Eight-year-old Michael could not fall asleep at night - so his mother Melanie (longing for a quiet hour to herself before she dropped into an exhausted slumber) spent an additional two to four hours a night trying to get him to nod off. Luckily Melanie took the approach of seeking out professional assistance. Her son’s psychologist recommended learning some relaxation techniques.
Relaxation as a therapy
Melanie and Michael arrived at my office one Saturday morning ready to try a new approach as a means of getting relief from the cycle of fatigue, irritation, and high emotions for both mother and child. Breathing and body awareness as a relaxation practice were the prescription for reaching this goal. We set up a plan of meeting for four sessions to practice specific and individually designed breathing and relaxation exercises to address the issues at hand.
Why techniques for mother and child?
Incorporating mother and child, a bond that is maternal and deeply rooted, as a therapy is a natural approach. Children have the instinctive ability to focus on their breath and watch how their bodies respond. They make it seem easy. When one remains open and focused, this can happen for adults as well. The techniques that I teach use awareness of our body and breath in helping us let go and relax. Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to teach any new behavior to a child. It has been my observation that mothers seem to benefit from and enjoy the sessions as much as their children.
A life skill
Mothers and children find relief when they are motivated to learn, make a change and when they are committed to incorporating these elements into their lives. These techniques become a life skill, used anytime the body is vulnerable. And once you learn, you’ll never forget. Dr. Carol Brady, a clinical psychologist in Houston, Texas, treats numerous children each month and has this to say about treatments that work: “In the practice of psychotherapy we are always looking for what works. I have found useful additional methods, which complement traditional psychotherapy, breathing techniques being foremost among them.”