A Guide to Teaching Kids Relaxation, Regulation, and Coping Techniques
Nonfiction; Education; Psychology; Child Development
Release Day: December 7, 2020
Publisher: Whole Child Counseling
Help children develop healthy coping skills with this brilliant 12-week plan.
Are you an educator or mental health professional searching for guidance? Do you want to discover a powerful all-in-one program for helping kids manage their anxiety, regulate their emotions, and cope with their feelings? Then Skills for Big Feelings is the book for you!
Inside this heartfelt, comprehensive guide, you’ll join School Adjustment Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Casey O’Brien Martin as she reveals a powerful, practical framework to help children cope with anxiety, overcome stress, and learn to thrive. Built on a selection of proven cognitive behavioral techniques, breathing exercises, and mindfulness, as well as engaging activities including stretching, gratitude, visualization and positive self-talk, Skills for Big Feelings seeks to empower kids to embrace their emotional growth over the course of a comprehensive 12-week plan.
With over a dozen activities including accepting mistakes, identifying support systems, acknowledging triggers and much more, this complete guide provides educators and professionals alike with a detailed, objective-based framework for promoting optimal social-emotional health.
Trauma-Sensitive Mindful Moments
Mindful Moments, a secular practice that many will benefit from, are guided relaxation scripts. We start each Mindful Moment with a self-scan. My intention while writing these scripts was to use invitational language in an attempt to be more trauma-sensitive. Please note that due to this choice of language, the length of the scripts may be too long for some of your children, especially if they are younger or have not experienced guided relaxation scripts before. So, feel free to shorten the scripts as needed.
Kearney and Simpson (2020) write about teaching mindfulness to people who have experienced trauma. They suggest building a “container of trust” (p. 74) first, which the positive presence and the structure help provide, as well as using “language in the form of an invitation as a way of promoting empowerment and choice” (p. 90). To learn more about trauma-sensitive mindfulness practices, I refer you to David Treleaven’s book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing (2018). Treleaven (2018) describes observable cues of dysregulated arousal and identifies five principles for trauma-sensitive mindfulness. He also includes suggestions to help people have who experienced trauma understand and stay within their window of tolerance.
It is important to remember that this may be the first time the children experience a guided relaxation script or Mindful Moment, so make sure you let them know what to expect and give them some choices. For example, some children might not feel comfortable closing their eyes and that’s okay! You can give them the option to soften their gaze instead or say, “If you feel comfortable, you can…” At first, the children might need an example from you of what softening their gaze or looking down at their nose looks and feels like; otherwise, some children might get goofy and start crossing their eyes. Before you embark on your first Mindful Moment, you will also want to remind the children about the goals you are working on together while practicing Mindful Moments.
When reading the scripts, try to use a soothing, calm tone. Read slowly and be sure to pause where appropriate. You can also ad-lib as needed. For example, if a child is breathing out very loudly and you think it might be distracting to others, you might say “remember to take quiet breaths.” Or, if you hear noises outside the room, you can add a comment such as “let any sounds you hear fade away into the background.” As the children get more comfortable with the process, you can also give them longer periods of silence, but you will want to keep those pauses brief at first.
After the Mindful Moment, if time allows, it is helpful to do a Feelings Check to gauge how the children’s experience was, especially when first introducing this technique. It is helpful for the facilitator to model what is expected during the Feelings Check by saying something like “I haven’t done a Mindful Moment in a while, so that felt very relaxing to me. But I was also a little distracted today and thinking about some other things. I know that with some time and practice, the ‘Mindful Moments’ will get easier for me again.” During the Feelings Check, it is important to emphasize the fact that all feelings are valid and welcome in the space. We want to model being nonjudgmental and be sure we don’t label emotions as positive or negative, good or bad.About the Author
Casey draws on her unique skillsets and interest to create mind-body programs designed to promote holistic wellbeing and emotional regulation in children of all ages, helping them to achieve their highest potential. She believes that teaching kids how to cope with anxiety and understand their feelings is an essential part of their personal growth, and she’s honored to be a part of this invaluable process.
Casey graduated from Lesley University, where she currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. For more information, visit www.wholechildcounseling.com.
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