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12 Easy Ways to Help Burn Energy and Calm Children of All Abilities

12 Easy Ways to Help Burn Energy and Calm Children of All Abilities

By Gina Gibson, Fraser Sensory Inclusion Specialist • April 16, 2020

Many parents are now working from home and trying to juggle distance learning for their children. As Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism and early childhood mental health services, Fraser understands that many families are struggling to adjust to new situations.

Here are some easy resistance activities to help prevent meltdowns and calm and soothe children (and adults) of all abilities. Like a weighted blanket, the activities increase our sense of body awareness, attention span and overall feelings of calm.

These twelve resistance activities help soothe children with both typical and special needs. And bonus, these can be performed with everyday household items!

  1. Chew gum, eat chewy or crunchy foods or drink thick liquids, like a milkshake, smoothie or applesauce, through a thin straw.
  2. Fill a pillowcase with stuffed animals, and pull it up an incline or stairs.
  3. Take the cushions off the sofa, put these on the floor and army crawl across the cushions.
  4. Pull other children or heavy items around on a sheet or blanket across the floor, in a wagon or a wheelbarrow.
  5. Perform household chores such as vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, wiping off a dinner table, cleaning windows or changing sheets on the bed.
  6. Engage in baking activities where your child stirs the batter or kneads the dough.
  7. Perform yard work like raking leaves, pushing a wheelbarrow, planting flowers or pulling up weeds.
  8. Participate in activities like playing on a jungle gym, dancing or yoga.
  9. Push against a wall and try to make it “move.”
  10. Participate in activities involving running and jumping, such as jumping rope, hopscotch or jumping on a trampoline.
  11. While on hands and knees, color a rainbow with a piece of large paper on the floor or the sidewalk with chalk.
  12. Do animal walks like the crab walk, bear walk or duck walks.

 

Basically, any activity where your child can push or pull against resistance is helpful. These activities provide calming and soothing sensations for the body. It also increases their endorphin levels, aka happy hormones, and decreases heart rate and blood pressure.

These activities work for people of all ages and abilities, so pick a few you think may work for your situation. Just be sure to monitor your child’s response to any resistance activities in case some exercises have an alerting rather than a calming effect. If your child seems fatigued or overheated, stop the activity.