Creative Ways to Get a Kid to Calm Down

By Kaitlin Hurtado on November 13, 2021

As a caretaker of a child, you should know that kids are bound to get out of control, overwhelmed, or upset. This may happen at home, or when you are out and about running errands in public. You cannot always anticipate how a child is going to act, but you can prepare yourself (and a child) for how a tantrum or bout of uncontrolled energy is handled, regardless of where you are, what time it is, or who you are with.

Children can have a difficult time keeping their emotions and energy in check. As an adult, you can help them learn these skills by helping them calm down through calming activities or practices to help prepare them for the future.

Photo: Pexels

1) Movement-based activities

If you need a kid to calm down because they have a little too much energy for the current situation, such as a child winding up before bedtime instead of winding down. Elect to choose calming activities that will help bring down their energy level or ones that are movement-based.

If you’re stuck indoors, you may not have the benefit of wide-open space for your kid to run and play as they would like. Something like rhythmic jumping can help a kid expel their energy without needing much space.

Or, if you have an open space or a playground nearby, you can pace your child through running drills or a setup obstacle course to have their attention fixated on something else, as well as giving a target for their energy.

Teach your child some yoga, which can come in handy when you are stuck indoors or are looking for a more quiet movement-based activity. Some easy to remember, child-friendly yoga poses are:

- Tabletop pose: This one is an easy one, and can be used as a starting pose for other yoga movements. Rest on your hands and knees, bring your knees hip-width apart, and keep your palms directly under the shoulders with fingers facing forward. Keep your back flat.

- Cat and cow poses: For a cat pose, begin from the tabletop position. Round the back and tuck the chin into the chest, mimicking a cat stretching. For a cow pose, lower the belly toward the floor and arch the back while looking up. Alternate between the two poses for extra movement.

- Child’s pose: Sit back on the heels and slowly lower the forehead down in the of the knees. Rest the arms along your sides. This pose can help stretch while allowing your child the time to calm down.

- Cobra pose: Lie on the belly and place palms flat next to the shoulders. Press and lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

If you choose to teach your child some yoga poses, you can also teach them some breathing exercises to pair the two together or practice on their own. Controlled breathing can help your child calm anxiety and discomfort. There are a few different exercises you can begin with:

- Balloon breathing: Like the name suggests, have your child pretend they are blowing up a balloon by exhaling slowly (blowing up the balloon) and then inhaling slowly (deflating the balloon).

- Bunny-breathing: Have your child take three quick inhales through the nose and one long exhale through the mouth.

- Deep belly breath: Have your child place a hand on their belly and the other on their chest. Instruct them to take a deep breath over four counts and then exhale through their nose over four counts. Have them focus their attention on the movement of the chest and belly as they breathe.

2) Soothing activities 

Many self-care enthusiasts will boast about their elaborate bath routines, from fizzy bath bombs to scented candles. Baths can also be used as a calming activity for kids. Whether you choose to have playtime in the tub with your child’s favorite bath toys or use warm water and a few drops of essential oil to soothe your child, bath time can be the perfect calming activity at any point of the day. Of course, if your child is known to throw a fit around bath time, this activity shouldn’t be used as a calming method.

Quiet time in a sensory room or sensory space can also help your kid calm down. Children can get overwhelmed easily, whether it be from being left with a new babysitter or loud construction noises from a neighbor’s renovation project. Give your child the space and tools they can use to calm down. This will be different for every child, but some things you can consider utilizing are:

- Dimmed lighting, or alternate light sources. Instead of natural light or harsher overhead lights, opt for lights off, softer fairy lights, or night lights.

- Pillow or blanket piles. Let your child nestle into a comforting pile of cushions and/or blankets. Incorporate a weighted blanket or heating pad/blanket depending on your child’s preference.

- Fidget toys or stress relief toys. Fill the space with a few toys to help calm your child down, such as stress balls, fidget toys, or scented/soft stuffed animals.

It’s important to pay attention to how your child reacts to any activities or practices you choose to help calm them down. Depending on the child, they may find the activity opposite of calming, leaving them more distressed or uncomfortable. Be ready to shift gears and fall back on other options.

Helping your child regulate their emotional responses from an early age can be essential in preparing them for the future. Teaching kids to fall back on these kinds of activities that they can do when they’re alone can equip them with the knowledge and experience to handle overwhelming situations by themselves in the future.

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