Helping Children Cope with Strong Emotions: Relaxation

Helping Children Cope with Strong Emotions: Relaxation.

Children can struggle with what, for them, are strong emotions. It can be a challenge for them to process their feelings other than through worrying or getting anxious. Relaxation can be a helpful way to reducing anxiety or worry.

If you experience your child feeling overly worried, anxious or needs help with coping with strong emotions you can instruct them through all or some of the exercises below.

Relaxation technique #01: Tense, Stretch, Relax

These exercises can be done standing, sitting or laying down. Ask your child to close their eyes, and let the rest of their body go limp and floppy.

Hands

  • Ask them to imagine they are holding a lemon in each hand. Get them to imagine squeezing them tighter and tighter until they can feel the juice run and the flesh break.
  • Then ask them to stretch out their hands and fingers as far as they can go.
  • Get them to drop their hands as if very heavy weights were attached to them. Tell them their hands are so heavy they can nearly touch the floor.
  • Finally, repeating the steps above but get them to imagine their tight fists are a flower bud, which is opening slowly in the sun. Let the petals stretch out before letting the flower gently close.

Body

  • Ask them to imagine they are a tree. With knees slightly bent and with a straight back, ask them to imagine their arms are branches hanging from the tree. Their arms should be loosely hanging by their sides.
  • Get them to take a deep breath and as they do ask them to stretch their arms out wide and rise right above their head, bringing their hands together at the end of the inhale; stretching as high as they can.
  • Then let them have a strong exhale (see if they’ll make a ‘whoosh’ sound as they breath out) and let the branches fall down to their side.
  • Repeat 2-3 more times.

Shoulders, Back and Neck

  • These are areas of the body that commonly suffer from stress.
  • Standing up, with arms loose and hanging by their sides, lift their shoulders up to their ears.
  • Then, still raised, move them backward so the shoulder blades are brought in.
  • Let them bring them down to where they started, this time bringing them forward so that shoulders are pulled in.
  • Repeat this cycling of up, back, down and forward five times in one direction, then reverse the direction.
  • Ask them to stretch their neck up like a giraffe. Shoulders down and extend their neck as far they can. Then relax. Repeat five times.

Face

Do they have a favourite animal? Get them to imagine they are that animal.

  • Ask them to lick their lips, and clench their teeth just as the animal might.
  • Now ask them to yawn like the animal; a wide expansive yawn.
  • Get them to then make a big happy face, and smile.
  • End by telling them that they can begin to relax, imagining that someone is stroking their head very gently.

With time and practise your child can become expert enough to do all or some of these exercises by themselves. Giving them a toolkit whenever they need it.


What’s been your experience of helping a child cope with difficult emotions? Have you used similar techniques or relied on other methods? Share, comment and like below.

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