Relaxation in Kids

Relaxation can be a beneficial state for both children and adults. There are several strategies for achieving relaxation including deep belly breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis. By calming our minds and our bodies, then the mind and body can do what they do best!

Relaxation can:

  • Improve the brain’s ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and worry

  • Reduce muscle tension

  • Manage pain by managing nervous system arousal

  • Reduce heart rate and blood pressure

  • Control breathing

  • Improve digestion

  • Improve blood flow

What do we mean when we use the word relaxation? Well it can be different for everyone! Helping your child monitor and understand what it means for their body to be relaxed is essential in any relaxation practice.

Some signs of relaxation:

  • Muscle relaxation

    • Facial muscles soft and less defined

    • Forehead smooth

    • Jaw slightly open

    • Neck muscles soft

    • Shoulders drop

  • Physiological changes

    • Extremities are warm, heavy, or tingling

    • Eyelids stop fluttering with eyes closed

    • Fingernail beds and palms are consistently pink (good circulation)

    • Heart rate slower

    • Heart beats less pronounced

    • More frequent swallowing

  • Sensory changes

    • Time perception altered (time expands or contracts)

    • Feel like floating on a cloud or sinking into a chair

    • Feel heavy

    • Greater awareness of stomach growling

    • Lightness

    • Loss of sensory proprioceptive input (e.g. cannot feel clothing or hand position)

Interested in learning some relaxation techniques? Check out Dr. Clendaniel’s video tutorial of Belly Breathing.

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Lindsay Clendaniel, PhD is a pediatric psychologist and Director at Thinking Tree Psychology. She specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents and young adults with anxiety and health-related adjustment issues, with particular expertise in pain management and treatment of chronic headache and functional gastrointestinal illness. Dr. Clendaniel has presented research at national conferences related to the topic of pain management and has also authored several articles and book chapters related to the management of functional gastrointestinal illness.