Children who are angry or have a tough time calming down can often effectively use different sensory activities to help the calming process. The activities give them a chance to slow down and breathe through the anger. These activities aren't difficult to prepare or execute, and are effective for young children -- as well as parents! If your child habitually gets angry, prepare a few activities in advance so you will have them ready; find the one that works best for your child.
1. Why Use Sensory Activities?
Spirited children, or ones who often get angry, need calming techniques that other children might not need. They have a difficult time controlling their emotions, and need extra help with it. Fred Rogers, minister and host of "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," encouraged children to express their anger in ways that don't hurt other people, which is the way you want your children to act. Sensory activities can help them. Repetitive motions, changing up the scenery or even using humor can work, but sometimes they just need time to themselves to work it out. If the suggested activities don't work, you can also try some exercises such as jumping jacks or taking a walk.
2. Glitter Timer
Sometimes children don't need to actually do something, they just need to be still and focused on something calming. A glitter timer is perfect, as it is something calm to look at while also being an automatic timer. Fill a clear plastic bottle with water, clear gel glue and glitter. When you need to use it, simply shake the bottle; the glitter will slowly start to settle to the bottom of the bottle. You can adjust the amount of time it takes for it to completely settle by changing the ratio of water to glue.
3. Stress Balls
Kneading and squeezing are effective ways to release anger and bring a sense of calmness to a child. Stress balls are a perfect tool for this. They are typically filled with rice or some type of squeezable material. You can also make one yourself. Fill a plain balloon with play dough and tie it off in a knot. You can easily make several of these and keep them around the house or in your purse or your child's backpack. Even just playing with play dough or clay is helpful to children.
4. Deep Breathing
Angry children tend to hold their breath, cutting off oxygen to the brain. Whether they realize this or not, they need to get oxygen to the brain in order to calm down. Deep breathing activities can help with this. If your child will sit still, count to 10 while he breathes in and out slowly. If your child won't sit still even for that, pull out a bottle of bubbles. This requires deep repetitive breathing while still doing something fun, so most kids will go for this activity. They can also pretend to blow out a cake-full of birthday candles.
- University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability: Self Regulation Tips and Strategies
- Therapy in Philadelphia: Releasing Anxiety Through Repetitive Motion
- University of Wisconsin Extension: Raising Your Spirited Child
- Mommy Poppins: 99 Sensory Activities for Any Child
- PBS: What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images