Thanks for being here today Beth!
Anyone who has spent time around kids would be well aware of how high energy they can become - sometimes very quickly, and it can be tricky for them to undo the state of frenzy! Developmentally, young children have trouble with self regulation - the ability to control their emotions and successfully bring down their energy level - and this can lead to meltdowns, tantrums and acting out. In our hectic, over-scheduled, technology-laden lives, techniques to help teach children how to reach a state of calm are invaluable; not just for parents and teachers but also for developing life-long skills in the child’s stress-combating toolkit.
Taking kids from high-energy play smoothly down to a state of calm, on the verge of sleep, may seem like an impossible task, but can be achieved over the course of 30 to 60 minutes following a series of steps such as those described below; in either a classroom setting, or at home. It can be helpful to start by letting the children know from the outset what the steps will be, so that they feel in control; and to keeping asking through out how the children feel - what they notice about their level of calmness - as this helps them connect the dots of how the activities are helping. It is nice to tie the steps together with a common theme that appeals to the particular children, such a animals, super-heroes, or a favourite character or book. You might also like to incorporate tools such as calming glitter jars, singing bowls, affirmation cards or serene music.
1. Activity or GameTo begin with, particularly if the children have been engaged in busy physical activity, drop the level a little with a more low key activity that is still active but requires a little more focus, such as a simple game like musical statues, or a simple craft activity.
2. StretchingIn a classroom setting it is best to leave teaching yoga to those specifically qualified, however it can be appropriate to use yoga-inspired stretches, tying a sequences of 3 to 5 ‘poses’ with the chosen theme, for example stretching your body out to look like a particular animal. At home, if your child attends a yoga class, you might like to ask them for some suggestions from what they have learnt.
3. BreathingBreath-work alone is very beneficial as a tool to calm children. In this step you can use a simple game to teach them how to breath deeply and slowly. You might like to use feathers or bubbles, or the popular technique of placing a small toy on their belly as they watch it move up and down with each breath.
4. Talk it outBy this stage most children will be feeling calm enough to sit for some discussion featuring positive thinking and self esteem. In a class group children might share positive affirmations about classmates or themselves; at home you might discuss things you are feeling gratitude towards. Younger children might enjoy some sensory stimulation during this step, such as holding onto a special crystal or affirmation stone.
5. Guided visualisationNow it’s time for the children to lie down or sit comfortably, close their eyes and listen to a guided visualisation. There are various such meditations ranging in age appropriateness and theme available on YouTube, Soundcloud and other dedicated websites, or you may prefer to read aloud from a book such as the Relax Kids series, or your own creation.
These steps can be as in-depth or as flexible as you prefer or see the need for, depending on the children's ages and interests. Variations of the steps can be used with children as young as two, right through primary school. There are also many extra-curricular classes available around Australia offering similar activities, with a focus on building and supporting your child’s self-esteem and emotional intelligence. Check out kidsmindbodyspirit.com for more information.
Thank you once again Beth for sharing your advice with us.
You can find Beth here;