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10 Best Calming Activities for Kids

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These calming activities will help kids unwind and relax. The best part? They work for grown-ups, too!

The 10 Best Calming Activities for Kids

When to Use Calming Activities

Calming activities are ideal for any number of scenarios.

Lower the Emotional Temperature

Children have trouble regulating their emotions.

Anger, sadness, giddiness, anxiety, or frustration can cause them to act out physically because they can’t yet regulate themselves.

Wind Down to Sleep

Unlike adults who become lethargic when tired, children sometimes act the opposite way.

Calming activities can reduce hyperactivity and signal to the brain and body that it is time to rest.

Brain Breaks

Children benefit from a brain reset after periods of concentration (or even prolonged social time if you have an introverted child).

A calming activity relaxes the brain and body and gives the child much-needed refreshment.

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10 Calming Activities for Kids

These calming activities are simple and require little to no prep.

Sensory Play

Calming sensory activities can draw kids’ attention and quiet their minds and bodies.

Provide cups or molds for kinetic sand, play dough, or water beads.

Children will also enjoy playing with slime, putty, or oobleck (equal parts corn starch and water).

Guided Imagery and Imaginative Stories

Guided imagery helps kids relax their bodies by clearing their minds.

These stories (like the ones in the book Imaginations by Carolyn Clarke) guide children to visualize scenes like taking a hot balloon trip or swimming under the sea.

You can also use imaginative stories to capture a child’s attention and calm his mind.

Cozy Corner

Creating a cozy corner gives children a safe space to calm themselves.

Fill the space with fuzzy pillows, comfortable seating, or a soft rug underfoot.

The cozy corner can be temporary (like a blanket fort) or permanent (like this teepee).

The cozy corner is ideal for calming activities such as quiet reading or sensory bottles.

If your child reads to calm down, create the ultimate kids reading nook.

The 10 Best Calming Activities for Kids


When you read, you still your body and transport your mind to another place.

Reading is a calming activity that can take many forms.

Reading aloud to a child, quiet independent reading, listening to audiobooks, or ear reading are all calming activities.

Breath Focus

When a child focuses on her breath, she feels calmer and more centered.

Here are some breathing activities children can try.

Buddy Breathing

The child lies down and places a buddy (a stuffed animal) on his chest. Then he takes deep breaths in and out to move the buddy up and down.

Starfish Breathing

Here’s a breathing exercise to try: Starfish Breathing

The child places one hand on a table and traces its outline with the finger of the opposite hand. 

As he moves up a finger, he inhales. 

As he traces down the other side of the finger, he exhales.

Once he traces all five fingers, he has made a starfish!

Animal Breathing

Give the child prompts to breathe like certain animals.

Some great choices: snakes (hiss as you exhale), bumblebees (buzz as you exhale), hummingbirds (hum as you exhale), and cats (purr as you exhale).

The 10 Best Calming Activities for Kids

Nature Walks

Focusing on nature can calm children (and you!).

Go on a nature walk–you can even make it a nature scavenger hunt). You can look for colors in nature, insects and birds, or shapes.

You can collect twigs, pine cones, or flowers to create nature crafts (even informal crafts like “build a village for ladybugs”).

Yoga or Stretching

The ancient practice of yoga helps reduce stress and relieve anxiety.

When introducing yoga to kids, it is essential to keep poses simple and tie them to pictures the child understands.

You can incorporate yoga or stretching into stories to act out the scenes.

For more on introducing yoga to kids, check out this article.

The 10 Best Calming Activities for Kids


Music can be a powerful calming tool.

Choosing the right music is vital.

Are you trying to relieve stress? Happy, upbeat dance tunes may do the trick.

Are you trying to get a child to wind down for sleep or lower his activity level? Choose mellow music like classical, folk, or soundscapes.

Water Play

Water is a soothing sensory activity that helps calm children.

Baths can be wonderfully calming. You can provide a child with bath toys for added fun. These can be as simple as funnels and bottles.

Or you can use these waterworks pipes.

Add scented bath bombs or bubble bath for extra calming effects.

If you don’t have a bathtub (or your child does not like them), showers also work well.

You can also fill the sink with water, bubbles, and toys for water play anytime.

Drawing, Coloring, or Journaling

Art can be very calming for children.

Drawing, coloring, painting, beading, sculpting–all of these are powerful calming activities for children (and adults).

The 10 Best Calming Activities for Kids

Top Ten Calming Activities for Children

Telling a child to “just calm down” rarely works.

Instead, provide a child with a calming activity so he can learn to regulate himself.

Practice relaxation skills with your child with these top ten calming activities for kids.

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