In this article I will show you 17 techniques and relaxation games for children that you can apply if you are a teacher or parent and that will benefit the mental and physical health of children.
Children move in the world through the game. They like to play, they develop through the game and through it they discover the world and understand it. But children also need to relax, to be calm and calm. A good strategy to unite both is to teach relaxation through play and activities.
Relaxation Games for Children
The adult relaxation proposed to children can be heavy and boring and has nothing to do with their way of interpreting the world and its development.
If we integrate relaxation within the game, children can acquire and experience the beneficial effects of relaxation. When children are relaxed, they feel calm, reduce stress and restlessness and improve their health.
What are relaxation techniques?
Children have an almost permanent active state, since they play, jump and run continuously, being necessary moments of relaxation. The goal of relaxation is to intentionally produce, on the part of the subject, low activation states at the level of the Autonomous Nervous System.
Achieving relaxation will have repercussions on the child when it comes to controlling their emotional, cognitive and behavioral behaviors. Relaxation is based on leaving the muscles relaxed through different techniques, which ends up having a physical and mental impact.
The person who relaxes, in this case the child, is able to reduce tension and find comfort. There are different methods to achieve relaxation, it can be done with the whole body but also with some parts or with only certain muscle groups.
Relaxation techniques are increasingly demanded in today’s society because stress and anxiety are already part of the day to day not only of adults, but increasingly of children.
What are the benefits of relaxation?
Relaxation has many benefits both physically and psychologically. When a person manages to relax he feels calm, being relaxation an effective tool to achieve a state of harmony and personal balance.
In children, relaxation allows them to rest, to favor the ability to listen, to be more receptive and participatory.
Relaxation helps to trust more in oneself, to develop concentration and memory and to favor the quality of learning.
Many teachers argue that relaxation is very appropriate for learning, because children are calmer and more calm after physical activity, so that has a positive impact on their learning.
For example, if after the child has carried out an intense activity, whether physical or intellectual, relaxation can allow him to calm down and concentrate to perform the next activity better.
Relaxation also has benefits at the level of laterality, giving it spatial references that are then essential to learn to read and write.
If we teach children relaxation at an early age, we are teaching them a habit and a learning that will be useful and beneficial for their whole lives.
When they are adolescents and adults, they will be able to relax in situations of stress and reduce the tension that daily life brings.
Relaxation, through different studies, has also proven to be effective in increasing performance in sports and persevere in activities until reaching goals.
They have also been shown to be beneficial in developing social skills and being less shy.
In people with tics or nervous habits, relaxation helps them to improve all these symptoms. The same also happens in the case of stuttering.
Relaxation improves blood circulation and helps in anxiety disorders. In the case of children with asthma, relaxation can help them to prevent asthma attacks and when they have occurred, they can be reduced.
Other authors consider that relaxation in children helps them to develop balance and also to practice patience.
Relaxation also has effects on the quality of the child’s sleep.
17 relaxation techniques and games for children
1. Jacobson’s relaxation method
This is one of the most used methods in the whole world. This method is based on relaxation from the contraction of the muscles in order to relax them later.
For this, the exercises consist in contracting and relaxing the muscles, which leads to a relief of the nervous system and the muscles of the organism.
This technique involves contracting muscles or muscle groups for a few seconds and then relaxing them progressively.
This technique is based on attending to the tension in the muscles to realize after the difference with the distension.
For this, children lie on the floor and we will tell them to tense and relax different parts of the body. Can you start with individual parts, with large groups: hands, arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, nose?
Little by little, the different muscle groups can be grouped together. We will tell you to squeeze to notice the tension and after a few seconds, let go to notice the distension.
2. Autogenic relaxation method by Schultz
Schultz is another of the great theorists of relaxation and his method one of the most used throughout the world.
It is a global method that is divided into upper and lower levels. From about 6 years old it may be appropriate to use it with children, starting at the lower level. The lower level is based on sensations of heaviness and heat.
We will begin by indicating to the children that they are very calm and then we will relax the body and begin with the instructions.
To do this, children are asked to focus on areas of the body (for example, arms or legs) and feel that they are very heavy. For example, we tell you how your arm weighs, feels that it is very heavy or hot, it is very hot.
It’s about starting with heaviness and repeating it until you notice that you are free of muscle contractions.
Then, the technique is repeated with the rest of the body parts: lower extremities, pelvis, trunk, arms, neck and head.
3. Method of relaxation through the game of Rejoue
This method is based on the scientific knowledge that there is around relaxation, taking it in children through the game, which is their natural way of being in the world.
The Rejoue method is based on the complementary forces that the author indicates that life has. That is, they propose that life moves in opposite pairs (day / night, sun / moon, cold / heat).
In this sense, the activities they propose under the Rejoue method are based on these pairs (large / small, cold / warm, excitement / rest).
The games proposed in the Rejoue method also include different techniques such as tension, rolling or immobilization, for example.
One of the techniques of relaxation is balancing, which consists of imitating the swinging movements produced by, for example, a rocking chair.
To do this, reciprocating movements must be started, either towards the sides, forward and then backwards or backwards and then forward.
One of the parts of the body is at rest, which is chosen to work, and we must leave it relaxed, soft and soft to be able to balance it.
Another technique is stretching. By means of this technique it is also possible to notice the difference between stretching and relaxing, similar to what happens in the technique of tension and distension.
To do this, we ask the child to stretch as much as possible different parts of the body, such as arms (upwards, sideways) and to stay for a while in that position, just a few seconds.
Afterwards, we will relax it gently.
4. Activity The duster
Duster time is an activity that can help children achieve a state of calm and well-being that will allow them later to concentrate more.
It is a good activity to propose in the classrooms of the school when the children, for example, are very active or when they return from the recess time.
For this, you can choose a soft and calm music that invites relaxation and you should take a feather duster. We put the children in pairs, one of them lies down or is placed on it.
Children who are lying down should close their eyes and be in a situation prone to relaxation. His partner, with a duster or any object that allows the caresses, following the music, relaxes his companions.
Later the shift is changed and the other partner performs the same activity.
5. Activity The balloon
We must invite children to become balloons. For this, they must both swell and deflate, because that’s what balloons do.
When we give them the signal (which we will all agree together, for example the adult opens and closes the hand), they must inflate the balloon, that is, they must fill their lungs with air by inflating the belly.
To do this, you must instruct the child to place his hand on his belly so that he notices how it swells when he catches air. When the adult makes another gesture, he should throw the air watching as the belly is deflated.
This activity can be done standing, with visual gestures, as well as lying down. Children can close their eyes and the keys that mark when to take air and when to expel it can be sounds.
6. Relaxation method of Koeppen
The Koeppen relaxation method is very similar to Jacobson’s, because it is based on the tension and distension of the muscles, but the exercises and instructions are done through games.
For example, for the hands and wrists, the child is told to squeeze as if he were squeezing a lemon and should release it after hitting.
For the back, we must explain to the child that we become a puppet and we have some threads that pull us up and bend our back a bit and suddenly release us.
For the shoulders, we become a cat, so on all fours we should stretch out as cats do.
For the shoulders and neck, we can also become a turtle, imagining that we are on top of a rock and that the warm sun is hitting us in the face. Suddenly, we notice a danger and we get inside the shell.
For the fingers, we become a pianist and we must become a great musician who plays the piano very well.
For the jaw, we must imagine that we are chewing a large chewing gum, which is very hard and that we have a hard time chewing. Afterwards, we remove the chewing gum and we realize how relaxed it is.
For the face and the nose, we should think that we have a butterfly or a fly that has landed on our nose and that is bothering us.
To do this, making gestures with our own nose, we should try to get it out of there. When we got it, we noticed the difference.
For the stomach, we notice that an elephant comes and we notice that it wants to step on our tummy, so we have to tighten it and put it hard so that when stepping on us, it does not hurt us.
For the legs and feet, we must tell the child that we should imagine that we are inside a swamp with very thick mud. We try to walk but it costs us a lot.
7. The ant and the lion
This activity is for children to learn to breathe deeply.
For this, we will ask them to breathe as a lion would do, which is big, strong and runs very fast. For this, the lion needs a more agitated and rapid breathing.
However, we will ask them to breathe like an ant, which is smaller and therefore needs to breathe more slowly and slowly. We should try to end up breathing like an ant would.
8. Activity The sponge
It is an activity similar to that of the duster, but we will do it with a soft ball. For this, we will ask the children to put themselves in pairs and one of them will lie on the floor with his eyes closed.
We will put a soft and relaxed music and ask that the ball massage the body of your partner, as if it had soap.
9. Viewing nice images
To carry out this activity, we ask the children to lie on the ground, close their eyes and be calm and relaxed.
We put quiet music and began to ask them to breathe slowly and calmly, speaking softly and slowly.
We do visualization exercises, asking them to picture a field or a meadow, with soft grass, a very fine breeze and silence. Let them imagine how it smells, how the birds sing, how the flowers are, etc.
Another version is to imagine a beach, the heat of the sun, the sea breeze, the smell it has, etc.
10. Count back or stair
Through this activity we want the children to stay calm and calm. For this, we ask you to close your eyes, to be calm and calm.
When they are already there, they should count very slowly from 10 to 0, visualizing in their mind, in a calm way, each one of those numbers. They should remain calm and with relaxed muscles.
A different way is to tell the child to imagine a ladder. He is at the bottom, and he is not relaxed at all. You will start climbing the ladder, which has ten steps.
Each step you climb, is a greater relaxation, and when you reach the top of the ladder you will find yourself in a state of absolute tranquility.
11. Spaghetti test
Through Mindfulness exercises we pretend that the child is aware of the internal states that he presents, for example, if he is nervous, if his muscles are tense, if he is calm? And in this way, we can modify it.
For this, these exercises will focus on concentration and mindfulness about our body.
One of the exercises can be the spaghetti test. To do this, we must tell the children to attend to those fibers of their body that are like a hard spaghetti, to focus on it and turn it into cooked spaghetti, soft and flexible.
12. The robot or rag doll
In the first place, we will tell the child that he should act as if he were a robot, with rigid movements and very tense muscles.
Next, we will give you a visual or auditory signal to stop tensing the muscles and become a rag doll, that is, you will abandon the stiffness and move to a softer state.
In this process you will be guided to indicate when you are tense and when relaxed.
13. Taxi-blanket or magic carpet
To perform this activity, you must put a blanket on the floor and tell the child to lie on it.
You have to explain to her that she is on top of a taxi or a magic carpet. You should observe if the child’s body is tense or relaxed through signals.
You explain that when the body is tense, the carpet or the taxi goes slower, but as soon as you get rid of that tension, being lighter, the taxi runs more.
The intention of the child will be to relax the muscles to increase the speed of the vehicle.
14. The mandalas
Painting mandalas in a pleasant environment can be a good relaxation activity. By painting them, our hemispheres (right and left hemisphere) work together, and it is an activity that can help children to concentrate.
For this, we can put soft and relaxed music and offer each child mandalas and painting, indicating that they should concentrate and paint in silence, which can lead them to a state of tranquility and well-being.
They can not talk while they are painting the mandalas, it is done during a prudent time, around 15 minutes, and they are told that they can not start painting another mandala until they have finished their mandala.
15. The turtle technique
The turtle technique aims to work on impulsivity. For this, we will let the child know that we are going to become a turtle.
What do the turtles do? When they feel threatened, they get inside their shell. Therefore, when he feels he can not control himself, he must become a turtle and get inside his shell.
When you are inside, you must let go of all your muscles, let your hands hang, relax your feet, do not strain your belly and breathe very slowly and deeply.
He is instructed to think of nice and pleasant things and unpleasant emotions, for example anger, will go away little by little.
16. The hot soup or the birthday cake
Through the hot soup, the child is expected to reach, through deep breathing, a state of relaxation.
They have to imagine that they are eating a hot soup, but it should not burn them. They should be told that they have a bowl in front, and that the soup is very hot.
We must be careful not to burn ourselves, so we will begin to gently blow the soup. When we blow, our body will change: the belly will be sunken and the shoulders will be relaxed.
We will continue to blow because it is still hot, so deep inspirations will be made for this.
It can also be made as if it were a birthday cake, imitating how the cake would be blown. To do this, we inspire and then let go slowly.
This activity is also indicated so that they reach a state of relaxation through the contraction of the muscles and the subsequent distension.
For this, we have to indicate to the children that we are at the end of the winter and that the first one will soon arrive.
We must indicate that we are a block of ice and that little by little we are melting, because the first one will arrive and we will become a beautiful flower or a flowering tree.
For this, the children will begin to move, and when we give them the slogan of Ice! they should become a block and tighten the legs, hands, fists and arms. They will be completely frozen.
However, when the teacher says ¡Primavera !, the child should loosen the whole body, because the ice will be melting little by little. Finally, it will lie on the ground and become a flower or a tree.