5 steps to relaxation from children’s mindfulness expert Christiane Kerr

Have you ever found yourself at a loose end, desperately trying to find ways to help your child relax?

We caught up with mindfulness expert Christiane Kerr to find out about her own experience and what her best advice is for helping children to get that relaxation time they need.

A little bit about Christiane

Christiane has been teaching yoga and meditation to children for over 20 years. As the founder of Calm for Kids she produced their best selling audio relaxation series and has trained school teachers, yoga teachers and parents who want to share the benefits of mindfulness and yoga with children. In 2003 Christiane’s daughter was 4 years old and had difficulty sleeping. Christiane recognised that in traditional story-telling the child is a passive listener but in a multi-sensory visualisation where the child is actively engaged; there is a sensory experience and response, as well as an emotional one too. As a result, she wrote and produced her first children’s meditation CD for Calm For Kids, using three multi-sensory visualisations which work to create a calming atmosphere.

1. Preparing your visualisation

If you want to create visualisations for your own kids it’s important to use re-assuring language as well as a soft tone that encourages a sense of safety and relaxation. Choosing calm, nature based topics is always a good place to start and also being aware of any potential triggers that your child may have. For example they may be afraid of spiders or have anxiety around dogs or cats. Make sure everything about your visualisation is friendly and safe. You can even choose your topic together with your child and discuss what elements they would like to include. You can ask them to think of a safe place that makes them feel happy and create and inner version of this space for them together.

2. Settling into your visualisation

To settle into a visualisation ask your child to get into an easy sitting or lying down position. Make sure they are warm and comfortable, you can then bring your child’s awareness to their breath.

To begin you can ask them to breathe in through their nose (if not blocked) and out through their mouth.

Play breath detective where they have to see if they can notice where they feel the body move with their breath.

For example asking if they feel their tummy moving up and down as the breathe in and out. Or maybe they notice their ribs, chest or back getting bigger and smaller as they breathe in and out?

If they don’t notice their breath moving in their body, that’s alright too! Our breath is always there even if but sometimes it’s difficult to find it.

3. Leave your worries behind

It can be helpful to talk about leaving any worries behind as you go on your adventure and you can do this by blowing away any worries or troubles or introducing a worry tree where they can hang their worries on the branches and allow the tree look after them for a while.

4. Notice your body

As they settle with their breath invite their attention to notice their body in whatever position they have chosen to sit or lie in. Feel where the body is in contact with whatever is supporting you be it the ground, your bed or a chair.

You can then ask them to scan through the body, moving their attention to each part as you name it and ask them to notice any sensations that they might be feeling there.

You can give some suggestions of words to describe these sensations such as warm, cool, tingly or fizzy. You could invite movement into that part of the body such as wiggling your toes, wobbling your feet and tightening the muscles of your legs and so on as you work your way up the body all the while ensuring you use a soft and reassuring tone.

When they body is settled, and you have encouraged an awareness of the breath you can then create your scenario.

5. Relax

This form of meditation introduces key elements of mindfulness to children such as awareness of body and breath. It also helps encourages a sense of relaxation and wellbeing.