Calming The Hurried Child

Relaxation Activities That Work!

by Kathi Borthwick

Are you stressed out? Guess what your children are too! In today’s society both children and their parents are constantly being rushed and spend too little time on activities that allow them just to “be”. Recent studies have shown that children absorb more knowledge from the environment when they are relaxed. Just as adults need calming times for their emotional well being there must be opportunities  quiet reflection for tots. Sometimes we tend to over stimulate infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers in the mistaken assumption that they need constant activity for optimal cognitive development and learning.

Here are some ideas to de-stress your little ones. They are especially good for special needs children.

Make a mini-aquarium.

Take a large empty pop bottle; fill it with colored water (few drops of food colouring) and add trinkets from the dime store. Some examples I have used are old earrings, corks, pieces of foil, marbles, plastic fish, sparkles and tiny seashells. Seal the lid very securely (I use electrical tape). This is a suitable toy for all ages. My 7-year-old son helped me assemble one and was quite involved with how the various materials behave in the water. Blue and green colored water would be most calming. Some of the objects sink and some float providing a nice cause and effect reaction and when a child moves the bottle he can gain experience tracking with his eyes. Either an adult or a child can repeatedly turn the bottle upside down while searching for hidden objects. Add a bit if cooking oil to the water for a nice swirling effect.

Cake frosting-

For this activity you need a can of shaving cream (not gel),  food colouring, different sizes of plastic mixing bowls. plastic spatulas and an old shower curtain under the table to contain any mess. In a large bowl mix a tiny bit food colour with shaving cream (lovely pastel shade). Turn the plastic mixing bowls upside down on the table and use the spatulas to “frost” the cake with the shaving cream. Lovely sensory experience with the smell and feel of shaving cream and pastel colour. Children love to do this and become noticeably calmer. Not suitable for toddlers as they would put it in their mouths but you could try instant pudding mix.

Visualization tapes-

For this you need a blank tape and a recording device (boom box). Make a record of your voice and use guided imagery. Tell the tots (use their name) to close their eyes, they are going on a magic carpet ride over the fields of daisies to the sky to the land of the—- (make something up they like and are familiar with). Describe the journey in a dream-like voice and include their siblings. Keep your voice soothing and keep the tape short. They will ask for the tape over and over because it is Mommy’s voice. Also a good idea to send it to your caregiver or daycare so the child can hear mommy’s voice when they are stressed.

Jell-O painting-

Take a box of Jell-O and place it in a bowl. Make homemade paste-flour and a little bit if water. Get out Q-tips and let children apply paste to paper. With a salt or sugar shaker have them shake Jell-O on to paper. Lovely effect when it dries and a great smell. They will do this for hours. Reuse dry Jell-O by shaking paper and putting it in a bowl.

Try these, have fun and relax!

Copyright Kathi Borthwick. Kathi’s background is in ECE and special needs. She has also worked in the primary schools as an Educational Assistant and is presently training as a Brain Gym instructor and is planning a new program for pre-schoolers in Brain Gym Learning.