Feelings of increased stress or anxiety are quite common for children with behavioral issues such as ASD or ADHD. This anxiety can manifest itself in some problematic behaviors such as aggression, tantrums, or meltdowns. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun activities that are also natural ways to deal with anxiety and ways to create feelings of calm.
Help Your Kids Learn Deep Breathing
Deep breathing exercises are a surprisingly effective way of reducing anxiety fairly quickly. You can use everyday fun activities to help teach these to your children and to help them calm down when they feel stressed. Blowing bubbles is a perfect example of an activity that requires careful, controlled breathing to do correctly. Similar activities could include blowing seeds off of a dandelion or blowing a pinwheel. These activities are perfect for when your child is younger and needs to rely on a structured activity to practice breathing. As your child gets older you can introduce drawings or illustrations that help guide them through deep breathing exercises.
Create Soothing Art
The act of creating art can be very calming and therapeutic, so why not use art to make calming objects? One idea is to find smooth stones your child can paint calming pictures on. When the paintings are complete, use a clear gloss to finish off the stone, keeping the paint soundly on the surface, and creating a smooth texture. The completed project is a perfect soothing fidget toy your child can have easy access to. Another fun project idea is to create calming mind jars. Take a plastic bottle or jar and fill it with water and food coloring. Then add glitter and other small objects that will float well in the water. Glue the lid shut for safety once your child is done with their creation, and they will have a soothing toy that is unique to them.
Get Your Child Moving
Physical activity is one of the best outlets for anxiety and has numerous benefits to the mind and body. Simple activities such as going to the playground, playing hopscotch on the sidewalk, or playing tag are great ways to get your child active. Swimming is a particularly beneficial activity for children with autism. The sensation of buoyancy and pressure of the water is very calming for kids with autism, creating a great atmosphere to release tension, and focus on having fun.
Each child is different, and some calming strategies may work for some children, but may not work for yours. Experiment with new activities and discover what works best for your child. When you and your child know what will work best, try creating a calming box with soothing items to have on hand or perhaps a “calming card” with activities your child can choose from to calm down. Trial and error, and careful preparation will help put you and your child at ease.
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