First of all, it is important to track down the reasons for the overloading of the child: Everyone reacts differently to stressors. According to the motto: “less is more”, the course of everyday life can be checked and possibly made a little less turbulent. A very successful way of addressing the symptoms of stress is to offer a relaxation procedure. Even with children, the balance between tension and relaxation is important in order to stay healthy or to prevent psychosomatic disorders. We can help the children to help themselves. This principle has proven itself in many areas of education. That is why I am counting on the success of this approach when it comes to counteracting the negative consequences of stress.
Through effective methods of relaxation such as autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), imaginary journeys or sound work, children can experience how tension can be transformed into relaxation. In this way you can take countermeasures when stress builds up and do something for your health yourself. In this post the PMR is introduced to you.
What is progressive muscle relaxation?
The PMR (progressive muscle relaxation) is now widely known, because it is a professionally recognized and proven method of relaxation.
The method was developed by Edmund Jakobson, an American doctor and neurophysiologist. The positive effects have been scientifically proven and have helped many people to improve their wellbeing.
Jakobson observed that every psychological excitement and tension leads to an increase in muscle tension. Why is that? Our bodies have a habit of triggering certain hormonal reactions when they are under stress in order to prepare us for quick actions. Action also means building up muscle tension, which, however, is often not used or needed at all. So the tension can turn into tension. And so our complex nervous system begins to lose its balance. Symptoms of stress appear.
What can we do to break this cycle? If we now relax our muscles, the level of mental arousal is also reduced – a connection that we can make use of. This removes the soil from the stress from the very beginning. I find this thought fascinating: We can help ourselves and that too in good time.
How can children learn progressive muscle relaxation?
PMR is already being used successfully for children (from around 4 years of age) and adolescents. There is a tried and tested exercise program that works by relaxing key muscle groups. The PMR should be taught by a professionally trained person (e.g. relaxation educators). We recommend small groups with children who are about the same age and who are interested in calm movements. A relaxation lesson for children should always proceed in the same way and consist of the following parts: The children are attuned to the relaxation, then the exercise part is taught to them. Then they do it themselves and then discuss how they have come to terms with it. At the end there is a little “farewell ritual”. Eight individual lessons are useful to teach the children how to relax themselves with PMR.
Two things are important for the children when dealing with relaxation: The exercises must not be experienced as a “learning situation” in the school sense and they should keep busy with their exercises between the individual relaxation hours. So the learning success occurs faster.
What positive effects does progressive muscle relaxation have on children?
PMR brings a bit of relaxation into everyday family life. It can help children stay healthy and grow up more relaxed. Of course, PMR is also very good for parents who want to recover from stress symptoms and become more balanced. It is certainly a connecting experience for the family to try something new together.
The relaxation through PMR works holistically: on the body level, in the emotional area and in the area of concentration. Of course, this also applies to adults.
The effects in the body are as follows:
- Muscle tension is reduced and cramps are reduced. This applies to muscles that we can tense ourselves and also to muscles that work involuntarily, such as the stomach.
- The blood vessels become loose, which means that the body is supplied with more blood and is better supplied with oxygen.
- The breath becomes more even, which deepens the overall relaxation.
- The self-healing powers in the child’s organism are activated.
In the emotional area, the calming of the nerves opens up a beneficial relaxation. The child can deal better with “frustration” and anger, he knows what to do for himself in the event of anger or tension. This also strengthens his self-confidence. Gradually, the body reacts less strongly, physically and mentally, to stressful external stimuli such as noise or aggressive expressions. These are important prerequisites for the child to be able to concentrate better.
Where can I find courses in progressive muscle relaxation?
Relaxation for children is an area that is increasingly being offered in kindergartens. A suitable course offer in the facility can also be suggested via the parents’ council. Adult education centers and secondary schools also offer courses. Many health insurance companies also offer courses for relaxation procedures. Trained relaxation educators can of course also be approached directly. The course fees are often subsidized by health insurance companies, especially for children.