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Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Children

From the CanLearn Archives


Today we’re going to practice some special kinds of exercises called relaxation exercises. These exercises help you to learn how to relax when you’re feeling up-tight and help you get rid of those butterflies-in-your-stomach kinds of feelings. They’re also kind of neat because you can learn how to so dome of them without anyone really noticing.

To get the best feelings from these exercises, there are some rules you must follow. First, you must do exactly what I say, even if it seems kind of silly. Second, you must try hard to do what I say. Third, you must pay attention to your body. Pay attention to how your muscles heel when they are tight, and when they are loose and relaxed. Fourth, practice during the week. The more you practice, the better you will get at doing these exercises and the more relaxed you will get.

We’re going to practice our relaxation exercises every day. Remember to just do what I say, try-hard, and pay attention to how your muscles feel.

Ok, let’s start. Get as comfortable as you can on the floor. Make sure you have enough room to stretch your arms and legs. Now, close your eyes and don’t open them until I say. Ready?

Hands and Arms

Pretend you have a whole lemon in each hand. Squeeze them really hard. Try to squeeze all the juice out. Feel the tightness in your hands and arms as you squeeze. Now drop the lemons. Notice how your muscles feel when they are relaxed. Take two more lemons and squeeze. Try to squeeze these ones harder than you did the first ones. Really, really hard. Now drop the lemons and relax. See how much better your hands and arms feel when they are relaxed. Once again, take 2 more lemons in your hands and squeeze all the juice out. Don’t leave a single drop. Good job. Now relax and let the lemons fall from your hands.

Arms and Shoulders

Next, pretend that you are a furry, lazy kitten. You want to stretch, so you stretch your arms out in front of you. Stretch them way up high over your head. Way, way back. Feel the pull in your shoulders. Stretch further. Now just let your arms rest at your side. Okay, kittens, let’s stretch again. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Raise them over your head. Pull them back, way back. Pull hard. Now let them rest at your side. Good job. Notice how you’re shoulders feel more relaxed. This time let’s have the biggest stretch. Try to touch the ceiling. Stretch your arms way out in front of you. Raise them way up over your head. Push them way, way back. Notice the tension and pull in your arms and shoulders. Hold tight. Now let them drop and rest by your side. Feel how good it feels to be relaxed. It feels good and warm and lazy.


You have a giant jawbreaker bubble gum in your mouth. It’s very hard to chew. Bite down on it, hard. Let your neck muscles help you. Now relax. Just let your jaw hang loose. Notice how good it feels to just let your jaw drop. Okay, let’s try that jawbreaker again. Bite down hard. Try to squeeze it out between your teeth. That’s good. You’re really chewing that gum up. Now relax again. Just let your jaw drop. It feels good to just let go and not have to fight that bubble gum. Okay, one more time. We’re going to get it this time. Bite down as hard as you can. Good…you’re working so hard. Now relax. Try to relax your whole body. Let yourself go as loose as you can.

Face and Nose

Here comes a pesky old fly. He’s landed on your nose. Try to get him off without using your hands. Wrinkle up your nose. Make as many wrinkles in your nose as you can. Scrunch up your nose, really hard. Good job….you’ve chased him away. Now relax your nose. Uh oh, here he comes again. And he’s landed right in the middle of your nose again. Quick, scrunch your nose up again. Wrinkle it up hard. Hold it just as tight as you can. Phew, he flew away. You can relax your face again. Notice that when you scrunch up your nose, your cheeks and your mouth and your forehead and your eyes all help you, and they get tight too. So when you relax your nose, your whole body relaxes too, and that feels good. Uh oh, that pesky fly has come back, but this time he’s on your forehead. Make lots of wrinkles. Try to catch him between all those wrinkles. Hold it tight. Okay, let go. He’s gone for good. Now you can just relax. Let your face go smooth, no wrinkles anywhere. Your face feels nice and smooth and relaxed.


Oh no! Here comes a cute baby elephant. But he’s not watching where he’s going. He doesn’t see you lying in the grass, and he’s about to step on your stomach. Don’t move. You don’t have time to get out of the way. Let’s get ready for him. Make your stomach very hard. Tighten up your stomach muscles real tight. Hold it. It looks like he’s stopped to eat some grass. You can relax now. Let your stomach go very soft. Let it be as relaxed as you can. That feels much better. Uh oh, he’s walking towards you again. Get ready, tighten up those stomach muscles. Make sure your tummy is as hard as a rock. Ok, he’s stopped again. You can relax now. Kind of settle down, get comfortable and relax. Notice the difference between a tight stomach and a relaxed one. That’s how we want to feel…nice and loose and relaxed. The elephant is coming again. This time he’s really close. Quickly tighten up your stomach. Make it as hard as a rock. Harder. Now hold it tight. He’s stepping on you. There, he’s stepped over you, and he’s gone. You can relax completely. You’re safe and everything’s ok. Now you feel nice and relaxed.

Now pretend you want to squeeze through a narrow fence that has splinters on it. You’ll have to make yourself very skinny if you’re going to make it, though. Suck in your stomach. Try to squeeze it up against your backbone. Try to be as skinny as you can. You’ve got to be skinny now. Good job…you made it through. Just relax and feel your stomach being warm and loose. Okay, here’s another fence. This once is even smaller. Suck in your stomach even more than last time. Make it touch your backbone. Get it real small and tight and as skinny as you can. Hold it. There’s you squeezed through that little narrow fence and NO Splinters!!! You can relax now. Settle back and let your stomach come back out where it belongs. You can feel really good now.

Legs and Feet

Now pretend you are standing barefoot in a big, fat mud puddle. Squish your toes down deep into the mud. Try to get your feet down to the bottom of the mud puddle. You’ll probably need your legs to help you push. Push down, spread your toes apart, and feel the mud squish up between your toes. Now step out of that mud puddle. Relax your feet. Let your toes go loose and feel how nice it is to be relaxed. Back into the puddle. Squish your toes down. Feel your leg muscles help push your feet down. Push your feet, hard. Try to squeeze that puddle dry. Okay. Come back out now and relax your feet, relax your legs, relax your toes. It feels so good to be relaxed. No tenseness anywhere. You feel kind of warm and tingly.


Let your whole body stay as relaxed as you can. Let your whole body go limp like spaghetti and feel all your muscles relaxed. In a few minutes, I will ask you to open your eyes, and that will be the end of this practice session. As you go through this day, remember how good it feels to be relaxed. You can practice these exercises at home and at school. The more you practice, the better you can do the exercises, and the more relaxed you will be. A really good time to practice is at night when you are lying in bed, waiting to go to sleep. All you have to do is remember squeezing the lemons, stretching like a sleepy kitten, squishing your toes in the mud puddle, the jawbreaker bubble gum, the pesky fly on your nose, the baby elephant stepping on your tummy, and squeezing through the narrow fence.

Ok, you did a great job being relaxed. You worked really hard. It’s time to do today’s activities. Very slowly, open your eyes and wiggle your muscles around a bit. Good job! Now enjoy the rest of the day!!