Use these calming activities for kids to help children, tweens and teens learn how to calm down and relax! An awesome list which includes indoor, outdoor and even virtual ideas.
Kids are packed full of energy. I know this because I have two energetic children of my own, and I also teach first grade.
Thankfully, most kids are able to appropriately channel their energy and emotions the majority of the time, as long as they are given activities and expectations that are appropriate for their age.
But even then there are times when frustration, overwhelm, sadness, exhaustion or anger take over.
This is completely natural and provides for opportunities when adults can step in to help as emotional coaches to teach kids strategies to calm down and manage their energy and emotions effectively.
It would be great if we could just tell them to “calm down”, but it’s not that simple. And most of the time that will actually make things worse.
Children, teens and even adults don’t always know how to calm themselves down. Instead, they need to learn how to de-escalate and regulate their emotions just like we learn how to read or how to ride a bike.
One of the best ways to teach children how to relax is by engaging them in calming activities.
How To Get Kids to Calm Down
The tricky thing about this is that there is not one strategy, method or activity that works for all kids.
Each child will handle excess energy and their emotions differently, depending on the situation they are in.
This is especially true for children with autism, anxiety or anger management issues.
That’s why it’s important for you to have a bunch of ideas and activities that you are familiar with so you can discover what works best for your child.
And lucky for you, we are sharing a huge list of great resources for calming kids down today.
The activities on the list below will help kids learn how to identify and regulate their own emotions or process extra physical energy. Some of them will also engage their brains with input from methods they may not have experienced before, but can have a profound impact on their ability to reset and re-center.
These calm down strategies for kids will also help to relieve their stress and anxiety, allowing them to focus on having fun, learning or just being a kid!
101 Calming Activities for Kids
Calming Sensory Activities
Sensory play isn’t just for young children. Older kids can also benefit from sensory activities too! Use this list as inspiration to engage kids of all ages in calming sensory experiences.
- Calm Down Jar. These jars or bottles are usually filled with glitter and water or glycerin and have awesome calming effects. Next time your little one needs a healthy way to calm down, make one together then see them relax as they shake it up and watch the glitter float down.
- Sensory Bin. A sensory bin is just a large tub filled with objects of different sizes, shapes, textures and materials. They work by providing sensory input in the way of seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling.
- Play Dough. Play dough is more than a preschool art supply. It can be a powerful tool for kids of all ages to pound, roll or form the dough as they calm down and relax.
- Stress Balls. These are an excellent way to get out aggressive frustration, lower stress levels and give healthy sensory input.
- Squishies . Outside of being all the rage, these squishy play things can provide amazing sensory input and help littles calm down through play.
- Slime. Slime is also an awesome tool for kids to engage in quiet, calm play.
- Oobleck. This non-newtonian fluid and can provide a quiet activity for a long period of time. Oobleck is solid when under force and a liquid when allowed to sit. This transformation is unbelievable for kids and interacting with Oobleck will instantly change their mood. It can also be very messy – so don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉
- Find It Games. These work like a sensory I Spy game. They are fun but also require concentration so kids will begin to calm down without even realizing.
- Take a Shower or Bath. Water can be incredibly soothing and relaxing. When one of my children is upset or anxious we pop them in the tub or shower and by the time they hop out their mood has completely changed.
- Fidget Toys. There’s a variety of different toys that work best for different types of children. Let them find what works best for them.
- Birdseed Play. Running your fingers through birdseed can be a calming sensory experience, similar to running your hands through sand.
- Use a Weighted Blanket. Weighted blankets work by applying additional pressure to the body. The nervous system processes the pressure and releases serotonin, which can improve mood and regulate breathing and heart rate.
- Dry Brushing. The dry brush method is used by many professionals, like occupational therapists to help calm children with gentle sensory input, but can easily be done at home.
- Bubble Wrap. This is one of my kids’ favorite things to do! It’s simple, but they love it.
- Wrap Up Like a Burrito. It’s like being swaddled, but as a grown child. The pressure provides a deep sense of calm and relaxation.
- Orbeez. These have a texture like no other and are perfect to squeeze and play with.
Calming Outdoor Activities
Engaging in nature is a great way to calm even the most restless children. Being outside provides space for them to run, play or yell in a safe environment. While experiencing the beauty of the great outdoors can be enough on its own, these are some awesome calming activities you can do outside.
- Blow Bubbles. Bubbles are so fun and calming for people of any age.
- Looking at the Clouds. Look for shapes and characters as the clouds float by.
- Go on a Nature Walk. Sometimes a walk through nature is all you need.
- Flower Picking. Finding pretty wildflowers and making a pretty bouquet is such a nice activity!
- Look for Four Leaf Clovers. Have kids hunt for a lucky four-leaf clover.
- Nature Scavenger Hunt. Keep it simple, or difficult depending on their age.
- Look for Constellations. Once the stars come out, lay on your back outside and find the shapes in the skies.
- Sidewalk Chalk. Sidewalk chalk play provides sensory stimulation and allows kids to be creative or even active. Check out these easy sidewalk chalk ideas for inspiration.
- Make a Daisy Crown. Weave daisies together to make a pretty crown.
- Sit in the Sun. On a nice warm day, have kids just sit in the warm sun and let it calm you with its glow. Vitamin D is an important mood regulator for children.
- Make a Mud Pie. This one is MESSY but is a classic calm activity for the outdoors.
- Swing Slowly. Challenge kids to swing as slowly as they can.
- Sit in a Hammock. These are calming on their own!
- Sit by a fire. Staring into a fire has a special way of bringing peace and calm to a situation.
- Bird Watching. Have kids sit quietly and watch for birds and see if they can identify them. Birdfeeders make this even more engaging!
Calming Indoor Activities
Sometimes little ones need brain breaks and help with emotional regulation. If you want some easy ideas for calming activities kids can do indoors, use some of these.
- Write Out Your Emotions. Sometimes writing down what you’re feeling or experiencing is the best way to calm down.
- Fish Watching. Fish tanks are captivating and mesmerizing for kids.
- Coloring. Even adults have found the calming power of coloring! We love these meditative coloring books for kids.
- Doodling. Give your child a sheet of paper and a drawing utensil and just let them doodle.
- Legos. Legos are a classic because they allow children to create and play independently for hours when they need some time by themselves to calm down.
- Threading Beads. You can have kids make a piece of jewelry, or younger children can string pony beads onto pipe cleaners.
- Sand Art. Pour different colors of sand into containers to make beautiful layered art.
- Play with Blocks. Have little ones build towers and houses and whatever else they can invent.
- Do a Crossword. Engage their brains with a little word play.
- Emotions Game. Use this activity as a way to identify and name big emotions kids might not know how to recognize.
- Busy Bags. These are great to make ahead of time to let kids play with during quiet time.
- Writing on a Chalkboard. Let kids draw or write on a big chalkboard.
- Lacing Cards. Lacing cards require concentration and precision which can help to redirect energy to help kids come back to calm.
- Puzzles. A nice quiet activity that is not stimulating.
- Memory Game. These can be as easy or as difficult as you want them to be depending on the capability of the child.
- Painting. Painting is an excellent way for kids to express themselves through art.
Calming Virtual Activities
Virtual calming activities are a great way to help kids calm their minds and bodies when you can’t be present with them physically. These would also be a great addition to remote learning classrooms.
- Keep a Digital Journal. Have kids keep a digital journal that they write in daily or weekly.
- Digital Drawing. Basic digital painting is a great way to create virtually.
- Guided Breathing. This can easily be done using a youtube video, or via zoom calls.
- Video Games. Some fitness focused video games have calming activities built-in like yoga, meditation, and guided breathing.
- Zoo Live Cameras. There are several zoos that offer live cams of their animal enclosures.
- Virtual Tangrams. These are a great calming activity that also engages the frontal lobe of the brain as well!
- Board Games. Many board games for kids are available to play online for free.
- Calming Videos. There are several videos on YouTube that are calming or provide relaxation.
- Guided Meditation. There are several YouTube videos that do this specifically for kids.
- Word Clouds. Kids can make their own digital word art using this free program.
- Virtual Museum Tours. This is a calm quiet activity that will engage their brains too!
- PixelArt. Kids will fill in the pixels with colors to make their own pixelated pictures.
- Ebooks. Kids can read using their tablet or e-reader.
Calming Auditory Activities
Engaging in a calming activity can use all of the senses, or can focus on one sensory group. These auditory activities are a great way to calm the body and engage different parts of the brain.
- Play with a Rain Stick. Rain sticks offer a kid friendly way to engage the ears and calm the brain.
- Listen to Soothing Music. Instrumental is usually best.
- Find the Instrument. Have children listen to calming music and listen for a specific instrument in the song.
- Guess the Sound Game. Make different sounds like tearing paper, or pouring a cup of water and see if they can guess it by listening only.
- Nature Sounds. Play nature sounds to help calm and relax children.
- Play the Quiet Game. Sometimes simply being quiet is a powerful way to calm down.
- Copy the Sound. Have kids repeat sounds like hums, clicks and other sounds.
- Sing. There’s something magical about singing out loud whether alone or in a group.
- Hum. Have kids hum favorite songs or simple nursery songs.
- White Noise. White noise helps reduce the rest of the noise in the room so your brain can calm down.
- Rain Sounds. Nothing calms like the sound of a gentle rain.
- Radio Show. Radio Programs can be a great way for kids to calm down and use their ears to listen.
- Identify the Animal. Have kids guess the animal based on the noise it makes.
- Positive Affirmations. Have kids repeat positive, calming affirmations out loud. Saying things like, “I am at peace.” or, “I am calm.” to help them relax.
Kids handle times of stress in similar ways to adults. Their muscles can become tense and they can hold tension in different places of their bodies in stressful situations. Engaging them in relaxing activities like these can help them to destress and calm down.
- Belly Breathing. Have kids la on their backs inflate and deflate their bellies with deep breaths. Repeat several times to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and send a signal to the brain that it is time to calm down.
- Counting. Set a number based on the child’s age, and have them count up to it, or down from it.
- Zen Garden. Mini little gardens with sand and a small rake can relax anyone in a matter of minutes.
- Sit in a Rocking Chair. Gentle rocking back and forth is a beautiful way to relax kids of any age by calming the vestibular system.
- Envision a Quiet Place. Have children picture somewhere that makes them feel relaxed and at peace.
- Essential Oils. Rubbing gentle essential oils like Lavender into the inner wrist or bottoms of the feet can be so relaxing.
- Measure Your Heart Rate. Teach kids how to find their pulse and measure their heart rate.
- Deep Breathing. Mindful breathing exercises like deep breaths can help regulate your blood pressure and relax your whole body.
- Progressive Muscle Group Relaxation. Have children sit or lay down. Start from the top of the head and move to the bottom of the feet, intentionally clenching and then completely relaxing each part of their body.
- Warm Bath. This simple calming activity is a great way to relax at any age.
- Drink a Warm Beverage. Hot Tea or Hot Cocoa is a great choice for relaxing you from the inside out.
- Imaginary Travel. Pick a place and describe it and have kids travel there in their minds. They can envision what it looks, feels, and sounds like.
- Read Quietly. If your child isn’t old enough to read, have them look at a picture book quietly instead.
- Low Light Experience. Turn out all the lights, or have something simple like flameless candles or Christmas lights on only. The lack of bright light helps you relax.
When children are young it’s a great time to teach them how to utilize different ways to calm down to help alleviate stress in a situation. Calming exercises are a great way to use your mind, body, and breathing together to calm down. These can be done alone or in small groups.
One of the best times to utilize these exercises if after a stressful situation like after school, or even just before bed.
- Yoga Poses. Doing yoga with kids is a great calming activity for brain and body.
- Brain Break Dice. There are several types of these. Kids roll the dice dnd do the exercise the dice landed on.
- Follow the Leader. Have kids take turns being the leader walking around the room and doing different movements that their peers have to copy.
- Sensory Walks. These take a little prep work, but can be a great way to turn a simple walk into a fun calming activity. Instead of just walking kids will hop, slide and tip-toe instead.
- Jump on a Trampoline. Have kids do a mixture of fast and slow jumps and to listen for instructions. You could also have them play one of these fun trampoline games.
- Walk Like an Animal. Give kids an animal and have them walk like that animal would walk.
- Stretching. Deep stretches can calm even the most restless of kids.
- Take a Walk. Sometimes a simple walk is best.
- Lie Flat on Their Backs. Have children lay flat on their back and close their eyes. They won’t sleep, but it helps to engage and relax parts of the body that are normally moving.
- Jump Rope. This is an activity easily done alone or in a group and is a great way to burn off extra energy. Kids will enjoy learning all of these jump rope songs, rhymes and chants.
- Medicine Ball. Medicine balls are heavy and take a lot of energy to push or throw. The resistance helps kids find their calm.
- Balance Beam. Start with simple balance beams and then move to more advanced versions.
- Ballet. Ballet isn’t just for girls and is a beautiful way to express yourself through gentle dance.
More Kids Activities:
It’s common for kids of all ages to struggle to regulate their emotions. As adults, it’s our job to teach them and give them tools that they can use to learn how to calm themselves down when they feel angry, anxious or out of control and to develop emotional intelligence at home
Another important consideration is that not all kids will respond to these activities the same way. We included 101 calming activities for kids because you will need to try different strategies and ideas to see what works best for your child.
With practice and consistency children can learn how to calm down and regulate their emotions. Keep trying until you find an activity they enjoy and can use whenever they feel like they need to relax.