One truth in life is that everyone faces situations that frustrate or challenge them. In those times, the coping skills one has learned will help one regulate their emotions and hopefully make wise behavior choices. Unfortunately, often children and adults do not have the tools they need to get through emotional storms. Teaching children as young as three years old different exercises and games can help even our youngest members how to self-soothe. This series will introduce you to simple ideas to teach children mindfulness exercises to help them when life gets complicated.
The Body Squeezing Game is a game that helps children learn how to practice progressive muscle relaxation. They learn how to control different muscle groups in their body. Tensing and releasing tension in big and small muscle groups will help a child relax and become more regulated. It helps a child focus on their body instead of their frustrations. This teaches them how to bring their mind to the present and focus on what they can control. It also is a fun way to be silly, laugh, and have fun. This is a great exercise to practice before naptime or bedtime. It can also act as an easy distraction when children start to get agitated and have difficulty controlling their behavior.
The Body Squeezing Exercise- Provided by TherapistAid.com
Have children sit or lie down in a comfortable position and ask them to squeeze and relax each of the muscles in their body one by one. They should hold each squeeze for about five seconds. After releasing the squeeze, ask the kids to pay attention to how it feels when they relax. Children understand this exercise better if you help them visualize how they can squeeze a particular muscle using imagery, such as the following:
- Curl your toes tight like you are picking up a pencil with your feet.
- Tenses your legs by pretending like you are standing on your tippy-toes, trying to look over a fence.
- Suck in your stomach as if you are trying to slide through a narrow opening.
- Make fists with your hands and pretend like you’re trying to squeeze all of the juice out of an orange.
- Pretend like a bug landed on your nose, and you’re trying to get it off without using your hands. Try to scrunch your face and move your jaw to make it fly away!
Take 5 minutes to get down on your child’s level, have fun with them and teach them a fun game!
If you need support and would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics such as the one featured in this blog and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern
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