Written By: Laura Dart, OTR/L

Graphic of child, text "grounding strategy to calm"

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding strategy for calming can be used to teach children about their senses and how to use experiences within their physical context to bring them into the present moment.

Teaching mindfulness strategies in childhood can provide children with a toolset for successful coping with life stressors.

This promotes emotional regulation, frustration tolerance, and positive coping skills for the present and the future. In the present, it can facilitate development of important life skills and learning through teaching the child to calm themselves. In the future, children can use these skills when they are presented with the increasing stressors related to growing up and even into adulthood. You can create a fun sensory experience with common household items or child-created crafts (for even more investment in the activity)!

The trick is to make it easy for the child to replicate this activity on their own in the future. 

Here are some ideas for each sensory system when using this strategy!

5 Things you can Feel ideas:

  • Pom Poms or Cotton Balls
  • Feathers
  • River Rocks
  • Shells
  • Water Beads
  • Soft Blanket
  • Pillow
  • Sequins
  • Slime
  • Playdough

4 Things you See ideas:

  • Calming Jar (water and oil with food coloring)
  • Lava lamp or jar
  • Flickering candle (always supervised!)
  • Light toy
  • Himalayan Salt Lamp
  • Light String
4 things you can see graphic

3 things you can smell graphic

3 Things you Smell Ideas:

  • Essential Oils (Lavender, Lemon, or Peppermint have a calming effect!)
  • Fresh Flowers
  • Grass outside
  • Salty Air at the beach
  • Sweet fruits
  • Favorite perfume or soap scent

2 Things you Hear Ideas:

  • Favorite Music on a speaker
  • Recording of parent’s voice
  • Rain stick
  • Bottle full of beans or beads
  • Crinkle Paper
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1 thing you taste graphic

1 Thing you Taste Ideas:

  • Sweet or Sour Lollipop
  • Sweet or Tart fruit (strawberry, Oranges, berries)
  • Juicy fruit (watermelon, grapes, oranges)
  • Cold Water
  • Crunchy Vegetable (celery stick, raw broccoli, peppers, or carrots)

What are some calming strategies you use that appeal to each sensory system? Share with us in the comments!


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