Children are no strangers to the daily stresses that plague most of us these days. While they may not have the stress of a full-time job or paying bills, navigating this world and learning about how they fit into it is enough to sometimes send our little ones over their edge! By encouraging your child to incorporate grounding techniques into their day, you can help them learn at an early age how to manage stress, tune into their body, and calm their nervous systems down.
Some signs that your child may be acting from a place of physical or emotional stress could be: persistent anxiety/worry, frequent nightmares, clinging, aggression, upset stomach, and lack of desire to participate in activities at home or school (US National Library of Medicine).
Disclaimer: these exercises are not meant to replace the advice or instructions of a licensed physician. First consult your child’s primary care doctor or physician if you notice any changes in their health or behavior. This article does not constitute professional medical health advice.
In childhood, we haven’t yet mastered the ability to identify and/or control our big emotions. Hey, as adults, sometimes we still struggle with this! With that being said, those big emotions can feel overwhelming and scary sometimes. Kid’s yoga poses can help children of all ages learn how to re-center and calm down during these times. You’ll also be giving them tools that they can use throughout the rest of their lives! Let’s jump in!
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This simple pose can be incredibly powerful in helping your little one get grounded. Not only is it very easy to teach and do, it can be very restorative.
How to do it
- Find a soft place, whether on a yoga mat, a carpet/rug, or a blanket
- Come onto the knees
- Place the forehead on the ground
- Allow the forearms to rest gently on each side of the face
By placing the forehead on the ground and the arms on either side of the ears, noises and distractions are mitigated, allowing your child to tune into their own body and breath. This pose signals to the brain that it is safe and that the body can relax. It slows down the heart rate and allows for deeper, restorative breaths.
You may try having them visualize all of the thoughts bouncing around in their head being sent down into the Earth as they touch their forehead to the ground.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The perfect pose for helping to sharpen your child’s concentration and balance. This easily-modified pose is something your child can grow with as they grow.
How to do it
- Stand up tall with feet about hip-distance apart (move the feet closer together for older children who are looking for more of a challenge)
- Arms will come out slightly from the sides, with fingers spread wide, palms facing forward
- Relax the shoulders and plant the feet into the ground
As you’re standing as tall as a mountain, you can recite the mantra “I am steady and strong like a mountain”. By adjusting the placement of the feet, you can make this pose easier or more challenging depending on your child’s age and abilities.
Every adult’s favorite pose! Some call it the “little nap” at the end of class, but it can actually be one of the most difficult poses on this list. Why? Because it requires lying still!
How to do it
- On a soft, comfortable surface, the child may lie on their back, side, or tummy
- Close the eyes and take slow, deep breaths
- Stay until you feel calm and ready to face the world again
As laying on the back can make the body feel more vulnerable, your child may prefer to lay on their side (in fetal position) or on their tummy. Allow them to choose which way is the most comforting for them. Laying on their tummy can especially help restless ones to feel more grounded and calm!
Yogi Squat (Malasana)
Squatting close to the ground feels natural for small children, making it a great grounding technique. This pose helps to bring them back to those natural instincts, as well as down closer to the ground which can be very grounding and soothing.
How to do it
- Stand up tall with feet spread apart, slightly more than hip distance
- Toes will point outwards towards the “corners” of the yoga mat
- Send the weight of the body into the heels as you squat all the way down
- When you’re in the right position, your child should look like they are ready to frog jump!
- Hands can remain on the ground, or for extra balance practice, bring them together by the heart in prayer
This pose releases tension in the hips and lower body, where tension often settles in.
For a little extra “grounding”: plant the feet into the ground and practice rising up to standing, stretching the arms nice and long upwards. Your child can imagine that they are the “seed” that is growing up, out of the Earth!
Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
The ultimate visualization of grounding is the Tree Pose, which can be adapted to a variety of levels and ages. This popular pose is always a fun go-to because it allows the child to practice balance and fires up their imagination.
How to do it
- Start by standing tall with the feet hip distance apart
- Raise the arms overhead, touching the palms together above the head
- Put all weight into the left or right leg, creating a stable “base” on one leg
- Option 1: For younger children, lift the non-supporting foot slightly up towards the ankle of the other leg. The toes may still touch the ground for extra balance support
- Option 2: Lift the non-supporting foot to the shin of the other leg
- Option 3: Lift the non-supporting foot to the inside of the thigh of the other leg
As your child becomes planted like a tree, have them imagine that roots are beginning to grow from their foot/feet into the ground. Rather than holding them down, these grounding roots symbolize that they are being supported by the Earth. Roots soak up nutrition from the Earth, giving them energy from their connection to the ground.
I cannot wait for you to try these poses with your child the next time they become a little overwhelmed with the world around them. When they need a moment of “time out” (not always in the punishment sense!), or time to breathe through whatever tough feelings they are having, these grounding techniques can provide them a safe space to cope. Having a toolbox of coping skills in their back pocket will help your children learn how emotions work and feel, and that some stillness can help them through them!
Join us on Insight Timer!
For children who tend to become more restless around bedtime, join us on Insight Timer (a free meditation app) at Yoga Kid Co. for relaxing and soothing children’s bedtime stories. Designed to help your child’s mind find a safe place to focus, relax, and ease comfortably into a deep, good night’s sleep. Combined with a few of these grounding poses, your child is sure to be catching z’s in a heartbeat!
Resources: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Stress in childhood: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002059.html