Posted in Family Fun Factor, Positive Parenting, Relationships, Therapy

Ways to Press the “Reset Button” When Kids are Having A Tough Day ~ 20 Activities

“Sometimes we get in a funk.  We can run a stretch of days with everyone on edge and “bickery”.  It often starts with illness or a stretch of cold rainy days (no outside play), but somehow these sweet children become rather unpleasant to spend the days with….                                                                                                                               Do you have a secret “reset” button, or advice on how to get “back on track”??”

When you can’t take a family ‘emergency’ vacation…. You Can… 


Press the Reset Button with this List for the Whole Family!:

1. Deep breath. Call out, “Deep breath!” Everyone stands up and Takes long, slow breaths while raising their hands over their heads.  Then let the air out slowly while lowering your arms.  The whole movement is very slow and purposeful.  Do that a few times, then go back to your regular day.

2. Jumping jacks.  Stop what you are doing and do 20 jumping jacks.  This is especially good when they seem to have extra energy and need to use it.  It’s hilarious to see the littler ones trying to coordinate their arms and legs.

3. The color game. If its not raining take a stack of construction paper (each piece a different color), some tape and some tacks (keep a bunch in a drawer by the front door) and take it all outside. Tack or tape a whole piece of the paper to trees, the car, a bush, the front door….making sure they are spread out but you can see all of the colors from your chair (that you have set in the middle of it all).  Then sit in the chair and gather all of the kids around you and I say, “Ready……RED!”  Then they have to find the red paper and run to it.  Once they are all there I call out another color and we keep doing it until they are exhausted.  You can modify the game by calling a kid’s name with a color.  You can let the older ones go faster with this version.

4. Play stations in the kitchen.  Fill the sink half full with water & utensils, fill a 9×13 pan with rice, another with straws, a plastic bowl with beans.  Set it all on the kitchen counter (table, whatever) and set the timer for 5 minutes.  They play at each station for only 5 minutes then they switch.  You stay in the kitchen with them the whole time giving attention to their made up games.  In 20 minutes it’s over.

5. Emergency toys. Keep toys tucked high up in a closet for just such an occasion.  Pull them out of the closet and set the timer for 30 minutes.  Once the timer goes off….the toys get put away for at least a month.  That’s the only way they will work the next time.

6. Play a game.  Sit and play something unbelievably dull, like Go Fish or a simple board game.  Sometimes all they need is for you to stop and give them your full attention for 15 minutes.

7. Music.  Music is a-MAZing for this kind of problem.  If I don’t have the time to play games or make pans of rice in the kitchen, turn on some fun kid music and dance around to one song.  Mommy dances too (and Daddy if he’s home).  One song can reset everyone’s attitude.

8. Tear paper.  Sometimes we all just need to do something wild and completely unexpected.  So give each child 3 pieces of construction paper and stand in a circle and when you say, “GO!” everyone starts tearing up their paper and throwing it on the floor.  We jump around and scream and laugh and giggle and fall down and throw the paper around for about 5 minutes.  Then say, “STOP!” and everyone has to clean it up as quickly and silly as possible.

9. Lie on the grass.  Often, when it’s not too wet, cold, hot… go outside and lie on the grass.  Everyone takes turns telling what they see in the clouds or, if there’s no cloud, ask them a question and take turns answering.

10. Drink something green.  Put green food coloring in either lemonade or water.  Gather everyone in the kitchen and give everyone a glass of “Green Goop” and drink it at the same time.  Drink it as fast as you can and be silly.  If it’s been a really rough day, burping is a must. If you are lucky enough to own a professional blender (like VitaMix) – add some spinach to any yummy drink and you have “Green Goop.”

11. Crawling.  Have everyone put shoes on their hands and crawl around until you say stop.  Then they have to freeze like a statue until you say go.  You can call out pieces of furniture for them to crawl to.  Do this for about 15 minutes then stop and put the shoes away.

12. Baths.  These are not get-clean baths.  These are play-baths.  15 minutes in the tub with a few toys and no washing hair.  Just time to stop everything and play in the water.

13.  Read a book.  If everyone is tired grab a book and read it aloud in an unusual way…with an accent, like a monster, while acting it out, hanging upside down off of the couch….something that makes it different.

14. Hold hands.  Sometimes everyone just needs Mom for a few minutes.  So hold hands and walk around, outside if possible but inside works too.  Say something like, “Tell me what you liked about today,” and walk and talk and touch for a few minutes.

15. Quizzes.  Line them up in front of you and zing them with questions.  They have to answer really quickly and if they take too long say, “Zing!” and they have to fall down and get back up again.  (If you’re not feeling creative, just think of a favorite book or movie and ask them questions about that, “What’s the name of the character that_____,” “Who had the last line in the movie?” “What color was ____ wearing when she was running?”, etc.)  This is especially good for nursing moms that need to sit for a few minutes and the older kids are needing attention.

16. Color their name. Write their name in really big, puffy letters and they get 3 Crayons to color it in.  No sharing, no trading…just 3 colors…GO!

17. Have a snack.  You sit with them and talk for just a few minutes.  Don’t set them down and walk off.  Just sit there for a few minutes and toast your glasses together and say, “To a better day!” and eat a little something.

18. The Whisper Game. Say, “Let’s plat the Whisper Game!” and set the timer for 5-10 minutes.  That whole time you sit and talk but everyone has to whisper.  Do what you can to make it silly and animated, like lean to their ears or tiptoe around the room while you’re whispering.

19. Animals.  Sit on the couch and and gather them around, with an arm length between them.  Then call out animals and they have to act like that animal until you change the animal.  Switch it up by calling out a specific child’s name with an animal.

20. Slow down.  This one is good to do after any of the other activities.  Move and talk in slow motion.  Walk around and have them follow you and do what you do….all in slow motion.  Then give them turns being the leader.  This is fun, but it takes the energy back down and you’re ready to go back to normal.

As you can see, the main focus of these activities is to stop what you are doing, stop rushing, stop being frustrated and spend a few minutes together doing something completely different.

                                 It is essential that Mom or Dad participate.  That’s what really pushes the reset button.

Related Links on My Blog: 

  • Click Here for a List of 40 Ways to Keep Children Occupied (especially toddlers) with activities that promote learning and attachment. (sewing basket for kids, pool noodles, pipe cleaners, sensory bins, water tables, etc)
  • Click Here for Activities that Promote Learning & Attachment – link to website with activities listed by age (up to age 5 years but you can adapt for older kids)
  • Click Here for 4 Fun Games that Promote Self-Regulation and practice listening & following directions skills
  • Click Here for Relaxing Road Trip Activities for Kids (most can be fun to play inside at home too! like play dough mats, coloring sheets etc)
  • Click Here for 5 Attachment-Based Activities, 15 Attachment Promoting Activities and MANY more Attachment & Connection Promoting Play.
  • Click Here to see 100 ways to show LOVE to your child (includes free printable list)
  • Click Here for 8 Communication Games Help kids practice listening & following direction skills (Red Light Green Light, Mad Libs, Simon Says, Follow the Leader, Obstacle Course etc.)
  • Click Here for 4 Family Fun Activities using Balloons!
  • Click Here for 6 Self-Regulation Activities & Games for Kids (free printable explaining the importance of self-regulation)
  • Click Here for 24 Gross Motor Activities that promote Parent-Child Connection
  • Click Here for 31 SideWalk Chalk Activities for Kids
  • Click Here for Parenting Tips on how to Improve & Grow Your Attachment & Connection with Your Child

Original Source:


Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

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