- Be Relaxed To Help Relax: When doing any sort of guided imagery, it is important to be in that space first before you attempt to guide anyone else. Energy is important! Your child will be able to feel if you are truly relaxed and at peace or not. If you feel edgy or tense, it’s best to wait until you feel more centered before you guide your child in a guided imagery. Perhaps do a quick deep breathing or centering activity first to get grounded and feel at peace. Remember to deeply enjoy. If you have the energy of “have to” or are attached to a specific response from your child, then it’s best to wait until you are doing it for your own deep enjoyment. Joy plants seeds of “permission to relax and safe to do so.”
- Set the Stage: Set up an environment that is safe, secure, comfortable and free of distractions. Energy is everything! Make sure that you and your child feel good in the environment. It’s also important that it hasn’t been associated previously with negative events, this can be a distraction and counterproductive for relaxing. I like to create a special place where I practice every time. Ask your child to help create this space with you. Add items that are meaningful and symbolize the positive (like love, peace, harmony, balance, health, wisdom, etc.) Add soft things such as a big stuffed animal or soft colored pillows.
- Mind the Volume: Read with a soft, but clearly audible voice. If you are whispering or talking too slowly, it can be distracting for your child since she has to struggle to actually hear what you are saying. On the flip side, if you speak to harsh or have a naturally loud voice, you might need to mindfully focus on softening your tone as you lead the activity.
- Set the Pace: Read slowly and steadily, giving your child a pace that allows them to really experience what you are leading them into in their imagination. Sometimes it is good to practice recording yourself and listen back, participating in your own guidance, before leading someone else. Often, I have found that while I thought I was going slow, I was actually moving along a bit too quickly. If you are participating in the guided imagery while you are leading it, it helps. Not only are you getting into a very relaxed place, but you can follow along with your child’s experience.
- Sense Your Child’s Response: Sense your child’s response as you are guiding, if she is feeling more tense, pause and ask how she is and adjust accordingly. With practice, you will be able to feel how your child is responding, if she is getting more relaxed or not.
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