Some children can cope with lots of stress whilst others need a little bit of help. The following are some ways that author Kelly Roper suggests can help children to cope and become more resilient:
1. Deep Breathing
This simple technique can be done by anyone to slow down the body’s natural response to stress and help you feel more in control;
1. Simply breathe in deeply.
2. Hold the breath for a moment.
3. Release it slowly.
Repeat the deep breathing until you feel relaxed.
2. Muscle Relaxation
Tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body helps you to relax.
•Face – scrunch up nose and forehead and then relax face. Repeat three times.
•Arms and shoulders – stretch arms out in front and then raise above head and stretch as high as able, then drop arms and let them hang loose. Repeat three times.
•Hands and arms – imagine squeezing an orange as hard as possible with one hand, and then dropping that orange on the floor and letting the arm and hand go limp. Repeat three times, and then switch to the other arm.
•Legs and feet – stand and press toes against the floor as though digging them into sand at the beach and then relax. Repeat three times.
Exercise is a great form of relaxation; walking, running, dancing, swimming and playing all provide the kind of exercise that children enjoy.
Visualisation is also known as visual guided imagery. This technique uses the imagination to slow down the chatter of the mind and help release negative thoughts and worries. This technique can be especially useful following progressive muscle relaxation, which first relaxes the muscles and then calms the mind.
Imagining a beautiful, peaceful place is one type of visualisation that’s easy for nearly any child to use as a stress reducer. Colour visualisation can also be helpful and is a very simple technique to teach a child.
1. Ask your child to imagine a favourite colour that makes them feel peaceful and safe.
2. Have them imagine taking in that colour with each breath and sending it throughout their entire body as they exhale.
3. Have them continue until they visualise being filled with her special, relaxing colour.
A soothing sound, a special aroma, or the feeling of warmth or light can be used in place of the colour.
Laughter is a wonderful stress reliever that soothes tension and helps the body relax. Encourage lots of laughter with games, tickles, telling jokes, making silly faces and watching funny cartoons.
Stretching relaxes built up tension in the muscles. Teach your child how to gently stretch and feel the muscles relax.
7. Listen to Music
Listening to calming music can help a child regain focus. Even very young children may enjoy listening to relaxing classical music. Drawing to music is also very relaxing.
Yoga can relax the mind and body. Here is a simple meditation your child can use at home, but it works well in the classroom too;
1. While your child sits on a bed at home, or at a desk at school, they should place their hands in their lap and close their eyes.
2. The next step is to breathe in and out slowly and evenly.
3. Each breathe in and each breathe out counts as a single count. Try for at least 30 in the classroom.
4. As they settle into the meditation, they should focus on listening to their breathing. As they do, they’ll begin to feel more calm and focused.
5. When they finish the count of 30, take a very deep breathe, let it out slowly, and then open eyes.
Encourage your child to cuddle with a pet, cuddly toy or loved one. Research has shown that physical, safe touch is very important and cuddles can lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.
10. Toe Tensing
Toe tensing draws tension down from the rest of the body. This simple exercise should be repeated ten times each session.
1. Lie on your back and allow yourself to sense your toes.
2. Use your toe muscles to pull all ten toes back in the direction of the face and hold to the count of ten.
3. Relax the toes and hold to the count of ten.