Guided Imagery Relaxation
with Fingerhold to Calm Your Child
By Dr. Roxanne Daleo
The holidays are exciting for children and adults alike, but they can also cause intense outbursts for children unable to manage their emotions. Also because children are so open, they are very sensitive to picking up on the emotions of other children and adults in their environment around them. Everyone is stretched and stressed from the hectic atmosphere leading up to the holidays.
The following techniques may be helpful when your child is becoming overwhelmed and can help your child learn the valuable social-emotional behavior of calming down.
Guided Imagery Relaxation is a powerful form of mind/body medicine helping children help themselves be calm, reduce stress and negative strong emotions.
For over twenty years, I have been developing these techniques to assist children with conditions from anxiety to chronic illness. Guided imagery activates your child’s imagination using cadenced storytelling, music and breathing designed to create pictures in the mind that calm and settle the listener.
When you open your child’s mind to the power within themselves to regroup and return to balance, you awaken their inner energies of self-regulation, centering and positive self-talk. All three are necessary to gain mastery for emotional intelligence.
The fingerhold is a simple practice of holding each finger. You can choose the finger with the corresponding emotion that is of issue (see diagram). Or you can hold one finger at a time and complete a cycle of all five fingers. The thumb hold is for upset; the index finger for scared; the middle finger hold for mad; the ring finger for worried and the pinky finger for feeling bad.
The fingerhold has a self-soothing quality; it is one reason why children suck their thumbs or other fingers when they are upset. But more importantly, the technique is grounded in ancient healing traditions.
This technique is based on Eastern Medicine philosophy that believe we have life force energy that flows through our bodies, along pathways called meridians, from our internal organs out to our fingertips and toes. According to Eastern tradition, when we cannot move our emotions through, they get blocked. You and your child can unblock the stuck energy of emotion using the mind/body wisdom always available, ready to be tapped.
Coupled together, guided imagery and the fingerhold techniques can help release the blocked energy and provide relief, especially with young children who are experiencing overwhelming or difficult feelings. Being able to actively do something provides your child with a sense of control which leads to feeling calm and centered.
You can use the “Energy & Me” audio program with your child to calm down while practicing the finger hold.
The Guided Imagery Relaxation Journey from MindWorks for Children audio sample link is here at your fingertips!
For some children just choosing one finger and using that finger hold is effective. Otherwise, you can go through each finger one at a time. Hold each finger with the other hand for 30 seconds -1 minute for children (longer for adults 2-5 minutes for it to feel useful). Hold gently but firmly. You don’t need to squeeze very hard, just enough to feel some pressure. You might even feel a pulsing as the energy moves through.
If you like use this text sample and insert the circumstance or situational stressor where I have indicated below.
“The MindWorks for Children program called Energy & Me is about learning to tell your body how to use relaxing energy. Sometimes we may feel very full of energy. We may rush too much or bump into things. Or maybe we just need to calm down when we are mad or have bad feelings. It helps to learn how to slow down. (Add your child’s issue if different from the suggestions). Let’s try right now, make up a picture in your mind, in your imagination! See yourself on your favorite soft chair or bed. Now breathe slowly and easily. Say: I am calming down. Hold your thumb. Breathe and say: I am calming down.
Say: I am calming down. Hold your index finger
Say: I am calming down. Hold your middle finger
Say: I am calming down. Hold your ring finger
Say: I am calming down. Hold your pinky finger
Slowing down our breath as we pay attention to it, can calm us.
Breathe and say: I can do it ! I can! I feel calm right now!”
We are all energy beings. Our body is electric. Children pick up our vibe, so first calm yourself down before attending to your child’s stress level. This will make all the difference is the success you achieve when helping your child use new techniques. With daily practice, your child will learn how to handle challenging situations constructively.
Be resilient! Be calm! Happy Holidays!
Special Added Feature: Energy & Me coloring page at: