Many children and adolescents have – just as adults – a very busy schedule every day. In school as well as at home the child spends most of their time being more aware of their mind than their body. Even though many children and adolescents play sport after school they still tend to ignore how their body actually feels. Maybe they never learned how to read their body.
Become more aware of your body
Getting out of your mind and back into your body is a good practice for you. Paying attention to what the body is feeling is a practice that not only will your child benefit from building awareness but it will make them feel calm and more grounded.
Everyone needs to calm now and then. Especially with a stressful and busy day-to-day life and especially during periods of time in life where everything is new and unknown it can be important to schedule calm-down-time by using relaxation techniques.
The body scan is a typical practice of mindfulness which purpose is making you more attuned to the physical sensations in the body, relaxing the nervous system and increasing your awareness. Both children and aults will benefit from this exercise.
You can perform the body scan practice any time as long as you are in quiet surroundings. Doing it during the afternoon will help you calm down after a hectic day in school or at work or you can use it to relax before bedtime in order to fall asleep more easily.
We recommend that a parent or an adult the child feels safe around reads the guide to the body scan out loud to the child – listening to a familiar voice can be very soothing for some children. Though the effect of the practice does not depend on this.
We recommend that you record the body scan practice as a sound bite on the child’s phone, this way your child always has the practice on close reach so they can listen to it whenever they feel the need to feel calm. Or you can watch the video below and listen to our child psychologist Marie guiding the body scan.
You can’t do it wrong
There are no right or wrong way of doing the body scan practice that we suggest, and even though we specify what sensations you should be feeling in your body, you might feel something different which is just as okay as anything else. You are doing the practice right as long as you are directing all your attention to your body.
It can be very difficult sustaining your attention on just one part of your body. Often your attention wanders or you are distracted by other thoughts. You might even have the craziest thoughts while doing the body scan practice. Don’t worry—we’ve all been there.
When this happens imagine that your thought is a bird flying passing by in the sky. Notice it and then, let it fly away again. Afterwards direct your attention back to the body part you were exploring.
The guide to the body scan practice
- Start by finding a nice and quiet place.
- You can either lie down on your bag, place your arms along your side and stretch out your legs. Or you can do it sitting up in a relaxed position with your hands on your thighs or in your lap.
- Close your eyes. Now, focus on your breath. How are you breathing right now? Are your inhalation and exhalation short or long? Deep or shallow? Don’t change the way you are breathing right now, just be aware of it.
- Where on your body do you feel your breathing: inside the stomach, near the chest or maybe near your nostrils? Or maybe you feel it on a completely different part of your body.
- Now try to expand when breath and exhale slowly. Count to five on each inhalation and then, count to five when you exhale. Repeat this a couple of times.
- Now stop counting and focus on your facial expression. Try to relax between your eyebrow on forehead, your cheeks and your jaw. Let your teeth and lips touch gently and the tongue rest in the bottom of your mouth. If some muscle in your body suddenly becomes tense, it’s okay. Just try to relax again.
- Move your attention further down on your body. First, down through the neck and throat. Then, the collarbones and shoulders. Do you feel any tention? If you do try and relax. Imagine that you are transmitting rays of light and warmth to the part of your body that feels tense, this might give you a sensation of the part loosening up.
- Transmit the light and warmth down through your spine, down to your lower back and your tailbone. Then, transmit it to the front of your body, up over your stomach all the way to your chest. Take your time.
- Then, direct your attention down through one arm – all the way down to the end of the fingertips. Do the exact same practice to the other arm – all the way down to the end of the fingertips. Maybe you will sense your arms feeling heavier or longer when you focus on them, which is all right, in fact it is sign of how relaxed they are.
- Maybe you will notice that your attention wanders because you get distracted by other thoughts. When this happens imagine that your thought is a bird flying passing by in the sky. Notice it and then, let it fly away again. Afterwards direct your attention back to the body part you were exploring.
- Direct your attention away from your arm and down to your hips, buttocks and tha back of your thighs. Notice how the matt you are lying on feels against your body—does it feel hard or soft?
- Continue transmitting the light and warmth all the way down the leg. First, the thigh, then the knee, the shin and the calf. Continue further on to the ankle and the heel. Then the side of the foot and alongside the sole of the foot. Finally, try to direct your attention on each of your toes, one-by-one. Take your time and don’t try to force anything.
- Now direct your attention to the other leg. Transmit the light and warmth all the way down the leg. First, the thigh, then the knee, the shin and the calf. Continue further on to the ankle and the heel. Then the side of the foot and alongside the sole of your foot. Finally, try to direct your attention on each of your toes one-by-one. Take your time and don’t try to force anything.
- Now you have investigated every part of your body – all of your limbs and joints.
- Soon this practice is done. Take a minute to register how you feel. How does your body feel right now?
- Then, direct your attention back to your breathing. Notice how it acts right this moment. Compliment yourself for doing this practice and directing all your attention on to your body. Slowly start moving your toes and fingers. Maybe you feel like stretching your body or letting out a long sigh – if so, then do it.
- In your own time you slowly start paying attention the room you are in at the moment and when you are ready then slowly open your eyes.