Anxiety, stress, low mood, anger, frustration and overwhelm happens to us all, including children. Most children benefit greatly from being taught to slow down, sense where their emotions are in their body and how to become aware of their thoughts. It has been shown that this not only lowers heart rate and blood pressure but it also relieves anxiety, stress, tension, feelings of frustration and anger.
The following are several of the techniques we teach regularly to both children and adults.
We hope you find them useful.
As with all techniques they are better learned when the person (child or adult) is not in an active state of anxiety or heightened emotion. We recommend these simple techniques are practiced everyday so when you need them to relieve emotional or physical stress it is a well tuned habit you can rely upon.
5 Finger Breathing or High Five Breathing Technique
Stretch your hand out like a star.
Use the pointer finger of your other hand to trace your fingers up and down.
Slide up each finger slowly, and then slide it down the other side.
Every time you slide your pointer finger up, breathe in through your nose. Every time you slide your finger down, breathe out through your mouth.
Keep going up and down all of your fingers until you finish tracing your hand.
You can start with the little finger or with the thumb and practice as many rounds as you need. It is also important to pause after each breath - children can tend to race up and down the fingers, suggest to them that they take it slowly.
https://youtu.be/DSgOW879jjA A short instructional video
Breathing Buddies Technique (kindergarten onwards)
If your child has a favourite stuffed toy or doll suggest that they invite the toy to join them in a breathing practice.
Ask your child to lie down and put their favourite stuffed toy or doll on their tummy and place their hands on top of the toy.
They can lie on the floor, in their bed, anywhere comfortable and quiet.
Ask them to inhale deeply for a count of 3.
Be patient, this is going to take some practice.
Then, ask them to exhale for the count of 4.
Teaching them to extend the exhale is important - it activates the natural calming system in the body.
Prompt them to watch the teddy rise and fall as they breathe in and out.
Its ok if the toy falls off or a fit of the giggles start, its part of the process. Just return their attention to breathing and the toy to their belly.
Do 5 to 10 rounds.
https://youtu.be/izL-4DcsS64 A short instructional video.
Can be practiced sitting down or standing. Particularly useful when child is feeling frustrated, anxious or emotions are building. It is useful because it helps to shift the attention of the child / person and allows the mind to be occupied by the combination of movement and breathing.
Inhale through your nose and raise your arms high above your head.
Bring your palms together above the top of your head.
Imagine you are as tall as a mountain.
Ground your feet into the floor. Imagine your feet like roots, you are strong, sturdy and tall.
Exhale through your mouth and bring your palms together in front of your chest.
Repeat this sequence 5 times.
Loving Kindness or Metta Meditation for Children
This practice teaches children to connect with the importance of kindness, care and love for themselves and others - cultivating a sense that we are all connected and deserving of kindness, care and love.
Talk to your child initially about people they really care about and love, include pets and activities if the child is having trouble connecting to the idea. Allow the child time to feel what that love and care feels like to them. Ask them if they can feel it anywhere in their body - some children may say in their chest or their tummy, if appropriate you can ask the child to place their palms over this area it can help them to remember this feeling of love and care.
Ask the child to sit in whatever position feels comfortable for them.
Talk about people they want to send loving kindness to.
Talk about how we feel love in our heart and can send love to ourselves and others.
Say each phrase (listed below) and ask the child to repeat after you.
As you practice they may be able to recite the meditation on their own.
Loving Kindness Meditation script
"May I be filled with Love and Kindness
May I be Peaceful and at Ease
May I be Loved and Cared for
May I be Well."
"May YOU be filled with Love and Kindness
May YOU be Peaceful and at Ease
May YOU be Loved and Cared for
May YOU be Well."
"May WE be filled with Love and Kindness
May WE be Peaceful and at Ease
May WE be Loved and Cared for
May WE be Well."
Flower Breathing Technique for releasing tension or anger.
The dandelion breath.
Sit up tall, relax your shoulders and face.
Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Imagine you are holding a dandelion flower in front of you.
Take a deep breath in and then blow the air out slowly, sending the seeds into the air.
Imagine the seeds floating away.
Repeat 3 times or as many as needed.
Important: make sure the child or adult is not hyperventilating or holding their breath. This practice only requires a slightly deeper than normal breath in and a slightly longer than normal breath out.
We hope that you find some of these practices useful and as always if we can be of any help please get in contact, all contact details are on the website.