Summer time is here! For some families the summer season is full of activities and adventures. While children enjoy this time of year, reducing stimulation over the course of the day is paramount. Over stimulation can contribute to irritability, hyperactivity, and melt-downs in some children. Take the opportunity this summer to help your child develop and use effective self-calming skills that he/she can also use during the school year. Below you will find several self-soothing activities to use for your child that come from various sensory inputs (e.g., touch, sound, etc.).
Calming activities involving the sense of touch include having your child take a warm bath, hold a soothing object such as a soft blanket or stuffed animal, snuggle with a parent, pat a pet, get a massage, or play with something like play-doh or sand.
Calming activities involving sound include having your child listen to a relaxation tape, a story on tape, and use a white sound machine. Sometimes children need noises screened out. In these cases, providing your child with ear phones or ear plugs can be effective.
Calming activities using vision include reading a storybook to your child, providing dim lighting (e.g., night light or glow in the dark stars), and for some children watching a familiar show (although not recommended before bed time) helps soothe them.
Calming activities involving movement include swinging or any other back-and-forth motions such as rocking in a rocking chair, shooting baskets, bouncing on a bouncy ball, and talking a walk.
Calming activities involving relaxation tactics include yoga, blow toys (like blowing bubbles) that encourage deep and slow breathes, and having your child lay down and imagine a peaceful place while taking doing relaxations breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
In closing, it is important for all parents to keep in mind the importance of avoiding over-scheduling children. Often children have so many planned things to do that they lose sight of the simple pleasures that make them happy. I encourage parents to try to maintain an equal balance of stimulation and down time in your child’s daily schedule.
Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist