Calming Activities to Soothe Anxious Kids

Calming Activities to Soothe Anxious Kids

You may remember your favorite childhood celebrities getting “slimed” on the popular variety show “You Can’t Do That on Television.” And like many things totally ’80s, slime is rad again — in a big way — with easy and creative do-it-yourself slime recipes and videos taking over the internet and craft world.

Nickelodeon's signature slime recipeIn fact, the gooey craze even caused an Elmer’s Glue shortage in stores around the country (glue being the key ingredient in slime). But the most surprising fact that sticks out about slime? Its newly discovered calming properties.

The popping and squishing sounds associated with slime videos actually triggers an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a combination of positive feelings, relaxation and a distinct, static-like tingling sensation on the skin. Read: Ambient, repetitive noise gives us all the tingles and may reduce anxiety.

Although ASMR triggers vary per person, the millions of ASMR videos on YouTube are part of an emerging group of alternative calming activities for kids.

HOW TO RECOGNIZE ANXIETY IN CHILDREN

Anxiety in children can manifest in many ways, but some of the more recognizable signs include:

  • Restless, hyperactive, or distracted behavior.
  • Phobias and exaggerated fears.
  • Withdrawing or becoming preoccupied when expected to work with others.
  • Staying inside, alone, at lunch or recess.
  • Becoming emotional or angry when separating from parents or loved ones.

Consider implementing the following calming activities for kids into your program to help kids’ mental health:

SENSORY CRAFTS TO SOOTHE ANXIOUS KIDS

ASMR VIDEOS

These calming clips on the internet feature natural and methodical noises like whispering, tapping fingernails, and stirring a bowl of soup. And while household chores may cause stress for some of us, ASMR videos featuring activities like fluffing pillows and making beds are popular.

According to a recent study from the University of Sheffield, people watching ASMR videos showed substantial reductions in heart rates and reported feeling calm, relaxed, and connected with others.

You can find plenty of options on YouTube — or make your own ASMR video. Here’s an easy guide to recording a novice ASMR video:

  • Gather a video recorder (you can use your phone) and a microphone. Even the microphone on earbuds will do.
  • Film in a spot with carpet and blankets to reduce white noise.
  • Create your ASMR message based on your interests and triggers.
  • If speaking, use a slow, low, and relaxed tone.
  • Natural videos are more spontaneous, like a haircut; methodical videos are intentional, like the steady tapping of fingernails.
  • Edit on YouTube or a similar program, then upload and share with your group.

Looking to learn more about improving your program with calming activities for kids? We can help.

SLIME

Slime can be great not only because the feel and sound can have a calming effect on kids, but slime recipes are fairly easy to execute and can be individualized with color, texture, and glitter.

Try making slime an interactive experience in your program by inviting anxious kids to identify the ingredients in their slime while also expressing their feelings when they make a personal glob.

Check out other techniques to calm anxious kids here.

CHILDREN’S YOGA

Benefits of yoga for anxious kidsChildren’s yoga offers psychological benefits such as improved focus, self-esteem and behavior, and it is a calming activity for kids and adults alike.

Consider teaching beginner children’s yoga moves like child’s pose and tree pose, and use them in the following kid-friendly exercises:

  • Mirror, mirror: Choose a leader for your group. That child will choose a pose and show it to the other kids. The other children will copy the leader’s pose (hence the name). Change the leader with each round of poses in order to include all participants.
  • Yogi says: One child is selected as the Yogi. The other kids must do the yoga poses that the Yogi tells them to do whenever the instruction starts with “Yogi says.” If the Yogi doesn’t use “Yogi says,” then players do not do the pose. Alternate the Yogi so that everyone gets a turn.

For more information on kid-friendly exercise, read about the top activity trends for camp and classes.

KINETIC SAND

Kinetic sand, or sand covered in silicone oil, is stretchy and doughy — and thus, a sensory experience that has garnered thousands of videos and followers online.

While the process of using objects to reduce anxiety in children isn’t new, kinetic sand is an intriguing option for kids because the soft and malleable combination can be manipulated and separated, then easily re-forms. Use it to:

  • Build castles
  • Make figures and faces
  • Shape cookie-cutter forms
  • Create a beach theme with sea glass
  • Write messages in the sand

Children today face an unprecedented amount of stressors, but by developing calming activities for kids that provide comfort and cater to kids’ mental health, your program can leave a positive impression on both children and their guardians.

For more programming ideas that cater to Gen Z’s unique needs and wants, get our free whitepaper “4 Ways to Offer a Next Generation Program”.