Help your kids manage their big emotions with these easy calm down tools for kids. Simple tools and techniques that help kids calm down and most of them can be used anywhere!
I’m a big proponent of actively teaching your kids to manage their emotions in age-appropriate, healthy ways.
I can think of so many instances when I have seen adults who don’t know how to handle their own emotions.
So, you want your own kids to grow up and be healthy, emotionally stable adults. One important part of this is that you need to teach your kids effective ways to calm down.
As adults, trying to calm down when we’re upset can be challenging! Little kids struggle with this even more because they lack self-control and the ability to handle their emotions well.
They also need to actively learn how to calm down.
Help your kids grow up to be happy, thriving adults by teaching them calm down tools they can use whenever they feel the need.
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What are calm down tools?
Calm down tools and strategies are activities or practices that help you calm anxious, angry, or upset feelings. They can also be used for when kids feel overwhelmed or are struggling with sensory overload.
Why do you need calm down tools?
One way to help your children manage their emotions is to teach them strategies for what to do when emotions run high. They need to learn effective ways to calm down and not let their emotions take over.
Calm down tools offer a way for kids to shift their brains from the “fight or flight” stage back into a calm, peaceful state of mind.
This is important because:
- You can’t solve problems when your emotions are running high (or out of control).
- Self-regulation is vital to having healthy relationships.
Other benefits include:
- children learn to manage their emotions
- teaches children to be aware of feelings
- teaches independence and self-regulation
- lessens anxiety
- helps children learn socially-appropriate behaviors
When do kids need to use calm down tools?
Calm down tools can be used any time kids feel their emotions start to overwhelm them.
These tools can help when kids are feeling:
Related: Teaching Kids about Boundaries
Related: Helping Kids with Anger
What you need to do to help your kids learn to calm down.
First, it is important for you to model how to appropriately manage your own feelings. Telling your kids what to do won’t be as helpful if you let your own emotions run your life. Kids definitely notice and learn by the example you set!
When I feel frustrated, I will often try to vocalize my feelings so my girls hear me and see how I manage.
Boy, I feel really frustrated that I can’t find my keys…I’m going to stop and take a deep breath and think about where I put them last.
I feel really angry that you hit your sister! I’m going to take some deep breaths so I can calm down.
It may seem silly, but kids learn by everything you do. When you actively model helpful coping techniques, your kids learn to do the same. (Just as when you actively model yelling, your kids will learn to do that too! Trust me, I know…)
Related: Anger Management for Moms
Calm down tools help to bring your child’s brain out of the emotional center and back to the thinking center. When the emotions are running the show, rational behavior goes out the window.
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Next, teach them specific calm down tools. Be sure to practice many of these regularly (especially in moments when your kids are calm) so it becomes automatic to seek one of these methods. You might have to practice several different ones until you find a calm down tool that works best for your child.
Calm Down Tools List
Calm down tools to use anywhere:
- stress balls
- calm down bottle
- breathing techniques (practice slow, deliberate deep belly breaths – Have your kids place a hand on their belly and breath deep so the hand rises up. Practice this often.)
- listen to calming music
- snug, long hug (kids can also curl in a ball and “hug” themselves)
- imagine your favorite place (or memory)
- repeat a calm down phrase (I am ok. I can be calm.)
- draw a picture
- say 3 things you are grateful for
- 5-4-3-2-1 technique (this is my favorite and my 3 and 5-year-old girls know it well)
(Say out loud: 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you are touching, 2 things you smell, 1 thing you taste. This brings the brain into “thinking” mode and moves it away from a focus on your emotions, problems, and worries.). Help your kids learn it with this printable here.
Other calm down tools:
- take a bath
- swing slowly
- hang upside down
- get a massage
- dim or darken the lights
- use a weighted blanket
- play with playdough, sand, rice
- soothing scents
- go to your “calm down spot” (a designated spot that has few sensory distractions and 1-2 calming tools)
Some active calm down tools (to help use up energy):
- jumping jacks or jumping to a beat
- run in a pattern (2 times around the yard, running down a line and back)
Generation Mindful has a comprehensive Time-In Toolkit that talks about feelings, calm-down strategies, and helps kids learn to process their emotions.
Finally, let your kids know that you love them all the time no matter what.
I think this is important because it’s easy to focus on wanting our kids to behave well and do exactly what we want.
In reality, everyone has challenging emotions they need to learn how to manage. Kids need to know they are loved during those difficult emotions and be calmly, lovingly taught how to appropriately manage and deal with their emotions.
This doesn’t mean you let them run wild. Yes, you love your kids even when they are angry, but you don’t let them hit their siblings.
I often tell my 2 little girls, “I love you when you’re grumpy, I love you when you’re sad, I love you when you’re happy, I love you all the time.”
And sometimes I’ll say “I love you when I’m grumpy, I love you when I’m sad, I love you when I’m happy, I love you all the time.” so they know that even when I am not at my best, I will always be there to support them.
You can help your kids learn to manage their emotions and self-regulate their behavior by using one (or several!) of these calm down tools for kids! You will most likely have to practice them several times until they become automatic for your kids to use. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite calm down tools for kids?