Family Resource, a website dedicated to helping families, has great suggestions for learning to let go:
It is almost impossible to be upset when your body is relaxed. Try one of these relaxation skills, even in the middle of a challenging situation:
- Breathe slowly and deeply while imagining that tension is leaving your body with each breath.
- Try to inhale and exhale for the same amount of time (e.g., inhale for a count of four, exhale for four). Imagine that the breath is going in and out of the region of your heart. Meanwhile, recall or think about things that give you an appreciative, grateful, loving feeling. (For more on this simple but powerful technique, check out the books from the HeartMath Institute in Santa Cruz.)
- For a young child, a little trick that will help her breathe deeply is to ask her to exhale fully and then hold the exhalation for a couple of seconds – when she inhales, she’ll naturally take a big breath.
- Deliberately relax certain trigger points, such as the jaw muscles, pelvic floor, or the “third eye” between the eyebrows.
- Recall or imagine a very happy, peaceful scene.
You can deepen your capacity to relax when the fur starts flying by practicing relaxation techniques at calmer times, like right before bed:
- Systematically put your attention on each major part of your body, starting with your feet and working up to your head. If it helps, think a phrase like “relax,” or “locate a point” for your left foot, right foot, left ankle, right ankle . . . all the way up to your scalp.
- Tense your for about five seconds and then relax completely.
- Imagine that you are v-e-r-y heavy, sinking more and more deeply into your bed
- Imagine that your hands are very warm, like holding a cup of hot cocoa (this one is especially good for insomnia)
For kids, bedtime is a great time to train them in these techniques, since they’ll put up with more mumbo-jumbo to keep you in the room. The point is that you will initially take them through some of the methods above, and then over time you will expect them increasingly to use the methods themselves at night — as well as during the day, in real-life situations.