When children get stressed, calming skills can help.
Children are resilient. It’s true. But stress does affect them, especially with all the change and uncertainty right now. It’s always good to check in with your children about their feelings. They can rate their stress on a 1-5 scale (or use a feelings chart like this one for younger kiddos).
Stop. Breathe in. Breathe out.
We often tell children they should stop and take a deep breath when they are upset, but do you know why it works? When a stressor hits, our brain sends off a signal to our body that alerts it to spring into action. Our heart rate increases, blood sugar rises, and our breathing becomes more shallow–all so that we can “fight, flight, or freeze” when needed.
Breathing and other calming exercises helps let the body know that it’s ok to calm down and stop producing stress hormones. It increases oxygen in the bloodstream and begins to help bring peace back to our bodies.
Read on below for some great calming skills for children.
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Using deep breathing to calm down.
Older children and teens can learn diaphragmatic breathing to help restore peace to the body. Younger kids might need something more concrete. Children can imagine breathing in and breathing out to blow up a giant bubble or beach ball. They can pretend to be a volcano that breathes in and then breathes out the lava. They can also physically hold a feather or tissue paper and breathe out while they watch the effect.
Mindfulness and grounding skills can help keep us focused and calm
There are also mindfulness techniques you can teach your children as part of their calming skills. I wrote about a few in a previous post. But here are some other ways to stay grounded:
- Think of your favorite things.
- Picture the people or pets you love
- Say the alphabet or count to 10 slowly
- Sing the words of your favorite song
- Run water or sand over your hands and notice the sensations
- Move, jump, sway side to side
- Touch objects around you (e.g., a rock, your clothes, your pencil). Notice how they feel
Finally, just encouraging your children to take a break and rest can be really helpful. Help them create a calming spot with soothing colors, fabrics, and even music,pictures, or books.
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