by Children’s and Young Adult Librarian Rachael Button
Note: Rachael has taught in a variety of settings, has taken a 36-hour Yoga-Calm workshop to learn yoga-based interventions to use in the classroom, and is certified in Mental Health First Aid. She is not a healthcare professional. Please reach out for professional support if you need it for yourself or your child.
1-Take 5 (Breathing Exercise)
Notes: This is a great activity to do with your child when one of you (or both of you) needs a moment to ground and regroup. I have used it in the classroom, at storytime, and when I’ve facilitated workshops for adults.
Instructions: Stretch your hand out so that it looks like a star. Start tracing the perimeter of your hand starting with your thumb. As you move your finger up, breath in, as you move it down, breath out.
Extension: After you’ve traced your hand share 5 things that you’re grateful for.
2-Play “I Spy”
Notes: When we’re anxious, we’re oftentimes thinking about the past or worried about the future. I love playing “I spy” with kids because it brings our awareness back to the space that we’re in, it gets us noticing, and hones our observation skills.
Instructions: One person is “it.” The person who is it choses a secret item in the room that is in plain view and gives a (color-based) clue to help the other players guess what it is (aka “I spy with my little eye something blue.”) The players who are not “it” take turns guessing. The person who guesses the secret object gets to be “it” next.
Extension: Bring the game outside. OR try playing with different senses: What do you hear? Smell? Feel?
Notes: For many kids, physical contact with caregivers is really calming and grounding. This activity is great for before bedtime, before a nap, or any other time you want to give your child a soothing experience.
Instructions: Ask your child if they’d like you to draw or write on their back with your finger. (No markers or pens required!) If so, they can get in a comfy position. Options: You can make it into a guessing game (a.k.a you write a letter or number on their back and they guess which letter or number you drew…it’s a fun sensory way to develop print awareness) or you can draw a picture of something that you wish for them or would like to give them (this option is less of a game but can be a super sweet way to share your hopes with your child.)
Extension: Ask them to do the same for you. It can be really nice to switch off drawing and being drawn on.
One of the most soothing things during times of uncertainty can be to maintain or develop reading routines: morning stories, bedtime stories, stories to slow down with after lunch, and stories to ignite our curiosity and focus our attention. If you don’t currently have many books in your house consider using Decorah Public Library’s digital resources like the Libby App where you’ll find picture books, chapter books, audiobooks, and even some books about yoga and/or mindfulness for children and families.