When it comes to helping children manage their emotions, it’s not just about talking things through or offering advice.
Our bodies hold a wealth of resources that can aid emotional regulation, especially for children facing these challenges.
In this post, we’ll explore how somatic (body-based) approaches can benefit both families and professionals working with children in the classroom.
Understanding Somatic Approaches
Somatic movements are techniques that involve the body and can have a profound impact on a child’s emotional well-being. They are especially helpful for children who struggle with emotional dysregulation.
Here’s are a few examples:
- Deep Breathing Exercises
Teach children to use their breath as a tool to calm their bodies and minds. Encourage slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can make it fun by pretending to blow up a balloon with each exhale. Don’t underestimate the power of the breath – too many children breathe from their upper chest and this impacts on stress in the system.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Children can learn to identify and release physical tension by tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups. Start with their toes and work your way up to their head, showing them how to let go of stress and anxiety in their bodies.
- Body Scan Games
Make body awareness engaging with games. Ask the child to “scan” their body like a detective, noticing any tension or discomfort. This helps them become more aware of their bodily sensations and emotions.
- Grounding Techniques
For children feeling overwhelmed, grounding techniques can bring them back to the present moment. Have them focus on the feeling of their feet on the floor, the texture of an object, or the rhythm of their breathing.
- Yoga and Movement Breaks
Incorporate short yoga or movement breaks into the classroom routine, or before bedtime. These activities can help children build body awareness, improve focus, and manage stress.
- Creative Movement and Dance
Encourage self-expression through dance and creative movement. Let children dance out their emotions, allowing them to physically release what they’re feeling.
- Physical Well-Being
Promote healthy habits like regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient sleep. A healthy body lays the foundation for better emotional regulation.
- Emotion-Body Connection
Help children connect their emotions to bodily sensations. Explain that feeling “butterflies” in the stomach when nervous is normal and that listening to these bodily cues can guide their emotional responses.