How to Help Your Sensory Kid with Natural Calming Activities

By Bethany Johnson in Healthy Feeling

Kids can be hard to decode. Some children are even more unpredictable than others. Overreactions and underreactions to common environmental stimuli can have parents wondering what’s up.

I have a sensory kid who’s especially sensitive and needs my help to process everyday things like outings and introductions to new people.

The sensory kid has trouble processing incoming information, and may show signs of distress.

He’s always been unsure in situations where everyone else is having a good time.

The sensory kid has trouble processing incoming information, and may show signs of distress.

Helping kids calm down is a skill all parents should have. Whether your child is simply sensitive, has a formal diagnosis, or falls somewhere in between (like mine), these calming activities for kids help you, your child, and other family members navigate all the “big feelings” that threaten to overwhelm.

Structure Your Routine (and Your Body)

Sensitive kids like mine crave the security of daily and weekly rhythms. Consider adding yoga for kids into your routine to support your sensory kid before the day even gets started. A simple pattern of sun salutation, downward dog, and then happy baby pose, for example, can quiet your child’s spirits before the hustle of each morning’s routine. Get other family members involved by teaching your kids a couple of yoga poses for partners.

Lavender Play Dough

Try making homemade play dough and mix in essential oils that have been celebrated for calming kids, including classics like geranium, lavender, and Roman chamomile. I find the squeeze-and-release pressure of the concoction makes it one of the best calming activities for kids.

Before It Bubbles Over

I keep a few bottles of bubbles in my purse as a way to distract my kid when he starts gearing up. When you see trouble brewing, you might not be in a place where you can reason with your child or “talk things through.” It’s these instances when you can use bubbles to divert your child’s attention from his big feelings. The deep breaths are a physical trick to keep his brain moving and full of oxygen as he navigates his emotions. Once you’re in a safe place, you can revisit what happened and talk it out.

Interactive Repetition

Years ago, I started encouraging my kids to recite things like our family’s values, the months of the year, and classic poetry. Needless to say, they hated the work of memorization and resented my efforts. That is, until I added hand motions. Now, recitation is a go-to calming activity for both preventative measures and for coping with stressful situations.

A Warm Bath

You don’t have to be a sensory kid to enjoy a warm bath. The heavy pressure of the water on your child can calm him, and the mild heat helps relax what my kid calls “all the feels.” If he likes, you can also dim the lights and play quiet acoustic music.

Trust Your Gut

Your gut might be telling you something. In some cases, it’s silly to think a simple bubble-blowing activity will help your child. If you get the sense you’re dealing with something bigger than an age-appropriate meltdown, you’re probably right. Talk with your pediatrician before trying these activities, since your sensory kid might need more than your intervention alone.

Do you have a kid who needs extra attention? How do you cope with things like shopping trips, loud neighborhood dogs, and family gatherings? Tweet your methods to @TomsofMaine!

Image source: Bethany Johnson

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

The only thing worse than watching your sensory kid struggle is being able to see it coming. Fight that powerlessness by being ready and having a few calming activities for kids up your sleeve. Now you're ready to navigate life's common scenarios together with your child, and as a team you can feel capable and strong.