Discover mental health resources for children and adolescents
The world is a busy and sometimes scary place for children and adolescents, so it's not unusual for them to worry or experience symptoms of anxiety. Below are a few resources and techniques to help encourage mindfulness and use of self-regulation strategies by age:
Ages 2-6 years
Little Kids, big worries
As much as parents would like to protect children from worries, little kids can get worried too. Sometimes help can be as easy as reassuring kids that having some worries is normal – even for adults.
Listen to children’s books about worries & how to cope
Relaxation and Mindfulness for Younger Children
As a way to help young children deal with stress and anxiety, Sesame Street and Headspace have teamed up to create “Monster Meditations.” These short videos available on YouTube feature animated Muppets having feelings of frustration, impatience, being overwhelmed, nervousness, disappointment and excitement. Through these simple lessons, the monsters learn how to deal with these common situations.
Watch Sesame Street's Monster Meditation Series
AGES 7-11 YEARS
Lemons and Lemonade
This is an exercise that can be used to release muscle tension.
- Step 1: Imagine there is a lemon tree standing just in front of you.
- Step 2: Reach all the way up to the top of the tree and pick a lemon in each hand.
- Step 3: Squeeze the lemons hard - you want to get all the juice out. See the lemon juice filling up the pitcher in front of you. Squeeze. . . A little harder. . . Get all the juice out.
- Step 4: Throw the lemons on the floor and relax your hands. Stretch your fingers out - separated like a starfish
- Step 5: Now repeat again, until you have enough juice for a glass of lemonade.
AGES 12-18 YEARS
Get focused meditation
You can do this exercise for a little as one minute, once or twice a day to experience the benefits of a focused meditation. After a while, you can increase the time if you'd like. Once you have some experience with it, you might find that focusing on just your breath, your body or your mantra is enough to bring you focus and calm.
- Begin with some gentle, focused breathing. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in for three counts and out for three counts and out for four counts.
- When you feel comfortable sitting with your breath, shift your attention to your body. Gently focus your attention on the movements of your body. As you sit in a relaxed position, simply observe any tickles, itches, or sensations that arise and let them pass. Try to keep stillness in your body during this time.
- Now visualize a word or phrase in your mind. Maybe you think “Present”, “Focused”, “Right here, right now”, “Still”. Keep your attention softly focused on this word or phrase, repeating every few moments.
- If your mind wanders, don’t worry about it. Just notice any distractions and let them pass, returning your attention to your breath, your body or your mantra.
Imagery is like daydreaming, but is a little more structured.
Two KEYS to making imagery effective:
- Use all of your senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. The more full of sensory detail your imagery is, the more effective and relaxing it will be.
- BREATHE – breathing slowly and deeply.
Here are a few types of imagery you might try when you want to relax. It may help to review the Steps for Guided Imagery before trying this.
Think of a place you have been to, or seen in a movie or otherwise imagined. This should be a safe place. Once you have that place in mind, really focus on what it feels like to be there. What are you wearing? What does it smell like? What do you hear around you? Focus on the space between your feet and the floor. Now what do you hear? Is there a tastes in your mouth? Focus on the space between your teethn and tongue. Are there people or animals around? Is there a breeze? Ask and answer these questions gently, as they come up. And if you don’t like the answers, imagine them changing.
Imagine – in great detail (remember to touch on all 5 senses) – a place in your mind where you keep what is most special to you: your favorite memories, your good feelings, your hopes and dreams. Very clearly construct in you mind what the lockbox looks like, and where you keep it. Open the box (do you need a key? A code? Is it at the bottom of the ocean?) and sift through the lockbox, finding some or all of the pleasant things you keep in there.
Guided Imagery Steps
Use your imagination!
- Step 1: Find a position that is comfortable to you.
- Step 2: Close your eyes and breathe deeply until you start to relax.
- Step 3: Imagine your happy place. It can be real or imaginary; someplace you feel calm and peaceful.
- Step 4: Add the details. What do you hear, smell, taste and feel?
- Step 5: Stay as long as you need. And come back whenever you need to relax.