What are some ways for primary school aged children to calm down when upset?
For kindergarten-aged children, there are various techniques and activities that can help them calm down when they are upset. Here are some effective strategies:
- Breathing Exercises: Teach them simple breathing exercises, such as “balloon breathing.” Instruct them to take a deep breath in through their nose, hold it briefly, and then exhale slowly through their mouth as if blowing up a balloon. This technique can help them relax and regulate their emotions.
- Counting or Numeral Games: Engage the child in counting or numeral games to divert their attention and promote a sense of calm. For example, ask them to count slowly to ten, count backward, or find objects in the environment that correspond to a specific number.
- Calming Sensory Activities: Provide sensory activities that have a calming effect on children. This can include playing with stress balls, squeezing soft objects, playing with kinetic sand or Play-Doh, or engaging in sensory bins filled with materials like rice or dried beans. These activities can help redirect their focus and provide a soothing sensory experience.
- Guided Imagery: Use guided imagery to help children imagine a calming and peaceful place. Guide them through a visualisation where they can imagine themselves in a favourite location, such as a beach or a meadow. Encourage them to describe what they see, hear, and feel in this imaginary setting.
- Mindfulness Activities: Introduce basic mindfulness activities appropriate for their age. For instance, guide them through a “mindful minute” exercise where they focus on their breath, body sensations, or the sounds around them. This helps them become more present and grounded in the moment.
- Engage in Artistic Expression: Encourage children to express their emotions through art. Provide paper, crayons, markers, or paint and allow them to draw or create artwork that represents how they feel. This can serve as a form of emotional release and self-expression.
- Movement and Exercise: Engage children in physical activities to help them release energy and reduce stress. Encourage them to jump, dance, do simple stretches, or engage in other gross motor movements. Physical activity can help regulate emotions and promote a sense of calm.
- Music and Relaxing Sounds: Play soft, calming music or relaxing sounds, such as gentle nature sounds or instrumental music. This can create a soothing environment and help children unwind.
- Storytelling and Books: Read books with calming and comforting themes to children, focusing on stories that address emotions and provide positive coping strategies. Discuss the characters’ emotions and how they handle challenging situations, helping children relate and learn from the stories.
Remember to tailor the techniques and activities to the individual needs and preferences of each child. It’s important to create a supportive and nurturing environment where they feel safe to express their emotions and explore these calming strategies.
Leanne Hopkins is an Occupational Therapist at Succeed Healthcare Solutions and is passionate about creating a world where families thrive. If you are a parent or carer of a kindergarten aged child who needs assistance with learning to manage their emotions, please contact us and arrange a free 15-minute Discovery Interview to see how we can assist.