Children’s group focuses on relaxation

Over the last few weeks the children involved in our Friday group have been learning about a range of relaxation techniques.

With the support of a trained therapist, the group, aged between 6-11 years, has been looking at examples such as story massage, aromatherapy and hand massage which make relaxation engaging and fun for young people.

These are valuable skills for the group, aiding their social and emotional development in the face of difficult circumstances.

Most of the young people we work with face challenging home lives. On top of the physical and emotional pressure of living with, or having a family member affected by HIV or Hepatitis C, many have been brought up with experience of issues like addiction, difficult relationships and domestic abuse. In these circumstances, it often falls to the child to act as a young carer, making sure their parent can make appointments, take their medication and stay on top of household chores. This is a huge responsibility for a young person to take on which can have an impact on their childhood.

The impact of these challenges are wide reaching, affecting everything from their performance at school, their ability to make friends and interact with others, and their future life chances.

With so many complex emotions impacting on their daily lives, the relaxation skills we’ve looked at offer a way for children to cope, to focus on themselves, enjoying being a child and encouraging them to speak openly about their feelings.

With story massage for instance, the group learned about how we can use creative stories to make massage engaging and fun – the example used was the process of making a pizza from kneading the dough to serving it up, mirroring each action in massage.

In another example, the group made talking sticks, and only the person holding the stick could talk. By encouraging the group to talk about how they are feeling, and to listen to others, we can then help them to gain emotional support from staff and peers in the group.

The children have really embraced the techniques and, following on from the full sessions, we’re planning to make relaxation a regular part of our weekly group. This will help to reinforce the skills that the children have learned so that they can use and benefit from them in their daily lives.