Reducing Children’s Stress in Child Care

Reducing children's stress in child care

Being a child can be stress­ful. Reduc­ing chil­dren’s stress in child care is important.

Sources of Stress

Learn­ing new things, build­ing inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships, and nav­i­gat­ing dif­fer­ent home, school, and care envi­ron­ments are exhaust­ing expe­ri­ences for many chil­dren. These expe­ri­ences have been even more tire­some dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, which placed many chil­dren in unpre­dictable situations. 

How­ev­er, unlike adults, chil­dren rarely have a space to take a deep breath, relax, and reflect on the stress­ful cir­cum­stances in their lives. This is where med­i­ta­tion, yoga, and oth­er mind­ful­ness prac­tices can help in reduc­ing chil­dren’s stress!

Reducing Children’s Stress in Child Care Through Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness 

Med­i­ta­tion, yoga, and mind­ful­ness also enable chil­dren to build strong cog­ni­tive and social-emo­tion­al skills. Mul­ti­ple stud­ies show that these prac­tices strength­en children’s atten­tive­ness and self-con­trol, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly con­tribut­ing to improved empa­thy and respect for peers. Med­i­ta­tion has also been linked to a decreased risk of stress, hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty, and depression.

These prac­tices help chil­dren respond to neg­a­tive thoughts, while also improv­ing their self-con­fi­dence, focus, and behav­ior. They also give chil­dren a much-need­ed way to relax and breathe, which can be espe­cial­ly impor­tant in a busy, loud child­care setting.

Many areas of the coun­try have already begun for­mal­ly adopt­ing med­i­ta­tion in schools. In Ohio, the Skills for Life pro­gram teach­es ele­men­tary school stu­dents about the val­ue of deep breath­ing, med­i­ta­tion, and prob­lem-solv­ing skills. The results were astound­ing! After the program’s imple­men­ta­tion, chil­dren felt more in con­trol of their emo­tions; bul­ly­ing rates fell, excit­ing both teach­ers and stu­dents. Sim­i­lar stud­ies else­where in the coun­try report sim­i­lar results; an exper­i­ment in San Fran­cis­co found that intro­duc­ing med­i­ta­tion had sig­nif­i­cant­ly pos­i­tive impacts on stu­dents’ aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance. Intro­duc­ing spec­i­fied ‘qui­et times’ into school cur­ric­u­la also had resid­ual ben­e­fits, includ­ing improved grades, decreased sus­pen­sion rates, and enhanced atten­tion spans.

Guid­ing chil­dren through med­i­ta­tion can be easy and fun. One exer­cise, ‘The Bal­loon,’ is espe­cial­ly sim­ple for young chil­dren to under­stand. Try this exer­cise out with tod­dlers, preschool­ers, and school-age chil­dren in your care. 

To prac­tice this exer­cise, invite chil­dren to relax and slow­ly inhale and exhale through the nose for sev­er­al sec­onds as a warmup. Then, ask chil­dren to take a long, deep breath so their stom­achs fill with air, mim­ic­k­ing a bal­loon. Encour­age them to slow­ly let the air out of the ‘bal­loon’ by releas­ing their breath through their noses. Repeat this process sev­er­al times. Chil­dren can even add a hiss­ing noise as they exhale slow­ly, just like a real bal­loon would.

Younger chil­dren will espe­cial­ly ben­e­fit from the bal­loon exer­cise if they can add cre­ative imagery to it. Ask­ing chil­dren to think of the balloon’s col­or, size, and shape as they inhale and exhale adds to the prac­tice, and gives chil­dren anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to relax and reflect in the moment.

Want to learn more about the effects of stress on chil­dren and how to help chil­dren reduce stress in child care? Take our Care Course Ear­ly Child­hood Stress: Seri­ous Stress in Chil­dren’s Lives.

Let us know how the chil­dren respond­ed to this activ­i­ty in the com­ments below! 

Reducing Your Stress

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing ways that you can reduce your own stress as an ear­ly child­hood pro­fes­sion­al? Check out our blog How to Man­age Stress in Child Care

Care Courses Support

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us at 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day- Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!

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