1. Guided Relaxation (Progressive Relaxation)
2. Attending to the Breath
3. Creative Visualization (Imagery)
Children are wonderfully receptive to guided relaxation. If often helps if children are taught to tense and relax each of their muscle groups, a techniques known as progressive relaxation. Progressive relaxation can help children relax and prepare for sleep. It can also give them greater poise, self control, and an overall comfort with their bodies.
Make a muscle with both arms and show me how strong you are.
Hold your fists tight. Keep showing me your strong muscles.
Hold it, hold it, and relax.
Now wrinkle up your face so that it looks like a raisin.
Wrinkle your forehead as you tightly close your eyes. Hold, hold, hold; now relax.
Open your mouth as wide as you can. Wider, wider, wider; now relax.
Bring your shoulders all the way up to your ears.
Hold it, hold it, hold it. Relax.
As you take in a deep breath,
pull your shoulders so far back that they try to touch each other.
Hold it, hold it, hold it. Relax.
Take a deep breath in and push your belly out. Hold it, hold it. Relax.
Children are naturally fascinated by their own breathing, just getting quiet and paying attention to it is extremely soothing. Breathing connects the body and mind, focusing attention, relaxing muscles, and quieting the mind.
Simply direct your child to be so quiet—that he can hear and feel his own breath. (You may wish to do the same)
Balloon Breathing (Also called diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing,
or deep breathing)
If you watch babies breathe, you will notice that they breathe deeply and that their entire belly rises and falls with each breath. However, by age six, most children have already become shallow breathers.
Lie down on the floor. Place one of your hands on your belly.
Imagine that there is a balloon in your belly.
Breathe in slowly and feel your balloon fill with air as it raises your hand. Now breathe out slowly and gently let the air out of your balloon. (Repeat several times).
Option: Add visualization by having children close their eyes, imagining the size and color of their balloon. Ask them to "see" their balloon. What color
is it? How big is it?
After children are competent doing "belly breathing" lying down, occasionally have them practice being able to do it standing up.
This is a great way to relax quickly. Children often like to exaggerate the sound of their sigh as the air leaves their bodies.
Breathe in through your nose. Hold it, hold it. Now sigh and let out all your air.
(After mastering balloon breath) Children will learn to isolate three areas—head, chest and abdomen.
Start the elevator ride by breathing in through your nose. As you breathe out, feel the breath travel all the way to the basement, where your toes are. Breathe in and take your breath up to your belly. Hold it. Now breathe out all your air. Breathe in and take your breath up to your chest. Hold it. Now breathe out all your air. Now breathe in and take your breath up to the top floor, up your throat and into your cheeks and forehead. Feel your head fill with breath. Hold it. Now breathe out and feel all your troubles and worries leave your body and go out the elevator door.
Tip: Tell your students that they can do these breathing exercises anytime
they are tired angry, or upset.
Creative visualization is nearly second nature for children. It is certainly nothing new; for instance, “counting sheep” has been around for as long as any of us can remember. Today, because we have so many ready made images such as TV, computers, videogames, etc, it’s very important to encourage and provide opportunities for children to use their imaginations. There are two types of creative visualization. One type is a fixed scene where the narrator provides the structure. In the second type, the child can come up with his or her own ideas or pictures. (Often this can be enhanced by listening to music.) At first I recommend that you provide the structure; your words and descriptions will take your child on an imaginary journey. Visualization improves with practice and eventually, your children will be effortlessly visualizing scenarios of their own choosing as they drift off to sleep.
In addition to using visualization to help children relax and fall asleep, it can effectively help children in the following areas:
1. to attain goals (Visualize self being successful)
2. to overcome obstacles
3. to increase self-awareness and overall quality of life
• Use a slow relaxed voice and try to involve all your child’s senses.
• Pause to let the scene “set” in your child’s mind.
• Lower your voice a few tones to create a more hypnotic, restful mood.
• Tie the visualization exercises into your studies or interests.
For example, if your child loves butterflies, describe the beautiful butterfly and each of its parts while your son or daughter closes his or her eyes
and “sees it.”
• Use emotive imagery. Personalize the story or scene so your child is in it. (Ask permission from your child first)
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• Transitions: Before falling asleep, when beginning and ending lessons and classes, after lunch, after a field trip, after vigorous activities.
• Decompression: Use it to calm and focus when anxious & stressed.
Music (creating, or listening)
Walking mantra-Children repeat their word as they play (5 yr olds for 5