Relaxation Techniques For Kids

25 comments

 

My daughter, like most three-year-olds, loves to run and jump and play and throw fits.  A lot of fits.  But the other day she was being extra “spirited”, running around like a tasmanian devil, and someone ended up with a fat lip.  Poor hubs.  He didn’t see it coming.  It is times like those when I find myself annoyed with constantly pleading “STOP it!”; Don’t DOOOO that! “; and “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt!!!!”

We all know taking on a toddler can make you feel tired.  And defeated.  So I am trying to change up my strategy.  Rather than having my first reaction be yelling, I decided to “try” some relaxation techniques.  I know, I was laughing at myself too.  But by doing a little bit of research and experimenting with my child, I have discovered some relaxation techniques that work.

Here they are:

*The Peace Corner.  We started using this tactic after we saw one at Mia’s future preschool.  It is a cozy nook for kids to go chill out after they’ve had an “incident.”  It has a chair, a rug, and some books.  When I instruct Mia to “Please go visit the peace corner” it sounds a little better than when I would shout “GO TO TIME OUT Pleeease!!!!!”

*Kiddie Massage.  I learned how to do a give a soothing foot rub after I came across an article on reflexology.  Here’s an excerpt:

For Relaxation: Start with the solar plexus reflex, located in the center of the sole, just under the ball of the foot and middle toe. Hold the right foot with the left hand and press inward with the right thumb. Hold for a count of three, release slowly and repeat three times. Switch feet. Stimulating this reflex and helps your child relax. – (Whiteside, Cassandra.(October/November 2010). Reflexology: A Foothold For Treating Allergy Symptoms. Living Without. Page 9.)

*Stress Relieving Activities.  Throw some play doh at your kid and have them mold and use it as a stress ball. Drawing and having them run around outside are obvious methods of stress and energy release too. I have to say the play doh did not work all that well, she kind of threw it rather than roll it in a ball, but I will pull this tactic out another time.

*Create a Soothing Atmosphere at Bath time.  Bathing your kid can be anything but relaxing. There’s the inevitable splashing; me shouting “Stop drinking the SOAPY water!!!”; and the repeated threat of taking my child OUT OF THE TUB if she stands up one more f’ing time. So I decided to try a calming bath by candlelight. I know, I know, Toddlers + Flames = Are you out of your mind?, but this worked like a charm. She was way more relaxed after her bath than usual and she was quite cooperative afterward in putting on pajamas and brushing teeth. This is not something I can do every night, but I will pull out this trick for “special” occasions.

*Favorite music or soothing sound effects. We still use her baby monitor which has a sound setting of the ocean waves. My father-in-law lives on the Cape and it is one of her favorite places to visit. So we tell her the sound comes from “poppy’s ocean,” the term she uses for beach. Seems to help her fall asleep.

*Feed them Calming Foods. Bananas are full of magnesium and potassium which help with a peaceful night’s sleep. Also, chia seeds have more than twice the tryptophan in turkey. It helps raise melatonin and serotonin levels which promotes stable sleep. I’ll throw a teaspoon of these flavorless seeds of heaven in her applesauce at dinner. Also, to get more of that relaxing magnesium, I will throw about a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts in her bath.

*Practice Deep Breathing.  My daughter loves birthdays, especially the blowing out of birthday candles. We do the breathing in together and blow out the birthday candles. I have to say this worked just this morning. My daughter woke up crying hysterically at the joyous hour of 6 am. Thankfully hubby went to her and I heard little breaths coming from her bedroom. In minutes she fell back to sleep. Or maybe I fell back to sleep and just blocked her whining?

*Talk It Out (Also known as “change the subject“). When my daughter starts getting tired and whiny, especially after daycare pick-up, and I sense she’s about to have a melt down, I will ask her to tell me what she did that day. At bedtime we’ll also tell stories or talk about future events. We have some big trips coming up this summer so we are talking about that. If she’s really feeling “spirited” I try to repeat the phrases “Calm down” and “Relaaax” in my best 900 number voice.

*Lots of cuddles and snuggles. Besides, what better way to pin your child down mid-tantrum than with a warm embrace?

What techniques do you use to help calm your child?

 

25 comments on “Relaxation Techniques For Kids”

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post – it had great ideas! You are one patient and caring mama. Good luck at bath time.

  2. We changed around the boys room to have less toys in there so it’s more peaceful. One thing that works well for my 6 year old is coloring. A good old coloring book and crayons at his little desk in his room. He chills right out

    1. Oh, we did that too. I went to a sleep seminar where the woman running it said to remove all stimulating items from the bedroom – basically, make the bedroom ONLY for sleeping. I removed all toys except the ones that they sleep with, left all the books on the shelf, and do not allow my husband to play videos on his computer in there anymore. Made a HUGE difference almost immediately.

  3. These are great suggestions! We have what we call the “Quiet place” and it works for my six-year-old when she is having a tantrum. I love the bath time suggestion, I will try that as I feel like baths right now just rile them up as opposed to calming them down before bed. And I never knew that about chia seeds! I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago, about teaching mindfulness and relaxation techniques to my 3 and 6 year old, here is the link: http://bit.ly/130rBAU . Thanks for posting these ideas!

  4. MG love the idea of the peace corner! I want to go there! LOL If you get tired of fearing that you’ll burn your house down, ditch the candles in favor of glow sticks. Bathtime was never calming to Zo until I turned out the lights and did a midnight bath. I plopped 3 or 4 little glow sticks in the tub and the difference in her was noticeable. I’ve also looked up “sensory baths” online for different tub experiences. We’ve been using “crayola bath dropz” which turn the bath water different colors. It’s pretty cool and can be soothing too.
    Good ideas.

  5. Mary Grace this post is incredible! Such wonderful tips! I LOVE the idea of a peace corner and am totally doing that. I try to get Lills to take deep breaths when she’s getting irritated but it hasn’t worked yet. Also, I thought I was the only one having to tell my kid to please not stand up in the bath, guess I’m not alone! Love this oh so very very much!

    1. Thanks Michelle! The Peace Corner totally rocks :). The deep breaths don’t always work, many times she sounds like she’s hyperventilating – lol. But there are those moments when they really do help.

  6. Hello! My name is Stephanie Henderson and I am a newer subscriber to ctworkingmoms. I am really enjoying all your posts! I am a newbie working mom myself with a beautiful 6 months old boy. As a martial arts instructor we do a lot of work with young children and stress management in our classes. I wanted to reccommend a technique to add to your list. We call it “counting out”. When the child gets frustrated, upset, angry, or even just overly hyper, we teach them to make a tight fist and then count to five flicking out one finger at a time (they can even go to ten if they need it!) Then the shake their hand out and take a couple of “belly breaths” which are simply deep relaxing breaths like you mention above. The act breaks the cycle of emotion that they are experiencing and relaxing the fist and the muscles in the forearm sends a signal to the brain to start to calm and relax. Our martial arts students know belly breathing from class so it connects to the focus they are developing in that fun, safe environment. The key word for all of it is fun. We each them to smile with their belly breathing and to practice counting out when they are in a good mood so that it will trigger those positive feeling when they use it in a stressful situation. Our parents learn to just say “count out!” when the child is getting flustered, overly excited, or angry and the kids know what to do. So many parents have told them its an amazing tool. As we all know, simply saying “calm down” rarely works. They needs something to replace the negative emotions/behaviors, just like the things you suggest above. Something needs to fill the void that’s created.
    Here is a link to an educational article about becoming a “trusted adult” for your child and helping them work through stressful situations. The article talks about it from the standpoint of coping with bullies but you could really apply it to any stressful situation: klcdojos.com/5di/trustedadult_article.html
    Thank you for doing such an awesome job with this blog!

    1. Welcome Stephanie! I love this idea and am totally going to try this at home! THANK you for sharing. My nephew takes karate and it has done wonders for him in terms of releasing stress and getting exercise. My little one loves watching his classes and says she wants to go to karate someday.

  7. This is a fabulous post!!! I am so totally going to try some of those things.One thing that I found that works EVERY.SINGLE.TIME for us is bathtub crayons – mainly because the kids sit in the tub calmly while they have a nice, relaxing bath and graffiti up my bathroom. They are calm and happy when I pull them out of the tub. If you’re willing to deal with cleaning the crayons off afterwards, it’s worth a try.

    Where do you get Chia seeds from? Is that chia as in the chia pet??

    1. Vivian I’ve gotten chia seeds in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. That way you can try it out without a big commitment.

    2. Ah yes, bath crayons…great idea! Lol about chia seeds! I don’t know if they’re the same thing, but that could explain her full head of unruly hair :). You can buy like Michelle said or I buy them by the pouch at Whole Foods or a natural food store.

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