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15 Play Ideas to Help Children Calm Down and Relax

At this time of year, when its often difficult to get outside for a good run around, and when the grey weather and dark evenings seem to lead to a concentrated manic energy inside, bad moods, unsettled tempers and emotional meltdowns seem a common problem in many households... 

It definitely occurs in our house. Jake is a very sensitive little boy, coupled with an enormous amount of physical and mental energy and at times early evenings can become filled with mini meltdowns, hyperactivity, silliness and tantrums, which generally lead on to a difficult bedtime. So tonight, as I reflect upon our day Im trying to put together a better plan for the next few winter months, including more intensive interaction, more inside physical play and some calm down activities that actually engage him. It seems like a good starting point to produce a round up of play ideas and activities that aid relaxation and have therapeutic benefits (to children and parents). 

1. Lets start off with Five Playful Tools for Calm Down Time from the wonderful make, do & friend. I especially like the zen garden sensory tub. 

2. Use Pretend Play to Conquer Fears from MamaSmiles reminds me that simple pretend play can be a great way to connect, chill out and work through any anxieties that might be causing emotional outbursts. 

3. Our own Sensory Balloons and Stress Balls - I recently made some new sensory balloons and the whole process of making them and exploring them is really therapeutic. 

4. This simple but effective 54321 Relaxation Technique from PlayDrMom

5. Also from PlayDrMom are these Make Your Own Worry Dolls - these would be great for older children as well as toddlers. 

6. This makes me relax just looking at it... a Bedtime Sensory Tub; Lavender Dyed Rice from NurtureStore 

8.Lavender Play Dough, and... 

10. This Breathing Through the Tears idea from Little Moments is a great calm down tool for tantrums, but also for some lovely imaginative play too. 

11. Making and exploring sensory bottles is a great chill out activity; I really like this Ocean Chill Out Bottles from Small Potatoes

12. This Mommy Meltdown Basket from my friend over at Connecting Family & Seoul is just wonderful, and definitely a fantastic idea to have one or two of these made up ready for 'one of those days'
13. My guest post on Not Just Cute talked about Creating a Quiet Space for Children and is something I recommend; we don't use our own quiet space enough. 

14. Water Play Indoors that The Wonder Years shows so well is a great idea too, dont worry about the mess and do it in the bath!

15. The Calm Down Jar you have probably seen all over Pinterest - Its lovely, and easy; you need glitter glue, glitter, water and a clear bottle or jar. Once shaken the glitter will slowly fall to the bottom, you and your little ball of energy can take a few moments out to gaze at it.... 

This topic is something I am definitely going to be exploring more, so Id love to hear your own ideas and look out for more of my own... 

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