Last Updated on February 1, 2021.
How often do you have to stop and take a breath before responding to a frustrating situation? Do you count the three in your mind before answering your toddler’s question for the fifth time in the past hour? You may be using grounding techniques without even realizing it! We can teach these kinds of simple grounding techniques for kids to reduce their frustration too. It’s a simple positive parenting strategy to help build a lasting bond between you and your kids.
What happens when kids feel “ungrounded”?
Parent’s often describe ungrounded kids as whiny, naughty, needy, and a host of other negative adjectives. But being ungrounded is often more than that. It can be:
- Feeling anxious or overwhelmed
- Sleep deprivation
- Nutritional or diet issues
- Being “hangry”
- Lacking mental clarity
- Experiencing an adrenaline rush
- Experiencing environmental sensitivities
- Lacking coordination
- Feeling physical tension
- Mind racing
Our lifestyles contribute to our feelings of “ungroundedness”. Many of us our:
- Lacking a balanced diet
- Lacking physical activity
- Lack of connectivity to nature
- The use of sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants
- Overexposure of technology
- Familial disconnect due to overscheduling
Some people, especially kids, experience additional challenges that impact our ability to stay grounded. Being on the autistic spectrum, having ADHD, having other learning disabilities like dyslexia, and experiencing sensory processing disorders are just a few additional challenges.
What can we do to help kids feel grounded?
As parents, we want nothing more than for our kids to be well adjusted, successful adults. So one of the most valuable tools we can give our kids is the ability to re-center, or find their footing. Ultimately, there are two things we need to do to give them these skills:
Demonstrate grounding techniques in real life
By setting this very important example we can show our kids that it’s possible to take control and ground yourself. You demonstrate that only YOU are in control of yourself. You’re teaching maturity, resilience, and perseverance.
Help kids learn and practice their own grounding techniques
Grounding skills must be practiced. These are not skills that we are born with. It starts with helping kids identify when they are becoming ungrounded. What triggers them?
Then, we must teach kids practical grounding techniques. And while it’s important to teach multi grounding methods, we must also help them practice these techniques! It takes consistent practice to really hone grounding skills
Easy Grounding Techniques for Kids
All you need for this exercise are your five senses! Look around the room, and identify:
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
A-B-C Around the Room
Here’s another easy grounding technique. Simply look around the room and identify an option that starts with the letters of the alphabet, starting with A.
I’m a Tree!
Trees are incredibly grounded! Practice feeling your physical connection to the ground by imagining yourself as a tree.
You could say “I stand tall, and am firmly planted to the ground. I feel my feet rooted in the dirt, my toes extending out like roots. My back is a strong trunk that keeps me stable. I feel my arms reach out like into the air. My fingers are leaves rustling in the breeze. I am a tree!”
For this exercise you only need your imagination. Imagine you are slowly drawing around your own feet, creating your unique footprints. Imagine the details, like getting around the back of your heel and the curves of each toe. What color would you draw your footprints? Imagine these colorful footprints permanently grounded, attached to the floor.
Practice very deep breaths. Deep inhale through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds. Feel the air in your chest. Big exhale, expel all the bad feelings and negative thoughts through your mouth. Feel the negative energy pass by your lips. Repeat your deep breathing for a few minutes.
Ice Cold Hands
Grab a piece of ice in your hands. Feel the texture of the ice. What does it feel like as it melts in your hands? What happens when you set it in a cup or on the table? Does it melt more quickly in your closed fist, or in your open palm? Feel the cool sensation on your skin.
This one is similar to the Ice Cold Hands activity. Immerse your hands in a sink full of water. Feel the water’s temperature. Is it warmer or colder than your hands? Is it deep, or shallow? Can you make waves or ripples in the water?
For this exercise, you simply give yourself a strong super hug. Place your left hand on your right shoulder, your right hand on your left shoulder, and give it a squeeze. It’s often beneficial to add a motto or affirmation. Say “I love myself.” or “I am in control” while you give yourself a super hug.
Keep a stash of unique, colorful objects. A set of crystals or colorful objects would do the trick, but it can be anything with a variety of color, texture, and detail.
Hold the item, and notice the details. What does it feel like? What colors do you see? How does it feel when you squeeze it? Are there different textures? Notice as many different details as possible!
This is an activity many kids enjoy. You only need paper and a pencil, marker, or crayon. Trace the hand on paper (some kids may need help with this at first!), then create patterns or color the inside of the hand. Focus on creating detailed designs!
I am a Butterfly
Imagine you are a caterpillar in a cocoon. Wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tight. Now imagine you are emerging from your cocoon a beautiful butterfly. Stretch and spread your wings. Flap your wings in the wind. What do your butterfly wings look like? Where will you fly to?
Recite Items in a Category
Pick a category of items. It could be as simple as colors, or as challenging as fast food restaurants. Whatever your category, name as many as you can! Can you come up with 5 colors? Or 10 fast food chains?
To reorient yourself with the present, you simply have to recite things that are true. These can be facts you think of on the fly, or a series of facts you memorize. It might look like:
- My name is…
- I live in…
- My eyes are…
- My hair is…
- Today is…
- My favorite color is…
- My favorite superhero is…
- The season is…
- My shirt is…
- My favorite meal is…
Stomp Stomp Blow
Stomp your left foot. Now stomp your right foot. Feel the impact with the ground. And now exhale deeply, blowing away all your negative thoughts and feelings. Repeat this pattern again several times. Stomp, Stomp, Blow. Stomp, Stomp, Blow.
This one is as simple as it sounds. Create a routine of stretches that you can go through when you need to feel grounded. Do a few trunk twists, toe touches, and arm circles. Repeat this routine a couple of times!
Pick a category and search the room for these items. You could search the room for red objects, or objects made of wood. You could also count shoes or pencils laying around the room.
The Grounding Chair
Designate a chair the “Grounding Chair”. If possible, place the chair in a spot with a view. It could be looking out a window overlooking a garden, or in front of a bookshelf with a plethora of pretty books. Make sure that when you or your kids sit in the chair, your feet can touch the ground. When you need to feel grounded, sit in the chair. Feel your feel planted in the ground. Sit up straight, and enjoy the view. What do you see? Look for details.
Bonus Tip: Give your kid a safe sanctuary where they can retreat when they need some space. Check out this quick guide to creating a cozy space for your kids from Three Little Zs!
Grounding techniques are an invaluable tool to help kids manage their feelings and recenter themselves in times of trouble. Most are very simple techniques to help you refocus.
Whatever grounding techniques you choose, practice them every day! Grounding skills will last a lifetime. Do you have any other grounding techniques for kids? Share them in the comments below!