Whether you’re trying to work from home and need a quiet moment from rambunctious kids, or trying to help an upset child calm down, it’s good to have a few activities that will distract them in a healthy way.
Here’s 10 activities you can try the next time your kid needs a calm moment.
A simple watercolor paint kit and construction paper can be enough to hold the attention of the rowdiest kids. Give them an idea of something to paint or let their imaginations go wild!
- Blowing Bubbles
Kids can sometimes get overly excited about blowing bubbles, but the action of breathing deeply in order to do so can be very helpful for a kid who is feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
- “Calm Down Jars”
Glitter might be one of the hardest craft supplies to clean up, but this project uses it for good! Make a relaxing “calm down jar” with glitter and water in a plastic jar with a tight lid. Mix glitter of different textures, colors, and weights into the water. Seal it up with a ring of hot glue around the top. Whenever your child needs a moment to calm down, ask them to shake up the jar and watch the glitter whirl around. You can even show them how to breathe deeply and let the glitter settle to the bottom of the jar before they move on to their next activity.
- Playdoh or Clay
Studies of kids’ brains while they play with craft clay actually show centers of stress being reduced! The creative nature and soothing actions of sculpting is helpful for kids of all ages.
- Plan An Activity for Later
Our kids’ routines have been completely upset in the last few months, and parents are sure to understand how much they are affected. When kids (and adults!) get upset, it’s hard to think about the future. Come up with plans for an activity your family will do in the near future to take their mind off their current troubles. Have them write it down or draw it out. Then, save it for later, when it is safe to go out and do things in your community.
- Make a “Calm Down Kit” Together
Trade the tech for a low-fi way to calm the nerves of irritable kids. Make a kit with some of their favorite craft items like crayons and paper. You can also include soothing items like a fidget toy, a weighted stuffed animal, and noise canceling headphones to shut out the rest of the world for a while.
- Ask Them to Tell You A Story
It’s usually us parents who are being asked to tell bedtime stories to our kids. Flip the script on them and ask them to tell YOU a story instead! They come up with the best ideas, and will feel special that you wanted to hear the ideas that are important to them. You can even write it down or record it on video (with their permission) to share it with them later.
- Watch fish together
There is research that says that fish tanks are actually therapeutic for all ages. Something about the smooth motion of the fish and the blue light emanating from underwater has a calming effect on our minds. You don’t even have to own a fish tank to watch them with your kids. The Georgia Aquarium located in Atlanta, Georgia, US has a livestream of many of their exhibits, and Youtube is full of relaxing videos of fishtanks!
- Make a safe space
Give your kids a safe cubby or play tent that is cozy and all their own. Ask them to help you pick pillows and blankets to place inside them, and to pick a few toys they keep in the cubby for quiet time. If they get overwhelmed, ask them if they want to go to their safe place. You can even add scented items like lavender-filled stuffed animals to create a special, soothing environment for them to retreat to.
- Send kind wishes to 5 people
Sometimes, focusing our attention on others can get us out of a negative mood. This can help kids, too! Ask them to think of 5 people that they want to send kind wishes to and have them tell you why they like that person. You can even have them decorate cards, and actually send them through the mail!