Image from Microsoft clip art.
The next two strategies are from the Second Step programme.
In the programme, children are told that they should do some deep breathing in situations where they find they are having strong feelings, such as being overexcited, angry, or upset. We tell kids that it’s ok to have strong feelings, but doing the first thing that comes into your head (like hitting or screaming at the other person) will not solve the problem. When we have strong feelings it can be hard to think about what to do. Calming down helps us think again. It’s easier to calm down if we try as soon as we start to have a strong feeling. You can use ways to calm down in the classroom, at home, and in the playground.Put your hand on your tummy to check out how you are feeling, and l. say “calm down” to yourself, using a slow voice 2. take three deep belly breaths 3. count to 4 slowly Your tummy is right where your belly button is. Putting your hand there helps you check in with how you’re feeling. It also makes sure you do the right kind of breathing to help calm down. The wrong way to do belly breathing is to puff up your chest, tense your muscles, take a noisy gasp of air, and hold your breath. The right way to do belly breathing, is to take a breath that makes your tummy move out when you breathe in, and in when you breathe out. Breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. It should be so quiet that you can’t hear it.
It’s a good technique for parents to use as well!
I haven’t used the next strategy with my own kids. I tend to use it at the start of a group when the kids are buzzing or bristling with energy and I know I won’t get anything done until they come back into their bodies and become attuned to how they are feeling.Stand tall. Take a deep breath and tense your muscles, make them tight all over. Let your breath out and relax your muscles. Take another deep breath and tense your muscles. Now let your breath out and relax your muscles. Close your eyes and count slowly to 10 with me. Reach for your toes and hang there. Pretend that you are an elephant and swing slowly from side to side. Now reach for the sky, stand up on your toes. Hold it there. Now relax. ….
At playgroup, after we have sung some songs and before story time, I get the kids to do Robots, Towers, Jellyfish. I picked this strategy up from another playgroup facilitator who picked it up from a conference years ago.Robots – tighten your muscles all over Towers – stretch up to the sky Jellyfish – relax and wobble