Calming activities for anxious children

Megan Forsgren from ILS Learning Center shared calming strategies for anxious children.

Small children are more prone to tantrums and meltdowns because they are in the middle of developing their language skills and have a hard time saying how they feel, what they are thinking and what they want. Usually, tantrums decrease after the age of three because language skills and emotional development improve. However, if you still have a child that has severe tantrums, meltdowns or is in fight or flight mode at home and at school, it could be a sign that they struggle with extreme anxiety and can`t self-regulate their emotions in stressful situations.

Today, we are finding more children perform well academically in school, but they are often distracted, socially awkward and display 'bad behavior' because their body can`t physically calm down. Sometimes the symptoms are so subtle, parents and teachers often overlook the signs that their child needs help.

**CALMING STRATEGIES CAN HELP A GREAT DEAL

To help an anxious child, we can provide them with calming activities and exercises prevent anxiety attacks or hyperventilation. As we incorporate some of these items in their daily routine, children will learn to use these same exercises for self-regulation in stressful situations.

**CALM DOWN BOTTLE

Calm down bottles are one of the most effective tools for both prevention and hyperventilation when your child becomes overly anxious at home or in school. You can easily create your own with varying objects like glitter, toys, and other small items. Calm down bottles provide your child with visual stimulation that can help reduce their heart rate, regulate their nervous system and control their breathing.

**SENSORY BINS
Children sometimes display behavior issues because they don`t have enough sensory integration. Creating sensory bins for your child allows them to use their tactile system, oral sensory and visual-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and motor planning. For a base item, add straws, beans, corn or rice, and then add other fun objects like whistles, toys, erasers, action figures and scoop cups so your child can explore, touch, taste and discover all the items in your sensory bin.

**STRESS RELIEF BALLOONS

Stress relief balloons work in the same way as a stress ball does. It provides your child with an object they can fidget with at their desk to channel any anxiety and pent-up energy in stressful situations. First, stuff a cup of play dough inside a balloon. Feel free to draw fun faces on the balloon and tie it at the end once you have inserted the play dough. Have your child squeeze that balloon tightly and hold for 20 seconds. Release slowly and then have your child squeeze the balloon with each finger individually to hit certain pressure points and slow the heart rate.

**LEAF BLOWER

When a child is overly anxious or begins to hyperventilate, their breathing becomes shallow and they cannot breathe in fully. It`s important to help them with deep breaths, but it is equally as important to have them breathe out to calm their respiratory system. To accomplish this task, take a lunch bag and fill it with some small paper cutouts (for example, leaves, hearts, stars, flowers, etc.). Cut a hole on the side of the bag and insert a straw. Have your child blow into the straw (with a good amount of force) to get the leaves to jump and swirl in the bad. This activity will also help your child develop their speech and language skills.