Childhood is the first and one of the most important stages of development, largely marking the way we see and experience the human world. From birth and ending in adolescence, at this point the new being begins to bond with the world, a world full of new sensations, emotions and things to discover.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy step. In fact, in this period there are a lot of things that we cannot understand that frustrate and / or change our behavior and our relationship with the environment.. When this happens, it is advisable to allow children to relaxThis is why in this article we will suggest 11 relaxation exercises for children.
Children also need to relax.
In a society like ours, being able to relax is something necessary to preserve our well-being. Family, partner, work, friends … we have many variables to consider in our lives, which can easily be overcome if we are not able to relativize things, to prioritize them and decrease the level of tension they produce in us.
Childhood is a vital stage characterized by a high level of energy and excitement to discover. But even though the responsibilities of most children may seem not to be too stressful, the point is that the misunderstanding of how the world works and the presence of certain stressors (family, school, and peer group) and frustrated desires can alter a lot and make them suffer. They must be able to manage their sensations, a management which does not come biologically imprinted but which must be learned. Within this management would come the ability to relax.
Practicing relaxation techniques from childhood not only serves to cope with a specific stressful situation, but also the child is encouraged to adopt a more focused and realistic position in the world through meditation and relativization of problems. It helps that in the future they will be better able to cope with various situations and be able to view things from different points of view. In addition, it also promotes introspection, self-control and physical and mental self-knowledge to make them more aware of their own reactions to the world and circumstances.
Relaxation activities and exercises for children
Given the importance for children of learning to relax and deal with stress and frustration, it is important to teach them certain techniques to reduce their stress.
Some activities that can facilitate this are as follows. Of course, it should be borne in mind that some of them can only be applied from certain ages, as they may require a more or less advanced level of intellectual development.
1. Respiratory techniques
Some of the simplest and most common relaxation techniques for children and adults are based solely on breathing.. It helps to make them feel in a comfortable position and, in silence or with soft music, breathe in deeply through their nose and slowly breathe out through their mouth. The boy or girl can put one hand on their chest and another on their stomach, to observe which of the two movements. With younger children, it may be helpful to use analogies, such as imagining it as an accordion or a balloon.
2. Jacobson’s progressive relaxation
This technique is used in subjects of all ages, Both in and outside clinical practice, to lower stress and tension levels. It is based on the tension and relaxation of different muscle groups while controlling breathing. They start from the most distal extremities of the body (first the feet and legs, then the hands and arms) to progress gradually towards the center (abdomen, torso) then the head.
Each muscle group will be asked to stretch for a few seconds and then relax three times while it has been stretched, this process being done up to three times in a row with each muscle group.
This technique should not be used before the age of seven, Since in addition to requiring concentration and voluntary control of breathing, it can be complex to understand and achieve by a child of a lower evolutionary level.
3. Koeppen relaxation
Similar to Jacobson’s relaxation, this methodology is used in the face of make relaxation exercises more enjoyable, understandable and enjoyable for young children by doing them as a game. In this case, a more symbolic and playful method is used, through the imagination of various situations in which they will need to tighten and relax different parts of the body.
To relax their hands, they are asked to act as if they have to squeeze an orange or a lemon, for their arms and feet to act as if they are sinking in the mud, for their shoulders to be protected like the would make a turtle, for arms that stretch like a cat, for the jaw that they think they chew gum, for the face they try to scare away a fly without using anything other than their face and for the abdomen that they stretch to prevent them from crushing an elephant or pretending to have to go through a very narrow space.
4 in my safe place: guided imagination
This technique is very useful in reducing stress and anxiety, especially in children with a high level of imagination.. It is about creating in the child’s imagination a safe and relaxing environment where the reason for anxiety cannot affect them. For example, a wooden house in the mountains, a jungle full of animals, or a beach.
This imaginative process will be guided by the therapist, teacher or parent so as to create an environment with pleasant and reassuring elements for the child. Relaxation can be enhanced with soft music and a deep, calm tone of voice.
When we think about calming a child, one of the typical images that comes to mind is of a mother or father singing to their child while rocking it. Music has a very important element for human beings, which throughout the life cycle can accompany our emotional state and even alleviate our discomfort.
Sing or have them sing together a simple, short song that they like and know well and that requires a slight effort to control the tone and rhythm it will help to improve the state of tension and relax the child.
6. We are puppets
A relaxing exercise in the form of a game that can appeal to children of all ages. It is based on what are said to be puppeteers controlled by a puppeteer, having a thread or rope on each limb, on the back and on the head. It was said that the puppeteer pulled on the different strings so that they could do different gestures and actions.
However, after a while, they are told that the puppeteer in question is clumsy and sometimes drops one of the strings, so they have to leave the corresponding body part completely dead for a few seconds. This second part lasts several minutes. The game ends by saying that the puppeteer drops all the strings at once and / or leaves the puppets, having to relax the whole body.
7. The snowman / icicle
This relaxation exercise for children is based on the transition from a state of tension to muscle relaxation, In a symbolic and playful way. It is offered to the child or minors who are snowmen or icicles, completely frozen during the winter.
In this initial state, they should tighten the muscles as much as possible and be still and narrowed. However, spring is coming and with the sun, which was slowly melting them. With this, the child should gradually relax the muscles, stretch and relax.
8. Resist the laughter
It’s something we’ve probably all done at some point. It is based on asking the child to look at another person and to remain still at all times and to keep cool while trying not to laugh., While the other person should do everything possible to make him laugh. It serves to try to hold the gaze, make jokes and even tickle.
For those who are trying to resist laughing and those who are trying to make them laugh, this relaxation exercise will allow them to focus on the other person or on the situation itself.
A hug, a caress … even if this does not happen in all situations or for everyone, physical contact with another person tends to be a reassuring element for humans.
One way to use this fact in relaxation is to perform massages. In addition to the muscle relaxation itself, this activity helps to improve the relationship between the people involved, so it is recommended to use it in the school context to improve the relationship between peers or siblings.
10. Symbolic drawing
While it may seem obvious to express emotions in one way or another, regardless of their type, it helps release frustration and anxiety. Art is one way to do it. Asking them to draw a picture of what they want to do will let their imaginations run wild as they focus on creating the piece, which allows them to redirect attention and reduce stress levels. A very relaxing type of drawing that is generally used in these cases is the making of a mandala, a circular representation of oriental origin in the elaboration of which represent different facets of each person’s life, thought and emotions. .
In addition to relaxing them, contemplating the type of designs and their characteristics allows us to get clues about needs, wants, fears and experiences that either the minor is not able to explain or does not dare to do so.
11. Karunesh or heart dance
Dance is an art form that allows the expression of feelings and emotions, Releasing blockages and repressed elements within us. While most dances are really useful for releasing energy and relaxing, there are certain types of dancing that can be used as a method of meditation as well.
An example of this is the heart dance or Karunesh, based on yoga and oriental philosophy. Due to its simplicity as it allows us to connect with our body, thoughts and emotions, it is frequently used as a mindfulness technique. It is dance-based controlling your breathing and focusing on your heartbeat while visualizing your emotions.
After getting into a comfortable position, place both hands on your heart and focus on your heartbeat, seeing each inhale as the arrival of positive energy and each exhale as the release of tension. The dance begins by stretching the right arm and leg forward as we exhale, with the palm of the hand facing outward to symbolize the expulsion of discomfort. When inhaled, the limbs are returned to their original position. It is repeated twice with both arms
Subsequently, the same exercise is performed, but this time on both sides, And finally a third couple of times back. At all times, the axis of the body remains in the same place, varying only the position of the legs and hands. After a few repetitions, you end the exercise by sitting down and focusing for a few minutes just on normal breathing.
12. Kiss the stuffed animal
This relaxation exercise is suitable for girls and boys up to 7 years old. It consists of using a stuffed animal and giving instructions to the little one to hug him, increasing and decreasing the strength little by little, gradually, at the rate of breathing. This way the muscles tighten and relax. without having to make any effort at any time, so there is a feeling of relaxation.
13. The chameleon
In this exercise, the child plays to imitate the movements of the chameleon. Thus, the little one falls to the ground and must be able to catch an object located about two or three meters away, moving four staples towards him very slowly.
For this exercise you need to use a large cork board and nail a circuit of different textures that form a route. With this material, the boy or girl follows this circuit slowly by hand until it reaches the end point. Lace, different fabrics, soft plastic parts, etc. can be used.
- Amutio, A. (2002) Stress Management Strategies: The Role of Relaxation. C. Med. Psicosom, No. 62/63.
- Dris, M. (2010). Relaxation activities in primary and child education. “Innovation and educational experiences, 34.
- Echeverría, S. (1998). The voice of children: education and rehabilitation. Editorial CEPE.