(Me and my family skating in Golden Gate Park, SF)
How To Help Your Kids Relieve Their Stress Through Their Senses
Using Touch, Sight And Smell Can Help Calm A Child’s Nervous System
I’m painfully aware of how difficult times are for parents. They come to me not only to help them diminish their stress level, but they also have a lot of questions for me about how they can teach their kids to handle stress. They know I have kids, so they’re always picking my brain. My kids aren’t kids anymore, they’re young adults. I’ve taught them about the pillars of good mental, emotional and physical health:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating right
- Journaling practices to improve emotional intelligence
- Gratitude practices
Helpful tip: Do your best to model what you say is important. They’ll blow you off if your asking them to do things that you’re not doing yourself.
Tips to help manage stress in the family
Manage your own stress first. What I recommend for parents with young kids, and even older kids, is to first get their own nervous system under control. Parents, I’m talking to you. Our nervous systems imprint on everyone around us. When we can regulate, it helps your child regulate a little bit more.
Bring in things that activate the child’s senses. One client I had asked me how to help her five-year-old calm down, and I asked her if she had ever made homemade Play-Doh or used Play-Doh. “Duh, of course!” Bless her heart. I could tell she was fed up. I recommended that she add a little essential oil to the Play-Doh with the caveat that her child doesn’t have any kind of reaction. I asked her to do some research about which ones would be safe, and how to test them before she went hog-wild with the idea. She could even work with him to decide which fragrances he really liked, and that he felt calmed him down. Kids can be very attentive to fragrances. Think about all the items they have for kids that are filled with all kinds of fragrances. Even spices that you use a lot to cook with can be very grounding, centering and calming.
Infuse the Play-Doh with the essential oil. Once she found the one that would be safe to use, and her son liked, I asked her to mix a drop or two into the batch of Play-Doh. Then they practiced. First they started by pretending he was having a difficult time, so he knew when to recognize his trigger. In real time, when he felt like he was having a difficult time, or when she noticed he was having a difficult time, they would pull out the Play-Doh from the fridge. He would sit for a few minutes with a timer, and actually work with the Play-Doh.
Power of smell. I shared why this works. The Olfacory Bulb is connected to the emotional brain. I’m sure you can remember a time when you smelled something, and it took you back to a memory tied to an emotional state. That’s the power of smell. I taught her how to use it to begin to help regulate her son’s nervous system, and her’s too, for that matter.
What’s great about this solution is it’s like a stress ball that adults use. Heck, adults could use this, too. I told her he could even choose a color that he thought was calming. So, not only was she using his sense of touch and smell, she also used his sense of sight. This practice is very meditative for a young person. She reported back that my recommendation had such an incredible impact on her son, and they were really having a good time making different kinds of batches.
Bonus! He started identifying his emotions. As they were picking out different essential oils, I asked her to ask him what feelings he was feeling or what memories it brought up. He was able to say which ones made him feel more playful, more active or more calm. My client was actually able to use this exercise help him identify his emotional states. Bonuses all around!!!
Primary emotions. Basic primary emotions are angry, sad, happy, surprised, scared. He was able to actually identify a couple of the different emotional state, so it was a really fun exercise for them. When you’re feeling like you want a new, creative way to help your child calm down, and get in touch with their emotions, try using this cleaver Play-Doh, infused with color and fragrance. Have fun. Play is one of best ways to connect and de-stress with your child.
Kudos to you, dear parent. It’s the most important job you’ll ever do!
If you need support, contact me for a free 30-Minute Consultation.