15 Calming Activities for Children with Anxiety Post Preview: Help children find ways to feel more relaxed and calm with these ideas for calming activities for children. There is a free printable at the very end of this post titled “15 Calming Activities for Children.”
Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. However, while some anxiety is normal, too much can be disruptive and interfere with daily life. For kids, anxiety can be caused by many different things, such as school, family dynamics, or social situations.
While it’s essential to address the root cause of their anxiety, sometimes kids need a way to calm down in the moment. If your child seems to be struggling with anxiety, you may be looking for ways to help them calm down and feel better. Here are fifteen fun, calming activities to help kids feel calmer and relaxed.
15 Calming Activities for Children
This whole post is filled with many ideas, so be sure to check it out. However, if you really just want the bullet points on a printable, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for the 15 Calming Activities for Children free printable. (No opt-in required.)
Take a bath
A warm bath can help kids relax both physically and mentally. The water can help ease muscle tension, and the act of getting clean can be calming for kids. Add some lavender oil to the bathtub for an extra relaxing effect.
Play with a pet
Spending time with a beloved pet can reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that interacting with pets can increase levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love” hormone or the “cuddle hormone,” is a neuropeptide that promotes feelings of love and trust – you know, that “warm fuzzy” feeling. No wonder we enjoy interacting with our pets so much!
Spend time in nature
When it comes to finding peace and calm, sometimes the best place to look is outside. Being in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on people, and there are plenty of reasons why:
- Nature provides a sense of peace and stillness that can be hard to find in our busy lives.
- The fresh air and natural light help to boost Vitamin D levels, which can improve moods.
- Exercising outdoors can provide an outlet for stress and increase energy levels.
- Being surrounded by plants can improve focus and creativity.
Sometimes just getting out of the house can make all the difference, so head to a nearby park or your backyard for a picnic lunch. Enjoying some fresh air and time in nature can help kids (and adults!) feel more relaxed.
Did you know that coloring can help reduce anxiety by helping children to calm down and de-stress? That’s right – coloring is not just for kids; it can be therapeutic for adults too!
Here are some reasons why coloring is good for anxiety:
- Coloring requires focus and concentration, which can distract from anxious thoughts.
- It promotes creativity and self-expression.
- The act of coloring allows your body to relax and release tension.
It can be beneficial for kids who are shy or don’t like to talk about their feelings. It’s a great way to express emotions without having to use words.
Kids love slime, and for good reason – it’s fun to play with! But there’s more to slime than just being a fun kids’ toy. Slime can also be a great way to help kids calm down and relax.
Making slime is a sensory activity that can help kids focus and de-stress. Mixing and kneading the slime can be therapeutic, and kids love how satisfying it is to watch the slime come together.
Homemade playdough is another wonderful option if you don’t want to make slime! Here is a recipe for fall-scented homemade playdough.
Listen to music
Music has a powerful effect on the mind and body. Music has a way of touching our emotions and triggering memories, which can be soothing for children who are feeling anxious. Different types of music work for different people, so it’s important to find what works best for your child.
Some children may find classical or instrumental music calming, while others prefer upbeat pop music or nature sounds. Whatever type of music your child chooses, listening to it can help them calm down and relax.
Write about your feelings
Writing can be an excellent way for kids struggling with anxiety to express their feelings and work through them. When kids write, they are in control of the words that come out. Having this control can be helpful for children who feel like they’re constantly being judged or don’t have control over their lives.
The act of writing can also help kids process emotions and understand them better. For example, children who struggle with anxiety may find relief in writing. It can be a way for them to express themselves and work through their feelings.
Eat a Healthy Meal or Snack
Food plays a very powerful role in our lives, and it can also have a powerful effect on our moods. Eating a healthy meal or snack can have a calming effect on your child. Verily has some great information about different foods that have calming properties.
Not only can eating a healthy snack or meal have a calming effect on your child, but the time spent eating can allow them to slow down and focus on something other than what is causing their stress.
People have different preferences, so it is good to be aware of the foods that bring your child comfort and seem to improve their mood. Personally, I know that when I am stressed, I like to eat some crunchy food. One recent time when I was hungry and stressed, the chance to slow down and eat some honey wheat pretzels with peanut butter was exactly what I needed.
Read More: 50 Healthy Snacks for Kids
Draw or Paint
Drawing and painting can be great tools for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. For one, it’s a great way to express emotions without needing to use words. Children can use colors and shapes to communicate their feelings, which can be very therapeutic. Additionally, drawing and painting can help kids focus and stay in the present moment.
An activity that allows children to focus and stay in the moment can be highly beneficial for children prone to anxious thoughts and worry about things that have happened in the past or may happen in the future. Let your child choose what they want to draw or paint. It’s important to give them complete control over the activity so that they can feel calm and relaxed.
Read More: Outdoor Splatter Painting for Kids
Take a Nap or Have Quiet Time
A nap or quiet time shouldn’t be a punishment that you give to your child who is anxious. Try to offer it up as a special time to relax and refresh. It can be very calming to spend some time in a quiet, darkened room and allow your body to rest.
The room doesn’t need to be completely dark, of course. Some children might enjoy a mostly dark room with some soft lights, such as white string lights, a moon lamp, or some other soft night light. Not only can this offer a soft glow in the room, but to help with calming anxiety, the soft lights can give children something to focus on while they relax.
I know that sometimes when I feel especially stressed with tasks to do, one of the best things I can do is to take a nap or even just lay down and rest so that I can feel more refreshed to face the tasks afterward.
Do some yoga or other gentle movement activities
Yoga or other activities with gentle movements can help kids with anxiety in a few ways. First, it teaches them how to focus and be in the present moment. This is important because children who are anxious tend to worry about things that have happened in the past or may happen in the future. If they can learn to focus on the present moment, they will be less likely to worry about things out of their control.
Second, yoga or other activities with gentle movements can help children understand and control their breathing. This is important because children who are anxious tend to breathe quickly and shallowly, which can worsen their anxiety. If they can learn to control their breathing, they will also be able to calm themselves down when they start to feel anxious.
Lastly, yoga or other activities with gentle movements can be a great way to get kids moving and active. Children who are anxious sometimes have a lot of energy they need to burn off. Yoga is a great way to do this, and it’s also a low-impact exercise that is safe for kids.
Some gentle movement activities to check out:
- The Best Calming Movement Activities for Kids – The Inspired Treehouse
- Mindfulness for Kids: 12 Calming Exercises to Teach Your Child – Connecticut Children’s
- 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children & Teens – Positive Psychology
Make a worry doll, stress ball, or sensory bottle
Worry dolls are a tradition in many cultures and can be very helpful for kids struggling with anxiety. The idea behind worry dolls is that you tell your worries to the doll and then put it under your pillow. Then, as you sleep, the doll takes away your worries.
Making worry dolls is a great activity for kids because it helps them to identify and verbalize their worries. It also gives them a tangible way to deal with their anxiety.
Stress balls and sensory bottles are also excellent projects to work on to enjoy!
If your child enjoys reading, this can be a wonderful calming activity. If they don’t love reading or struggle with it, reading can still be a good option, but it might be better to do a read aloud rather than asking children to read on their own. Spending time with a good story can allow time to sit and relax, but most importantly, it can offer a chance to focus on the story rather than the source of the stress or anxiety.
Some of our happiest family memories are of spending time with read alouds. My children, who are all young adults now (in high school, college, and graduate school), still sometimes bring up books we read aloud and reference them, such as Farmer Boy, Caddie Woodlawn, and Betsy-Tacy. I think one of the reasons they are happy memories is because they were times of calm and comfort. (For the record, we kept doing read alouds well into their teen years. I highly recommend it!)
Talk to a Friend or Family Member
Sometimes it can be too hard for children (and adults, for that matter) to talk about their worries or the things that are causing them anxiety. Because of this, it can be good not to push or force a child to talk over their feelings. That can sometimes backfire and cause even more anxiety!
Let children know that you are available to talk to them or even just to listen if they want to talk about their fears, worries, or anxiety. Encourage them to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes being able to talk about your feelings is enough to help feel calmer and more centered.
A tip if you are the person that a child with anxiety has sought out to talk with about their worries: Ask the child if they want you to help come up with suggestions for solutions or if they just want you to listen. Sometimes, it’s helpful if someone can come up with solutions for your problems, and other times, you just want someone to listen. Children work the same way!
Ask for a Hug
Physical contact can be calming for some people. Sometimes it helps to feel loved and cared for. For other people, a hug offers the type of sensory input they need to feel calm. For children (and adults) who seek hugs specifically for sensory stimulation to help with calming, usually a firm hug will be the most successful.
When your child is anxious or worried, let them know they can definitely ask for a hug if that makes them feel better.
Do More Than One of These Activities
A lot of these methods work well together, so there’s no need to just stop with one of them. Some children may benefit from taking a rest and then having a healthy snack when they wake up. Another child may feel calmer while reading a story to their dog. Empower children to recognize what makes them feel calmer and to advocate for themselves and their needs.
Anxiety can be difficult for children to deal with, but there are many ways to learn to cope with it. These 15 calming activities are a great place to start. Each one of them can help kids to relax and feel better. Try out a few and see which ones work best for your child.
15 Calming Activities for Children with Anxiety Free Printable
If you have enjoyed this post, you can grab a free printable of 15 Calming Activities for Children. This can be a great resource to post at your house, classroom, or send home with your students.
Since I know some people don’t care for yoga, there is a version of the printable that leaves off yoga and only says gentle movement activities. Both printables are included in the download links below.
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