Pizza massage is a fun activity to do with kids. It is simple, easy to remember, easy to follow, and can be done with one child or a group.
Anxiety is a real and often overwhelming sensation that many children face on a regular basis. As anxiety rates in children continue to rise, it is important to find new and creative ways to help them cope. One such activity is the pizza massage. The method is simple to remember and requires no special equipment. This simple mindful activity can be done with any number of children, and it doesn’t require any materials.
Touch is our primary language of compassion and a primary means of spreading compassion, according to Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Some Western cultures, particularly the United States, are touch-deprived. There have been numerous studies on the importance of touch, and as you play this game, you will realize how uplifting, compassionate, and soothing touch can be.
While we may not always realize it, the power of touch is incredibly strong, especially for children. Human interaction and physical contact have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels, promote relaxation, and improve overall mood. That’s why the pizza massage activity is such a great way to help kids de-stress.
This enjoyable game was taught to my son in preschool. He’s now in second grade and has recently requested “pizza massages” from me. So I picked up on his fun activity and wanted to share it with you because it’s simple, enjoyable, and relaxing.
Mindfulness for Children – The Mindful Pizza Massage Game for All Ages
Purpose: Body awareness, Empathy, Focus, Calm & Relaxation
Best for: Ages 3+, groups or one-on-one
What you need: Imagination :-)
The pizza massage is a simple and enjoyable way for children to relax and cope with anxiety. Because it provides distraction and sensory stimulation, this type of activity is beneficial for anxiety relief. It also helps to strengthen the bond between a parent and their child, or between children if they play the massage game together.
The power of touch can be very calming for anxious children, and the slow, rhythmical movements can help to relieve their tension.
The mindful pizza massage is like a playful body scan with a story. As a result, it will be fun to pay attention to your touch.
Note to educators: If you allow children to give each other pizza massages, you should demonstrate how to do it first. You can then have the children perform the massage while you instruct them. Ask those who are baking to only touch lightly and with kindness. It’s supposed to be pleasant and relaxing. And instruct those being massaged to simply observe the sensations on their backs.
Here are the seven steps to pizza massage:
In order to massage the child’s back, have him or her lie on his or her stomach or sit in a chair with his or her chest against the back of the chair. And instruct them to pay attention to the sensations on their back.
1. Begin by gently kneading your child’s back, just like pizza dough.
Imagine the child’s back is the dough. Gently squeeze and press the skin, just as you would knead real dough. Do this for a minute or two to help the child relax and release tense muscles.
2. Roll out the dough.
As if you were rolling out dough, make gentle rolling motions down the back.
3. Spread the tomato sauce.
Using the flat of your hand, stroke on the tomato sauce.
4. Add lots of cheese!
Using your finger tips, sprinkle on the cheese.
5. Add fun toppings.
Sprinkle all of the imaginary toppings on our pizza while gently patting and tapping the back’s surface. See if you can create your own fun massage movements to add more toppings.
6. Put the pizza in the oven.
Rub your hands together and blow on them to warm them up before placing them on the child’s back.
7. Chop the pizza into slices.
The pizza is chopped as the final step in the pizza massage process. Make gentle chopping motions with your hand over the child’s back.
Your pizza is now ready! You can then pretend to eat the pizza. You could tickle the child to accomplish this :)
Remember to ask how it felt, if it was fun and perhaps even calming.
Yes, it’s a simple and fun bonding experience.
If you’re a parent you can get the whole family involved and take turns giving a relaxing pizza massage!
You can also play soft music in the background during the activity to add to the sense of calm. For a few laughs, how about a fun Italian pizza making tune?
If you work with groups, you can have the kids massage each other. Simply pair them up and have them massage each other. This can be accomplished by having the children lie on their stomachs or sitting in a chair with their chest resting on the back of the chair. Arrange chairs in a circle and have the children face each other’s backs while the chairs are turned to make a pizza train.
Here’s a picture of children preparing for pizza massage, courtesy of wonderful Mandy Schwarz and class 3/4b in Altenburg, Germany. Mandy created some cool videos with kids playing pizza massage, which you can see here.
I hope you’ll enjoy this activity with the kids!!
Sign up for my upcoming NEW mindfulness GAMES book, which includes tens of mindful games. It’s going to be a fun book and it will empower you to teach mindfulness and executive function skills through movement, art, dance, music, nature, food, crafts and all of your amazing senses.
Click here to sign up for a chance to be part of the launch team, review the book and get it for free.
Wishing you many mindful moments!
Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, a leader in the field of mindfulness, and the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a community of parents, educators, and therapists dedicated to children’s mindfulness and psychology, with over 15 years of experience facilitating meditation and psychological interventions to people of all ages.
Chris is a certified mindfulness facilitator, trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12, and has received psychology and mindfulness training from UPenn, UCLA, UNC, Mindful Schools, and Mindfulness Without Borders.