In our busy, over-scheduled lives, the impact of stress on our children is often forgotten. Children are bombarded daily by stressors such as school exams, homework, peer pressure and standards to live up too, sexual pressure, violent images, inappropriate talk and language and the list goes on.
Childhood is a time to be cherished, slowly and deliberately, taking one day at a time and savoring every moment with wonder and awe. But our fast-faced society no longer has time for that. Instead we rush to work and school, hurry through the day, wait for class bells and time to clock out. Dinner time at the family table no longer exists in many homes and the only relaxation we know of may consist of turning on the TV and zoning out for hours. But is it healthy?
Children just as adults need healthy ways to evacuate stress and emotions.
By denying the basic need for deep relaxation we are effectively
setting ourselves and our children up for disease, illness and
unhappiness. Healthy living is a gentle balance of physical, emotional,
mental and spiritual needs, all which must be met to remain healthy and
Helping your child relieve stress is as simple as teaching them restorative relaxation. Restorative relaxation simply consists of putting aside a few minutes each day for deep quiet and calm. It should be a part of your child's daily life, just as much as open communication about feelings, exercise and healthy eating. Children can practice relaxation in as short as 10 minute a day and as an involved parent, you can practice right alongside your child.
Choose a time each day and a space where you and your child can be quiet and alone for at least 10 minutes. You can begin with a shorter amount of time if needed or if your child is very young. Closing your eyes, instruct yourself and your child in relaxing each portion of the body..."arms relaxed.... hands relaxed.... fingers relaxed.... chest relaxed.... tummy relaxed.... thighs relaxed... breathing relaxed..." and so on. Relax simply means to let go of release any muscle contraction. Experiment with contracting the muscles and then releasing the contraction with your child so your child truly understands the meaning of the word relax. Make sure to include the tiny muscles of the face and even the scalp when relaxing. As your child grows older and with continued practice, you may not even have to verbally go through the sequence as the relaxation will become second nature to you both. There are many benefits to using restorative relaxation on a daily basis. These include a strengthened immune system, the ability to better handle and control emotions, more focus and concentration, feelings of happiness and calm that linger throughout the day, sleeping better, decreases tension and blood pressure, increases endorphins (the feel good hormone), reduces frustration, increases productivity, increasing feelings of self confidence and more! Relaxation is the key to health and well-being.
Relaxation is a learned skill, but easily learned. As with any skill, with practice it becomes easier. Make relaxation a habit in your family and you will find yourself looking forward to your daily 10 minutes of restorative relaxation with pleasure and enthusiasm. By sharing this valuable skill with your child you are giving a gift that will last a lifetime that can be used daily to relieve stress and anxiety, deal with pressures, emotions and promote all around well-being and happiness.
Create a quite environment for your child in your home life. Protect your child from negative outside influence and delegate freedoms and responsibilities as your child grows but in such a way that your child can flourish safely and securely and enjoy childhood.
Mellisa Dormoy is the founder of ShambalaKids Relaxation CD's for kids and teens. Mellisa specializes in guided imagery and children's self-esteem.