Freeman Medical Musings Blog


Relaxation Skills: Water

Posted by Dr. Kimberly Fielding, on June 18, 2015

Hydration is gaining attention. We are learning water has so much to do with effective electrical and chemical processes in the body. For instance, our brains central nervous systems rely on healthy neurons to send messages about thinking, feeling and doing. Cortisol, or stress hormones, can deplete the body of necessary sodium. In addition, too much stress impairs sleep and sets off another bodily-health domino effect. Sufficient amounts of water are vital to helping govern those nerve impulses. Drinking water can become not only a game, but a way to get some relaxation time in! Here are some ideas:

How long can you hold it? Children love doable challenges such as this challenge. Children simply take turns over the course of a few minutes by drinking small amounts of water and holding it on the tongue. The slow, purposeful effort helps activate parts of the brain that use the activity to reinforce awareness and managed effort. Don’t forget to follow the short spurts with the “celebration” of drinking the whole cup! An exercise such as this helps get more water in the body as well as handling frustration.

Silly, silly. Having the name brand silly straw or a simple plain straw is irrelevant during this technique. Remember, these ideas are really about encouraging drinking water and using water to help learn calming techniques. Preparation may begin by marking specific points along the straw – four or five marks are plenty. Then have the child go through various challenges to see if he or she can suck the water up to the specific point the adult calls out, and hold it there. Once the child can hold it there for a count of three, they can swallow. This process repeats over and over until the water is gone. Two or three minutes will be plenty of time for calm. Don’t forget to follow the short spurts with the “celebration” of drinking the whole cup!

Chill out. When making ice cubes, place little bits of fruit or other healthy treats in the water. As the child takes drinks from the cup with the special melting ice, the fruit will slowly be released into the mix. It will serve as the treat for completing the drink. Interestingly, children will often “chase” the ice cube with the treat in it. The secondary benefit of this water drinking technique is reinforcing sustaining attention to detail. What does the brain get for this effort? A treat and feel-good, calming hormones in the brain.

Be your own hero. Special colored and character decorated water bottles can be enticing to purchase as a way for a child to feel happy about drinking water. However, strategically noticing the favored and “hero” characters on existing cups and bottles can serve as a lead into turning the attention to the child. Using an existing cup or bottle in the home, decorate it as the child’s own hero cup. You can decorate inexpensive cups or left over water bottles which are recyclable and then easily replaced with the newer model. Reinforce drinking amounts of water by cheering “The 32 ounce hero!” or “The 32 ounce explorer!” Through this activity, the child gets the double benefit of drinking the water and conducting a creative project, which helps the mind relax.