Sometimes we find it easy to tell our kids “go to your room and calm down for a while,” but do our kids actually know how to calm down on their own? I have created a list of 12 simple in the moment techniques to help calm an overstimulated child and get them into a calmer space.
Sensory Input Calming Strategies:
- Carry something heavy to engage the large muscle groups.
- Hang upside down on the jungle gym or on a couch.
- Get a really tight, long bear hug from a friend or family member.
Sensory input calming helps provide stimulation to the sensory system which works the muscles and can have a calming effect for the whole body.
Crossing the Midline Calming Strategies:
- Do cross crawls (touch one hand to opposite knee. Repeat with other side.)
- Do 20 jumping jacks then touch hand to opposite toe 20 times.
- Draw wide figure 8’s in the air in front of you. Do it with each hand.
Crossing the midline refers to exercises that cross the center of the body. These exercises activate the corpus collasum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connect the two sides of the brain. Doing this activates both sides of the brain, helping to integrate processing. Thinking with the whole brain creates a calmer, more focused mind.
Grounding Calming Strategies:
- Focus on what you hear, see, smell and feel to bring attention back to your body.
- Wash your hands for 2-3 minutes and really feel the water.
- Ball your hands into fists, then relax. Tense entire body, then relax.
Grounding is simply another term for ‘knowing what the body is doing,’ grounding can be done anywhere in as little as 60 seconds.
Mindfulness Calming Strategies:
- Do square breathing: do each for 4 seconds. Breath in, hold, breath out, hold. Repeat.
- Grab a textured object. Close your eyes and describe what it feels like.
- Jump up and down for 1 minute. Then close your eyes, put your hand on your chest and count your heartbeats.
Mindfulness is a popular technique that helps the child get in tune with what the mind is doing, and helping it find a more centered space.