Mindful or Sensory activities, or re-centering activities, are the perfect way to help kids get out of a bad mood, stop a cycle of worry, or move from anger to a place of better regulation.
Immersive activities like these can help your child transition from feeling upset or worried to a state of flow. Being in a state of flow is when you are completely absorbed in an activity for its own sake. It is when you are immersed in the present moment without even thinking about it.
Flow states occur when your child is deeply absorbed in play. This is when they discover new things, increase their exploration, and even work through stressors they may feel. Play is therapeutic for kids. Sometimes they need a little help getting there and that is where sensory and mindful activities can help kids get back into that state of flow.
These are also great activities to use as brain breaks or to move from e-learning to playtime.
1. Go on a Sensory Scavenger Hunt:
I love this activity because it helps kids re-discover their environment with their five senses in a fun way. It also helps kids ground themselves in the things that they like to see, smell, feel, listen to, and taste. I ask my son how he felt after doing the scavenger hunt and he said, “I feel happy because I found my place in the world.”
2. Make some Aromatherapy Slime:
actile activities are a great way to help kids become immersed in an activity. These slimes recipes multi-sensory because they have the added bonus of calming aromatherapy.
If you have a younger child who wants to eat slime, you can try an edible version like this Edible Banana Marshmallow Pudding Slime. Again, this is multi-sensory in that it is tactile, but kids can also taste it.
3. Get frustrations and worries out with DIY Emoji Squishies!
These are the perfect addition to a calm-down spot or to use on their own. I love these because not only will children learn to identify emotions, the squishiness of them make them tactile and sensory.
When my son was a toddler we had small plush emojis and it was the perfect tool to help him out of a tantrum. We started with identifying the emotions and then ended with throwing them around and playing with the “silly” emoji.
4. Make a Sensory Garden.
Gardening is known to provide a psychological boost by reducing stress and increasing positive emotions. One reason for this is because gardening lends itself to being in the moment and in a state of flow. Some research even shows that digging in dirt increases serotonin levels in the brain.
5. Make a DIY Sensory Glitter Jar:
These jars are naturally captivating and engaging. If your child is feeling upset, the glitter in the jar can represent “feeling all shook up.” Ask your child to shake up the jar and as it settles to take deep breaths. As the glitter settles in the jar, so do their feelings.
6. Do some mindful coloring:
Coloring is an activity that naturally lends itself to mindfulness. It is something you can do that is engaging, but that you don’t have to really think about, so you can be in the moment.
And coloring isn’t just for kids, research shows it reduces stress in adults. So, pick a colored pencil and join your kids for this activity!
7. Play in Water.
There is something about kids and water that just takes the bad mood away. Whether it is a sensory bath with glow sticks, playing in a baby pool, running through the sprinkler, or playing in the water table, anytime you add water to your child’s play it magically becomes immersive and mindful.