“Relaxation Classes” — for 5-year-olds?

Hi Folks! Got this the other day and had to pass it along. I agree with the writer: yoga and such can be good for kids. But there are time-honored alternatives, too.  — L. 

Dear Free-Range Kids: Oh lordie, you’re never going to believe this.   Just saw this posting and had to share.  Now, for the low, low price of $320, your FIVE-year-old can attend a series of eight classes to learn relaxation techniques.

First, full disclosure.  I DO believe that yoga and meditation are powerful and good techniques that people can use to manage stress and lead healthier and happier lives. Moreover, I have no doubt that five-year-olds have stress in their lives.  I have a five-year-old who worries that if he wears a raincoat to school the other kids will laugh at him.  He worries that his seven-year-old sister can read and he can’t.  He worries that his friends all have PSPs and he doesn’t.

So, yes, he’s got stress.  But THEN…he goes outside and plays.  And magically, he stops worrying about everything.  He’s too busy thinking about finding the best stick to use to dig up worms, or trying to figure out how many of his friends can fit on the slide without pushing the bottom person off, or running as fast as he can because he’s a “super-fast runner guy.” And, for the low, low price of hand-me-down sneakers and the occasional bruise, my five- year-old can learn an endless series of relaxation techniques — and even enjoy himself. — Maryland Mom

79 Responses

  1. The people who do this are probably the same ones who put 3 year olds on Ridilin.

  2. I remember learning relaxation techniques when I was younger. It was free because it was done by my public school teacher, and it involved laying down and thinking about relaxing each of the various body parts one at a time. Any parent or even older sibling can teach their child that. It takes maybe 10 minutes out of your day to do it with them and would be equally beneficial to the teacher as to the child.

  3. I have actually been looking for classes like this for a long time, for two reasons. First, yoga class price plus daycare for two children = too rich for my blood. So I was thinking of doing a little bit of yoga with the kids to save money. But second of all, because the times when I need yoga are NOT the times I can go outside and play. They are in the car, at the store, when cleaning the house for company, etc. And it’s the same for my kids. Especially the breathing techniques.

    I appreciate that formal classes for children seem to proliferate. If I lived in a village which had its own swami and a herd of grandmothers to idly watch the children play outdoors 10 hours a day, believe me, I would laugh at the idea of such a class.

    But suffice it to say, that is not my situation. I have to pay other adults to interact with my children and share their knowledge with them. So I do.

  4. Michelle H:

    1. *Ritalin.
    2. You really think that the sort of parent to invest the time and energy in participating in a yoga class with their child, to help them relax, would be the sort of parent to choose sedation for a child that did not have an absolutely clear diagnosis?
    3. While some developmental disabilities like ADD may be over-diagnosed, Ritalin actually helps some disabled children live normal lives.

    So please, save your judgment.

    Celeste– It seems you’ve attended this series of yoga classes, since you know that it would be just as beneficial as visualization. Could you tell me more about it? Because as I mentioned I’d LOVE yoga classes for my pre-school aged children. (By the way, my child will be five about 11 months before free public school, so yes, I do have to pay.)

  5. When my son was 5, the last thing that he’d choose to do was sit still for a relaxation class. Back then his “stress release” was kicking a soccer ball with his friends or going to the local playground to race up and down the hill or push the merry-go-round go as fast as possible and then jump on it. Another favorite playground activity was playing “construction site” with his Tonka dump truck or Playmobil backoe in the sandbox, complete with sound effects. When he wanted to wind down after a day of play, he’d bring me a book to read to him. My son didn’t need kiddie yoga. He had balls, his bike, the playground, and books with a “snuggle with Mom bonus.” The toys and books probably cost less than $320 and were used a lot more than 8 times.

    Every time I read about childhood in the States, it seems like everything, even “free play,” is structured and adult-dictated. This yoga class sounds like yet another structured activity. Kids need more free play opportunities and less activities dictated by adults. The need to get outside and not be inside for yet another class.

  6. $320 is pricey! I pay much less for my yoga classes – more like 8 for $80. I agree at first thought, sending a 5-year old to a class on how to relax is over-the-top. I think parents should learn how to relax in yoga first and then learn effective ways to model this to their children at home. I can see that yoga would be very beneficial to children but as an addition to allowing them lots of time to play and be kids.

  7. Also, children that are stressed out are almost of their parents doing. The parents plan activities for them to the degree of stressing the kids out. I still can’t get my head around play-dates. I don’t live in the US, my own disclosure. I also grew up during the 80s, I played in the courtyard outside our building. Never got abducted, murdered or molested. Now, I was a child who was happy with not doing much. If my parents planned activities for my or made efforts in trying me to try something I wasn’t into there was in one or another way, epic failures.

    Hereby, I basically 2nd the commenter Sue.

  8. Yeah, don’t see the problem here. Some kids can’t wind down. I suspect the class doesn’t equate “relaxation” with “recreation” like we seem to be doing here. Yes, kids don’t needs classes to recreate. But there are certainly children out there who don’t know how to wind down afterward.

    One of the best things that ever happened to me was overhearing the school nurse walk a wound-up kid through a relaxation exercise. I still use it when trying to sleep.
    Probably not for ALL kids, but certainly there are kids that could benefit from this.

  9. Actually, Elizabeth, yes, I have taken yoga before, thank you for asking, and I found very little of it to be more helpful to me than simply taking a few minutes out of my day to simply relax my muscles and calm down. I’m glad you feel that I was judging you personally for having a different opinion than I do. Please, continue to take umbrage any time any other person sees things differently than you do. It makes you seem like such a good person.

  10. I like yoga and would welcome a class that I could take with my kids. I guess I’d have to know more about what they teach before judging. Would it encourage enjoyment and creativity, while being a physical outlet? Then, great. (Though that price for 8 sessions is outrageous.)

    Where I live, the weather sucks at least half of the year. In addition, for several months, it gets dark before dinnertime (and my kids are in daycare before that). I know there are some parents who feel superior because they force their kids outside to play regardless of conditions, but I’m not one of them. I’m thinking that unless a child wants to be both cold and wet for an extended time period, I’m not forcing her to be. So for us, indoor activities can be worthwhile during the yucky time of year. Like, April for example!

  11. Oh, and I like the idea of parents themselves learning about calm-down techniques. My eldest had a huge problem with winding herself up and not being able to wind down. I gave it some thought and figured out how to talk her down out of her tree. In our case, it had nothing to do with yoga. She’s a lot better now but can still get wound up. She just doesn’t crash as hard afterward.

    Speaking of my eldest, she tends to be insecure and has learning issues. When I work with her younger sister on reading (there is a huge difference in their reading ability), my eldest will become a big showoff of all the physical things she can do. So I guess she has subconsciously figured out a way to relieve stress through activity.

  12. Yeah, it sure is a good thing kids can fix everything by just going outside to play for a while. That’s why kids are never diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and they never have phobias or wake up screaming from nightmares. What a happy world we all live in.

  13. Celeste, the judgment comment was not at you, it was at Michelle, the Ridalin-judger.

    And I was talking about THIS class, which none of us can really assess from where we are, since we’re not taking it. You really cannot say whether it would be as helpful to any given child as a 10-minute exercise you had in grammar school, because (a) you don’t know the class and (b) you don’t know the kid.

  14. Oooh, posted to early. @ Evan, I know, right? It’s like kids don’t need any support but to be sent outside. Bullied outside? Just knock their teeth out, that’ll teach ’em (even if they are much bigger than you and will probably knock yours out and we don’t have dental insurance, that’s character building right there)! Dad deployed to Afghanistan? Here, get outside until sundown and kick this ball (in your parking lot since you don’t have a yard). Expecting new twin siblings and mom about to have a nervous breakdown? When I was a kid we just talked to a grandmother (yours is 2,000 miles away but if you had any gumption you’d figure out a way).

    Didn’t you know, Evan, that no child with decent parents who gets to play outside every day (because every child has access to that, right?) would EVER have ANY problems that would require a class in relaxation?

    Honestly, I don’t even think I can come to this parenting blog anymore. Mompetition is probably the only one left that does not explicitly judge parents by a strict ruler of “if it worked for my kid it would work for yours if only you were doing it right”. (Implicit message: I’m doing it right and you could be like me if only you weren’t you, “you” being someone who has problems, because what I did isn’t working for you.)

    Yes, there are universals. But “never seek help” and “it’s easy! just relax!” (or “just let him play more” or “just ignore it”) should not be among them.

  15. I don’t think this is so bad. It doesn’t have to be that kids are totally unable to cope with stress to benefit from something like this. And there are kids out there who can’t just go outside and feel better. I’ve seen some seriously sad situations, not ever kid is this idealied carefree image. If a kid gets taught skills early on it might help them manage stress as they get older possibly before it ever becomes a problem. I see nothing wrong with teaching kids a potentially useful and harmless life skill early on.

  16. As a teacher I did a lot of quick and simple yoga with my students, especially during transitions. It helped them relax and refocus. However, I’d also spend some transition time getting them out of their desks and jumping around and stretching. I think what’s ridiculous about this class is how it’s being described and how much it costs. I didn’t mind that the school psychologist came into my classroom to teach my first graders deep breathing exercises, what bothered me was that he was doing them to help them cope with the stress of standardized testing.

  17. I agree that we throw Ritalin and expensive relaxation classes at our kids before even trying to send them out to worry about finding a stick to dig with. However, the benefits of yoga/meditation have been scientifically studied and proven to be beneficial to kids and adults.

    We should absolutely not use yoga etc. instead of free range play. Play is the ultimate stress relief for all of us. We may however use it as supplemental help. IF our children take to it. These activities shouldn’t be adding more stress to our children’s lives.

  18. Ironic that a relaxation class could get so many riled up so quickly.

    I think that this is another symptom of a phenomenon an art museum curator told me about: “The privitization of everyday life.” Instead of going for walks in the park, we join a gym, for example. Instead of entertaining at home, we meet people at a restaurant. And instead of just teaching this particular skill to your child, apparently you can pay $320 to have someone else do it.

    That being said, I did a story for the paper I work for last year on a woman who ran yoga for children (though she started more around the age of 8). One thing she said that resonated with me was that her classes were a break from competitiveness. There’s no way to be “first place” at yoga. It’s not like t-ball or band or other, more competitive activities for kids that age. It sounds like a positive thing to me. But I agree $320 is a bit nuts.

  19. These guys should team up with the “Recess – for – hire” folks!

  20. After checking the site, I could see the $320 class as something targeted to kids with specific mental issues, not every kid. And, I could see creative educators gleaning useful ideas from it to incorporate into the school day.

    I think the offense here is to see somebody advertising an expensive “remedy” for the natural effects of everyday life on everyday kids. In that sense, it’s like some other things most of us find ridiculous – knee pads and helmets for perfectly healthy toddlers, etc.

    Another thought – I hope they are using methods that are appropriate for the young age and the assumption that most kids aren’t mentally ill. Little kids can’t grasp what grown-ups get through serious yoga. Nor should they be able to. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ve thought of that.

  21. I have a cool yoga kids video that my son and I use. He follows along a little bit. It is fun to do with him.

  22. Jen – Yoga kids rocks! Especially the Silly to Calm and ABC.

    Oh, and someone enlighten me – what’s a PSP?

  23. “Yeah, it sure is a good thing kids can fix everything by just going outside to play for a while. That’s why kids are never diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and they never have phobias or wake up screaming from nightmares. What a happy world we all live in”
    Yoga isn’t typically sufficient in the case of anxiety disorders and clinical phobias either. But fortunately only a minority of children experience those. Those rare few who do might benefit from yoga, but they will probably require more than just yoga. The remainder of children probably don’t need to spend $320 to learn “to stop negative thoughts.” They can just have their negative thoughts and then move on. I was laughed at by the kids on the playground today because I accidentally put my shirt on backwards! Oooh…a shiny nickel on the sidewalk where I was drawing!

    I don’t know who this class is geared to. Children with anxiety disorders? Or children with well-to-do stay-at-home moms? I’m going to guess the latter, but I could be wrong.

  24. @SKL it is the sony play station portable.

    I was just going to comment, if you want to try yoga with or without your kids, most public libraries have tons of exercise videos you can check out for free and see if it is right for you/your kids.

    My friend’s son (now 8 but this started when he was like 5ish) loves to do yoga but he just does it with his kid and doesn’t enroll him in any specialized classes.

  25. I think this class could be great for kids with mild anxiety problems. My coworker’s son has always been overly sensitive and anxious and I could see this helping. However, the average kid should not need this class deal with the usual stresses of every day life.

    My problem with this is the marketing of it. It fits in with the view of kids as delicate little flowers who can’t handle daily stresses without special relaxation classes and the desire of society to seem to want to give normal kids diagnoses of some sort.

    My town has several kid and parent/ tot yoga classes. The difference is that it’s marketed as a fun thing to do as opposed to stress relief for 5 year olds.

  26. Yes, we do yoga with preschoolers once in a while. I work with lots of little ones with stress. However, they don’t know the word “stress.” Growing up is all about learning to recognize and deal with emotions and feelings. At five, they don’t need to know why they’re doing yoga. It should just be fun. If they feel better afterwards, that’s a bonus. It seems that the expensive yoga course is more for uptight parents with money than it is for their kids. If you want to create anxious kids, send them to stress reduction class. Getting outside remains the easiest and cost effective way for anyone to relieve stress and have fun.

  27. I actually envy these kids. When I was 5 I was a normally active kid stuck in the house with a clinically depressed mother. She had me on Ritalin. Our quack doctor recommended massive amounts, and it took years before I worked it out of my system, Yoga seems like heaven to me.

  28. There is a video program called “Yoga for Kids.” I used it in my classroom. The kids LOVED it. And I did not pay $320 for it.

  29. I think that the price on this is ridiculous, and the way it is being pushed as a miracle fix-all is horrible. Too many parents want an “easy fix” for their kid’s every problem, and that fix usually involves mental diagnoses and drugs. At least this isn’t drugging your child into insensibility, as so many parents do…

    Yes, playing outside is a great stress relief, but like SKL, I live in an area where we have crappy weather half the year. I can’t just stuff my toddler out the back door everyday, mostly for safety reasons (hypothermia, anyone?). It’s almost the end of April, and since January, we’ve only had about a dozen days nice enough (meaning no rain and above 50 F) for her to go out and run around. It’ll be late May before the weather is consistently warm enough that she can go outside rain or shine, and that will only last until about mid-September.

    I would LOVE to find an inexpensive “mommy and me” yoga class in my area. I’ve tried instructional videos, but it’s hard to hold a yoga pose and watch the screen at the same time, and I simply do better with someone to help me correct my errors. I always have, it’s just how I learn. I do, however, already use basic yoga techniques like visualization, meditation and deep breathing to calm myself, particularly at bedtime. I’ve already begun trying to teach my 2 year old the same type of techniques, although mostly to head off tantrums, not to stop her toddler stresses. Kids need to learn to deal with stress, otherwise they turn into anxiety-driven adults who cannot function.

  30. @ – Evan, Elizabeth –

    Wow, what the hell is your problem? Neither Lenore nor anybody else suggested that children or anybody else with real mental issues or disabilities should be denied professional help. At all.

    Yoga is for stress release. Stress. It is not a substitute for psychotherapy.

    What these classes are about is helping small children deal with what would be considered “normal” stress – for adults. If I’m 100% honest with you, if you’ve got a child who’s suffering from the same sort of stress that an adult with a job or full-time study would have… either you or your school are placing cruel and unreasonable expectations on the child. If your child has normal child level stress, he should not need an expensive yoga class to cope with that, and on that note, most 5-year-olds I’ve known would view having to sit still and being told what to do for extended periods of time as torture – and not only that, but it teaches children from an early age to believe that the mind is a treacherous thing that is always trying to work against us (it is, but I’d rather that they not have to think those unpleasant thoughts for as long as possible).

    Lastly, if your child has anxiety, depression, phobias, or a father in afghanistan, then that is a different issue entirely to what Lenore is talking about, and may or may not invoke a need for yoga – which is, again, a different issue entirely from a child with normal child stress and no underlying mental disorder or trauma.

    Crawling around looking for slights against you, and then viciously attacking the perpetrators of those perceived slights, lends no credence to either yourself, nor the people who have these issues. Just because you’re looking for a fight doesn’t mean that anyone wants to attack you.

  31. Sera, well said.

  32. I just don’t get how people (adults and children) seem to have “anxiety issues”. What is that about??? Seriously, 150 years ago people were way too busy keeping themselves alive day to day (hard manual labor just to eat and survive) to worry about how they were feeling all the time! We have way too much time to analyze ourselves nowdays. Give your kid work to do, it makes them feel important and gives them a sense of accomplishment. They know they are essential and useful.

  33. My 5 year old has been getting yoga in her public school and also did in preK. It helps her relax and encourages her to stretch and breathe slowly. It has helped her concentration levels, mobility, and given her a sense of accomplishment. Play is not the same as yoga and being taught how to be mindful and able to focus on breath and poses is good for play and learning.

  34. @ Sera, you made your point very well.

    @ Get Kids Outside, your last sentence is very true. About 25 years ago I had stress-related stomach problems. After running tests and finding nothing physically wrong, my doctor’s prescription was a mild muscle relaxant combined with a pair of good shoes and a daily walk or run. After a short time of walking, I didn’t need the muscle relaxant anymore.

    Just a thought here, but maybe kids have stress because their lives are so structured now, at least in the States. If they had more “down time” where they could be kids and have unstructured play, I bet their stress levels would decrease dramatically. From what others are saying, yoga techniques are good for helping kids to relax and wind down. But if Mom’s hustling Junior into the car to get to the expensive yoga class on time, is that really helping Junior to relax in the long run or just adding another little bit of stress to his life?

  35. pshtt. You can sign up for baby yoga. I’m talking infants. Infants can already put their feet behind their head. As for relaxation, a rocking chair has always worked for my babies. Stress? Um, I’m at a loss. Breathing techniques? Ditto. It’s a racket, plain and simple.
    BTW, why so angry? The full disclosure section addresses the benefits of yoga. The problem is the mindset that this is necessary and worth the money for ALL kids. Common sense should tell you that a majority of five-year-olds don’t need yoga to deal with stress. It is unrealistic to expect all extenuating circumstances to receive a special disclaimer. My son is autistic and a lot of the “Free-Range” methods won’t work for him, but I’m not jumping down anyone’s throat over it. Some things are not going to apply to all kids. That should be understood. Just calm down and breathe. “Namaste.”

  36. “Yeah, it sure is a good thing kids can fix everything by just going outside to play for a while. That’s why kids are never diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and they never have phobias or wake up screaming from nightmares. What a happy world we all live in”

    Um, is this intended to imply that yoga *can* fix all these things? It seems we need to compare apples to apples here. If yoga is being touted as the solution for something, then it’s fair to ask whether just running around outside might solve *those same things* or not. If the response is that running around outside can’t solve phobias or severe anxiety disorders, does that mean a yoga class *can*? That’s a pretty large claim.

  37. “Seriously, 150 years ago people were way too busy keeping themselves alive day to day (hard manual labor just to eat and survive) to worry about how they were feeling all the time”

    Well, that and they had laudanum. Just because we regulate our anxiety with carefully tested and monitored prescribed drugs in measured doses and our forefathers did it “free range” with over-the-counter drugs anytime, anyhow, and in whatever dosage they desired doesn’t mean we have more anxieties today. We just handle them, as we handle all things now, in a more regulated, socially prescribed, circumspect way, and we discuss it, as we discuss all things now, more publicaly and openly. Free range has its virutes, but so does systematization. You can go too far in either direction.

  38. “Seriously, 150 years ago people were way too busy keeping themselves alive day to day (hard manual labor just to eat and survive) to worry about how they were feeling all the time”

    I don’t think they had less anxieties; they just had more legitimate anxieties. Their anxieties were life and death. Am I going to be able to feed my family today? Will a storm destroy the crops? Will my family get the plague? Can I feed the new mouth we just had?

    Middle class and above western society doesn’t have these fears, so we manufacture problems. Predators around every corner. Fear of every bump and bruise. The “right” way to parent. Obsessing over developmental and growth charts. Doing everything exactly “right” during pregnancy. Etc. You simply don’t see these fears or concerns rampant in the poor populations in the west or developing countries because they have more life and death problems to deal with.

  39. Well, I have lots of my own ideas about anxiety, but some people will be offended by them. There’s my disclaimer! Anyhoo. People in modern and past societies who had “life and death” anxieties, and managed to deal with them, usually live(d) in a culture that had a fatalistic or religious mindsets that helped them transfer the anxiety. Basically “if it’s God’s will” or “if it’s meant to be” leaves the individual free to live (and work) in the moment. (In fact, that’s really the basis of yoga.) Of course it’s not perfect, but with a lifetime of training, it is pretty effective.

    Today in our society, we seem to think that we have control over everything. And hence, blame ourselves when things go wrong. That is where a lot of our stress comes from. (And this ties in with Lenore’s overall message, incidentally.)

    Personally I don’t carry a lot of stress. I have stressful days, e.g., when I have 20 hours of work that needs to be done in 16 hours. But I don’t worry. I don’t carry regrets. I sleep at night. And when I wake up, I do what I can do about the challenges of the day. That’s because years ago, I figured out that the best antidote for stress, at least for me, is taking the first small step toward solving the problem. And then the next small step. Pretty soon you’ve chipped away at the problem far more effectively than all that freaking out would accomplish.

    So, I think one of the wisest comments above was by Nanci: “Give your kid work to do, it makes them feel important and gives them a sense of accomplishment. They know they are essential and useful.” But I would add, don’t be so focused on making your kid better than you were. That encourages perfectionism, which is more delusive than any religion I know of.

  40. PS, I have no idea if I just coined a new word in my last sentence, but I don’t intend to stress over it. Ha!

  41. You probably did, but you’re right, you shouldn’t worry about it. It’s made up of common elements in our language, it’s clear and easy to understand, and it fills a lexical gap. And so language changes.

  42. Reminds me of an poster I saw. For $200+ , you can join a club where you can play with but not keep some guys Lego, this ” class” is 1 day a week for 8 weeks. He will teach you how to build with Lego.

  43. It’s OK as long as it’s in context… as long as people aren’t preemptively using it on the assumption that their five-year-old is stressed. It may help some extra sensitive kids, but I think adults do have an assumption that kids experience and respond to stressful situations the same way as adults do.

  44. Let me get this straight: The comments here are suggesting that paying to teach a five year old how to relax may not be such a bad thing. And, furthermore, that those who say it isn’t a good idea are somehow being inconsiderate to children who have difficulties calming down?? And – get this – those who are bringing the “good news” that children only need to get on with what they do naturally to relax – play outside – are being accused of acting superior???

    If you were to tell people in other parts of the world that something can be bought to better their child’s childhood, they would be suspicious: What can be better than fresh air and (unsupervised) play – something that practically every parent can afford for their child (regardless of whether they chose to “force” the child to go outside to play, or not)?
    Europeans, for instance, actively fight against, in their mindset, and backed up with policy, being able to “buy” a good childhood. For them, the idea is abhorrent. But Americans seem to fail to see the danger inherent in such a concept.

  45. “But THEN…he goes outside and plays. And magically, he stops worrying about everything.”

    Hey, that’s what I do!!!

  46. we just send the 5 year olds to Applebee’s for a whiskey sour to help them relax…

  47. Geez, the comments here are getting almost as bad as the one at the parenting site I occasionally follow.

    I think teaching young children Yoga and relaxation techniques is a very good thing. Even if they don’t necessarily need it now, if it’s part of their lives throughout their lives, they’ll be more likely to turn to those techniques first, later in life, before they work themselves up so bad that they end up with ulcers or other physical ailments.

    No, it might not seem useful right now, when it’s nice out, and when they’re 5 years old, but it can definitely help down the line when life decides to throw a bushel of lemons at them.

    I agree with SKL, playing outside isn’t always an option. For example, where I’m at, it’s been raining more days than it’s been nice. And I’m not talking just a slow drizzle, I’m talking thunderstorms with tornadoes, and so much rain that the rivers have already breached their banks and are encroaching on the roads, and there’s currently no sign of this weather going away for a while. During times like this, it’s good to have other tools in one’s “life toolbox” to work out some energy in a constructive (rather than destructive – tearing up the house) manner.

    I think having Yoga and other “stress management” classes are a great thing, because not everyone learns from videos, and one can get hurt is they try doing some of the poses wrong, but I do agree that $300+ for 8 classes is quite a bit overboard. My local community center has Yoga classes for something like $50 for 6 classes. And hell, if you really wanted to go all out, you could spend about $500 for a passport and plane ticket to India and go study Yoga under BKS Iyengar, himself.

  48. Relaxation techniques are good for anyone, and they are definitely good for kids (although 5 does seem kind of excessive to start them at).

    Unfortunately, it’s not the techniques that are the problem—the problem is why they’re necessary in today’s society. We put pressure on kids way too early. Pressure to grow up too fast (hello, Abercrombie and Fitch and the padded bras for 10-year-olds). We expose them to inappropriate content via movies and TV, and don’t fight to protect the innocence that every single child has a right to. We channel our fears of America being left behind in the world economy by expecting perfection in school (not just “do your best”, but we freak out about occasional bad grades). We test, test, test (thanks, NCLB) and don’t focus on the value of gaining knowledge and critical thinking. We don’t let them outside because of the modern day boogie man, ie stranger abducter.

    In short, our children are not allowed to be children. That is why anxiety and depression among elementary school kids has sky-rocketed. We need to do everything we can to give our kids a childhood. If only all parents would get on board with this! Then 5-year-olds wouldn’t need special breathing techniques.

  49. “You probably did, but you’re right, you shouldn’t worry about it. It’s made up of common elements in our language, it’s clear and easy to understand, and it fills a lexical gap. And so language changes.”

    Not to nitpick, because I actually agree that language changes like that and enjoy playing around with words myself, but there actually isn’t a lexical gap here — “delusional” works, and it’s appropriate in context, and the more correct form of the very same word. But yes, neither you or SKL should worry about it.🙂

  50. Speaking of stress relief, did you see the article on CafeMom (the Stir) about the no-hit pinatas? They were being promoted with comments like “no child should ever hit anything with a stick.” (I guess their kids didn’t play baseball or hockey!) One commenter said a friend of hers called her pinata “brave” because pinatas incite violence, only one kid can have the joy of breaking it, and it’s demeaning for the little kids to scramble on the floor to get candy.

    I’m thinking maybe they need a cross-post to the yoga stress-relief kiddy class, because their kids are gonna need it.

  51. Wow.

    This is a mental health program for children. It costs about as much as any other group therapy program (which IS too much as these services should be provided based on need not ability to pay, however it is life). But, seriously? I know some kids who cannot enjoy being outside because they have OCD or PTSD. There are 5 year olds who are clinically severely mentally ill, and usually there is a complete absence of evidence based treatment programs for them. My 6 year old brother has Asperger’s syndrome and sees a social worker weekly to work on similar skills.

    Really. While this would be excessive for typical kids, this is designed for kids who already have a diagnosis. This seems to be a preferable treatment plan to medication.

  52. There seems to be a lot of stupid comments going around here, and I’ll leave it at that without picking out particular ones to reply to. Just suffice it to say this: Some kids DO need yoga. There is nothing wrong with medication. Some of us and sadly, some of our children too, cannot function without it. A suicidal 5 year old is not something you can comprehend until you run screaming across the room to yank the razor blades out of his hand, or pull him back from jumping out of his previously locked 2nd story window. No, we don’t cause them to be this way by planning too many things for them to do and not enough free time. Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s ACTUALLY A CHEMICAL ISSUE THAT AFFECTS THE BRAIN. You can poo-poo yoga for children. You can poo-poo medication and say that yoga is an acceptable alternative. Then you can come see my son. Who doesn’t function without BOTH. And lots of therapy. Please think before you make snap judgements. That’s all I am saying.

  53. Julie et al, your point would be well taken except that this IS designed and marketed for ALL children. See direct quote from their site, below:

    “Some would say children are normally happy, why do they need skills?” said Kambolis. “Our children have more pressure on them than ever, not only to succeed at school and in sports, but more often, daily life where hurried schedules, divorce and bullying are the reality. By teaching these skills at this point in time and focusing on early childhood mental health, we can reduce the potential for mental health challenges in later life.”

    Designed for all children, the program is proving particularly effective with children experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety.”

    I think it’s a great idea to take concepts from yoga and apply them to kids with mental issues. But to market this course at that price to “all children”? All this does is play on parents’ fears and guilt (what if you don’t do it and your kid ends up with mental issues?)

  54. Sorry, that quote was from th Urban Mom site, not the site of the provider of the service. However, the first quoted paragraph is supposedly a quote from the provider, and I’d presume they agree with the second.

  55. SKL: I agree. I was not clear apparently. I was saying that in regards to the replies people were giving, not the original concept itself. Sorry for the confusion.

  56. Even kids without diagnoses sometimes stress out in ways that going outside to play doesn’t fix. I have no idea whether yoga classes for kids help or not, but the knee-jerk attitude expressed in the comment thread above that staying indoors is the cause of every problem and going outside is the cure irritates me.

    I know a little girl, for example, who plays outside all the time… when it’s day. At night, however, she has trouble sleeping because she’s scared of the dark and the nightmares. So, what, should her mom tell her to go play outside some more? At midnight? Or would it, maybe, be helpful to teach her some breathing and self-calming strategies?

  57. @Evan. Gimme a break! Your kid is afraid of the dark at night? Get her a nightlight. Cost waaay less than 380 dollars. Your kid says she doesn’t want to go to sleep because she will have nightmares? Does she really have nightmares every night or merely once in a great while? If she has nightmares every night, do you think kiddie yoga will help with that? If she has no more nightmares than usual (once in a great while), she the ‘I don’t want to go to bed yet and am making excuses’ game. Yes, that happens, you know. It’s even more prevalent than ‘stress’ in little kids. I can remember playing the ‘I have a tummy ache’ game when not wanting to go to school. If my mom had panicked and taken me to the hospital to have my stomach pumped every time I had claimed to have a ‘icky tummy’ (aka ‘school sick’) or had rushed me to a therapist every time I had tried to get out of Bed Time with a story about a monster hiding under the bed, I WOULD have developed ‘anxiety problems’ and ‘stress’. Nothing as susceptable as a child.

    Yes, there ARE children with serious problems, but these are RARE. Children who are afraid of the dark at night are not.

  58. For $320, I can send my 10 year old to cub scout camp for an entire week. Which I plan to do, thus causing my stress level to go wayyyyy down.

    I am definitely in the ‘less scheduling is better’ camp. I am definitely in the minority in my community. But I know that my individual children are MISERABLE when they have a lot of scheduled activities. They hate it. The first time I started dipping my toes into various child related classes when they were little were things like kiddie soccer at the Y or a bilingual mom and me group (my kids are from latin america). It was fine once or twice, but then they just hated going. They wanted free play, in vast quantities. They could spend literally 3 hours straight digging in the mud in the back yard. They could turn the couch into a ship or a train for days (which kinda sucks if you want to sit on the train and put your feet up, but I digress). My kids are still this way – they are in 2 activities (cub scouts and kung fu), but that is it, and even that seems too much for them some days. They want time to build lego creations, paint, draw, bike, and climb. That’s what relaxes them.

    If you and yours benefit from kiddie yoga, have at it. Personally, mine get their stress relief by having lego airplane crashes and then playing National Air Safety Board investigator. What can I say, they’re weird.

  59. BMS – your kids aren’t weird, they’re what used to be the norm.

    Rather than teaching our kids how to deal with stress, why don’t we find out what’s causing it and eliminate it. Normal kids at age 5 should not be stressed.

  60. Eh, I don’t mind this. I’m really into yoga, and when teaching did it with my students. Yoga really isn’t meant to be a cure, but prevention. Stress-relieving breathing techniques can be the same. I think it’s great if kids do yoga and breathing techniques. I think getting outside to play is great. I think imaginative indoor games are great. I really support the latter half of this article. And if kids need meds, they need meds, it happens.

    My only mocking here is the attitude and price of the advertising, not the class itself.

  61. I think I am the only person in the world who didn’t find yoga relaxing. I tried it a few times. I freaking hated it. I was stressed because I was bored out of my skull.

    Now martial arts – beating on things and memorizing complex katas – that relaxes me.

  62. “Rather than teaching our kids how to deal with stress, why don’t we find out what’s causing it and eliminate it. Normal kids at age 5 should not be stressed.”

    I have to disagree here. I remember being 5 and I had my fair share of stress. I was terrified of the KG teacher, for starters. Kids in school called me names and I was legally blind but couldn’t afford glasses. My family had money issues, my dad was a “pleasant alcoholic” and my mom was a strict disciplinarian. Siblings broke my stuff and got disparate treatment. My mom served beets and butter beans from time to time. LORD, how did I survive it?

    Stress is part of everyone’s life, every day, and that’s OK. Really. Like many things we learn to deal with, it’s best if we take it little by little. Then as adults, we needn’t be at a loss for how to handle everyday stresses.

    Obviously some kids are wired differently and need different approaches. But for the most part, kids can figure out stressful stuff and move on to the next challenge. When my kids tell me something that bugs them, I ask one or two questions so they feel listened to, and either say “oh” or suggest what they should try next time. So far that’s been enough.

    But I agree with not adding to the stress by creating a schedule that has us rushing our kids from one thing to the next too often. I think it’s fine to have lots to do, as long as the transitions are usually smooth and not too much of it is an externally-imposed challenge. And kids need to have some extended time periods when they decide what’s gonna happen from start to finish. Whether that’s indoor or outdoor.

  63. @ BMS – Nope. I find yoga stressful. I spend all my time there thinking about all the things that are stressing me out. Give me taekwondo any day for stress relief.

  64. SKL – If I had written a longer post, it would be yours. I did mean stresses out of the ordinary course of a 5 year olds life that would cause a parent to consider yoga as a release.

    It’s kind of funny if you think about it. If too many scheduled activities is causing the stress, how does a scheduled yoga class help? 🙂

  65. Robin, I agree. There is an “all ages” class at our rec center at 6pm Thursdays. I’d love to go. BUT it would entail figuring out some way to get out of work at least 45 minutes early (I have workaholic partners), packing all our stuff in minutes (mats, food), rushing my kids into and out of the car, and making them either scarf down a quick snack or ignore their hunger during the class. I’m thinking we would not come out of that class feeling chill. Maybe someday if I can really change my work schedule . . . .

  66. “Gimme a break! Your kid is afraid of the dark at night? Get her a nightlight. Cost waaay less than 380 dollars. Your kid says she doesn’t want to go to sleep because she will have nightmares? Does she really have nightmares every night or merely once in a great while? If she has nightmares every night, do you think kiddie yoga will help with that?”

    You think her parents never tried night lights? The kid wakes up screaming regularly. And as to whether yoga classes would have helped, I have no idea whether they would or not, and the point is, neither do you.

    I’m not posting here because I think $400 yoga classes are wonderful. I’m posting here because I’m annoyed at people getting judgmental about other people’s parenting decisions under the theory that children never have any real problems and don’t need any help to learn coping skills. It’s not just insulting to the parents, it’s insulting to a whole lot of kids.

    I remember how it infuriated me when I was a kid, being told by a friend of my parents that I couldn’t know what it was like to be depressed or anxious because I was just a carefree child (who, y’know, happened to have about 30,000 nuclear missiles pointed at the country where I was living at the time, but obviously I couldn’t possibly be stressed out about that, why the very thought is absurd, ha ha).

    I’m all in favor of letting kids play, but playing doesn’t solve everything, and sometimes parents know their children’s needs better than you do.

  67. @ Evan – again, this is being marketed as something average 5 year olds need. The vast majority of 5 year olds don’t have night terrors (which is what you are describing). The vast majority of young children are not worried about nuclear weapons. Hell, I’m an adult and I don’t worry about nuclear weapons. I’m not saying that young children don’t have stress related to being young children, but most don’t need special relaxation techniques.

    Most here have said that this class is a good idea for those kids who are more anxious than most or have unusual circumstances but not necessary for the average kid with average childhood stress. The problem is in making parents feel like their kids need these classes, not in having classes available for kids who do need them.

  68. Donna – exactly.

    That was the biggest problem I had with all these kiddie classes. Not only were they over priced and of dubious value, but the prevailing sentiment was that there was something wrong with you as a parent if you didn’t sign your kids up for them. As a new parent in my town I was convinced there was a town ordinance that required you to do a ‘Creative Movement’ class with your kid. When I first found out that there were classes for moms and kids that started at 9 months, I remember saying “That’s insane!” at a playgroup, before realizing that I was the only person in the group that thought so. The that kids that young NEED organized activities or they will be fundamentally missing something is just nuts. I got the same reaction when I didn’t sign up for baby swimming classes. People were saying “Ohmygod, do you WANT your kids to drown??” No, but I don’t think that forcing my screaming, terrified of the instructor 2 year old into the water is going to make him more likely to learn to swim. And if every swim lesson is proceeded by a crying screaming fit from 2 children about having to go, then I really don’t see how this is improving our quality of life. Somehow, they managed to learn to swim enough not to drown even though they waited until 7 and 8 to really take lessons.

    Again, I’m not saying don’t do kid classes ever. But when I am being judged as some inferior mom because I don’t buy into the hype, then I have issues.

  69. Sure, the description on the link may be a bit excessive, but some kids do have a hard time winding down after activity, and that’s where I see this being useful. The techniques that work for me haven’t worked for my daughter (and her teachers haven’t had much luck with their methods either), so I can definitely understand a parent trying focused classes.

  70. Going along with BMS’ comment, I put my kids in Kindermuzik (before they were in daycare) because I thought it would give them some socialization and other good stuff. Nothing against the program per se, but it was not a good idea for us. I had to rush like crazy after work to get them fed and bundled up in time. Early on, the teacher made it clear that she did NOT appreciate anyone walking in late (it was a 6:45 class). My kids sensed my stress and naturally chose that moment to be at their worst. We usually got there just on the dot, and then each of my kids would sit like a bump on a log. One was shy, the other was stubborn. The only thing they would participate in was the unauthorized running around that inevitably started halfway through the class. At the end of class, every child got a sticker (nice, reward them for being horrible), though half of the time I was ready to throw them in the pool. Then we had to hurry home for bedtime, etc. I used to dread that day of the week.

    That’s probably why I so appreciate that my kids’ daycare hosts those outside classes during the school day. Seems like the best of all worlds.

  71. Actually Elizabeth, you were incredibly judgemental toward me. You also didn’t read very carefully at all. I didn’t say that the class is every bit as beneficial as visualization. I said that the visualization could be just as helpful to the teacher as to the child. Before you go around chewing people out, perhaps you ought to make sure you understand what you read first.

  72. The price may be absurd. Whether five year olds are really that stressed may also be questionable. However, the notion of teaching coping skills and relaxation to kids is a GREAT idea. Go watch the movie “Race to Nowhere” about the stress levels of teenagers – and while it’s one documentary about some, obviously not all, U.S. teens, if we’re honest we’ll all admit we see it in our culture fairly pervasively. I work with teenagers and I’d like it if a few more of them had better ability to calm themselves from within.

  73. I don’t know how stressed my 2-year-old is, but I’ve taken her to tot yoga classes (free at our public library. Hurray for the library!), and she loved it. Her class wasn’t really about relaxation. The yoga teacher reads a story, and the kids do poses based on the animals in the story. The kids have a good time. It was a nice activity to have up my sleeve for the long Wisconsin winter, where we try to get outside, but some days are just too cold, even for this free range mom.

  74. I took baby yoga with my 6 month old. It wasn’t for him. It was for me. He had fun rolling around the floor with other babies and some toys; I got a yoga class without having to find a sitter. Nobody pretended the babies were doing anything other than being babies.

    Yoga is a ton of fun for the littles, and if they learn some relaxation skills (the teaching of which is part of what every parent trying to calm a tantrum does, no?) this is not a bad thing. One of our local studios runs a class for kids beside a class for parents…”get your workout while your kids have fun” sort of marketing. Smart.

    But $380 for 8 classes? Yikes! And marketing aimed at parents worried their kids are stressed is scare-mongering, whether it’s the yoga company or the website doing it. That part made me angry.

  75. The word “stress” was never part of our vocabulary when we were growing up. Therefore I am sure the notion of relaxation yoga classes would have meant nothing to me.

    We were taught to stay active, make decisions and not regret them and “get over it”. Seemed to work a treat!

  76. “The vast majority of young children are not worried about nuclear weapons. Hell, I’m an adult and I don’t worry about nuclear weapons”

    I didn’t worry about nuclear weapons as a child, and, believe me, as a child in elementary school in the 80’s near Washington, D.C.? They sure TRIED to make us worry. Bomb drills where you had to hide under your desk (what good would THAT have done?) and they made us read so many “after the bomb” type books…stories with kids roaming around alone on their bikes trying to survive on their own after everyone had died from the nuclear fall out…and of course I just thought, how cool would that be!

  77. My youngest is obsessed with death. Yet, she isn’t unduly stressed. She thinks and talks about it and just wants it to make sense. As long as the answers are concrete, logical, and don’t keep moving all over the place (like when someone told my kid her mommy isn’t ever going to die), she’s mellow. I think that’s pretty typical of the way young kids think.

  78. Apparently, Sky, it depends on where the bomb lands. Obviously, if you’re in the blast range or very close, you’re dead from the explosion and/or the resulting radiation sickness. But if you’re further away you may live long enough to survive from cancer if only you don’t get knocked out by falling debris first. Hence the desk thing.

    Of course, if you’re right in the capital, and there’s a nuclear attack, I don’t put your odds of survival very high, but….

  79. Just when I thought I’ve heard it all. lol Can anyone say “cha-ching”. At least this place is capitalizing on parents fears by offering their children “peace of mind”. lol

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