Emma’s parents were at their wits’ end. Their daughter, now seven years old, was getting overwhelmed by the everyday hustle and bustle. Daily tasks like homework, bedtime, or just leaving the house for a family outing were becoming increasingly stressful situations.
They started to incorporate a few calming activities for kids into her daily routine.
To their surprise, they saw a significant difference in Emma’s behavior. She was less agitated, more relaxed, and seemed genuinely happier!
Different calm-down strategies have grown in recognition and appreciation in recent years. And for good reason.
Parents, educators, and childcare professionals have had to deal with an increasing number of younger children showing signs of stress and anxiety.
Your children can significantly benefit from incorporating this list of calm down techniques into their daily lives. The personalized relaxation and sensory experience that these activities provide can aid young children in managing their stress, improving their focus, and enhancing their overall well-being.
Understanding Kids’ Stress and Anxiety
It can be hard to watch your child feel stressed or anxious as a parent. But first, let’s try to understand what stress and anxiety might look like in kids, especially those with special needs.
What Stress and Anxiety Might Look Like in Kids
Every kid is unique, but here are some signs that your child might feel stressed or anxious.
- Get upset easily or throw tantrums
- Having trouble sleeping or eating less than usual
- Complain about stomach aches or headaches
- Seem worried or scared often
- Have difficulty focusing on tasks
How Stress and Anxiety Affect Kids
When kids feel stressed or anxious, it can affect their daily lives. Often times these symptoms appear as behavior problems. Here’s how:
- It can make it hard for them to focus on schoolwork
- They might have trouble making friends or playing with others
- They may not want to try new things
- It can make them feel tired and cranky
For children with special needs, these feelings can be even stronger. That’s why it’s so important to help them find effective ways to calm down and feel better. One great way to do this is through calming activities.
The Importance of Calming Activities
Calming activities can be a game-changer for stressed or anxious kids.
- Offer a fun way for kids to relax and feel better
- Help kids understand their feelings better
- Teach kids how to handle stress and anxiety
How Calming Activities Help Kids
– Improving Anxiety
Calming activities can help kids feel less worried and anxious. They can make your child feel safe and content.
– Reducing Stress
These activities can also help lower your child’s stress levels. They do this by giving your child a break from whatever is causing them stress.
– Increasing Self-Regulation
Calming activities can help your child learn how to control their big emotions better. When they are able to control their emotions they can handle times of stress and anxiety in a healthy way.
For kids with special needs, these activities can be even more beneficial. They can help them feel more comfortable and in control.
Types of Calming Activities
These activities come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s something for everyone!
We’ll explore different categories of calming activities, including sensory, physical, creative, relaxing, and activities to relieve anger. These different types can help your child in various ways, depending on what they enjoy or need most.
Let’s start with some sensory play activities. These activities use our five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. They can help your child explore their senses in a fun and calming way.
#1 Bubble Wrap Popping
Find some bubble wrap and let your child pop the bubbles. This sensory activity can be very calming and satisfying even as an adult!
#2 Scented Play Dough
Make homemade play dough and add a few drops of essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Your child can have fun shaping the dough and enjoy the calming scents.
Taking care of plants can be therapeutic. It will engage your child’s senses of touch and smell, and watching plants grow provides a sense of accomplishment.
The combination of movement, deep breathing, and the focus required in yoga can be calming. There are online tutorials suitable for kids all ages.
#5 Build a Sandcastle
Your child can enjoy the sensation of sand between their fingers and take pride in creating something unique.
#6 Use a Fidget Toy
Fidget toys can be very calming. These sensory toys give your hands something to do, which can help your mind relax.
#7 Make Homemade Bread
Kneading dough can be a soothing sensory input experience. Plus, your child can enjoy the smell of fresh bread baking!
#8 Dry Brushing
This involves using a dry brush on the skin, which can feel very relaxing. It can be a calming part of your child’s bedtime routine.
#9 Breathe Relaxing Scents
Scents can have a big impact on our mood. Your child can smell flowers or essential oils to help them relax. Lavender, chamomile, and rose are some calming scents they might enjoy.
Calming Physical Activities
When your child is active they not only burn off excess energy but the boost of endorphins can calm anxiety or anger. Physical activities can be great for both younger kids and teens.
Simple stretching exercises can help relax your child’s muscles. Try easy yoga poses or basic stretches like touching toes or reaching for the sky.
Put on some of your child’s favorite music and let them dance around. This can help them release energy in a fun and positive way.
#12 Deep Breathing Exercises
Teach your child to take deep, slow breaths. This can help them calm down, especially when feeling stressed or anxious. Here are 10 deep breathing exercises to try.
#13 Walking or Hiking
Walking or hiking, especially in nature, can be very calming. Try to do this as a family and enjoy the time together.
If your child enjoys biking, this can be a great way to help them relax. Make sure they wear a helmet!
Swimming can be a great calming activity if you have access to a pool.
#16 Tai Chi
These activities combine movement and breathing, helping your child focus and relax. You can find many free online classes suitable for kids and teens.
#17 Jumping on a Trampoline
This activity can be really fun for kids and teens. It helps playfully release energy and tension. Plus, it can improve balance and coordination!
#18 Rock Climbing
Rock climbing can be a great physical activity for older kids and teens. It helps them focus, build strength, and the accomplishment of reaching the top can be a great confidence booster.
No need to live near mountains to make this happen. You can usually find a rock wall in local gyms or community centers.
Swinging on a swing or a hammock can be very soothing. The repetitive motion can be calming. And it’s a simple pleasure for both older and younger kids.
#20 Crumple up Paper and Toss it in a Trash Can
This seems too simple, but it can be a fun and physical way for your child to calm down. They can pretend they’re shooting hoops!
#21 Walk Like Different Animals
This can be a silly and active way for your child to relax. They can hop like a kangaroo, walk like a penguin, or slither like a snake!
Creative Activities to Calm Down
Now, let’s talk about creative activities. These activities allow your child to use their imagination and express themselves, which can be very calming. Both kids and teens can enjoy these activities.
#22 Drawing or Painting
Give your child some art supplies and let their creativity shine. They can draw or paint whatever they want. This can help them express their feelings in a fun and relaxing way.
This is the art of paper folding. Your child can follow simple online tutorials to make beautiful creations.
#24 Playing a Musical Instrument
If your child plays an instrument, they can spend some time practicing. If not, they might enjoy playing around with a simple instrument like a drum or a xylophone.
#25 Story Writing
Encourage your child to write a short story. This can be a fun way for them to express their thoughts and ideas.
#26 Pottery or Sculpting
Working with clay can be very calming. Your child can make anything they like, from bowls to animal figures.
Your child might enjoy acting out their feelings with puppets. This can be a fun way to express themselves and share with you how they are feeling.
Photography can be a calming, creative outlet for older kids and teens. They can use a camera or phone to capture interesting things around them.
#29 Knitting or Crocheting
These activities can be very relaxing. Your child can start with simple patterns. The repetitive motions can be calming and create something beautiful in the process!
Coloring is for more than just young kids. Teens can also find it calming. Suggest they try adult coloring books, which have intricate patterns and designs.
They can use colored pencils, markers, or crayons. It’s a great way to relax and create beautiful art.
Calming Activities to Relieve Anger
Sometimes, kids and teens may feel angry. That’s normal! But it’s essential to help them learn how to handle their anger calmly.
Here are some activities to help your child release their anger in a healthy way:
#31 Let Out Frustration on a Punching Bag
If your child is feeling angry, hitting a punching bag can help. They can imagine the bag is their anger, and every hit makes it smaller.
#32 Scream into a Pillow
They can scream into a pillow if they need to yell but don’t want to disturb anyone. This can help them let out their anger in a safe way.
#33 Squeeze a Stress Ball
Squeezing a stress ball can help your child release tension and feel calmer.
#34 Sing a Favorite Song
Singing can be a great way to release anger. They can sing loudly, softly, fast, or slow – whatever helps them feel better.
#35 Ripping Paper
Give your child some old newspapers or junk mail, and let them rip it up. The physical act can be a satisfying way to let out frustration.
#36 Blow off Steam with Balloons
Let your child inflate a balloon, then let it go without tying it. As the balloon zips around the room deflating, it can be a visual representation of releasing anger.
#37 Anger Art
Give your child some paints and a canvas (or large piece of paper), and let them paint out their anger. They can splatter paint, use their fingers, or use any technique they feel expresses their anger.
#38 Angry Dance
Encourage your child to do an “angry dance” to their favorite energetic song. It’s all about moving and expressing those strong emotions.
#39 Visit a Rage Room (for older kids and teens)
A rage room, also known as a smash room or anger room, is a place where people can let out their anger safely. They can break items like old furniture or dishes. It can be a fun and satisfying way for teens to release their anger.
Remember, everyone gets angry, and it’s okay. The key is to find healthy ways to express that anger.
Encourage your child to try different techniques until they find what works best for them. You’re doing a great job guiding them!
These activities don’t require much energy but can help your child feel calm and relaxed. Both younger kids and teens can enjoy these relaxing activities.
#40 Call a Friend
A good chat with a friend or family member can calm down their nerves and lift their spirits.
#41 Take a Hot Bath
Warm water can be soothing to the nervous system. Your child can add some bubble bath or bath salts for a special treat.
#42 Watch Fish Swim in a Fish Tank
The slow, gentle movements of fish can be very relaxing to watch. I have felt calmed myself after just staring into a fish tank.
#43 Listen to Calming Sounds
Your child can listen to white noise, ocean waves, rain, or other calming sounds using noise-canceling headphones.
#44 Blow Bubbles
Your child can try to make the biggest bubble, the most bubbles, or try to catch them before they pop.
#45 Love on Your Pet
Spending time with a pet can be very calming. They can pet, brush, or just cuddle with their pet.
#46 Take a Nap
A short nap can help your child feel refreshed and relaxed.
#47 Use a Warm or Weighted Blanket
Sitting under a warm or weighted blanket can feel like a comforting hug.
#48 Get a Massage
A gentle massage can be very soothing. The mall is so over stimulating next time you go try out one of the massage chairs before leaving.
Looking at the stars can be calming and awe-inspiring. This is great for clear nights. Here’s a Guide to Stargazing for Kids.
#50 Cloud Watching
During the day, your child can watch the clouds go by. They can try to find shapes in the clouds for fun.
#51 Write in a Journal
Your child can write about their day, thoughts, or anything they want. This can help them understand their feelings better.
Check out these writing prompts to get them started.
Simple guided meditations can help your child feel calm and focused.
#53 Rock in a Rocking Chair
The gentle back-and-forth motion can be very relaxing just like a swing. They can even hold their favorite stuffed animal or doll.
#54 Read in a Quiet Space
Reading a good book can help your child relax and escape to another world. So give your child a quiet place with their favorite book to read.
Remember, each child is unique and may like some calming activities over others. Encourage your child to try different things and see what they find most enjoyable.
Set them up a calm down corner in a quiet part of the house with various activities to try.
Choosing the Right Activity for Your Child
Every child is unique. What helps one child feel calm might not work for another child. But don’t worry! It’s easy to find the best calming activities for your child. Here’s how:
Understanding Your Child’s Preferences
– Watch Your Child
Look at what activities your child already enjoys. Do they love being active? Do they love creating things? Watch and learn!
– Ask Your Child
Your child knows what they like! Ask them about their favorite activities. They might have some great ideas for calming activities.
– Try Different Things
The best way to find what your child likes is to try different things. Try some physical, creative, sensory, and relaxing activities. See what your child enjoys the most.
– Be Patient
It might take some time to find the best activities for your child. That’s okay! It’s all about helping your child feel calm and happy.
Remember, the most important thing is that your child enjoys the activity. They’ll be more likely to feel calm and relaxed if they have fun.
Keep trying different activities, and you’ll find what works best for your child.
The Role of Parents in Calming Activities
As a parent or caregiver, you play a big part in helping your child feel calm. You can help your child try different activities and create a calm place for them. Here’s how:
– Show Your Child How
Some activities might be new for your child. You can show them how to do the activity. This can make it easier for them to try.
– Join in
Doing calming activities together can be a lot of fun! It can also help your child feel more relaxed.
– Give Them Time
Your child might need some time to get used to a new activity. That’s okay! Be patient and let them take their time.
Creating a Calm Environment
– Choose a Calm Place
Find a quiet and comfortable place for your child to do calming activities. This will help them stay relaxed and not anxious about their surroundings.
– Remove Distractions
Try to keep distractions away when your child is doing calming activities. This can help them stay focused.
– Make it routine
Doing calming activities at the same time each day can make it a part of your child’s routine. Doing this on a regular basis can make it easier for your child to relax.
A good time could be right after school before they get started with homework. Children need regular brain breaks.
These simple activities can help kids of all ages feel calm and in control of their emotions. They can also help kids handle stress and anxiety better.
Now it’s your turn. Try some of these calming activities with your child. Watch and see how your child responds. You might be surprised at what they enjoy the most!
And remember, it’s essential to be patient. Trying new things can take time. And that’s okay! Your child is learning and growing, and you’re there to guide them.
Additional Parenting Resources
- Anxious Children: Best Ways to Help Your Child With Anxiety
- Best Books to Help a Child with Anxiety and Worry
- What Is School Anxiety: Symptoms You Need To Know
- Proven Strategy To Help Children Verbalize Their Emotions