Moments of stress, anxiety, and tension do not occur only in adults with responsibilities and occupations. Children may also be concerned for a variety of reasons: an exam at school, some particular concern, constant changes in their development process, or a tiring day in their activities. No matter what’s the cause, stress can harm your health.
Effects of stress and restlessness on children
Common symptoms of stress in children include sleep disturbances, nightmares at night, headache, upset stomach, and even stuttering. In addition, their behavior may also be altered, expressing concern, recurrent nerves, high emotional dependence, and in some cases frustration, aggressiveness, or rejection towards their relatives.
During quarantine where families must remain in their homes, many stresses can arise for children at home. What steps can you take to help them cope and relax? Find out below.
Techniques for preschoolers
1. Relaxation and breathing techniques
If your child is willing, you can invite him or her to come with you and practice some breathing exercises. Not only will it be fun, but it will help you calm down. Sit in a comfortable place, place some soothing music, and ask them to follow you to your instructions.
Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth little by little. To make it more dynamic, they can place their hands on their breasts and shoulders, and focus on filling the upper part of the lungs (thoracic breathing), and then the lower part (diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing).
2. Guided imagination technique
Another way to reduce tension and anxiety levels in children is by playing with your imagination, especially when it comes from some concern or insecurity. In this exercise, both close their eyes and guide the imagination to a quiet and pleasant environment.
At each turn, each will say something that will be added to the stage. For example, they could start with a quiet beach, describing how the wind blows in their face and only the waves are heard. Then, someone could complement with a wooden hut, fresh and comfortable, some animals, and little by little, both create a “safe environment”.
They can also help with some storytelling or audiobooks for kids, the important thing is that you make a smart selection that suits the needs of your little ones, and that helps them feel safe and protected.
3. Stress is fought with humor
Laughter is one of the most efficient clinical remedies for stress and worry. It is proven that a funny moment can relieve pain, tension, and anxiety, leading the mind to a state of relaxation.
In this sense, there are many games and relaxation activities that can generate grace in the little one. For example, they can play The Library. In a library no one can laugh or make noises, so whoever can hold the laughter longer and who makes others laugh.
4. Touch tests
For this exercise, you will need some elements that have different textures, such as scraps of fabric, smooth, rough, soft or hairy surfaces. Cover your eyes and prepare a straight path with all these textures. Focusing the mind on what your fingers will experience, generates a reassuring effect.
5. Progressive relaxation techniques (Jacobson)
Originally it is a clinical methodology that is applied to relax the body and mind, after a situation of great tension. To adapt it to the little ones, it proposes a game in which they must remember and maintain the following movements of the body simultaneously:
- Squeeze a lemon with your hands
- His arms and feet melt like mud
- Protect yourself between your shoulders as a turtle does in its shell
- Stretch your arms like a newly awake kitten
- Chew a very strong gum
- Move your nose and face as if a fly wants to perch on it
- His belly is as hard as a rock
When you say the word “release”, they should release their bodies and repeat the exercise again, but in a different order. The idea is that they can tighten all parts of their body, and then return them to a state of relaxation.
These techniques are applied with the aim of making your children feel safe and protected, providing them with care, helping them release tensions, oxygenating their brains, and motivating them to focus their minds on a pleasant situation. With your creativity and these principles, you’ll be able to build the best exercises and games to help them relax.
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