The Koeppen Technique to Help Children Relax
Children, just like adults, can suffer anxiety or stress in their daily lives. They also experience difficult situations that can lead to anxiety, restlessness, and anger. Relaxation is an extremely useful and beneficial practice for children due to many reasons. Today, we’ll talk about one of the simplest methods to help children relax: the Koeppen technique.
It’s based on the existing relationship between physical and mental stress. If you relax your body, you can also reduce your anxiety. This technique uses a few simple visualization exercises during which you’ll guide children in tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. You have to repeat each exercise two to four times.
Initial exercises of the Koeppen technique
1. The lemon, an exercise to relax your hands and arms
“Imagine you have a lemon in your left hand. You have to squeeze it hard to get all the juice out. Squeeze it hard. Note how your hand and your arm tense as you squeeze. Now, let go of and drop the lemon. Feel how your hand and arm relax. Did you notice the difference?”
2. The lazy cat to relax your arms and shoulders
“Imagine that you’re a very lazy cat who wants to stretch. Stretch your arms in front of you. Lift them above your head and back. Do you feel your shoulders stretching? Now, drop them on your sides and feel how your shoulders and arms relax.”
3. The turtle, to relax the shoulders and neck
“Now you’re a turtle, happily sitting on a rock. Suddenly, you feel in danger. You have to hide! Retract your head in the shell and take your shoulders to your ears. As the danger’s past, you can come out. Take your head out and feel your shoulders and neck relax.”
4. A piece of gum, to relax your jaw
“You have a very big piece of gum in your mouth. You want to chew it but you have to use every muscle in your jaw to do it. Bite it hard and chew it. Now, you can stop chewing. Feel how your muscles relax.”
More Koeppen technique exercises
5. The fly, to relax your face, nose, and forehead
“You have a very annoying fly on your nose. You want to flick it away, but you can’t use your hands. Try wrinkling your nose as much as you can. Do you notice how your cheeks and lips tighten? Now that you scared it off, you can completely relax your face.”
6. The elephant, to relax your abdomen
“You’re peacefully lying on the grass. Suddenly, you see an elephant running towards you. It doesn’t give you time to escape and the only solution is to tighten your stomach as hard as a rock. The elephant has gone in another direction, meaning you can relax.”
7. The fence, to relax your abdomen and back
“While you’re walking through the forest, you see a beautiful place you want to go to, but you have to go cross a very narrow fence. To achieve this, you must tuck your stomach as much as you can toward your back. Once you manage to cross the fence, you can go back to your normal position and relax your stomach.”
8. Clay, to relax your feet and legs
“You’re walking through a jungle when you see a mudflat and decide you want to put your feet inside it. To do this, you have to push the mud as hard as you can with your legs. Now, get out and relax your legs and feet.”
The usefulness of this technique
With these exercises, children can discover and interact with their own bodies. Also, they’ll familiarize themselves with the feelings of tension and identify them when they manifest in their daily lives. In addition, they’ll learn that they can reduce anxiety or nervousness by relaxing their muscles.
This isn’t an isolated exercise but rather a continuous practice. Children must do it regularly, at least once a day. This way, they’ll be able to relax during the day and will improve their attention, concentration, and the quality of their sleep. Likewise, this technique will improve their emotional intelligence, as it’ll make it easier for them to understand and manage their emotions.It might interest you...
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- González, A., & Amigo, I. (2000). Efectos inmediatos del entrenamiento en relajación muscular progresiva sobre índices cardiovasculares. Psicothema, 12(1), 26-32.
- Varona Simón, L. (2018). Programa de intervención pragmática en niños con Disfemia.