Children who display more aggressive and challenging behaviours tend to have high levels of arousal and tension.

Arousal is often associated with amplifying aggressive responses and causing physiological changes like increased:

  • breathing rate,
  • heart rate,
  • blood pressure,
  • cortisol levels,
  • and muscle tension.

Anxious children often tense their muscles as a physiological response to stress.

To help them take control over their bodily reactions to stress, they have to learn how to relax their muscles and release the tension.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that reduces arousal and anxiety, while enhancing self-control.

Training children with this technique allows them to enter a calm and relax state while preventing the occurrence of aggressive behaviour.

One variation involves tensing different muscles for five seconds before slowly releasing them.

Research has found that children who participated in progressive muscle relaxation intervention showed lesser physical aggression than children who did not participate.

The children who participated in the intervention displayed an increase in physical aggression three weeks after not practicing progressive muscle relaxation, but this increase was lower than their initial aggression before the intervention.

Thus, it would be helpful to equip children with this progressive muscle relaxation technique to use in situations that cause them to feel tension and anxiety.

Quiz: Let’s check in

Why is it better for children to continue practicing progressive muscle relaxation instead of using it once?
Practice makes children’s muscles more relaxed
Children can be occupied with using this technique when they are bored
Children can constantly remain in the calm and relax state
To be familiar with using it as a self-regulating tool



What are three physiological changes when a child is about to become aggressive?
Relaxed muscles, rapid heart rate, increased respiration
Increased respiration, tensed muscles, lower blood pressure
Rapid heart rate, dry mouth, tensed muscles
Increased blood pressure, tensed muscles, rapid heart rate



Which is the most effective type of progressive muscle relaxation technique?
Tense the muscle for five seconds and slowly release it
Tense the muscle for approximately five seconds and immediate tense it again
Tense the muscle for 20 seconds or longer
All of the above



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  • Lopata, C. (2003). Progressive muscle relaxation and aggression among elementary students classified as emotionally disturbed. Behavioral Disorders, 28(2), 162–172.
  • Lopata, C., Nida, R. E., & Marable, M. A. (2006). Progressive muscle relaxation: Preventing aggression in students with EBD. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(4), 20-25.