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Teaching Your Child How to Relax: A Parent’s Guide

In our fast-paced, often stressful world, it’s important for kids to learn how to relax and unwind. Relaxation is a skill that, when taught early, provides children with tools to manage anxiety, handle anger, improve sleep, and cope with daily pressures. As a parent, you can play a key role in helping your child develop healthy relaxation techniques. Here are some of the best ways to teach your child how to relax:

Model Relaxation Yourself

Children learn best by example. Make sure you regularly model the ability to take breaks and relax amidst the craziness of life. Let your child see you engaging in healthy stress relief like taking deep breaths, going for a walk, reading a book, taking a bath, or meditating. Explain what you are doing and why it helps you feel less stressed. Your actions will inspire them to follow suit.

Set Aside Unstructured Relaxation Time

In the midst of school, activities, and family time, establish some protected space on the schedule for relaxation. This should be time without toys, TV, or electronics, focused simply on resting and recharging. Provide supplies like books, drawing materials, journals, and music to enjoy during this time. Start with just 10-15 minutes and gradually increase.

Teach Deep Breathing

One of the easiest yet most powerful relaxation skills for kids is breathing deeply. Have your child lie down, place a hand on their belly, and take slow, deep breaths. Teach them to breathe in through the nose, feeling the belly expand with air, and exhale slowly through the mouth. Just a few minutes of deep breathing activates the body’s relaxation response.

Use Visualization

Imagery and visualization can quickly induce calm. Have your child close their eyes and picture a favorite relaxing place, like their bedroom or grandma’s house. Encourage them to engage all five senses by imagining vivid sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes. This mental escape shifts focus away from stressors.

Practice Guided Imagery

Guided imagery involves listening to a soothing voice describe relaxing scenarios in detail. Look for recorded scripts where a calm voice guides your child to visualize a healing place like the beach, forest, or clouds. The vivid mental images promote relaxation.

Listen to Soothing Music

Playing tranquil music like nature sounds, lullabies or gentle classical music provides an instant relaxation boost. Have your child close their eyes and visualize pleasant scenes while listening to calming melodies. Creating relaxation playlists together allows your child to access music when they need to unwind.

Establish a Calming Bedtime Routine

A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine teaches your child to unwind before sleep. Activities like reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music, or drinking herbal tea initiate the relaxation response. A predictable sequence of quiet activities signals the brain and body to start powering down for sleep.

Teach Positive Self-Talk

Anxious, negative thoughts stir up stress. Help your child practice using positive self-talk to instill calmness and confidence. When upset, have them slowly repeat phrases like “I am relaxed” or “I can handle this.” Over time, this self-talk becomes a habit for self-soothing tense moments.

Use Yoga Poses

Gentle yoga helps release mental and physical tension in the body. Teach your child beginner poses like child’s pose, cat/cow, rag doll, and savasana. Coordinate movements with deep breathing. Tailor poses based on your child’s abilities and needs.

The key is finding relaxation techniques your individual child responds to and will use. With regular practice, relaxation skills become automatic for managing stress. Be patient – it takes time for new habits to form. Make relaxation fun by engaging your child’s imagination and creativity. Equip your child with tools to take healthy breaks, and you’ll instill valuable skills that benefit them for life.