self-calming strategies for kids from Akron occupational therapists

Top Self-Calming Strategies for Kids From Akron Occupational Therapists

Everyone has big emotions from time-to-time. Children are no exception. Learning how to self-calm is an important life skill. It’s tough for a lot of adults, let alone children – and especially those with developmental delays and disabilities. Here, our Akron occupational therapists offer our top self-calming strategies for kids.

Why Teaching Self-Calming Strategies for Kids is Important

Self-calming is a developmental skill that is essential for a child learning to regulate their emotions, manage stress, cope with anxiety, and keep a cool head in overwhelming situations. A child who is unable to self-calm can put themselves and others at risk – especially as they get older. This is especially true for people with conditions like autism; they don’t wear their neurological condition on their face, so their inability to control themselves and effectively communicate the source of their distress can appear to strangers or law enforcement officers like mental illness or drug abuse – which could result in them being viewed as a threat.

Kids who learn strategies to effectively regulate their emotions and calm themselves are able to move through life more safely, effectively, and happily. The earlier we start working with children to develop these skills, the more likely they are to fully grasp and utilize them in life.

Occupational therapists (OTs) can work with children and their families to identify identify individualized self-calming strategies that are appropriate for specific needs. That said, there are many effective self-calming strategies for kids that are broadly and highly effective.

Among the many self-calming strategies for kids that our Akron occupational therapists (OTs) teach:

  1. Deep breathing exercises: Teach children how to take slow, deep breaths to calm down. You can use visual aids such as bubbles or a pinwheel to make it more engaging.
  2. Sensory tools: Provide children with sensory tools such as fidget toys, weighted blankets, or a sensory swing to help them regulate their emotions.
  3. Yoga: Yoga poses and stretches can help children relax their bodies and minds. You can use animal poses to make it more fun and engaging.
  4. Mindfulness: Teach children mindfulness techniques such as body scans or mindful breathing to help them stay present and calm.
  5. Visual schedules: Create a visual schedule for children to follow to help them feel more in control of their day and reduce anxiety.
  6. Sensory breaks: Offer children sensory breaks throughout the day to help them regulate their emotions. This could include a quiet space to retreat to or a sensory bin filled with calming materials such as sand or water beads.
  7. Get moving: Lots of research shows that exercise and physical activity helps channel nervous energy and release feel-good endorphins that uplift our mood. Run around the playground, start a jumping contest, or put on some music and dance around for a bit to a beat.
  8. Social stories: Use social stories to help children understand and cope with stressful situations. These stories can be personalized to each child’s unique situation.

Remember, every child is different and may respond differently to each strategy. As an occupational therapist, it’s important to work with each child to find what works best for them.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides occupational therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

The Importance of Pretend Play in Child Development: An Occupational Therapy Perspective, March 2000, British Journal of Occupational Therapy

More Blog Entries:

Akron Occupational Therapy Approaches to Sensory Processing Disorder for Kids With Autism, Feb. 11, 2023, Akron Occupational Therapists’ Blog