Now is a stressful time for everyone–kids included! Many kids are not in school right now; they’re doing virtual learning instead, while at home with their families all day. Some kids are in school and it looks very different! They are wearing masks and having to do things in a different way to keep everyone safe. Kids have to adjust to their new routine just like parents do…it’s no wonder nerves are high at the moment!
In the same way that it’s important for parents to take time to relax, it’s important for kids to as well so that the stressors they are facing can be managed. Here are five of my favorite relaxation techniques to teach my clients. Give them a try with your kids, and encourage them to practice. Practice with them so that everyone in the family can be a little more relaxed!
Flower and Candle
This is a great way to teach kids deep breathing. Imagine you are smelling a flower and breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold that smell for a few seconds. Now imagine you are blowing out a candle and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Repeat as needed.
Grounding can help kids become present in the moment, and help calm their mind in times of stress. You can do this exercise together and out loud, or silently in your head. Look around and notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. One of my teen clients loves to use this one especially when she’s overwhelmed.
Squeezing a Lemon
This exercise releases tension in your muscles by forcing you to squeeze your hand and then release it and relax. First imagine you are holding a lemon in both hands. Now squeeze those lemons by squeezing your hands into fists–not too tight! Now count to 5 and then release your hands, dropping the lemons. Feel how relaxed your hands and arms feel. Repeat as necessary. This is a great technique for anger too!
Stress Balls and Putty
Stress balls, putty, etc. can help kids relax as well. Kind of like squeezing a lemon above, stress balls and putty allow kids to play with, squeeze, and release an object, mimicking that release of muscle. Fidget toys and fidget spinners can also help some kids relax and focus by giving their hands something to play with. I know some kids (and a parent as well) who like to keep a stress ball in their pocket so they always have it when needed!
Take a Walk
Walking is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy together and use to relax. Kids can get their energy out while also getting some exercise. With fall in the air, a walk in the park, or even just down the street, can be just what kids need to relieve some stress.
Geena Osowski, LLMSW