For many different reasons, sometimes kids aren’t that keen on relaxation practice. However, it is possible to encourage them so that, before you know, it they are SUPER interested in relaxing with you. Here are five ways to encourage your child’s relaxation practice, making it a FUN and joyful experience.
1. Parent Model. Begin practicing relaxation yourself, and find joy-filled methods that pique your interest. Your child will learn more from your modeling than from your teaching. Begin to speak out loud, stating what it is that you are doing as you are doing it, while you are practicing relaxation techniques. For example, if you are experiencing tension while driving, you could say something like, “Whew, there is a lot of traffic today!! I’m going to start taking a couple of deep breaths to relax right now. Breathing in….123, Breathing out 12345.” Then note how you feel when you are done. Or, join a yoga class and talk about your class in front of your child, allowing her to hear just exactly what you liked about it.
2. Toy Model. Select one of your child’s favorite toys and have the toy do the relaxation practice. No need to invite your child just yet, simply allowing her to watch her favorite stuffed bear do the breathing activity is enough for the moment.
3. Environmental Tune Up. If you were going to use a stress-o-meter to monitor your living environment, what score would you give your home? Begin by arranging for a place that is organized, free of clutter, and filled with relaxing, comfort items such as pillows, soft lighting, soft music, and space to relax in. When the environment is simple and peaceful, it will be much easier to begin any relaxation practice with your child.
4. Build on Interests. Use whatever topic, toy, character, or activity that is currently your child’s “favorite” interest and connect it to your relaxation practice. If Spiderman is a favorite, then do “spiderman” deep breathing. Remember, you can re-title any relaxation activity to make it more applicable and individualized for your child. If he likes trains, then look for relaxation practices that can incorporate a train theme. This will go far in engaging your child in the relaxation practice.
5. Put more “OKAY” in. If your child is sending the message that she is not ready to relax, then respond with the energy of “okay.” To meet resistance with resistance only begets more resistance. Patience is your ultimate key to relaxation practice. The more you keep on practicing yourself and showing how it is fun and can feel good, the more you are sending the invitation to join you. Eventually your child may want to join you because it feels like such a great idea and she will want to feel more of what you are feeling. Allowing “what is” is a perfect place to start when you want to encourage relaxation, in fact it is the foundation of relaxation itself. Start with “okay” and let it be however it is….for now.