Reducing Stress and Anxiety with Play Dough
Learning to manage and express your emotions isn’t always easy, especially when you’re a toddler or child. Kids often feel anxious, angry or sad when they can’t process what’s going on around them, which is why many therapists are recommending play dough play-therapy.
Fidget spinners, zen gardens and puzzles are popular for a reason. They help us keep our hands busy so our minds can relax.
As an adult, it can be challenging to manage stress and anxiety. It’s a skill that must be constantly practiced. Many people turn to talk-therapy, meditation and yoga, but when you’re a child, it can be incredibly difficult to find the words to express yourself, sit still or make your body contort, which is why many therapists recommend incorporating play dough into a play-therapy session or using it as a tool for your child at home or while out and about.
Benefits of play dough for reducing stress and anxiety in kids
Versatile and fun, play dough is easy for little hands to manipulate, not as messy as paint and easy to travel with. It also helps build your child’s self-esteem, fuel their imagination and show them what they’re capable of creating. Since so much of a child’s day is planned: what they eat, where and when they sleep, and how they spend their time, being able to physically mold and manipulate play dough can help your child feel like they are in control. This can help them feel less anxious and calmer about the day. (It can also help parents relieve stress and anxiety too!)
If your child tantrums and tends to get angry about sudden changes, following the rules, traveling, or adjusting to new play dates, play dough can be used to release their anger.
Art Therapist and Psycho Therapist, Carolyn Mehlomakulu, says, “That when we get angry that energy needs to go somewhere – we can’t just bottle it up or ignore it. One safe way to release anger is to allow the child to pound and smash play dough. Another option is to create monsters out of the play dough that they can then smash. Sometimes I will make a paper target to tape to the wall – the child can then take out their anger safely by throwing play Dough balls at the target.”
As well as acting as a stress and anxiety relief aid, which enables cognitive development, play dough can be great for honing fine motor skills and educating kids about the world around them. Whether you want to work on shapes, introduce your tot to gardening or spark an interest in engineering, there are tons of ways you can use play dough to do so.
An important thing to consider when buying play dough is to check the ingredients. We always make sure that the ones we use are completely non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Chemicals to avoid in play dough
- Boric Acid / Borax
- Artificial dyes
- Harmful phthalates
- Synthetic fragrances
Two play dough brands we love are Dough Parlour and Eco-Kids.
Founded by preschool teacher and mom of four, Natalie Sabri, Dough Parlour makes every order fresh in Canada using non-toxic ingredients. With a range of colors, scents and dough cutter sets, kids will love the sensory experience of touching, seeing, and smelling. It’s best not to taste!
Eco-Kids play dough comes from a recipe that was handed down from co-founder, Cammie Weeks’s, mom. All-natural and completely safe, they offer the same vivid colors and soft textures you’d expect from mass-market companies.
We also love the dough kit from Let Them Play! Great for honing fine motor skills, it will facilitate hours of calming fun.
- Worried about your child’s behavior? Here’s The One Quality Your Child Needs To Succeed.
- Looking for clothing free of harmful chemicals like pesticides? Visit The Tot Organic Shop!