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Calming Activities for Tweens & Teens

How to help your tweens and teens with stress reduction

Part 4 in the Ending Negativity Series

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Are your tweens and teens stressed out? Who isn’t, these days? I’ve got some useful strategies to help you and your kids negotiate these stressful years. Your kids need to reduce their stress and I have calming activities for your tweens and teens. I want to help you help them!

Click here to read Part 1: How to Help Your Tween & Teen Let Go of Negative Thinking

In the other articles in my Ending Negativity series, I went over lots of strategies for helping your kids learn to be less negative and strategies for you as a parent to handle their bad moods. Let me give you a quick review:

Stress reduction plan for tweens and teens

Strategies for Stress Reduction for Tweens & Teens

  1. Identify and address problems: Help your kids recognize their thoughts and beliefs about their problems. They need to learn how to de-catastrophize their issues. See article 1 and read the part about the ABC technique.
  2. Let some things go: Are your kids overscheduled? Do they treat everything like it’s the first priority? Help them prioritize, and maybe they need to back out of some activities. See article 2.
  3. Manage screens and social media: Studies show that tween’s brains are affected by screentime and social media. Read this article to get a handle on it.
  4. Eat well: Your kids brains are made out of what they eat. If their nutrition is poor, they can experience anxiety, depression, insomnia, loss of focus, and more. I touched on this in article 2. If your kid needs some yummy brain food, try my chocolate smoothie and my other recipes. They need less sugar and simple carbs, and more healthy fats and protein! Brains are mostly fat, and your kids’ brains are developing. So they need lots of good fat in their diet – coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, and grass-fed butter are all good choices. Yum! Also, beware of caffeine. Make sure your teen knows that caffeine is a stimulant and can amp up anxiety.
  5. Sleep well: Tweens and teens need about 9 hours of sleep per night, and some need even more. Most kids are not getting that much. Your brain needs enough rest every night. If your kids are not getting enough rest, it can be reflected in their mood. Click here to learn more about teens and sleep.
  6. Exercise: Exercise is part of what our bodies are meant to do! Encourage your kids to get some exercise every day. Movement during the day contributes to better sleep at night and better moods during the day.
  7. Release Emotional Tension: That’s what this article is about! Read on!
Calming activities Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

What is Emotional Tension?

Stress! That jaw-clenching, grumpiness-yelling, overall surliness that tweens and teens have (and don’t we all sometimes?)!

Your kids are tense and stressed-out, at least some of the time. They need to release some of that tension in order to start to breathe and move on with their responsibilities. We all need a break sometimes to help us be centered and calm.

Unfortunately, many people try to calm themselves by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. Or they engage in dangerous or risky behaviors to distract themselves from their feelings. Or even worse, they descend into depression and self-harm. Our job as parents includes teaching kids healthy ways to handle stress.

Your tweens and teens need some go-to activities to help them be calm and reduce anxiety. Here is a list of ideas! I’ve included ideas for both younger tweens and older teens, so I hope you can find something that interests your child.

Calming - Photo by Doug Gates on Unsplash
Calm, calm, calm
Photo by Doug Gates on Unsplash

Keep in mind that your tweens and teens might need some time alone. They also might benefit from some one-on-one time with a friend, or one-on-one time with you. Talk to them gently about which of these options they need and help them find the time to make it happen. I’ve provided ideas below that can be done either alone or with someone else.

If you are concerned about your teen or tween suffering from anxiety and/or depression, I would love for you to come on over to Facebook and join my support group. Click here to visit: Moms and Families of Tweens and Teens with Anxiety and Depression.

Ideas for calming activities for tweens and teens

Journaling

Journa writing is a calming activity - Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Journaling is a calming activity

Writing down their thoughts can be really helpful. They can keep a diary about their activities and thoughts, or they could write poetry, stories, or even comic strips if they find that relaxing. Here’s a nice basic lined journal. Or maybe your teen would prefer a blank, unlined journal. Here is a locking journal on Etsy:

My daughter would love this cow-themed notebook.

This one is silly and has a cover with my kind of humor. I think teens would appreciate the dry humor of this notebook.

This journal would be perfect for a tween girl who loves Taylor Swift, and this journal is for a Stranger Things fan and this one is for a Five Nights at Freddy’s fan.

And here are some nice pens to make it more fun.

Gratitude journals

There are lots of journals you can buy that give you writing prompts. A gratitude journal is one way to help one prioritize his or her life. It can become a ritual, either at bedtime or first thing in the morning that can lead to a feeling of grounding and mindfulness.

I created one that’s available in my Etsy shop called the “One Good Thing Journal.” I thought it would be an excellent place for a struggling kid to start. Each day your tween is prompted to just think of one thing that happened that was pleasant. It’s quick and simple, and comes in several styles. Click here to visit my Etsy shop.

One good thing gratitude journal
retro vibes one good thing gratitude journal

Here is another popular style of gratitude journal:

5-Minute a Day Journal

Calming journals

These journals all have writing prompts. If you think your tween or teen would benefit from turning their focus inward and thinking about reducing anxiety or being more mindful, these books might be a good choice. It really depends on your kid – would he or she find journals like these helpful or annoying? If you click on each link you can see examples of what the pages look like.

Anxiety Workbook for Teens

Choose Calm: A Journal for Healing Anxiety

The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration

Art and Crafts

Painting or drawing is a calming activity - Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash
Making art is a calming activity

Art and crafts are a fabulous way for people to disconnect from their daily stressors and just focus on “the now.” It’s great mentally to bring your focus in and look at your hands and what is right in front of you. Plus, many of us also benefit from the kinesthetic element of arts and crafts – touching the yarn, holding the paintbrush, etc. can be an effective calming activity, and it will be for your tweens and teens, too!

There are so many cute craft kits available! Here are some suggestions:

  • Pandacorn String Art Is it a panda? Is it a unicorn? Yes!
  • Clay Charms – My daughter had this one years ago and it was lots of fun. The brand, Klutz, makes good products.
  • Clay Dinosaur Kit
  • Fashion Sketchpad – This is a good choice for older tweens or teens. My daughter has one that’s similar to this and still enjoys using it. It comes with templates to help you draw your own fashions.
  • Fashion Sketchbook – This one would be a good choice for younger tweens. It comes with stencils and stickers.
  • Woodburning Kit – I know it sounds strange, but take a look – I think many teens would like it, boys and girls.
  • Happy Hand Lettering – I love this one! Learn the mindless-but-useful art of hand lettering! Looks like a super fun and relaxing activity.

Reading

I’m not planning to recommend any specific books here, but I think reading fiction, in general, is such a nice, relaxing activity! It’s a way to escape the every day and lose your troubles for a while. If your tween or teen is struggling with stress and/or more serious anxiety or depression, I’d advise you to steer them towards books that aren’t too worrisome. There is a lot of juvenile fiction nowadays that attempts to teach social justice, empathy, etc. that certainly has its place, but its place is not stress-reduction. For example, my daughter was assigned books in middle school in which the characters struggle with eating disorders, bullying, disease, refugee life, etc. that did not help her reduce anxiety or find restful sleep, which is what we are going for today.

If you are looking for ideas for a tween and your kid has an oddball sense of humor or interest in the strange, these books might be fun: Quirky books for tweens. I’d steer clear of Series of Unfortunate Events for stress reduction. I think the name explains why. If you can help them find some books that are funny and make them laugh, that can be a big help for stress reduction.

Here are some more lists of books:

Exciting Books for Tweens

Books for Tweens Who Love Harry Potter

Science Fiction Books for Tweens

If your teen or tween is really into reading, you might want to encourage them to keep a reading journal. It can be a lot of fun to organize all the books one has read or wants to read and write reviews for them. Here are some printable ones available in my Etsy shop:

Games

Some people find it relaxing to play a game by themselves. Our family has several different games like this. The little ones are also really handy to take on trips.

If your tween or teen is open to having some family time, here are some of our family’s favorites. Playing a game together might not be what you think of as “calm,” in fact, it can get downright raucous! But it is a pleasant release, a chance to laugh and connect with others, and a distraction from our worries – all of which can contribute to less stress. These are all games that aren’t too “thinky” and shouldn’t remind them of school:

  • Uno and Phase 10 are both really fun card games. Uno is super easy to learn and works for ages 4-104. It also is a good choice because you can play for 10 minutes or much longer, so it works no matter how long you have. Phase 10 is a little more complicated and takes longer, but it’s so fun and definitely can help you forget your problems!
  • Incan Gold is an amusing game we learned from our cousins in Canada the last time we visited them. It’s quick to learn and our tween and teen both enjoy it.
Stress reduction for teens and tweens

Puzzles

I love jigsaw puzzles! They are one of our family’s favorite ways to relax. They are an activity one can do alone or you can all do it as a family. You can chit chat, put on music, just be silent, or even put on a movie that you’ve enjoyed before. When choosing a puzzle, get one that is appropriate for the puzzler. Pick a well-made brand such as Ravensburger. Start easy and get harder! A tween is old enough to do the most difficult puzzle, but it depends on whether they have practiced before. If you are just starting out, get an easy one like this 200-piece ocean scene.

I got this 500 piece rock star cat puzzle for my husband for Christmas. We had lots of fun putting it together – it was an easy one.

This 1000-piece puzzle is inspired by the Friends TV show.

And this Paris puzzle has 1500 pieces and is the quality Ravensburger brand.

Here is a 2000-piece Disney-Pixar themed puzzle.

Building Activities

We love to build Legos in our family. It is a nice, calm activity, and it’s another one that can be done alone or as a pair. Some people may think tweens and teens are too old for Legos, but there are sets available that are intended for adults and can be a calming activity for any age.

Lego set of London skyline

Lego Pyramid at Giza (my son built this one recently)

Lego Starry Night by Van Gogh (I would love to do this one myself)

Lego Flower Bouquet (both my daughter and my mother-in-law have enjoyed sets similar to this one)

Or maybe your teen would like to try building somethig other than Legos. Here are some other highly-rated building toys:

Wooden marble run 3D puzzle

Wooden owl mechanical clock

Solar powered robot kit

Beautiful Mechanical Clock kit

Fidget Toys

It can be very relaxing to have something to fidget with. Here are a few options:

  • Magnet toys such as this one or this magnet toy
  • Pop-its
  • Squishies: My daughter and all her friends were obsessed with squishies in 5th grade. Squishies are foam toys that can be squeezed and then they slowly rise back to their original shape. She would take one along wherever she went to have something to squeeze. There is definitely something calming about it. It’s like an (adorable) stress ball! They come in tons of styles, like a Panda Squishy or a Squishy Monster.

This project is something my daughter enjoyed a while back. You can make your own stress balls – so it’s the fun of doing a craft combined with the calming effect of something to squeeze!

Physical Outlets

  • Walking – Going for a walk with you or a friend can be great because it gets your tween outside plus it’s a chance to talk. Or if you have a dog, send you tween out to walk the dog. Contributing to the family can help them feel useful and therefore develop confidence and a sense of purpose.
  • Hiking – If there is somewhere nearby that you can commune with nature, take your tween there and escape the bustle of your lives.
  • Running – If you like to run, take your tween with you!
  • Dancing – Put on some music and dance!
  • Biking, skiing, snowboarding, boating, surfing…you get the idea. Whatever your tween or teen likes that is available, make some time for it!
  • Yoga – Yoga is one of the best calming activities out there for any age, and it is a great skill for tweens and teens to learn to help them on their lifelong effort to reduce stress and be healthy. There are lots of sources for good yoga instruction. Sign up for a class together, or just watch a yoga video and follow along! Yoga with Adrienne is one of my favorite You-tubers, and she has lots of videos available for free. Why not start with this one that’s designed with teens in mind?

Self-Care

Self-care is a buzz word that you hear a lot lately. I think there is definitely some value to taking care of yourself and enjoying just being in your body. We, as parents, are trying to teach our kids to learn to prioritize their responsibilities. Don’t forget, care of the self is their responsibility, too.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are a really useful tool for improving one’s self-care. Hopefully, you already have them in your home and know how to use them. If you do, make sure you are teaching your teens and tweens how to use them, too! Click here to read my article that explains the basics of essential oils and how to get the best ones at wholesale prices.

Here are a few ways that oils can help with stress reduction for tweens and teens:

  • Diffusion: A diffuser releases the molecules into the air so that we breathe them in. Some oils have a calming, relaxing effect that can help regulate mood. These include lavender, clary sage, and ylang-ylang. Others have an uplifting, energizing effect and can help to improve bad moods such as lime, bergamot, and peppermint. Young Living has some oil blends that are pre-mixed to help support mood. One is called Stress Away, another is Peace & Calm. They both smell lovely. Here’s a peaceful blend from a small business on Etsy.
  • Topical: Many essential oils are safe to use on the skin and can have benefits. You can get a roller-ball bottle of Stress Away from Young Living that is pre-diluted for topical use onto the skin, or you can make one yourself. Then your tween or teen can roll it on their pulse points. There are nice handmade roller ball anti-anxiety blends sold on Etsy by small businesses.
  • Aromatherapy jewelry: Your tween or teen can also wear essential oils to have the benefits with them while they are out of the house. A little sniff of a bracelet, for example, can help bring instant calm. I found a craft kit to make their own jewelry (crafting and oils! Very relaxing!) or you can buy some ready-made lava bead jewelry like this lava bead bracelet on Etsy or this one on Amazon. Lava beads are often used because they are porous so you can drip the oil in. Or you can use leather jewelry, and the leather will absorb a little oil.

If you don’t have oils already, be cautious about buying a reputable brand. The essential oil industry is not well regulated and there are some scoundrels out there. You need your oils to be high-quality because you and your children will be breathing the molecules into your bodies. It’s very important that they are pure and toxin-free. To learn more about Young Living oils and learn how you can get yours at wholesale prices, click here.

Bubble Baths/Shower Time

Bubble baths have a great reputation for helping one to relax! Chances are your tweens and teen aren’t “into” baths anymore. I would suggest that when they have a little extra time, a bubble bath would be a great calming activity.

Everyone is a really good non-toxic brand that is rated very well on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website. They have a lavender bubble bath that would be a great choice – it can also be used as a shower gel. It is made with real lavender, which is important. Beware of products that claim to be lavender but then have “fragrance” as one of the ingredients – that refers to 1000s of synthetic chemicals, many of which are harmful.

Bath bombs are also fun! Here are some all-natural bath bombs on Etsy.

If your teen really just wants a shower but is open to the relaxation idea, there are shower steamers available. They work in a similar way to bath bombs. You put them in the shower and when the hot water/steam hits them they release aromatherapy so it’s like showering at the spa.

More Relaxing Self-Care

Face masks can be a calming activity. Tweens and teens can also relax by doing their nails. Both are nice ways to just slow down and focus on the self.

Get Cozy

Cuddling up is another way to practice some self-care. Some people feel better when they have a weighted blanket. It helps them feel more centered, or grounded.

Weighted blankets

When you choose your weighted blanket, you need to pay attention to the weight. Different amounts of weight are recommended depending on the size of the person. This weighted blanket comes in different weights and colors. Take a look at the chart included in the description to choose the correct one for your teen.

Slippers and fuzzy socks

Cozy socks and slippers can help a person feel relaxed. You can get some basic fluffy socks, or how about some monster sock-slippers or some Stranger Things socks?

My daughter has these cow slippers, or you could get some faux fur slippers for women or this version for men’s sizes, or these adorable fox slippers that come in kids’ sizes as well as women’s.

Another good way to get cozy is to hang out with your pets! If you have a dog or cat, petting or cuddling your pet can help your tween or teen relax.

I hope you have found my ideas helpful! If you did, please pin or share! Do you have more ideas for calming activities for tweens and teens? If so, tell me in the comments!

If you are concerned about your teen or tween suffering from anxiety and/or depression, please read my article that can help you understand anxiety in teens and tweens.

I also would love for you to come on over to Facebook and join my support group. Click here to visit: Moms and Families of Tweens and Teens with Anxiety and Depression.

If you found this helpful, please pin and share!

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2 Comments

  1. This was a very helpful post. My daughter just turned 11 and I am totally feeling the tween years are here. We are going to try many of the ideas out and see what ones work so we can implement them.

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