50 Brilliant Techniques That'll Calm Stressed Kids Down Immediately

From drinking water to singing out loud, there are a multitude of tricks parents can use to calm their children down.

Last updated on May 12, 2024

Parenting tricks to calm down your stressed child Lisa5201 | Canva

When a child needs tension relief, there are many techniques parents can use to help calm them down. 

Here are 50 brilliant techniques that'll calm stressed kids down immediately:

1. Try an inversion

For centuries, Yogis have understood the calming power of bringing the head below the level of the heart, otherwise known as inversion. Whether it’s relaxing in child’s pose, bending over to touch your toes, or practicing a headstand, inverting the body has a therapeutic effect on the autonomic nervous system, which controls the body’s response to stress.


2. Visualize a quiet place

Research has shown that visualization benefits a range of populations to reduce stress levels. Ask your child to close their eyes and picture a calm, peaceful place. Then, gently guide them to slowly start to build up a picture of how it looks, smells, and feels to be there.

3. Drink water

Dehydration has been linked to a reduction in mental performance. Pour your child a tall glass of cold water and have them sip it slowly. You can try this with them, and observe the calming effect on your nervous system.

RELATED: What Really Happens To Your Body When You Don't Drink Enough Water


4. Sing out loud

Everyone knows the sweet relief associated with rocking out to your favorite tune. But the physical act of singing out loud, even if it is off-key, has been shown to release endorphins, the "feel good" chemical in the brain.

5. Do the "Downward Facing Dog" pose

Just like inversions help reset the autonomic nervous system, the yoga pose known as Downward Facing Dog, in particular, has the added benefit of activating several muscles in the arms, legs, and core. This stretch helps muscles begin to burn additional blood glucose that is made available by the body’s fight or flight response.

Mom and daughter in downward facing dog pose MestoSveta / Shutterstock


6. Paint it out

Not only does painting give the brain something to focus on other than the stressor, but participating in visual arts has been linked to resilience to stress in general. You can also have your child try "painting" with shaving cream on a plastic shower curtain in the yard. Not only is clean up a breeze, but your child will smell great when they are finished.

7. Jump rope

Set a timer for 2 minutes, put on some music, and challenge your child to jump to the beat of the song. If your child isn’t able to jump rope, playing hopscotch is a great alternative.

8. Jump high

Challenge your child to a jumping contest to see who can jump highest, longest, fastest, or slowest. This is another great way to get in some exercise to help your child blow off some steam.

9. Blow bubbles

Just like blowing on a pinwheel, blowing bubbles can help your child gain control of their breathing and thus, their mental state. Bonus: Running around popping bubbles is just as fun as blowing them.


10. Take a hot bath

​After a long day at work, there is nothing more relaxing than laying in a bathtub of hot water with the lights turned down and no interruptions. The same holds for kids. Use bath time as a chance to help your little one unwind from the activities of the day. Introduce a few simple bath toys and allow your child to relax as long as they need to. 

11. Take a cold shower

While the complete opposite of a hot bath, cold showers have a restorative effect on the body. Not only do cold (or even cool) showers reduce inflammation in the muscles, it improves heart flow back to the heart, and leads to a boost in mood.

12. Have a cozy drink

There is a reason why many people herald September as the beginning of Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) season. Drinking a warm drink on a cool day makes your body feel warm, almost like a hug from the inside. Giving your child a warm hot chocolate or warmed milk with a splash of vanilla will elicit the same response you have over that first sip of your PSL.

13. Blow out a candle

Light a candle for your child to blow out. Then re-light it and move it further and further away from them, so they have to take deeper and deeper breaths to blow it out. This is a great way to practice deep breathing while making a game out of it.


RELATED: How Intentional Breathing Exercises Benefit Your Mind, Body, & Spirit

14. Watch fish

Have you ever wondered why there is always a fish tank in hospitals and medical centers? A 2019 study found that watching fish swim in an aquarium reduces blood pressure and heart rate. So, the next time your child needs to calm down, take them to the local lake, hatchery, or aquarium for a little fish-watching therapy.

Little boy at the aquarium watching fish Olesia Bilkei / Shutterstock


15. Count backwards from 100

Not only does counting give your child a chance to focus on something other than what is bothering them, but counting backward offers an added concentration challenge without overwhelming their brain.

16. Repeat a mantra

Create a mantra that you and your child can use to help them calm down. "I am calm" or "I am relaxed" work well, but feel free to get creative and make it something personal to you and your child.

17. Breathe into your belly

Most of us breathe incorrectly, especially when we are in a stressful situation. Have your child think about their belly like it is a balloon. Tell them to breathe in deep to fill the balloon, and breathe out to deflate it. Repeat this simple process five times and notice the effects.

18. Shake a glitter jar

"Calm Down Jars" have been making their way around social media for a while now, but the concept behind them is sound. Giving your child a focal point for 3-5 minutes that is not the stressor will allow their brain and body to reset itself. These jars can be made simply from sealed canning jars filled with colored water and glitter or with baby food jars filled with warm water and glitter glue.

@stimmingwithme Reply to @lily.waldron DIY Calm Down Jar Tutorial. Takes under five minutes to make. #fidget #stim #fidgettoys #stimtoys #diyfidgettoys ♬ original sound - Stimming With Me

19. Go for a run

Running has been shown to reduce stress, and can sometimes be more effective than a trip to the therapist’s office. Going for a 10-minute jog can not only affect your child’s mood immediately, but its effects on their ability to cope with stress can last for several hours afterward.

20. Count to 5.

Just when it seems as though they "can’t take it anymore," have your child close their eyes and count to five. This form of 5-second meditation offers the brain a chance to reset itself and be able to look at a situation from a different perspective. It also gives your child a chance to think before they act in a volatile situation.

21. Talk it out

For children who can verbalize their feelings, talking about what is bothering them gives them a chance to let you know what is going on while processing it for themselves. The trick is to resist the urge to "fix" the problem. Your child needs you to listen and ask appropriate questions, not offer unsolicited advice.


22. Write a letter in the voice of your BFF

We would never talk to our best friend in the same critical way we talk to ourselves. The same is true for our children. Tell them to be kind to themselves, and ask them what they would tell a best friend to do in their situation.

23. Decorate a wall

We’re not talking about paint and decor, but poster tack and pictures from magazines or printed from the internet can give your child a chance to create large-scale temporary art in any space. The creative process is what is important, not the result.

24. Create a vision board

Have your child cut out words and pictures from magazines that speak to their interests, desires, and dreams. Then have them glue these pictures and words onto a poster board to display in their room. Not only does the process of creation allow them to think about what they want from life, but displaying things they love allows them to focus on what is important when they are upset.

25. Give or get a bear hug

Hugging allows your body to produce oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone in your body necessary for immune system function. Not only does a 20-second hug reduce blood pressure, increase feelings of well-being, and reduce the harmful physical effects of stress, but both you and your child will reap the benefits!


26. Walk in nature 

According to Stanford scientists, walking in nature has been proven to improve cognition and reduce stress. Even if you do not have time to spend the 50 minutes researchers did, taking a 15-minute walk in nature works can be just what your child needs.

27. Envision your best self

This is a great way to motivate your child to work toward a goal. Have them write down where they would like to see themselves in a week, a month, or a year, with this specific goal in mind.

RELATED: 10 Choices To Make Today To Be Your Best Self & Achieve Your Goals

28. Blow on a pinwheel

Similar to the candle exercise, blowing on a pinwheel focuses more on controlled exhalation rather than deep inhalation. Tell your child to make the pinwheel go slow, then fast, then slow to show them how they can vary the rate at which they blow out the air in their lungs.


29. Squish some putty

When a child plays with putty, the brain’s electrical impulses begin firing away from the areas associated with stress. Try a store-bought putty or make your own.

30. Take up pottery

Much in the way playing with putty fires electrical impulses in your child’s brain, sculpting with clay or throwing pots can have a similar effect. It also has the added benefit of being considered "active learning," a powerful condition that allows your child to learn through exploration.

Mom and daughter doing pottery together Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock


31. Write it out

For older children, journaling, or writing their feelings down can have a profound effect on their mood, especially if they can do so without the fear of having it read. Give your child a notebook to keep in a safe place, and allow them to write about how they feel, assuring them you will not read it unless they ask you to.

32. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude

A cousin to "write it out," gratitude journaling has been linked to better performance in the classroom as well as a reduction of stress outside of learning environments. Having a separate notebook only for things your child is grateful for will give them the freedom to keep their journaling activities separate.

33. Name your emotion

Often when children become overwhelmed, it is because they have difficulty identifying the negative thoughts they are having. Whether your child is quick to anger, panic, or obsess to ensure things are perfect, ask them to give this feeling a name, and help them talk back to it. For instance, by asking your child, "Is Mr. Perfect bothering you again?" you can work together to help them challenge their perfectionism, rather than fight them over it.

34. Rock in a rocking chair

Not only does rocking in a rocking chair provide non-weight bearing strengthening to the knees and core, but its repetitive nature also offers stress relief as well. Rock in a rocking chair with your child or allow them to rock by themselves as a way to self-soothe their frenzied emotions.


35. Push against a wall

This trick is perfect for allowing the body to get rid of stress hormones without having to go outside or even leave the room. Have your child try to push the wall over for 10 seconds, three times. This process allows the muscles to contract in a futile attempt to bring the wall down, then relax, releasing feel-good hormones into the body.

36. Crinkle tissue paper

Babies are inherently aware of this trick as one of their favorite things to do is crinkle paper. Not only does crinkling tissue paper provide a satisfying noise, but the textural changes in your child’s hand send sensory feedback to the brain in a pathway away from those associated with stress.

37. Pop bubble wrap

Anyone who has received a package in the mail knows the joy of popping row after row of bubble wrap. The same material can be found at most retailers and dollar stores and be cut into manageable pieces for stress relief anywhere, anytime.

38. Roll a tennis ball on your back

An old physical therapy trick, rolling a tennis ball on your child’s back will give them a gentle massage when they are most in need of a calming touch. Focus on the shoulders, neck, and lower back as these are typical places where the body holds tension.


39. Roll a golf ball under your feet

Rolling a golf ball under your child’s feet can not only improve circulation but there are pressure points on the bottom of the feet that relieve stress and relax the muscles of the feet and legs. Roll over the entire sole of your child’s foot using various pressures for maximum benefit.

40. Go to your calm-down space

Having a designated "Calm Down Space" in your home gives children an opportunity to retreat when they feel out of control and rejoin the group when they need to. It is important to make this space comfortable so your child wants to visit it when they need a self-imposed "time out."

@themoranfamily Creating a Calm Down Space for my kids with our newest @GATHRE products 💛 #ad #gathre #calmdownspace #calmdowncorner #montessoriathome ♬ original sound - darcy stokes

41. Play music

Music has a profound effect on mood, sleep, stress, and anxiety. Use a variety of musical styles to set the tone in your home, car, or your child’s room.


42. Have a dance party

Adding a physical component to your musical enjoyment gets your kids moving and is a fun way to be active. Crank up the tunes and have a dance party in your living room when your child is in a bad mood and watch their mood transform.

43. Do a primal yell

Sometimes all of your child’s emotions are simply too much to contain in their body. Have them stand with their feet shoulder-width apart and imagine their feelings boiling up from their toes through their legs and body, and out of their mouths. They don’t have to yell words, or even maintain a certain pitch, just whatever comes out that feels good to them.

44. Change the scenery

How many times have we thought to ourselves, "Just walk away," when confronted by a big emotion? Your child may simply need a change of scenery to calm down. If you are inside, head out. If you are outside, find a quiet space indoors. Either way, change the scenery and you will likely change the mood.

45. Go for a walk

There’s a real reason people go for walks to clear their heads. Not only is the fresh air and exercise restorative, but the natural rhythm walking creates has a self-soothing quality. Take your child on a walk, and they may even open up to you about what is on their mind.


46. Plan a fun activity

When you are in an anxious moment, it can seem as though the walls are closing in and the world will come to an end. Some children need to focus on what is ahead of them to reset their internal dialog. Plan something fun to do as a family, and let your child have a say in it. Any topic that will get them focused on something to look forward to can be helpful.

47. Knead the bread

Grandmothers around the world will tell you that the process of bread making is a tremendous stress relief. Simple recipes are abundant online that allow your child to get their hands dirty turning and pushing dough. The best part is that at the end, you have homemade bread to show for it!

48. Make a bracelet

Crafting in general can facilitate a state of "flow" or a state characterized by complete absorption in an activity. The same concept can be extended to knitting, crocheting, folding laundry, or any activity where your child forgets their external surroundings.

49. Get on a bike

Bicycling for children has largely become a thing of the past. With the introduction of bicycle lanes and paved trails in urban areas, bicycling is safer than ever and can be a powerful form of self-soothing. Not only is it easy on the joints, but it promotes balance, and exercise, and can be done with the whole family.


50. Take a coloring break

It’s not without good reason that restaurants give children coloring; it gives them something to focus on and can be a great mindfulness activity that reduces anxiety. Make a trip with your child to pick up some crayons and markers, and get them excited about filling in the pages of a coloring book.

RELATED: Saying These 5 Things To Angry Kids Just Makes Them Angrier — Psychologist Shares What To Say Instead

Renee Jain is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and certified life coach. She is the founder and Chief Storyteller at GoZen.com, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people by delivering online emotional intelligence programs.