December 19, 2023

Calming and Grounding Techniques for Children

The activities, exercises and suggestions are shared by certified PlayTherapist Emma Brummell

Mindfulness, in its simplest form, is being present in the moment we are in right now. Letting go of thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday and paying attention to what is happening in the environment right now, as well as noticing what is happening in our own bodies and minds at each present moment.

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in helping us move from a place of worry and anxiety to a more positive mindset, allowing us to experience the joy available in the here and now.


The breath can be an extremely soothing and calming tool. Deep belly breaths can activate our parasympathetic nervous system and induce feelings of calm. We can help children to breathe in this way using props such as:

Hot chocolate breath: cup your hands together like you are holding a mug of hot
chocolate. Guide your child to, “Breathe in and smell the hot chocolate, breathe out, cool
it down.”

Blowing feathers to see how far they can get them to move.

Explain to your child how deep breaths can help us feel calm when we are worried, upset or angry. We can also model the effectiveness of this to our children by showing them how we use deep breaths to help us when we are feeling these emotions too.


Drawing or coloring a mandala can be very soothing and help to regulate emotions from feelings of anxiety or worry to a state of calmness. You can print some mandalas to colour or draw a circle
and allow your child to create their own mandalas.


This activity is helpful when your child is in an over stimulated state or when they are experiencing anxiety, worry, upset. Ask your child to name:

  • 5 things they can see
  • 4 things they can hear
  • 3 things they can feel
  • 2 things they can smell
  • 1 thing they can taste

This can help to bring your child to regulate their heightened feelings and bring them into the here and now.


Movement is a very effective tool in helping the body to use the extra adrenaline created by stress and filling it with endorphins that help us feel happy and energised. Dancing is a great activity for helping to move into a more positive mood. Gentle stretches and yoga moves can also help to calm the mind and the body.


When emotions are running high, simply changing the environment and moving from inside to outside can have a powerful and often immediate effect on ours and our children’s mood. Take a walk in nature or simply stand on your doorstep and listen carefully, what can you hear? Can you feel the wind/rain/sun on your face? What can you see when you look around?


Cultivating gratitude is a fantastic way to help children and adults alike to focus on the small things in their lives that bring joy. We can do this by sharing with your child 3 things that made you happy today. Ask them to do the same. This helps to shift the mind into a more positive mindset, helping them to feel calmer and happier.


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