5 nearly magical tricks for helping children calm down
Young children need to move and be active. Jumping, running, and climbing are daily actions…and needs. At times, it seems as if children are tireless. For some children, settling down is very difficult. Nonetheless, developing their ability to control their energy level and excitement is essential. Children don’t come with a “switch” they can flick to instantly interrupt their bursts of energy and calm down. Some children tend to push their limits and adopt behaviours that may be difficult to manage.
Very often, this is precisely when you come into play. How can you help children calm down? Here are 5 nearly magical tricks that may be useful.
- Be alert and pick the right moments. You know the children in your group better than anyone. You must watch for signs and intervene before things get out of hand. If you regularly observe your group, you know that there is a limit that mustn’t be crossed to avoid problems. Before children reach this limit, use a signal to warn your group and encourage children to calm down. This will help you avoid having to manage unpleasant behaviours and discipline them.
- Change children’s perception of calm periods. Help them see them as positive, enjoyable moments. Often, children see relaxation periods negatively, almost as if they were punishments. Encourage children to see calm periods as activities that are part of their day, just like crafts and games. Teach them about the positive effects these calm periods have on their body. They will begin to look forward to the “calm sessions” you offer.
- Create a calm atmosphere. Play with the tone of your voice, the lighting, the noise level… All this will have a positive effect on the children in your group. If you want to help children calm down, the first step is to set the mood. Doing so may help bring their energy level down.
- Set up a calm corner. Do you have an area in your daycare where children have access to cushions, blankets, books, and soft music? I recommend having this type of corner permanently available within your daycare. Whenever necessary, you will be able to guide children to this area. Eventually, they will learn to go to it on their own, whenever they need to calm down.
- Organize, lead, and guide children through calm activities.
Here are a few simple ideas that are quick and easy to integrate.
- Practice various yoga postures and use them for deep breathing exercises.
- Play calm music, invite children to lie on their back, and encourage them to focus on their breathing.
- Provide balls and encourage children to use them to massage their arms and legs.
- Provide feathers children can use to gently massage and tickle their arms and legs.
- Show children how they can have fun stretching, elongating their muscles, and slowing their body down.
Be sure to take advantage of the calm periods you offer your group to recharge your own batteries too!
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator