The Importance of Relaxation for Children
With the increase of ADHD, behavioural disorders, child stress and anxiety, relaxation is becoming more and more important for children of all ages.
Regular relaxation helps relax muscles and calms the nervous system, boosts the immune system and helps improve sleep. Relaxation also supports children’s minds by sharpening concentration, promoting positive thinking and memory so improving their learning and school work. Relaxation is also great for building your child’s self- confidence and self- esteem, creativity and imagination.
Children who have relaxation as part of their daily routine are often calmer, more in control and able to cope with life’s ups and downs. Subsequently, parents feel calmer and family life is generally happier. However, some children find stopping and becoming still without any stimulation incredibly difficult. It is best to start in very short bursts so your child enjoys the experience rather than finds it a chore.
Here are some simple ways to introduce simple relaxation to your child.
- Doodling – Give your child five minutes of brain rest by simply doodling with a pen and paper. It is not only calming but has been shown to actually stimulate creativity.
- Cloud watching – Let you child go outside (or sit near a window), lie down and stare at the clouds. Ask them to be as still as possible as they watch the clouds float and notice pictures in the clouds.
- Day dreaming – Allow your child to daydream for at least two minutes. They can close their eyes and see where their mind goes.
- Mindful eating – Give your child a raisin or a square of chocolate and ask them to eat it as slowly as they can being aware of all their senses. It is great fun as they notice things they would normally miss.
- Breathing – Ask you child to take in a deep breath for the count of four and breathe out for the count of 6 or 8. Breathing is a great way to help slow down their racing mind and gives a little brain break.
The best time to experiment with simple relaxation techniques is in the evening before bedtime as part of your wind down routine. Here is a simple relaxation exercise to read to your child before bedtime to encourage them to relax and sleep.
Close your eyes, be very still and imagine that you are a robot. Your whole body is made of metal. The lights on your arms and legs and stomach are flashing brightly. The robot also makes all sorts of beeping and bleeping noises. It is a very noisy robot.
Now you are going to see if you can switch the robot off and make every part of your body completely still. Start with your right leg – bring all your attention to your right leg and turn off the switch. Your right leg becomes totally still.
Do the same to your left leg, switching off the switch and watching the bright lights on that leg turn off. Switch off the light on your stomach and make it very, very still inside. Now do the same to your arms, turning off the lights and letting your arms become very still and heavy. Finally, turn off the switch in your head. Switch off your mouth, switch off your nose and eyes and finally switch off your eyes. You should feel very still now. See how still you can make your robot body.
Don’t forget that if you move anything, the lights will go back on – so stay as still as you can!
For more exercises download your free relaxation pack
By Marneta Viegas – Our resident Relaxation Expert