hearing.

The fact that this child is very bright and intelligent doesn’t surprise me.  Life is full of paradoxes. The paradox here is that things this mother described and other signs of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other learning difficulties happen EXACTLY to highly visual people because they take in a lot of information at once – and have high capacity to retain a lot – and try to turn it around in their heads at 32 frames per second.  Visual memory is the most reliable of all types of memory. This explains why this boy knows all the letters, numbers, shapes, and colours.  But sometimes this overcrowded visual sense can cause chaos in the head.  And then even the highest of intelligence won’t cure the issue.

How can NLP help with these difficulties with writing?

1. Learn grounding, teach it to your children, and do it all your and their lives. Young age and lack of grounding also cause these issues to young children.

2. If your child can’t even trace a straight line, it happens for a reason which you need to find.  Have you ever asked the child whether the pictures s/he imagined moved around? I strongly suspect that this will be at the heart of the issue.  Think about it: imagine a straight line.

  • Do you see it still or moving?
  • Do you see it clear and sharp or fuzzy and obscured?
  • How far do you see it from your face?  So close that you can only see a part of the line?  Or so far that you can’t even properly detect what it is and whether it’s straight or curved?
  • Where in your visual field do you see it?  Center?  Top right?  Bottom left?
  • How brightly do you see it?  Is there enough clear contrast between the line and the background against which you see the line?

Once you notice all these factors, you’ll be clear about why and how you see what you see. Ask your child what s/he sees how.  If any of these factors is uncomfortable, it’ll be one, but not necessarily the only reason why s/he has problems.  When you find something that needs work, play a little game:

  • Ask the child to imagine that s/he has a music player in front of him/her with round knobs on it.  If s/he wants to turn up the volume, s/he’ll have to keep turning the volume knob slowly to the right until s/he gets the volume s/he wants.  You can do exactly the same thing with altering brightness, sharpness, contrast, etc.
  • Use the metaphor of a camera with a zoom lens for altering distance.
  • If you find that the pictures in the child’s imagination move and the line s/he’s trying to trace dances around, use the metaphor of pressing the pause button on a remote control.  What happens when you press the pause button?  The picture on the screen freezes.  And THIS IS EXACTLY what the child must achieve.  If his/her pictures [which should be still] move, help him/her freeze them.

Keep going…

3. Once the pictures are still [where appropriate], clear, sharp, comfortably distant from the child’s face, and in a comfortable place in his/her visual field, do the following:
Invest in a few large sheets of paper that one sees on flipcharts at conferences.  Fasten one sheet at a time to the wall at the child’s eye level.  Direct the child to write on this sheet on the wall until s/he improves.
When we are processing information visually, we automatically look up above our eye level, because that’s where the visual field is. When we are writing on a straight desk, we’re forced to look down which is where our feelings are.  Feelings are the wrong tool for writing!  Writing, reading, and drawing are visual activities, yet we’re asking our brains to process them through feelings. No wonder that children fail.

The other dangerous side effect of this is that if a child has been failing, s/he will develop bad feelings about writing and drawing.  S/he’ll think: “I hate this“, “I don’t want to do this“, “I’m terrible at this“, “I’ll never be able to do this“.  At 5 years of age a child won’t be able to tell you most of these bad feelings, but will most certainly already have them!  And if you’ve never asked the child about the feelings. how will you know?
Lifting the writing pad above the child’s eye level will take him/her out of the feelings and remove bad ones.  And s/he’ll stay the happy child that s/he is!

4. Once the child’s internal pictures are as they should be and you have the writing pad on the wall, ask him/her to draw that straight line.  Give him/her time to first imagine what s/he will draw and then let him/her copy it from the imagination.

5. And when s/he can draw a straight line, s/he can do everything else!  The key is to persist and do it slowly step by step.  If you’ve been trying with the child for over a year, your patience and determination will serve you well!  Keep them up.  And that one day when it all clicks together in your child’s brain will be the eureka moment you’ve both been waiting for!

8. Make it fun!  When you’re both having fun, half the battle will be won!

Would you like to know how to use NLP for difficulties with writing? Let’s talk about it.

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