3 ways to help kids tap into their intuition

We all want our kids to be confident. Getting good grades, performing well on the field, or playing an instrument with skill all help kids gain confidence. Yet real confidence comes from within. It sticks with us, even when we fail. It doesn’t leave us if someone says something hurtful or we make a mistake. It lets us know that we’ll be okay, no matter what. Intuition—listening to that still, strong voice inside of us—is the soil for self-trust, and self-trust grows into confidence.

Today, due to cell phones and computers, kids rarely get the chance to daydream while waiting for us to pick them up, or the luxury of choosing which photos they share with friends. They have instant connection at their fingertips. Without time for silence, it’s hard to tap into intuition. As parents, we can reinforce the habit of tapping into what their body, mind and spirit are telling them.

“It’s important in our fast-paced world to be able to get quiet and listen, and to recognize the wisdom we carry within ourselves rather than having to seek knowledge outside of ourselves,” says Dr. Elena Estanol, a licensed psychologist and sport psychologist in Fort Collins with Synapse Counseling, LLC (synapsecounseling.com).   

Dr. Estanol teaches kids, teens and young adults to tap into their intuition and develop self-trust. She has traditionally worked with athletes who wish to gain confidence on the field, but she works with anyone who wishes to enhance their confidence, specializing in young adults with ADHD, eating issues, gut disorders, and anxiety issues. With an online course, she also helps entrepreneurs, health professionals and parents tap into their intuition (intuitivebusinessmastery.com/intuitive-advantage). Here are three ways she guides people to access their intuition.

1. Recognizing cues

Estanol often starts by asking kids, ‘Was there ever a time when something happened to you when you sensed something was wrong?’ They usually answer yes, and she asks them to describe how they knew. Often they answer with, ‘I just had a sense’ or ‘My belly hurt’ or ‘I had a knot in my throat.’ Some even say they had a dream or a picture flashed in their mind. She explains that this is intuition, and what they felt, saw or experienced were cues from their inner wisdom.

She provides tools to help kids tap into their intuition via a 6-step formula, and she encourages kids to listen to their intuition when it says to call a friend, skip an outing, or when meeting new people. Often, these cues play out.

“You call your friend and you find out they were sick, or they really needed to talk. Or you meet someone and you feel like you don’t want to be near them. Listen to that intuition,” Estanol says.

2. Rewiring core beliefs

This one can take a bit of digging or time with a good counselor, but it’s really valuable in clearing doubt and fulfilling potential. Maybe you developed a core belief that you are not likable. From then on, you filtered your world through that belief, which may have made you avoid social situations or invite new friendships.

“What we believe is what we will receive. If you believe you are not good enough, then you will constantly doubt the information that you receive. Rather than receiving truth, you will filter it with your beliefs and perceptions. That’s why it’s important to regularly practice meditation and mindfulness—and for kids that can be as simple as spending time alone, getting out in nature, or taking time to just breathe,” she says.

The same is true about what we focus on. If we focus on the mistakes we make or constantly compare ourselves to others, our doubt and lack of self-confidence will grow. But if we instead focus on what went right, what we are good at and successes we’ve had, we will notice more of that in our lives.

“I remind kids that getting good at something takes practice and that mistakes help us learn to improve,” she says.

She also encourages kids to create a mantra to counter self-doubt. She asks them to recall a time when everything went right for them. She has them describe it as if they were in a movie—what they saw, heard, thought and felt. If the event made them feel smart, strong or powerful, those words become part of the mantra—and provide a mental anchor to that positive experience.

3. Leading with your breath

Intuition often comes when we are quiet and unoccupied. Have you ever noticed that you get great ideas while in the shower? That’s because it’s a time when your mind is allowed to wander without distraction. Estanol often starts by teaching kids how to tap into their breathing. When we are breathing slow and steady we tend to calm down, and we are more able to hear what our bodies, minds and spirits are telling us.

“One exercise I like to give kids is to have them lay on the floor. I then place an object with a bit of weight on their diaphragm. I ask them to make the object go up and down, which forces them to focus on belly breathing. While they inhale I have them count to four and imagine their belly is a balloon filling up. As they exhale, the balloon deflates, and the object goes down. It’s a great skill to teach kids and a good habit for families to practice together,” Estanol says.

Focusing on breathing and being quiet takes self-discipline. Helping kids understand that they are in control of when they respond or how they react, is powerful. For example, show them that they don’t have to immediately check notifications on their phone. Resisting the urge to instantly reply teaches self-discipline and opens the door to mindfulness.

Reaping the benefits of confidence

Once kids begin to trust their intuition and rewire negative beliefs that hold them down, things often open up for them. With self-trust, they are able to manage their emotions. Estanol helps kids realize that they are in control of their emotions, not others. She tells of a teen who was a skilled athlete that came to her after a coach was critical and shook his confidence.

“After working together, he was able to brush it off when the coach got angry and yelled at the team. Most of the kids shut down, but he didn’t. Instead, he looked inward and saw it as motivation to do what he knew he could do. That’s when intuition really kicked in and he said he started seeing the play ahead of time, allowing him to anticipate his next move. His game improved and he got on a pro team,” she says.

Ultimately, by tapping into their own truth kids get to a place of trust and confidence that allows them to take risks and really become who they desire to be. Of course, there will be some fear. Fear often comes with growth, but it’s usually short lived if they are on the right path.

“Using intuition is really about trust and empowerment, and helping kids come into their own,” Estanol concludes.