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Relaxation Techniques

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is a great way to calm down when you are upset.

Imagine that there is a balloon in your belly. As you take a big breath in through your nose, try to fill up the balloon so that your belly puffs up.

Now breathe out through your mouth (like blowing bubbles) and let all the air out of the balloon.

Take slow breaths. Try to count to 4 as you breathe in and count to 4 as you breathe out.


Repeat until you feel calm.

How to Help Your Kids Calm Down: Strategy #1 Balloon Breathing

Lazy 8 Breathing

Trace the Lazy 8 with your finger starting at the star and taking a deep breath in. As you cross over to the other side of the Lazy 8, slowly let your breath out. Continue breathing around the Lazy 8 until you have a calm body and mind.

Lazy 8 Breathing

"Lazy 8 Breathing." The Zones of Regulation: a Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control, by Leah M. Kuypers and Michelle Garcia. Winner, Think Social Publishing,Inc., 2011.

5 Point/ Star Breathing

Trace finger over star as you breathe in. Pause. Blow out. Breathe in. Pause. Continue around star and repeat as necessary to feel less anxious/angry.

Meditative Coloring

Some Benefits of Meditative Coloring for Students (from Color Psychology)

"Coloring is a calming and therapeutic tool for kids, especially if they have no other outlet for unpleasant or confusing emotions. Even kids who fall into the 'normal' range of emotional health can benefit from processing their feelings, frustrations and emotions through the simple but profound act of coloring. Most kids love to color, and it turns out it's more than just a recreational activity. It can also foster physical and psychological development in a range of areas..."

10 Benefits of Coloring Pages for Kids’ Psychology and Development

Using a Stress Ball

One can easily see how giving a student a ball in a learning environment could be distracting. However, when used correctly and supervised, a stress ball can be an easy and quick way to lessen a student’s anxious or angry feelings.

Squeeze the stress ball for 4 seconds (one. two. three. four.)

Relax for 4 seconds, and pay attention to your body

Did the stress ball help?

If not, repeat until you feel free of your stress

Using Play Doh

Playing Stress Away

Playing with non-toxic Play Doh is an excellent way for kids (and adults) to release tension. The pinching and kneading of the dough is similar to progressive muscle relaxation in that it causes the tension and relaxation of muscles of the hands and arms. Plus, it's fun!


Yoga is a great way to strengthen the mind and body. It involves meditation and moving the body into specific "poses". There are many benefits of yoga for children, and include:

  • Flexibility and strength
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased self esteem
  • Teaches being in the moment
  • A relaxed body and mind
  • Being a tool, or "go to" for stress management
  • Fosters creativity
  • Social interaction
  • Improves body awareness
  • Teaches discipline and responsibility

Yoga resources including images of multiple yoga poses can be found at Kids Yoga Stories.

Kids Yoga Stories


"Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is a powerful holistic healing technique that has been proven to effectively resolve a range of issues including stress and anxiety..."

"Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy."

The website, The Tapping Solution offers more information on this. Their brief video explains more.

Tapping 101 - Tapping Solution


Using the "Stop" acronym is a great way to teach children (and adults) to respond and not react to stressful situations.

S - stop what you are doing

T - take three deep breaths

O - observe the situation

P - proceed in a loving and kind way

Cell Phone Apps

Some children and adults have responded favorably to relaxation applications on cellular phones. Here is a list of some free relaxation applications:

Other Sources

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks, 2013.