Simple ideas for helping children to calm down.
Teaching kids to self-regulate their emotions is a skill they will take with them through life. Some may need it more than others, but everyone can benefit from having a few extra EQ tools in their toolbox. What makes it tricky is that we’re all individuals, and what works for your best friend’s child won’t necessarily work as well or at all for your child. Some people prefer sensory-based comforts; some prefer finding comfort through action. Luckily, there are as many different strategies for calming big emotions as there are people in the world, and many of the techniques are completely free or very cheap – it’s just a matter of experimenting, tweaking, and figuring out which strategies or combinations of strategies works for your child.
1. Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths.
2. Trace the outlines of your hands with your finger.
3. Have a drink of water or a warm cocoa.
4. Ask for a break.
5. Walk it off, skip about, or run to burn some emotional energy off.
6. Push with all your might against a wall.
7. Sing the ABCs or count slowly to 10. Too easy? Now try it backwards.
8. Have a warm shower or a bubble bath.
9. Tell a story with your hands by making shadow puppets.
10. See how long you can keep a piece of ice in your mouth until it completely melts.
11. Build something out of LEGO or building blocks.
12. Change your mental point of view by changing your physical point of view. Try hanging upside down or doing cartwheels.
13. Blow bubbles and concentrate on making the biggest bubble without bursting it.
14. Suck on a hard lolly or chew gum, chewable jewellery, or a chewable toy (make sure they’re safe for humans!).
15. Sit down and focus on putting together a puzzle, or doing a word search or number game.
16. Get artistic by painting, drawing with chalk, or filling in a dot-to-dot picture.
17. Play a few rounds of hopscotch or I Spy.
18. Get closer to nature by climbing a tree, listening to nature sounds or impersonating how different animals walk.
19. Make funny faces in a mirror.
20. Blow a tinfoil ball around with a straw.
21. Raid your crafts box for pipe cleaners and see what ways you can bend or shape them.
22. Find some bubble wrap and start popping, or some tissue paper and start ripping.
23. Switch your focus by listening to an audiobook or rereadinga favourite book.
24. Use a fidget spinner. See how fast you can make it spin and still balance it on one finger.
25. Do your best impersonation of a burrito by wrapping yourself firmly in a blanket.
26. Sculpt something weird and wonderful out of play dough or clay.
27. Write in a diary.
28. Keep a balloon in the air and don’t let it hit the ground.
29. See how long you can keep a spinning top going.
30. Squeeze a stress ball as hard as you possibly can.
31. Have a spray of Rescue Remedy.
32. Work any anxious tension out by using a mini massager.
33. Leap onto a crash pad or mattress.
34. Try some yoga poses or stretches – you can even try using a stretchy resistance band.
35. Brush your hair.
36. Rub some nicesmelling lotion on your arms and legs.
37. Climb through a sensory resistance tunnel (which is basically a stretchy cat run, but big enough to fit your kids through).
38. Go for a swing in the backyard or at the park.
39. Let your mind wander while watching a lava lamp, hourglass, or fish swimming in an aquarium.
40. Have a look at an old photo album or your baby book.
41. Bounce or stretch out on a Swiss ball.
42. Let the wind blow through the holes of your helmet and get the blood pumping around your body by going for a bike ride.
43. See if you can reach the clouds by jumping about on a trampoline.
44. Comfort yourself by putting on a weighted vest or lying under a weighted cushion, weighted blanket, or weighted soft toy.
45. Spend some time patting a friendly cat.
46. Play fetch with a friendly dog or take them for a walk.
47. Find a quiet place to take a time out, or put on some noise-reducing ear muffs or earplugs.
48. Make some noise. Play an instrument or sing and dance along to some music.
49. Blow some bubbles.
50. Give a pillow or soft toy a big, tight hug or, even better, ask Mum or Dad for a bear hug.