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Stress Relief Activities for Kids

By Barb Nefer ; Updated June 13, 2017

Kids can get stressed about many different things, everything from schoolwork to being bullied to family strife at home. It is becoming so common that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has advised doctors to screen youngsters routinely for stress and related issues, like anxiety and depression. You can make your child more resistant to stress by teaching him to use simple but effective stress relief activities.

Imagine Away Stresses

Kids have creative imaginations, and the Stress Free Kids website explains that this can be used for a stress relief activity. Stressed youngsters can take a visualization break. This simply means sitting quietly for a few minutes while imagining a soothing, peaceful scene. The child can picture floating on a cloud, wading in the water on a beach or whatever else she chooses. Just 5 to 10 minutes of visualization can soothe stress.

Make a Choice

Youngsters can learn to do a "stress check," and make a choice to adjust the situation. Even young kids can use a simple mental signal like a big red stop sign when they feel early stress or frustration symptoms. They can ask, "What can I do right now to stop this situation or make it better?" This teaches them to recognize danger signs and make a choice, rather than just giving in to something negative.

Relax from Head to Toe

Kids can relieve stress before bed through muscle relaxation, the Stress Free Kids website advises. They can easily learn to tense and relax each muscle group while they are lying in bed. The activity starts at the top of the head; the child works her way down to the tips of her toes. The child simply tenses up each muscle group, then releases it and continues on to the next one until she has gone through her whole body.

Control Breathing

Any kid old enough to count to four can do a controlled breathing exercise to lower his stress level. The Stress Free Kids website explains that the child can concentrate on slowing down his breathing by counting slowly to four as he breathes in, then doing the same thing as he lets out the air. This can be continued for several minutes until the stress starts to melt -- or exhale -- away.

Exercise for Relief

Exercise is a very effective stress relief activity for kids. D'Arcy Lyness, Ph.D., a psychologist and the behavioral health editor for the Teens Health website, explains it must be done regularly for maximum effect. The exercise can take any form as long as it is a physical activity. Children can participate in organized sports or simply spend a regular amount of time outside playing with friends. Help your child choose a sports league that emphasizes fun over hard-core competition. Otherwise, the exercise itself might become a new source of stress.

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