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Heavy Work Activities for Older Kids and Teens

Thanks to all of the members who submitted great ideas for this list. They are much appreciated!

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  • Sensory activities that provide deep pressure to the whole body are calming to the nervous system. Try rolling a large ball over your child while applying as much pressure as they desire. Don’t have a large ball? Pillows or couch cushions work too.
  • Help your child to set up a cozy corner behind a couch, under a table, or in the corner of his or her room. It should include pillows or a beanbag, a favorite blanket, a couple of books ,or a quiet toy to fidget with. Encourage your child to go to the cozy corner when he or she needs to calm down. The cozy corner shouldn’t be a punishment, like time-out, rather it should be used before negative behavior occurs but when you can see it coming. This is an independent sensory activity that will help the child learn to self-calm.
  • Jumping is a sensory strategy that tends to rev us up. Encourage this type of activity when your child is doing more daydreaming than anything else during homework time or in the mornings if he or she struggles to get ready for school on time.
  • The Coffee Grinder is a fun, alerting sensory activity that doesn’t require any equipment. Have your child push up on one arm, if able, and walk their body around that arm. Once the child can do this easily, ask him or her to see how many times they can go around in 20 seconds. Switch arms and try again.
  • Just Right sensory activities offer a lot of proprioceptive input, which is almost always helpful in getting us to the appropriate level of arousal. Crashing play can be accomplished in the home by allowing the child to jump from a small stool or child’s chair into couch cushions or a beanbag. This provides whole-body sensory input, which is organizing to the nervous system.
  • Cuddling is a sensory activity that has big emotional benefits as well! It is important to remember that not everyone enjoys cuddling the same way. Some kids like to be held firmly with deep pressure; others like a little space and might enjoy light back-scratching. Find what seems to be most beneficial for your child and offer this form of input when reading or talking at the end of the day.

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