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11 Easy Relaxation Practices to Share With Your Children, Teens, and Elders of All Ability Levels

If you have relaxation practices that work for you, you might wonder how you can encourage your family to join you. After all, their lives can be stressful too when they’re trying to juggle home life, get good grades, make friends, and adapt to the changes of a changing economy and world. These practices are easy to share with family members of all ages and abilities. I’ll share a few of my personal experiences as we move along and I’m sure you will be able to identify activities to try with your preschooler to your grandparent.

Sharing Relaxation Practices with Younger Children

Even small children can relax and focus if you use movement and sound to make it interesting. It also helps if you provide an inspiring role model by managing stress constructively yourself.

Try these techniques:

  1. Make it fun. Be sure to present relaxation practices as a helpful tool rather than punishment. Pay attention to your child’s limits so they’ll stay engaged.

  2. Keep it brief. As little as one minute of seated meditation can be an achievement for a preschooler. Plan multiple activities so you can switch things around if your child seems to be losing interest.

  3. Breathe deep. Focusing on the breath is an excellent starting point at any age. Ask your child to imagine filling their stomach and chest with air and then releasing it like a balloon.

  4. Play music. Does your child have some favorite songs? Take turns singing different parts or ask them to listen for certain notes. Close observation is a form of mindfulness.

  5. Take a walk. You can also meditate or appreciate your surroundings while you’re moving around. Go to the park and identify as many different kinds of flowers as you can.

  6. Ask the teacher. Some schools are including stress management and meditation in their curriculum. Check on what’s available and see if there’s anything you can do to help.

Quick Story:

When I was growing up, I felt like I had “the cool mom”. She constantly encouraged my twin sister and I to read, play, make art, and to think for ourselves. One of the things I remember her saying to us when things got hectic was “Hey, let’s play the meditation game”. This was always a fun challenge for my sister and I because we were tempted to laugh after sitting for just a few minutes. With legs crossed and forearms resting on our knees, we really believed that we were exploring a new world with our minds. As we got older our mother introduce us to morning motivational phone calls and evening trips to Border’s bookstore store after shopping trips to the mall. What our mother, Sonya was teaching us was mindfulness and mind regulation. These tools became invaluable to me later in life and are the foundation of many of my current daily practices.

"What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind."

– Buddha

Sharing Relaxation Practices with Teens

With teens, you can build on the techniques designed for younger children and introduce some new lessons. Meditation may be especially valuable during these years as many teens experience depression and anxiety. Be sure to let your doctor know if your teen is already receiving treatment for such conditions.

Share these strategies:

  1. Increase time gradually. Keep in mind your teen’s interests and abilities. If they benefit from meditating, they may want to sit for an hour or more a day. Otherwise, you can suggest other ways to relax, such as yoga or working on hobbies.

  2. Share experiences. Listen enthusiastically to what your teen thinks about relieving stress and living mindfully. Discuss your own thoughts and feelings too.

  3. Take turns teaching. Give your teen a chance to instruct you. If you do guided meditations together, you could alternate being the one to do the reading and provide directions. If you usually do tai chi, let them know that you’d appreciate their help in coming up with new ideas for the sake of variety.

  4. Search for apps. There are apps for relaxation and meditation, and many of them are free. Your teen may prefer something created for their own age group or they may be happy with a general program for adults.

  5. Sign up for classes. If you’re still looking for something more, see what’s available in your neighborhood. Check events listings at your local library and other resources to find courses on meditating or gardening.v

Sharing Relaxation Practices with our elders and family members with special needs.

With elders and loved ones with special needs, you can pull inspiration from the techniques used for younger children and teens. Moments of calming meditation might provide relief from anxiety or pain for older adults. The practice of meditation might not be a tool that was introduced in their childhood and could be a new way of bonding and intimacy between you and your elder. If you are a part of your elders care team, don’t be shy to encourage them to talk to their health care provider about any anxiety or feelings of depression.

Incorporating relaxation practices for a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability can provide much needed relief from noise or environmental stimulation. Regardless of ability level, everyone can benefit from a little down time. I recorded a quick story to describe my experiences sharing relaxation practices with my grandfather and brother-in-law.

In Closing

I hope these easy practices have encourage you to introduce or continue the practice of sharing relaxation methods with your loved ones. Small children, teens, and older adults can benefit from relaxation practices whether you use a modern app or an old-fashioned meditation cushion. Positive habits are aspects of a happy and peaceful existence and I congratulate you for passing on these practices. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to relaxation or meditation. To find that sweet spot, focus on what feels good as well as what is age and ability appropriate. Be well!

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