When emotions are overwhelming, having some calming strategies for kids to manage themselves can be really helpful. Defusing the situation can help to avoid tantrums, tears and acting out, and these tactics will stand to them throughout their lives.
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Knowing how to take a step back and re-centre, how to take a breath and recognise your emotions is a vital life skill. If we can teach our children how to handle these big emotions – anxiety, worry, frustration, anger – we are preparing them for the trials and hiccups that come all throughout life.
Think about how you deal with your feelings – perhaps you go for a run, do some yoga, take a relaxing bath, exercise, or listen to music? These are all helpful tactics that help you process and deal with your emotions. What if we taught our children these skills? Would it help to alleviate feelings of being ‘out of control’, tantrums, tension and tears?
These calming strategies for kids are all adaptable to your child, suitable for all ages and will give your child some headspace to work through what’s going on. Don’t forget to let us know what you find to be the most effective!
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Helpful Calming Strategies for Kids
Enjoy a sensory or glitter jar
When emotions become too much, having something to help your child calm down is a great idea. Watching a sensory bottle is relaxing, but the actual act of making sensory bottles or calm down jars is in itself a wonderful activity!
Do Some Painting
Art is the perfect messy fun for kids and makes for ideal sensory play. So don the old clothes, cover the table and crack open the paint pots!
We’ve got lots of ideas if you are looking for easy painting ideas to inspire and prompt your kids!
Play with Play Dough
Squeezing and shaping play dough is very therapeutic! Plus, you can make lots of fun ideas and create something different each time. Try our super easy play dough recipe to make your own for hours for fun!
Make Your Own Slime
Similar to play dough, slime is a real sensory experience. Slime is not only an ooey-gooey delight to play with, but it’s actually a great science experiment to undertake with kids.
If you’re looking to up your slime game and try some scented, coloured and downright weird versions, we’ve got some fun homemade slime recipes to try – including fluffy, rainbow and glow in the dark slime!
Listen to Relaxing Music
One of our favourite calming strategies for kids is to listen to music. This could be lullabies for younger children, or classical music for older kids. If you have Spotify or another music streaming service, try a playlist and see what your child enjoys. You could also look for instrumental music, not necessarily classical, that could be good to chill out to.
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Read a Book
Snuggle up in a comfy chair and escape into a fantastic story. You’ll find all our favourite books and suggestions here, including books for fans of David Walliams and JK Rowling, humorous books, adventure tales and more.
Do your kids enjoy audiobooks and listening to stories? Audiobooks are also a great way for children to enjoy tales that would otherwise be above their reading level, and helps them acquire new vocabulary. Here are some great places to get FREE audiobooks if you want to give one a try.
Build Some LEGO
There is something incredibly mindful about building with LEGO, which is one of the reasons why it is so long-lasting and popular with all ages.
Build a set as instructed, or get creative with your own ideas. Need some suggestions? Try our LEGO challenge, or play LEGO bingo with friends and family.
Ready to try something spectacular? What about a LEGO chocolate cake, unicorn or a retro arcade game – we’ve got dozens of free LEGO instructions to get you building!
Take a Bath
There’s a reason baths are so popular after a long day – and they can be just as calming for children. Make today a bubble bath kind of day, stick on some music or read your child a story while they’re having a soak.
Do Some Colouring
Mindfulness colouring is brilliant, for adults and kids! When things are tough in our house, this is often one of the first things we’ll sit down and do together. There is something really therapeutic about shading, staying within the lines (or not, if you prefer!), choosing your favourite colours, combining patterns and ending up with something utterly unique
We have lots of colouring pages to choose from, or you could try a favourite colouring book.
Cuddle Your Pet
The unconditional love of a pet means they are a great way to centre and calm yourself. If you don’t have a pet (or one that would appreciate a cuddle!), try a soft toy instead.
Take 20 Deep Breaths
One of the most valuable tools and calming strategies for kids is to just breathe. Take a moment to sit with your child and concentrate on some regulated breathing. Count 4 beats in, hold for 4 beats, and out for 4 beats.
With little children, you could have them imagine they are blowing a balloon or blowing out candles.
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Write Your Feelings Down
A great tool for older children is to write down what they’re feeling. If they aren’t sure where to start, give them some prompts:
- I feel sad because…
- I feel angry because…
- I feel worried because…
- I feel happy because…
- I feel scared because…
- I feel excited because…
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Do Some Yoga
Stretching, breathing, calming – yoga is fantastic way to de-stress and distract from big emotions. There are lots of great yoga tutorials and videos online that your child will enjoy.
Get outside for some big lungfuls of fresh air that will do everyone the world of good! You could try setting up an obstacle course, or play some classic childhood games.
Don’t let the rain stop you from having fun – there are also plenty of fun rainy day activities that will have you out stomping in puddles!
Do a Handstand
Change your perspective! Do a cartwheel, a handstand or even a simple forward roll – you’d be really surprised how it can defuse a situation.
Try a Short Meditation
Living in this digital age, it can be really hard for kids to switch off and get a bit of peace. There are many benefits for all of us, but particularly children who need some calming strategies.
These easy ways to introduce meditation for kids are a great place to start, and always remember to keep it simple and fun!
Get a Back Scratch
Or a neck rub, an arm tickle, or whatever your child finds relaxing.
Name 5 Favourite Things
Feeling down and sad might mean that your child has forgotten the good things. Take a few minutes to name 5 favourite things, or 5 good things that happened today.
Acknowledging the good can help to put everything into perspective.
Wrap Up in a Blanket
Snuggling up under a blanket is always comforting! Read a book, watch a movie or just relax. A weighted blanket is another great option.
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Connect With Nature
If kids find the idea of a walk to be boring, try our nature scavenger hunt or geocaching and let them find some treasures along the way.
You don’t even need to leave your own back yard to have plenty of nature fun – here are some great nature activities to do in your own garden.
You could try your hand at growing your own vegetables and getting the kids involved in some fun garden chores.
Go For a Bike Ride
Wrap up and head out for some fresh air on the bike. Don’t forget these cycle safety tips – and make sure your child’s helmet is a good fit before you head out.
Count backwards from 100 or 50 (or 20 for younger children). Concentrating on this simple task is quite mindful, and can really help to regulate breathing.
Dance to Your Favourite Song
Crank up the volume and put on your child’s favourite song for a disco in the kitchen!
Trace Your Hand
This is a great activity for younger children in particular – put your hand on a piece of paper and concentrate on drawing around each of the fingers. Once you have completed the outline, turn each finger into a face (like finger puppets) or ‘paint’ the nails.
Sit in Silence
Close your eyes and sit in silence – just 1-2 minutes is enough for young children, extending to 3-4 minutes for older children.
While sitting, think of something that makes you happy, something you can smell, something you can hear. Just two minutes of silence can help us to re-centre.
Jump 100 Times on Your Trampoline
Calming strategies for kids don’t have to be quiet activities, they just have to help alleviate the pent-up emotions. Get all that energy or frustration out with some energetic jumping on the trampoline. Alternatively, what about some trampoline games that are fun and energy-burners?
Draw How You Feel
Sometimes drawing, rather than writing, can suit children better. Let them draw how they are feeling now, or what happened to make them feel that way. Take some time to discuss those feelings afterwards, and you could also look at drawing possible solutions or outcomes to help your child feel better.
Listen to a Podcast
Podcasts are a fantastic way to learn fun facts, delve into new topics, and enjoy stories and music you may not otherwise be aware of. Now is the time to get downloading with our list of hugely entertaining and educational podcasts for kids (and the rest of the family!)
If your teen is looking for new ideas for things to listen to, check out these interesting podcasts for teens – you might like them too!
Make a Fist, Relax and Repeat
Make a fist as tight as you can, then exhale and relax your fingers. As you open them out, imagine yourself releasing your stress, frustration and worry. Shake your hands out, and repeat several times.
This is a great one for kids to do at any point during the day whenever they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.
List 10 Things You Like About Yourself
It’s very easy for all of us to focus on the negatives, particularly when we’re already feeling emotional or overwhelmed, but what if we flipped the tables and tried to concentrate on the positives?
Write down 10 positive things about yourself – big or small – and keep that list somewhere safe for a day when you need a reminder.
Create Something With Your Hands
Get crafty and creative with something you have made yourself. This could be using paper plates or toilet rolls, fabric scraps or egg cartons – you can check ALL of our craft ideas here!
Cuddle a Stuffed Animal
Does your child have a favourite stuffed animal? Set aside some quiet time for a big cuddle!
Write in a Journal
Give your child a notebook and let them write about their day, their feelings or just whatever’s on their mind. This is a great activity to do before bed, to get all those lingering thoughts out before settling down to sleep.
Play with Sand
Sand is so versatile – you can sift it, dig in it, pour it, enjoy the feel of it, build with it, and even make art with it! This versatility means that these sand play ideas will appeal to toddlers, preschoolers and even bigger kids who enjoy getting hands-on for some sensory fun.
Talk to a Grown Up
Emotions can be tricky things, and sometimes even the most effective calming strategies may not be the answer. Talking to a trusted grown up about what’s going on can really help.
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