Five to Thrive: Relax

Relax is about learning to respond to stress and react in a suitable way. 


Your baby needs quiet time and will need you to help them relax. Although it takes time, when you relax, your baby learns how to relax too. Gradually, the connections in your baby’s brain will get stronger. With time, they’ll learn how to cope with strong emotions and feelings. 

During relaxation times your baby will start to process what has been happening to them. Downtime also helps them sleep better. 

happy baby lying on tummy

Understanding your body helps you:

  • Pause 
  • Breathe 
  • Reflect 
  • Find ways of calming 
  • Find ways of relaxing 

This mindfulness video explains this process.


Your toddler will need your help to learn how to relax. Do this by:

  • Ending exciting play or activities with moments of relaxation and calm
  • Talking in a calm and soothing voice
  • Finding time to do special things that help you relax with your child
  • Allowing your child to take time to relax and nap during the day

Your child will learn this skill by copying how you relax. If you are calm, this will help your toddler to be calm and this will help you be in control of any situation. It also helps your toddler when their emotions overwhelm them. 

Try to stay calm when your child pushes or breaks boundaries. Listen and make eye contact at their level.

Pre-school and older

Help your preschool child practice breathing with you. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6. This will help relax them. 

Your child may be anxious at school. You could give them something to have close to them, in their backpack, that helps them relax. Remember to tell their teacher about this. Also, remind your child that what they are experiencing is normal. It is important that they recognise their feelings.
Upset that your child won’t eat their greens? If you become stressed, your child will become stressed with you. A child’s stress will stop them from trying to eat their veg! So try to stay calm at mealtimes. This may not be easy but if your pulse, breathing and blood pressure stay down, so does your child’s.

All behaviour is your child’s way of communicating. Giving your child words for their emotions and feelings will help with this. Supporting your child to make mind-body connections can also help:

  • What does it mean when you get butterflies in your stomach?
  • What’s happening when your heart starts racing?
  • How can you feel calmer when this happens?

Help your child understand how their body works and what it’s telling them. They will then learn to cope with their feelings and emotions.

Try to relax with your child to calm the body and mind.

Relax daily checklist

Have you: 

  • Used gentle touch and your quiet voice to soothe and calm?
  • Praised your little one?
  • Reassured your upset child?
  • Been kind to yourself?
  • Taken time to relax?
  • Shared quiet time before bed?
  • Created downtime throughout the day?
five to thrive tower of blocks showing relax

This page was co-produced in partnership with KCA

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Last updated on 30 August 2023