Calming tools are really wonderful for kids who are quick to anger or have a difficult time calming down when upset. In my post about tips for helping an angry child calm down, I added an infographic at the end with some ways kids can calm down anywhere, those tools were so popular I wanted to write a bit more about them, and offer you the opportunity to print them in a mini social story book for kids.
8 Ways Kids Can Calm Down Anywhere
There are so many wonderful ways that kids can calm down when upset. From sensory breaks, brain breaks, yoga, etc., but often there are times that kids need help calming down outside of the home, or in a situation where such opportunities are not available. These calming tools allow for kids to calm down anywhere, in the car, or even in a crowd.
Here are 8 simple ways:
Count to 5. Counting is a really great way to help kids slow their breathing down, and can ground them. If really upset, a child might need to do this multiple times.
Take a deep breath. Taking a few deep breaths can be so relaxing for kids, and can also help slow their heart rate down.
Blow into your hands. Blowing into hands gives kids the feedback of what deep breathing feels like physically, and can be a really calming process.
Place hands in pockets. When kids have a difficult time keeping their hands calm when upset, placing their hands in their pockets, or sitting on them, can give them an alternative to aggression.
Notice what your body feels like. In the infographic, I wrote ‘notice antecedents to behavior’ which is great for parents to do, but is also important for kids to begin to do. This is a fancy way of saying ‘notice what comes first’. By recognizing what happens in your body when upset (such as a racing heart, sweaty hands, etc) kids can learn these cues and practice their calming tools before becoming too upset.
Make a fist, then relax the hands. This is another great feedback exercise, where kids have a way of feeling pressure and then practicing muscle relaxation. It is also another great alternative for kids who turn to aggression when upset.
Relax the muscles in your body. On the infographic, this is ‘do a body scan’. Help kids learn to start at the top of their body and work down, purposefully relaxing all of the muscles they can think about and focus on.
Ask for a hug. Hugging is a really powerful calming tool, and can go a long way towards making kids feel better.
Find the infographic to print here.
What are Social Stories?
Social stories are social learning tools typically used to help individuals with Autism understand how to act or react in a variety of situations. While incredibly useful for this purpose, they can also be used for typically developing children to help them deal with a number of situations as well, and are great for helping calm down anywhere.
This printable mini book is a great tool for parents and kids. You can print this, fold the one sheet into a mini book, and keep it with you to use in any situation. I know for my spirited boy, these tools are very helpful, and this book is perfect to keep in the calm down kit in our calming corner.
*An important tip to remember, is that when using social stories, it is important to read and practice them when the child is calm, and when they don’t need them. This ensures that in the ‘heat of the moment’, your child won’t have to learn these, they will instead have them in their back pocket.
Watch this video to see how to fold your book.
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