6 Ways to Help Kids De-Stress

Saturday, January 27, 2024
Being a parent is certainly a stressful job, but sadly, so is being a kid these days. Children, tweens and teens today are faced with enormous social pressures, global changes, violence, and so much more.  So as a mom and former educator, I'm always on the look-out for good stress-relievers and new coping methods. Here are five of my latest finds for helping kids to de-stress.

photo via Canva

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Some products were sent to me as samples, but I promise you I wouldn't feature items if I didn't totally love them myself.

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Before you read my suggestions, please remember that I'm not a trained medical professional. I'm a mom and former elementary educator (and that's a field I am certified in!). These stress-busting ideas come from my years of experience as a parent and teacher, but they're just suggestions and not intended to cure anything. So please use your best judgment when it comes to your child. It’s important to seek help from a medical professional if you feel that anxiety or stress is negatively impacting your child’s life. 

1. Use an Emotional Wellness Playbook

The Genius of Play has created an absolutely awesome FREE resource to provide parents and caregivers play-based, screen-free activities to help kids develop emotional intelligence and learn to express their feelings in a healthy way. The Playbook was developed in partnership with Talia Filippelli, the founder of Starr Therapy in Hoboken, NJ, a leading mental health expert and winner of numerous ‘Top Kids Doc’ awards. I just so happen to be an Ambassador of Play, but even if I wasn't, I would still be raving about this free resource. It contains helpful and fun ideas like 'Emoji Bingo,' DIY calming bottles, simple yoga poses, and so much more. Access the free playbook here.

You can even print out a sample page from the Wellness Playbook right here, courtesy of The Genius of Play! Click on the image below to enlarge, save to your desktop and print:

2. Fidget Away Stress with Spin Flip

During anxious moments, it can help to have something on-hand to fiddle with (remember the whole 'fidget spinner' craze?). Fidgets help children (and adults) to re-focus their brains simply by occupying their hands. Spin Flip Puzzles not only act as 'fidget spinners' (because they can spin 360 degrees), but they're also puzzles. Each Spin Flip puzzle (there are several designs available) has two different pictures (one on each side) so kids can spin them, flip them and slide the rings around while simultaneously trying to solve the puzzles. If the puzzle is too challenging to solve, it doesn't matter! You can still enjoy the Spin Flip without the frustration of a typical puzzle, since the fun is in spinning/flipping, and not necessarily solving. Solving the puzzle is an added bonus! You can find Spin Flip Puzzles on Amazon here
3. Wreck This Journal 

I always mention this journal to parents, even if their kids don't like writing.  Wreck This Journal is more like an anti-journal, with pages you can rip, scratch, color, or destroy. I know a few adults who could use a journal like this, too! It's paperback, 224 pages and available in different styles. You can find them on Amazon here. Looking for a more traditional feelings journal for younger kids? Try the Express Your Feelings Journal from Hand2Mind, which is great for kids ages 5 and up.

4. Learn to Breathe

'Learning to breathe' might sound silly to adults, but mindfulness and breathing techniques are the first step in helping kids control their emotions and anxiety. It's so important to recognize your breaking point before it happens and not after. Counting and taking deep breaths helps us calm down and manage our feelings. Pawz the Calming Pup from Hand2Mind encourages kids to follow the lighted prompts and inhale when the pup's light gets brighter and then exhale as his light fades. Pawz doubles as a nightlight. Hand2Mind also offers a Mindful Maze Set for kids. These mazes act as 'finger labyrinths,' so kids can focus on tracing the patterns of the maze with their fingers to help redirect their thoughts. Older kids, tweens and even teens can benefit from these Sensory Fidget Tubes, too. Instead of scrolling on their phones or running to social media channels, let them sit for a while and focus on these when they're upset! Trust me, you'll look at them and find them oddly soothing, too.

5. Discover the Art of Purposeless Walking

It sounds simple to tell someone to just take a walk, and studies show that a one hour walk through nature can actually lower your stress level. But it's not always easy to get a teenager (especially boys, in my opinion) to take a walk 'for no reason.' So try adding a tech twist to your walk by keeping track of where you go and how far you walk. Teens and tweens especially might appreciate apps like Map My Walk, Charity Miles, or simply the free health apps on Apple iphones or Apple Watches (I, personally, love trying to close my 'fitness rings' every day!). 

6. Dig Out the Crayons

Adult coloring books are extremely popular and can help alleviate stress and depression, according to this article by the Mayo Clinic. But coloring is not just for little kids and adults. There are coloring books geared towards all ages, and even tweens and teens can get in on the action. From video game themed coloring books to 'starter sets' like the Art with Edge kits from Crayola, there is literally something for everyone. Some more of my favorites include:

Your medium doesn't have to be crayons, either. Colored pencils, markers, pastels, and chalk are also  fun choices to experiment with.

Other Helpful Resources:

And please check out MindUp, which I truly believe should be a part of every school's curriculum

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