Did you know that even the youngest children are affected by stress? Both positive and negative changes in a child’s life create stress. Events that interrupt a child’s routine such as a new baby, moving to a new community, a new job with new schedule, job loss, financial strains, witnessing domestic violence, homelessness, coping with disabilities or developmental delays all create stress in a child’s life. Children do not always have the words to tell you how to support them. As a child care provider you can help children by keeping a regular daily routine, introducing calming activities, listening, and providing resources for families.
Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section
Becky Bailey’s “I Love You Rituals”: The key to using the I love you rituals is in creating a connection with the child through eye contact, touching hands, and repeating nursery rhymes or poems that become familiar to the child and can be used during stressful situations to recreate that connection and help the child calm. You can add lavender lotion and massage into the hands and wrists while reciting the poem or rhyme if the child is comfortable with lotion.
- Becky Bailey’s Breathing Techniques: Conscious Discipline teaches children six different breathing techniques they can use when they are scared, or overwhelmed to self-calm. In Becky Bailey’s “I can Calm” book she has pictures to help children remember breathing techniques like STAR “Stop. Take a deep Breath. And. Relax,” The Pretzel, and Bunny Breathing. Children can use pictures to go through all six techniques or go to their favorite. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate at least one breathing exercise into their daily routine so children are familiar with them when they need them to self-calm.
- Creating a Cozy Area/Safe Place: Just like adults children sometimes need to get away from the bustle of the day and sometimes feel overwhelmed by what is going on in the classroom or in their life. Having a cozy space that only 1 or 2 children can go at a time gives children the opportunity to self-regulate, to think, and work things out. The place should be out of the hustle and bustle of the classroom, large enough for the child and a friend or adult to talk, and comfortable. You can add items such as the breathing techniques and other items to help children work through what they are feeling or to destress.
Rain Stick: Make your own rain stick using a mail tube, paper towel roll or other sturdy round object. Push or hammer in nails, pins, or golf tees. Cover the outside with fabric, contact paper or construction paper and stickers. Fill with rocks, beads, rice, or other small object that can pass through the nails or pins. To create a calming effect, children should turn their rain stick gently from side to side listening to the objects as they cascade through the stick.
- Kids Yoga: Kids Yoga can be both fun and relaxing with yoga cards that focus on animal poses or free YouTube resources that Cosmic Kids Yoga that take fun popular culture themes such as Star Wars, Trolls, and Frozen to introduce yoga poses as they sequence through a story with familiar characters.
- Music & Movement: Music has long been recognized as a way to enhance and change our moods. Try finding music pieces that let kids act out feelings. Sad, angry, happy, excited. How many emotions can you find a song for?
- Healing Playdough: Kneading, rolling, poking, and punching a big pile of playdough can work wonders for easing stress for children and adults alike. Customize your playdough by adding these essential oils to create different types of healing doughs. Always check for allergies before using any ingredients.
- Sick Day/Breathe Easy: 10 drops of one of the following - Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Peppermint, or Respiratory Blend (can add cloves)
- Calming: 10 drops of Lavender or chamomile essential oil (you can also add dried lavender petals)
- Harmonizing: 10 drops of Rose essential oil (you can also add rose petals)
- Uplifting: 10 drops of orange essential oil (you can add zest from orange or grapefruit)
- Concentration: 10 drops of rosemary (you can add rosemary or thyme herbs)
- Sensory Play: Sensory play has many benefits from language development as child care providers help to give children the vocabulary to describe their world to helping children calm by giving them a sensory experience to focus on. Sensory play does not have to involve expensive materials and equipment. Water play can use warm or cool water paired with common items found in the kitchen or from the child’s play area. Do you have dishes, plastic dolls, or cars you can wash in warm sudsy water? Getting outside as the weather turns warmer to make mudpies, plant a garden, or dig in the ground can have calming benefits. Having kids squeeze, sift, and feel a variety of different textured items in a sensory bin or box can be done inside or outside. For those children or providers who do not want the mess try using unmatched socks and filling them with different ingredients that children can squeeze and move through the length of the socks during stressful situations.
Related Articles and Resources:
Helping Traumatized Children: A Brief Overview for Caregivers https://childtrauma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Helping_Traumatized_Children_Caregivers_Perry1.pdf
Missouri Early Learning Standards, Social and Emotional Standards Parent Guide https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/eel-el-social-parent.pdf
Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri, Child Abuse and Prevention Month public awareness resources https://ctf4kids.org/public-awareness/child-abuse-prevention-month/
Progressive Relation for kids: https://www.therapywithcarolyn.com/single-post/2016/06/19/Help-Your-Kids-Calm-Down-Strategy-2-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation
Free Resources from Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Homeless Children and Youth https://dese.mo.gov/quality-schools/federal-programs/homeless-children-youth
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: 2018 list of District McKinney-Vento Liaisons https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/qs-hmls-liaisons-17-18.pdf
University of Missouri, St. Louis (UMSL): Kathy J. Weinman Children’s Advocacy Center and Institute for Trauma Recovery http://www.stlouiscac.org/
Information on becoming a Licensed Child Care Provider in Missouri if you care for more than four unrelated children in your home http://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/licensed.php
Information for becoming a Registered Provider in Missouri if you care for four or less unrelated children in your home https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/in-home-child-care-providers.htm
Information for becoming a Licensed Exempt Provider in Missouri https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/licensed-exempt-child-care-providers.htm
Sign up for STL Educare trainings http://www.stleducare.org/trainings.html
Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline https://www.youtube.com/user/lovingguidanceCosmic Kids Yoga https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga/featured