Different people prefer different forms of relaxation. One person might like to soak in a hot bath; someone else might prefer a brisk walk in the snow. Helping your child discover what relaxes her and encouraging her to practice that provides her with an important life skill.
Here are some ideas to help your child find her bliss:
Make time for relaxation
Families struggle to balance busy schedules. School, work, sports, lessons, doctors’ appointments keep us all running. Much of our days, and our children’s days, are tightly scheduled. When you are making up the family schedule for the week, schedule in some down time. Giving your child some unprogrammed time will free her up to slow down and find what restores her.
Try new, relaxing things, together
What one person finds relaxing, another might find stressful. Yoga or stretching might be very relaxing for your child, but she’ll never know unless she tries it. Maybe making pottery or walking the dog works better for your child than yoga, but again, she needs to have the experience to know. Trying new things together, without any pressure to achieve excellence or adopt the practice long term, allows you and your child to have a shared experience and learn about yourselves and each other. After the new experience, talk with your child about how it felt. Did she enjoy it? Was it relaxing or fun? Would she like to try it, or a variation of it again some time? Listen carefully to what your child has to say and use her feedback to help you continue exploring relaxation.
Teach relaxation techniques
It’s fairly easy to introduce your child to some common relaxation techniques like yoga, stretching, breathing, or visualization. The picture book, Relaxations: Big Tools for Little Warriors by Mamen Duch, walks the reader through these techniques, or you can use other resources.
- Encourage your child to sit comfortably and pay attention to her breathing. Is it deep or shallow? Fast or slow? Then encourage your child to take a long, slow breath in and a long, slow breath out, just focusing on the air moving and how her body feels. Do this together for a minute or two, reminding her that if her mind wanders away from her breathing, to gently guide it back.
- Encourage your child to sit quietly and think of a favorite place. It may help her to close her eyes or to look at a photo of the place. Ask her catch a picture of the place in her mind. Ask “how does this place make you feel? What does it sound like? How does it smell? What can you touch there?” Using her senses and her imagination, she’ll be able to take herself to a happy place.
Relax together and individually
Do some of these activities and techniques alongside your child. Talk with her about how you feel when you try them. Also, let your child see you do what restores you: reading a book, listening to music, going for a run. Learning that relaxation is an important part of leading a healthy life and seeing her parent purposefully take time to relax sends a strong, positive message to your child.
So be a great parent: relax!