Play: Calming, “Peaceful” Activities
Our family is very…. spirited. And I don’t mean in a “Holy Spirit” kind of way.
Well, I take that back. Not all of us are spirited, but 4 out of 5 anyway.
Typically, we do time-outs for situations in which one needs to get themselves back under control. But time-outs for middle child (age 3) doesn’t really help in her calming process. In fact, they often get her ramped up even more, to a point where the hope of regaining inner peace is long gone.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been working on gathering tools that will help middle child in her cooling off process. My ultimate goal is for her to be able to recognize when she is on the brink of “crazy”, and choose an activity that she knows will help her to feel calmness and inner peace.
1. Turtle Massager
The vibrations help calm her muscles and gives her something else to focus her attention on. The kids like to put it on their heads. Sometimes she will go from crying to quiet instantly.
Our favorite these days is Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame’s Slugs and Bugs: Under Where? There’s one particular song (Tell It to Jesus) on there that talks about what to do when we feel anger, and how God will help us to chill out.
3. A Cozy Place
We created a little spot for the kids to go to when they feel the need for some quiet time. It’s nestled between a corner and the couch, and cushioned with bean bag chairs. We’re working on creating some art to go back there that, as well as a little bookshelf to house some of our favorite books on appropriately expressing emotions.
Some of our favorites:
Often times I will say a little prayer over the kids (or myself) when they are feeling angry or out of control emotionally. They almost never want to pray when they are in that mood, but hopefully I’m sowing seeds that they will someday remember on their own.
|Here’s an example of one “specialized” rice bin.|
6. Rice/Lentil Bins
We keep two bins- one filled with rice and another with lentils- near our craft closet so that they can easily be pulled out and played in. Inside each are things like measuring cups, empty sprinkle containers, ice cream scoops, bowls, etc. that can be used for dipping, scooping and pouring. If kids are approaching emotional deregulation, sometimes I’ll ask if one of them wants to play in the bin. If so, I’ll spread out a blanket on the floor (to catch the inevitable rice spills), place the bin in the middle of it, and plop them down in front of it. It’s incredibly relaxing to our kids (as long as they are not playing in it together).
If middle child is in a grumpy, unpeaceful mood, I try to get us down the park (it’s less than a block from our house!) and get the girl in a swing. She likes to swing high and pretend she’s a butterfly. =)
Sometimes kids are able to talk about what’s bothering with them through puppets more than they are able to talk directly to an adult. I’m not a child development expert so I’m not sure why that is exactly, but we’ve found it to be true in our house. So, I break out a puppet, bring it to middle child and the puppet asks her why she’s crying. Sometimes she’ll sniffle for a minute or two and say, “No”, so puppet will wait patiently and then she’ll eventually start talking.
I The Puppet will talk her through it and for some reason the puppet can say so much more to her than I can. Soon she’ll forget her worries/anxieties/source of frustration.
|Source: from HereWeAreTogether|
9. Calming Jar
I have not tried this yet, but it looks genius (also check out Robyn Oakenfold’s blog for a great pic and tutorial). Basically, what you do is imagine that the glitter in the jar are your emotions, and if you’re angry, you can shake it up and then imagine your emotions settling down as the glitter falls to the bottom. The goal is that within 3-5 minutes (the length it takes for the glitter to totally settle), the child will be calmed down. I think it could also be used as a tool in prayer, praying as the glitter falls.
10. Seashell Listening
I haven’t officially tried this one either, but it’s an idea I had to get a big seashell for middle child to listen to when she’s feeling upset. The “sound of the ocean” is quite peaceful, and she will need to be quiet in order to hear.
While some of these are particularly helpful for kids who have sensory
issues (like middle child), I’ve found that all my kids benefit from