Relaxation Practices to Share with your Child or Teen

Lisa Larsen, LPC
As adults, we know that taking time to relax our bodies and minds is essential for sustaining our overall well-being as well as keeping up with our busy schedules and being productive, healthy members of our families and work communities. Taking even a few moments during the day can have a tremendous impact on how good we feel and how well we can handle frustrations and the messiness of life. 

If you have your own relaxation practice (or it’s time to start one!), you may wonder how to encourage your children to join in. As we all know firsthand, children and teens experience their own stress by attempting to balance grades, changing friendships, their growing bodies, and their emotions. Regardless of age, there are lots of creative ways to help children develop mindfulness skills.

Here are some ideas for engaging younger children:
  1. Keep it brief and make it fun! You can do several short activities to keep it fun and lighthearted.
  2. Practice and model deep breathing. Breathing in slowly through the nose and exhaling slowly (can count to 4) out of the mouth is a great way to start. Imagine filling up your lungs and belly like a balloon and releasing it slowly. There are all kinds of breathing strategies such as zipper breaths or box breathing. (counting up and down slowly like zipping up a jacket or breathing & holding it and then releasing, by counting in the shape of a box) Deep breathing can be done anywhere at anytime to calm the body, mind, and emotions. A great tool for kids and adults!
  3. Mindfulness can look like sitting and breathing with calming music (no lyrics) or taking a quiet walk. It can also include slow movements or stretching as well.
  4. Laugh and smile! Laughter instantly lightens the moment and our moods.
Engaging teens in relaxing practices involves building on those skills used for younger children as well as adding in new skills. Meditation incorporated in daily life can have a tremendous impact on personal well-being as well as manage the stress that can lead to anxiety or depression. 

Here are some some additional ideas for teens:
  1. Increase meditation time slowly, keeping in mind what works for your child. Movement such as yoga, dance, or walking meditations are also great ways to engage your child in mindfulness.
  2. Search for cool apps to use together. These can include guided meditations or daily programs that can just be listened to with ear buds and provide motivation and calm. This is a really positive way to use technology!
  3. Take turns teaching new techniques. Let your child be your teacher!
  4. Sign up for classes (such as Tai Chi, yoga, gardening) or attend an open meditation session in your community. Let your child pick something of interest and learn and practice together!
Together, both you and your child can grow in positive ways by engaging in calming mindfulness activities. I invite you to begin this journey today!

Please enjoy this article from the Child Development Institute to learn more.
St. Gabriel's Catholic School is an Independent Catholic school in Austin TX, educating children in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school.