We all live in a stressful world. There are so many demands from work and other parts of our lives. Just being in environments with a lot of noise, material, and people can also add to stress. And children are not immune to this – kids are exposed to stress at an early age. If the stress becomes significant, it can lead to more serious issues such as anxiety, physical pain, and behavioral difficulties.
It’s important for both adults and children to relax. You can take even just five minutes a day to have some quiet, relaxing moments with you child, which can make a big long-term difference!
- What causes stress?
Stress can be caused by both everyday events and special occasions. Examples of everyday events can be scheduled activities, eating (especially if a child tends to be a picky eater), going to daycare or school, and peer relationships. Special events such as traveling, loss of a loved one, changes in routines, or moving can compound stress levels. Even fun activities can add to overall stress, even though they are not what we think of as harmful kinds of stress.
- When is a good time to relax?
You don’t have to schedule a special time to relax. Use your regular routine and incorporate the time to relax with your child. The time can be before bed, when taking a bath, or any other time you spend with your child in a quiet place.
When relaxing, turn off the television or radio, and stay away from distraction as much as possible. You can also shut the curtain and/or dim the lights, which creates a calmer environment. Gently talk with your child about what happened that day and acknowledge things that may have been stressful. This can be done even with a baby. Soothing, relaxing time is beneficial to them, too!
- Relaxation techniques.
When you are ready to have a relaxing moment, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. You can play quiet, soothing music if you like. You can also ring a small bell to get into the rhythm. First just listen, and once you feel a little calmer, take a slow and deep breath with the music or rhythm. Younger children may benefit from some more prompts. For example, instead of just encouraging your child to take a deep breath, you can ask him to pretend to sniff nicely scented flowers, or to breathe in and blow bubbles to breathe out. Tell a story or poem to encourage their imagination and relaxation. For example, you can pretend that you are a balloon that is floating in the sky, and ask your child what she sees or feels. Throughout the time, talk slowly in a gentle, quiet voice to stay calm.
Join us for Tasty Tuesdays on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month, and learn more about relaxation with children! Also, come to Relaxation Day at Boston Children’s Museum on Saturday September 26.