A child meditates.

Whether it’s a scraped knee, a bout of sickness, or the overwhelming rush of big emotions, grounding techniques can offer your children a lifeline of comfort and stability. These techniques serve as anchors, grounding kids in the present moment. When your child is in physical pain, the simple act of deep breathing can help alleviate some of their discomfort. Similarly, when they’re grappling with intense emotions, like frustration or anger, grounding techniques provide a sense of control. When you learn easy grounding exercises to help your child self calm, you’ll be better prepared to help them when life gets rough.

What are grounding techniques?

Grounding techniques are mindfulness-based strategies and sensory-focused activities that help individuals, particularly children, connect with their immediate surroundings and the present moment.

Why should you give grounding techniques a try?

Grounding strategies have been proven to be beneficial in a multitude of circumstances. Once your child discovers what works best for them, they can use the same strategy in a variety of circumstances.

A child spends time in nature.

Check out come of the potential benefits of grounding techniques

  • Cultivating Emotional Awareness
    • Grounding techniques can help your children identify and label their emotions as they arise.
    • This promotes emotional intelligence and a deeper understanding of their feelings.
  • Easing Anxiety and Stress
    • Grounding activities redirect attention from worries to the present moment.
    • Techniques like deep breathing and sensory engagement reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
  • Building Emotional Resilience
    • Grounding empowers kids to manage their emotions and reactions in challenging situations.
    • This fosters emotional strength, allowing kids to bounce back from setbacks more effectively.
  • Encouraging Self-Soothing
    • Grounding techniques provide a means of self-soothing during distressing moments.
    • Children learn to create a safe internal space for comfort and stability.
  • Enhancing Concentration and Focus
    • Grounding engages the senses and redirects wandering thoughts.
    • This practice enhances children’s ability to focus, improving academic performance and daily tasks.
  • Promoting Healthy Coping Mechanisms
    • Grounding teaches children constructive ways to manage and express their emotions.
    • Kids develop alternatives to negative coping strategies, setting the stage for lifelong emotional well-being.

Looking for grounding techniques? Here are a few things you can try

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is one of the most basic techniques that can help kids feel grounded. Here’s a reminder of how to do it:

  • Have your child place their hand on their belly.
  • Instruct them to inhale deeply through the nose, expanding their belly.
  • Tell them to exhale slowly through the mouth, feeling the belly deflate.
  • Repeat several times.

5-4-3-2-1 Technique

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is great because it engages multiple senses and redirects your child’s focus to the present.

  • Name five things you can see
  • Four things you can touch
  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste.

Texture Exploration

Young children naturally enjoy texture exploration. You can create a texture experience for them by collecting a few different items from around your home and placing them in a bag.

  • Provide objects with various textures (smooth, rough, soft, etc.).
  • Encourage your child to touch and describe each texture, focusing on the sensory experience. One way to help them to really focus is to have them close there eyes while they discover different objects.

Mindful Observation

Sometimes grounding can be as simple as opening up your kitchen blinds and looking outside your window with your kids. Take the time to be present in the moment and you’ll be suprised by what you notice.

  • Sit quietly and observe surroundings.
  • Notice colors, shapes, and details.
  • Engage all senses without judgment.

Counting Colors

This is a little like “I spy” and can be a quick distraction when you have a child who is anxious. You can of course do this with a variety of categories.

  • Look around and count objects of a specific color.
  • Helps shift focus from stressors to immediate environment.

Bubble Breaths

Another breath breathing tool are bubbles. It’s a fun way to combine a little bit of play with mindfulness.

  • Use a bubble wand and take slow breaths, blowing bubbles.
  • Focus on the breath and the calming rhythm of blowing bubbles.
Children pull and push a wagon together.

Movement

Grounding doesn’t have to be a serious event. Some kids crave the grounding that physical activity can provide. Big movements are an excellent way to help manage big feelings. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Jumping Jacks: Engages physical activity to release tension and redirect energy.
  • Yoga Poses: Encourages mindfulness through gentle stretching and balance.
  • Heavy work: Have your child push or pull something that takes a lot of effort.

Name That Emotion

Naming our emotions is a great way to pin down how we are actually feeling. It can also help us communicate our needs to those who are around us.

  • Identify and name the emotions being felt.
  • This recognition helps children understand their feelings.
Herbs and essential oils.

Scent Exploration

Using aromatherapy as a grounding tool can help your child relax. Pleasant smells can remind us of happy memories like holidays and other special moments.

  • Provide scented items like flowers, essential oils, or scented markers.
  • Inhale the scents deeply, paying attention to the sensations.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery encourages relaxation and mental escape from stressors. It encourages your kids to use their imagination to distract them from situations they are upset by.

  • Teach your child to imagine a calm and safe place.
  • You can create your own, or read from a script

Mindful Eating

Snack time can be a great place to slip in some mindfullness. It can also give a child who is feeling depleted a boost of energy.

  • Have kids eat a small snack mindfully.
  • Focus on the taste, texture, and sensation of eating.

Tension Release

This exercise helps release physical tension and promotes relaxation.

  • Your child can do this by squeezing a stress ball or stuffed animal tightly.
  • Instruct them to hold it for a few seconds, then release slowly.
Two friends watch the clouds together.

Cloud Watching

Cloud watching is another excellent way to combine mindfulness with imagination. You can set up a comfy space on a blanket.

  • Lie down and look up at the sky.
  • Observe and describe the shapes of clouds.

Affirmation Cards

There are lots of beautiful decks available for sale, but it can also be meaningful to create a personalized deck for your child.

  • Create cards with positive affirmations or pictures
  • Have your child look through the deck when feeling stressed to shift focus to positivity.

Color Breathing

Yes, another breathing exercise!

  • Have your child choose a color associated with calmness.
  • Instruct them to breathe in while imagining the chosen color.

Glitter Jar Meditation

  • Shake a jar of glitter and observe as it settles.
  • Teach your child about calming their mind as the glitter settles.
Children looking at a bug on a trail.

Nature Connection

Nature is one of the best places to help a child feel more grounded. Spending time around green and growing things has a soothing and comforting effect.

  • Spend time in nature, focusing on sounds, textures, and sights.

Recite a poem

Having your child recite a poem or a memorized verse can be a great way to help them re-focus.

  • Kids often know nursery rhymes by heart, this can be a great place to start

Remember

Different strategies work better for different kids. It’s a good idea to introduce a variety of techniques and let your child choose the ones that resonate with them the most.

Final Thoughts

Teaching your child grounding exercises gives them tools to deal with challenging circumstances. As you practice these techniques, your child will eventually be able to do them on their own. In a world where they are going to have difficult days, it’s empowering to have strategies to help cope with hard things.

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