Help children unwind and cope with stress.

Despite our best efforts to create a balanced lifestyle, stress creeps into our daily lives. Stress can affect anyone — even children. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, children ages 8 to 17 worry about school and family finances, which may lead them to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness and upset stomachs. To help your children manage stress and anxiety, practice these relaxation techniques at home.

Laughing

We’ve all heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine,” and indeed it is a wonderful stress reliever. A good laugh lowers physical tension and stress, leaving muscles relaxed. Encourage your child to laugh by telling silly jokes, taking turns making goofy faces, watching funny cartoons or playing fun games such as charades.

Music

Music has a unique link to our emotions and can quickly help children relax or regain focus. Play classical music in your child’s bedroom before bedtime. Doing so promotes peace and relaxation, which can help induce sleep. If your child prefers more upbeat music, have a fun car karaoke session in the car after school. Singing along is a great way for your child to release some tension and doubles as a fun way to bond with your child.

Art

Children naturally gravitate toward art as a way to reduce their stress. Art provides children with a medium for emotional discharge that can bring almost immediate relief and distract them from any negative emotions. It is a great way to bring their inner thoughts and emotions out in the open. Provide them with some art supplies, and watch their little hands create some amazing masterpieces to hang on the refrigerator.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, involves full, slow breaths that allow us to deeply inhale and exhale to receive the full amount of oxygen our bodies need. Practicing deep breath exercises with your child triggers a relaxation response and helps reduce their heart rate. Simply have your child breathe normally and then inhale deeply through their nose and exhale slowly through their month multiple times until they feel fully relaxed.

Guided imagery

Guided imagery is a meditative process that uses visualization and imagination to bring about relaxation and awareness to the concept of the mind-body connection. Children have big imaginations, which allows them to easily practice this technique. By relaxing into a vivid story, they have the ability to deal with stress, pain or difficult feelings. You can find free guided imagery scripts to read to your child online.

Practice these techniques together and have some fun. The methods on this list are effective for individuals of any age and can be modified to make them age appropriate for your child.