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Week 2, Lesson 10- Relax & Tighten

Happy Friday! We have reached the end of another week. One pattern that you may noticing at home is an increase in headaches or other physical complaints by members of your family. As stress increases, somatic symptoms may also occur such as headaches, stomach aches, etc. These symptoms can also be due to dehydration. At school, kids are used to taking drink breaks throughout the day. Try filling a cup of water in the morning and encourage your child to drink it during the day. If they are used to using a water bottle at school, use the same water bottle throughout the day at home. Staying hydrated will help to maintain a more stable emotional and physical state.

Today’s focus skill is tightening and relaxing muscles. As our level of stress increases, we tend to hold the stress and tension in different parts of our body without even realizing it. This skill is a purposeful tightening and releasing of our muscles. With practice, we can start to gain some awareness of times when we are holding tension in our bodies.

There are 2 ways to do this technique:

1) Push-Pull-Dangle: while sitting in a chair with hands holding the side of the seat, push down for 5 seconds, pull up on the chair for 5 seconds, and then relax/dangle the feeling off. (When not in a chair, press palms together with elbows out for 5 seconds, squeeze hands together while pulling elbows out for 5 seconds, then relax/dangle the feeling off.)

2) Pretend stress ball: pretend to hold a stress ball and use it to tighten and relax different parts of the body. Tighten each part of the body while counting to 5. For example, pretend to squeeze it between your shoulder and ear, squeeze between knees, feet, etc. (A pretend stress ball is used because we will not always have a real stress ball with us when we are feeling stressed☺.)

Suggestions for using this skill:

● Together, practice using each of these techniques and identify times when they could be used.

● Guide your child through one of the techniques when you notice and increase in movement, fidgeting, or distractions. This technique can be used to provide a break during a long assignment. Sometimes taking the time for a short break may actually cause an increase in focusing which can help with the completion of activities.

● Practice using strategies when you are encouraging your child to sit still or wait (this could even be at dinner). Provide validation that sitting still can be difficult. Explain that the push-pull-dangle and the pretend stress ball are strategies to release energy while still sitting still and remaining with the group or activity.

● Guide your child through a general tightening and relaxing of different parts of the body (tighten your feet and count to 5, completely relax your feet, tighten your legs and count to 5, completely relax all the muscles in your legs, etc.). Try using this prior to sleeping to relax the body.

● Try wall pushups, chair pushups, or pressing hands against a wall while tightening all muscles and counting to 10.

● Use a small stuffed animal or an object to complete the pretend stress ball activity.

● Have your child draw a picture of a pretend stress ball so they can better visualize it as they use the strategy. Have them choose the color, shape, and design.

● Go to for a short activity.

At school, general stress and energy is often released during daily recess and physical education. During this time at home, provide outlets to release built up energy. Even during academic times, you child may work better while standing or when stretching out on their stomach on the floor. When verbally reviewing any information (math facts, vocabulary, etc.) allow walking or movement. In school, the height of desks and tables are designed for their age group. Finding the right size at home may be more difficult. Experiment and find out what works best.

-Marissa, Farah & Lilly

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