Here are some ideas for activities kids can do at home that help calm nerves and relieve stress. Written and contributed to by parents, this collection of stress relief activities for kids aims to promote healthy mind and relaxation.
What stress reducing activities have worked well for your children? Add to the list!
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Messy Sensory Play
Shila: Kinetic sand, pellet playfoam, silly putty, slime, and more are all excellent toys for all-ages sensory play and relaxation. Handling these activities at will can help remove extra mental distractions, improve concentration and brain focus. Young kids may need some assistance, but older kids can easily make use of water bead jars or carry around pocket-sized thinking putty.
Exercise (Inside or Out!)
Shila: Stress relief can come from exercise, whether it be independently outside riding bikes or shooting hoops to breathing work led by an online yoga instructor. Quick 10-minute drills to get the blood circulating, or stretching as you wind down are examples of engaging exercises appropriate for kids. If your kids workout with a fitness tracker too, they may even feel much more accomplished by setting and achieving goals.
Calming Meditation Apps
Shila: Certain meditation apps for kids promote a great sense of mindfulness and relaxation. Your child's daily journey can be supported with calming audio, affirmations, breathing exercises, and simple activities that can help reduce typical anxiety and stress.
Take a Hot Bath
Shila: If your kids are of an independent age, encourage them to take a warm bubble bath complete with all the fixings for a soothing soak. Bubbles aren't just for little kids! Tweens especially love bath bombs, too.
Adult Coloring Books
Shila: Adult coloring books are not exclusive to art lovers above the U.S. voting age. Kids can take advantage of them, too! The pictures are more elaborate and may require slightly more precision, but the end result is just as satisfying - some can even be worthy of a picture frame!
Go For a Walk
Shila: A little bit of movement outdoors while gathering up some fresh air and sunlight can be immensely helpful for stress relief. Go as family! Or, if your kids are of an appropriate age and you are comfortable, encourage them to take a quick "free range" walk around the neighborhood alone. This type of quiet time may even bring out a bit of self confidence given the independent task at hand. Extra bonus if you live nearby a scenic overlook or park.
Shila: Consider dedicating an isolated space in your home to designing a "quiet corner." This special place can be for relaxation breaks or quiet reading. Inspirational items for decor can include bean bag chairs, soft lighting, indoor plants, aromatic incenses, small zen fountain, etc.
Shila: Choose from a variety of 200 to 500+ piece puzzles to keep your kids persevering for days. Setting up shop at the dining table or on the floor, kids can pop-in and pop-out of this quiet time project as they please.
Shila: Whether you wish to cook together with your family, or encourage some quiet time for kids to go at it alone, check out these easy dessert recipes for kids. Some creative time in the kitchen can be very relaxing for kids, as well as incredibly satisfying to sample sweet treats!
Diary or Online Journal App
Shila: Kids may enjoy keeping a diary or a secured journal that can catch and release internal thoughts. Some online journal apps, too, can be so simple and relevant for today's youth to appreciate. Happy Feed Gratitude, for example, is an app that asks you to snap photos of 3 things that brought happiness throughout the day. Its private feed mirrors a familiar look and feel to Instagram. Kids can create an online personal collection of happy photos to reflect on - minus the social media aspect!
Enjoy a Cup of Tea
Shila: There are a variety of non-caffeinated teas that are appropriate for kids to drink in flavors they may enjoy like peppermint, lemon, cocoa, and other sweet fruits. Brewing a nice cup of tea is a slow and simple process, which is why it can be somewhat peaceful and relaxing for older kids to make, take a seat, and sip in their own good time.
Listen to Soothing Music
Shila: Try blocking out the "noise" and replacing it with some relaxing music. Personally, my family has a collection of new age music, as well as classical and instrumental playlists that we enjoy. Anyone can download the same or rent CDs at the library, too. On select mornings, we simply press play at a high volume and enjoy a few hours of "silence" from each other; the music takes over the home.
Create Free Form Art
Kristy Pepping: Following the rules are great to create some fun art projects, but letting kids loose to discover their artistic sides offer a true sense of freedom. There are some fun craft recipes that let you make art to then use. For example, make chalk, finger paint or colored salt and then let kids use it for their own masterpieces.
Pre-Made Slime Kits
Shila: Similar to kinetic sand or water beads, the result of handling slime can be sensory therapy for kids.
Unless your children love to make slime from start to finish using a DIY craft recipe, I recommend investing in slime kits that supply pre-made slime, along with bundles of decorating confetti so that kids can get right into all the therapeutic fun slime has to offer.
Kristy Pepping: There are many apps and YouTube channels dedicated to yoga for kids. Many of these moves are easy enough for little ones to do and every child regardless of age can benefit from the calming effects.
Interact With Pets
Kristy Pepping: Pets are calming for kids. Whether you have a family dog, a goldfish, or a hamster, some downtime with a pet is a great way to relax.
Decorate a Wall
Shila: Is there a discrete wall in your home where you don't mind it getting colored on? In our house, it's the inside doors of our children's closets. Consider relaxing the "never draw on a wall rule" for an exclusive area that nobody except your child will pretty much ever see! Promote using crayons, stamps, pens, whatever. It can be ongoing therapeutic art for kids, and sometimes the drawings are even poetic!
If you have to eventually move one day, a bucket of paint will do the trick just fine.
Kelly R.: Reading a book is a great way to help kids take a "time out" and switch gears when they are feeling stressed or angry. Keeping a selection of books for your child's reading level on hand is a great way to make sure they always have something to pick up. My kids often gravitate toward old favorite books at a lower level when they just need to spend a little time cooling off.
Alexandra F.: Grab a ball of yarn and spend and hour or two finger knitting for an easy and relaxing activity that will keep little hands busy while sitting quietly, or perhaps listening to music or a kid-favorite audiobook. This article from Flax and Twine has lots of pictures and clear instructions on how to get started, as well as ideas for crafts that can be made from finger knit yarn. Her video tutorial below is also very helpful.
Create a Photo Book
Kristy Pepping: Print out photos of your child and your family. You can either purchase a photo album for your child to stick these in or simply use a glue stick and paste these on paper. You can then staple the papers together to create a book of memories. You can decide on a theme like pets or vacations or just a collection of past photos.
Primary photo: Eric Nopanen on Unsplash
Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.