In this post-pandemic world, we’ve all learned that daily physical activity is important to our mental wellness. This is just as true for our children! As a mom, I know that when big feelings overwhelm our kids, reconnecting with them through physical activity or silly games will go a long way to helping them return to their usual selves. They feel reassured about sharing their whole authentic selves with us and it helps them process their big feelings in a healthy way. Doing this will help bring them back to a centre of calm contentment more quickly than some other traditional quiet time approaches do.
While this blog will share many fun games, I first thought it would be worthwhile to provide a list of quick 30-60second tools to help you and your little ones regulate your emotions in times of stress. Here is a list of animal movements that use breath work and dance basics, starting with a high intensity to lower intensity:
1. Monkey Magic
Body: Swing your arms up and down, pound the ground (or a pillow!) while hopping from one foot to the other
Breathing: Inhale while lifting arms, exhale when pounding the pillow
Emotions: Great for expressing anger and frustration in a safe way
Dance Basics: Helps to develop balance and coordination
2. Mule Kicks:
Body: Place your hands on the floor and hope your feet up and down
Breathing: Exhale as you hop, inhale on the way down
Emotions: Great for expressing anger, or burning off some excitement!
Dance Basics: Develop shoulder strength, hand balancing, and comfort with small inversions!
3. Bear Walk/Run:
Body: Walk or run with your hands and feet on the floor (forwards, backwards, sideways!) – requires some space!
Breathing: Breathe freely as your body needs
Emotions: Great for nervous or excited energy
Dance Basics: Improves coordination, flexibility, and strength
4. Frog Jumps:
Body: Crouch down with feet and knees wide, hands on the floor in the middle, hips down, jump upwards, forwards, backwards, sideways and land in the starting position
Breathing: Breathe freely
Emotions: Excitement, general emotional processing
Dance Basics: Teaches mobility in the hips, and a turn-out of the feet
5. Duck Walk/Hop:
Body: Similar to frog start position, but feet and knees close together, arms folded under like wings. Walk or hop, keeping hips all the way down by heels, while keeping the spine straight
Breathing: Breathe in and quack 4 times for each exhale
Emotions: Fatigue and grumpiness – difficult to be grumpy when you sound like a duck!
Dance Basics: Leg strength and flexibility, ankle stability, back/core posture
6. Crab Walking:
Body: feet in front, hands behind, belly to the sky, walk all directions while keeping your belly up! Carry a stuffy on your belly without it falling off!
Breathing: breathe freely
Emotions: Another one to shake up the boredom blues!
Dance Basics: Shoulder flexibility & strength, hamstring and glutes strength, coordination
7. Penguin Waddle:
Body: Stand with heels together and toes pointed out to the sides, arms down and wrists bent up, walk with small teeter-tottery steps
Breathing: Breathe freely, make short small quacks as you waddle
Emotions: Great for when your little one is dragging their feet through their daily routines. Taking too long to get to the bath? Walk like a penguin going for a swim!
Dance Basics: Hip rotation, core wiggles, and a dancer’s turn-out
8. Slithery Snakes:
Body: Slide on your belly along the floor using your hands/toes to help, wiggle side to side and flick your tongue out like a snake
Breathing: breathe as needed
Emotions: You can start slow and sad, and become silly!
Dance Basics: Develops core strength, hand and foot mobility
9. Flamingo Flaps:
Body: Balance on one foot with your other toe to their supporting knee, lift straight arms out wide, hip tilt forward while extending the free leg back, and slowly, gently flap wings (repeat on the other side)
Breathing: calming breaths (4sec in, 4sec hold, 4sec out)
Emotions: achieve a centred, peaceful state
Dance Basics: Balance, ankle strength, core stability, shoulder strength
10. Slow-motion Sloth:
Body: Move as you wish, walking, or climbing, but do it as slow and smooth as you can!
Breathing: Big long inhales (4sec), slower longer exhales (8sec)
Emotions: Sadness, fatigue
Dance Basics: Balance, controlled movement, muscle endurance
The increased level of body awareness, coordination and attention to their breath will work magic on your child’s well-being. These are so versatile and helpful throughout the day, I hope you find them to be as fun and beneficial as I do!