Discover simple calming strategies for kids that work!
Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a caregiver, or anyone who regularly spends time with kids, you know how tough it can be to help kids calm down. They may be full of energy fresh off the playground, overstimulated from a party, or overwhelmed with intense emotions.
In any case, we must have a few calming activities up our sleeves to help kids cope.
We aren’t born with the skills we need to calm our minds and soothe our emotions. But it’s effortless to learn these skills and to teach calming strategies to kids.
An excellent calming activity will help regulate a child’s response to stress – it doesn’t matter whether the stress is physical, mental, or emotional in nature. Calming strategies target the child’s nervous system to bring it into balance.
5 Easy Calming Strategies for Kids
Below are a few tried and true calming activities for kids. These strategies only take a few minutes but can make a big difference in your child’s day.
Give more than one a try – you never know which will be the perfect fit for your child
1. Balloon Breathing
Our breath is one of the most powerful tools we have to calm down. Deep belly breathing gives fresh oxygen to a child’s brain and body and also activates their parasympathetic nervous system (the calming system).
Try this calming activity that uses breathwork:
- Have kids sit up nice and tall (on the floor or in a chair).
- Tell them to close their eyes and pretend their stomach is a balloon – any color they want to choose.
- Tell them to breathe in nice and deep, pretending to fill up that balloon.
- Then have them exhale, visualizing all the air slowly, leaving the balloon until it’s empty.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
Read more about belly breathing for relaxation here.
2. Pinwheel Breathing
Here’s another calming strategy that helps children pay attention to their breath:
- Give each child a pinwheel (or any object that will be affected by their breath).
- First, take a deep breath slowly in through the nose.
- Holding the pinwheel a few inches from the face, slowly exhale through the mouth.
- Ask children to direct their out-breath to the pinwheel and see how long they can keep it going with just one exhale (this helps them focus on lengthening the exhale, which is calming to the nervous system).
- Repeat 3-5 times.
3. Have a Mindful Snack
Snack time is an excellent time to shift focus. Use this time to add in a calming activity for kids:
- Have them take one snack item (a cracker or a grape, for example).
- First, have them closely examine how it looks and feels – what shape is it, and is it smooth or rough to the touch?
- Next, they can smell their snack and observe its aroma.
- Then, slowly put one bite of their snack into their mouths.
- Chew the snack slowly, tasting each bit of it. Observe the texture. Is it juicy and sweet? Or crunchy and salty?
- Finally, swallow that bite.
4. Calming Mini-Yoga Session
Try these yoga poses to help kids reconnect with their bodies and their breath. These are especially helpful when kids are overstimulated after playing.
1. Mountain Pose (ground and center)
Forward Bend (calm and focus)
3. Cobra Pose (open up the lungs, reduce stress)
4. Child’s Pose (relax the hips and back)
5. Lotus Pose (concentration and relaxation)
- Remind children to breathe while they do the poses.
- Hold each pose for 2-3 breath cycles.
5. Mindful Textures
This calming activity helps kids use their sense of touch to practice mindfulness.
- Have children sit on the floor with a toy or object of their choosing.
- Let children feel the object with their fingers.
- Ask them to describe what it feels like. Smooth? Cool? Rough? Bumpy? Does it have more than one texture?
- For comparison, have children touch their shoes, shirts, or floors and describe how they feel.
- If desired, have children trade objects with their neighbors and compare the differences in how they feel.
Tips for Using These Calm Down Strategies
- Keep it fun. Make sure any calming activity you do is approached with curiosity and joy. Kids will resist if they get the feeling an activity is a chore or if it’s taken too seriously.
- Find what works for each child. Every kid is different, and what works for every child will look a little different. Let your child choose which strategies work best for them, and they’ll be much more likely to make it a habit.
- Make a daily ritual. Quick and easy activities are easier to turn into daily habits. And eventually, daily routines become automatic habits that empower our kids to self-soothe when they’re stressed, anxious, or overstimulated.
If you are looking for more ideas and tools to help your child discover their coping strategies, sign up to join our community, or follow us on Instagram @bebuddy.
Thanks for reading,
Stephanie Founder/Owner of Balancing Elephants and creator of the BE Buddy®
P.S. A gift for you! Download the FREE Self-Care for Kids with Anxiety- A Guide for Parents today! This printable 32-page guide is a great resource to help your child develop wellness from the inside out!