Calming activities are important for kids and teens. These are the strategies they can use to self-regulate when they are upset, overwhelmed, or dysregulated in any other way.
There are literally hundreds of different calm-down strategies you can try with kids and teens.
Some of my favorite coping techniques include using positive self-talk, mindful breathing, and writing in a journal. And while these work for a number of kids and teens, one potential issue is that they are typically done stationary. If that doesn’t work for your learners, that’s where this list comes in.
I’ve put together this list with coping strategies specifically for kids and teens who need to move, wiggle, and shake a little as they learn.
Some important things to remember about calming activities:
Calming activities need to be taught when calm. When kids are dysregulated, it is not the time to be teaching or introducing new calming strategies. I’m an advocate for teaching calm down techniques on a regular basis.
Consider interests. If kids roll their eyes at the idea of coping strategies, try to incorporate interests when you practice. For example, if a child loves sports, try tossing the ball back and forth. If a student enjoys building and playing with blocks, use that!
Calming strategies are not one-size-fits-all. Different kids are going to prefer different strategies, and that’s okay! It’s important to try several different techniques with each child to help them find the strategies that best fit in “their toolbox.”
Practice, practice, practice. Kids are not going to pick up coping strategies after one or two tries. It truly takes time. Don’t give up after one shot. Practice them and see how it works over time. And yes, this means actually taking time out of the schedule to work on coping strategies. They are an important social emotional skill and worth the time!
Calming activities are not a magic wand. While it is usually helpful to use these strategies when a child is dysregulated, it is not always a perfect fix. Kids and teens also need to learn strategies for problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Keep the goal in mind. Remember that the goal with calm-down activities is to teach kids to regulate and feel calm. Some activities for certain students are going to have the opposite effect. Take note of it and try new activities when this happens.
Here are some calming activities specifically for kids who need to move:
- Going on a scavenger hunt
- Blowing bubbles
- Taking pictures
- Spending time outside
- Playing with sand
- Riding a bike
- Playing an instrument
- Gardening and yard work
- Practicing yoga
- Playing a sport
- Cooking or baking
- Building something
- Painting a mural
- Playing with Legos or blocks
- Tossing a ball
- Using a hula hoop
- Walking a dog
- Carrying something heavy
- Lifting weights
- Role-play and acting
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Doing a puzzle
Need ideas? Use these Materials to teach coping strategies to kids and teens.
Do you have more calming techniques for kids who need to move? Let me know! I’d love to add to the list.