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.
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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.