The current climate of uncertainty, combined with the social distancing regulations, is causing increased levels of stress and anxiety amongst many of us. Children are not immune to these feelings either.
With schools closed and restrictions placed on movement outdoors, children are feeling the effects too. As well as looking after their physical health, ensuring they eat a healthy diet, packed with vitamins, we can also use strategies to boost their mental health. These methods of relaxation for children take the principles used for adults and make them more accessible for a younger age group.
Why relaxation is essential for children
Providing children with methods for relaxation during lockdown is crucial. At a young age, a child’s brain is fragile and still developing. Therefore, handling emotions, such as stress and sadness, is particularly challenging.1
Good mental health is essential for children’s growth and learning. Using relaxation methods to help them regulate their emotions improves their behaviour and allows them to be happier and more successful in life.2
Relaxation methods for children
1. Breathing exercises
Breathing exercises help reduce stress and anxiety in children, just as they do with adults. However, for children, breathing exercises are a lot more accessible for them if you can provide visual cues.
You can teach your children how to breathe from the belly with this simple technique.
Tell children to inhale through the nose and imagine smelling a flower. You can also ask them to put their hand on their belly to feel it inflate. When they breathe out, tell them to exhale through their mouths and imagine they are blowing out birthday candles.3
2. Yoga for children
Yoga often comes very naturally to children; sometimes, they are doing poses without even realising. Recognised as a powerful positive coping method, many schools have devoted time in their timetables to yoga practice.
Poses, such as Cat-Cow, Downward-Facing Dog, Tree Pose and Warrior I and II, are fun and imaginative for children. As beginner poses, they also do not require too much flexibility, so are great for adults to learn yoga alongside their children too.4
3. Techniques for children’s meditation
Providing children with something to focus on when practising meditation techniques makes it easier for them.
For example, try blowing bubbles and ask children to imagine their worries contained in the bubbles, as they watch them float away. 5
Another good idea is to look at the clouds together. You could do this in the garden or even from the window. Ask children to think about what shapes they can see. Do they remind them of characters in stories or places they have been? Focusing on these calming shapes will help them to relax.6
4. A mindful walk
We all appreciate that sometimes children can find it hard to stay still. However, mindfulness can also be practised while on the move. Go on a walk for your daily exercise and encourage your children to be mindful as they walk. They could think about how their body feels, their feet on the ground and their arms, as they swing gently. Alternatively, they could focus on their surroundings, what do they see, smell or hear?7
5. Relaxing creative activities
Creative activities have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety. By becoming absorbed by a task, we feel a sense of calm and happiness.8 Children can also enjoy these benefits. Perhaps sit together and enjoy sharing a quiet, creative activity, such as drawing, colouring, collage or modelling with playdough, to help them relax.
Last updated: 24 April 2020