Help your child learn to regulate emotions with these musical games!
Using Music at home promotes 1) Bonding, 2) Connection, and 3) Builds relationships between parent and child (and even siblings!).
All of our games and suggestions here are specially designed to help you as a parent bond with your child while helping them work on needed skills at the same time.
The following “Helps” are geared toward emotional regulation skills including emotional identification, expression, and basic regulation. Try them out and find new and engaging ways to help and connect with your child!
And if you’re looking for more resources and ideas, check out these articles as well:
This is a great song to help a child calm down and get more in tune with their body, focus on their movements, and turn their attention away from a myriad of outside influences that may be causing agitation.
You can sing it with them (or play the recording) when they need to return to a calm state. This is best achieved prior to escalation or during de-escalation (when they are calming down after a tantrum or meltdown). Do the actions with them and see how it works for you.
Reach your arms up high and bring them way down low (2x)
To the side and the side(3x)
Now breathe in, breathe out (2x)
Clap Your Hands
Proprioceptive input is defined as “sensation from ones muscles and connective tissue that underlie body awareness. It is important because it helps us to us to know where our limbs are in space without having to look. Engaging in movement activities that promote proprioceptive input helps reorganize your central nervous system to promote balance and organization.
- Sit facing your child or have them sit in your lap
- Click play on the audio file
- As you go through each exercise provide HOH (hand over hand) modeling to encourage your child to participate in the activity
- As you finish give your child a squeeze and then return to whatever you were doing
Audio File: Clap your hands, brush your legs, squeeze your arms, stomp your feet.
Name That Zone
Did you know that non-verbal cues make up 93% of communication? And that body language, a non-verbal cue, is over 50% of the way we communicate? This exercise helps your child watch certain video clips and look for cues in the body language of the character to help identify what zone they are in.
- Go to the Zones of Regulation Playlist on YouTube:
- After watching each video, have your child identify what zone the character(s) in the video was in (red, blue, yellow or red).
- After your child correctly identifies the zone the character is in, have them tell you one reason why they believe they were in that zone.
Ex: (Mulan is in the blue zone because she was crying) or (Seagulls were in the yellow zone because their bodies were out of control).
- Have your child demonstrate one thing their body does when they are in that zone.
Ex: When I’m in the red zone, I clench my fists.
- End by reviewing the zones of regulation by identifying what zone you and your child are in now and why.
If You’re _____ & You Know It
Emotions are abstract concepts that are sometimes difficult for children to conceptualize. Adding movement and visual cues help children identify an emotion and help develop an understanding of the correlated expression of that emotion.
- Sing “If You’re Happy And You Know It”
- Add a new emotion and come up with a movement associated to that emotion
Ex: “If you’re mad and you know it cross your arms”.
- Give your child an emotion and have them come up with a movement for that emotion
Ex: “If you’re sad and you know it ________”
- Now give your child an expression or movement and have them identify what emotion it is.
Ex: If you’re ____ and you know it jump up high”
- Take turns guessing the emotion or creating a movement until you have addressed each zone of regulation.
Roll the Dice
Download a pdf of Roll the Dice game cards here!
Everyday, life faces us with different situations that evoke different emotional responses. This game helps your child to understand how to identify and express each zone through a fun musical game.
- Get out a pair of dice and something to drum on.
- Roll the dice and add the numbers together.
- Using that number, read your situation card to yourself.
- Pantomime the behavior outline in italics and bold.
- Express the zone musically on an instrument (drum, piano, kazoo, etc.)
- Have your child guess what zone you displayed.
- Take turns until you make it through all 12-situation cards.
Heart Beat Drumming
Everyone has a heartbeat that responds to the outside world. When we are excited our hearts race, when we are calm, our hearts are steady. This exercise is designed for your child to express different “heartbeats” on a drum to practice identifying and accurately expressing the different zones of regulation.
- Get out a drum. You can also use Tupperware, storage containers, or drum on the floor.
- Listen to the YouTube link of a heartbeat to get an idea of what a heartbeat sounds like.
- Put your hand over your heart. Listen to your heartbeat. Try to imitate it on your drum. Is it slow and steady? Is it racing? Is it soft and slow? What zone are you in right now?
- Go through each zone and practice what each zone “heartbeat” would sound like.
Ex: Green Zone heartbeat would be slow and steady because it is calm
Ex: Red Zone heartbeat would be aggressive and pounding because it is mad
Ex: Yellow Zone heartbeat would be fast and spastic because it is out of control
Ex: Blue Zone heartbeat would be slow and soft because it is sad
- Take turns picking a zone and then creating that heartbeat on the drum.
- The person who isn’t drumming gets to guess what zone the heartbeat is.
- End by reviewing what emotions are associated in each zone.
- Play the recording or sing this song with your child to teach them about boundaries
Once there was a rabbit who always rushed in
He only thought of himself
He messed things up, he knocked things down
Never thought about anyone else
Then along came a turtle felt like hiding her head.
She turned to the rabbit and politely said….
“Stop and think, Look and see.
What is going around me.
Stop and think, Look and see.
What’s going on around me.”
–Cassie Bringhurst, SCMT, MT-BC
Hungry for More?
If your child responds well to music, please let us know! We would love to help you get more ideas on how to help your child grow and succeed.
We even offer a free 30 minute in-person consultation where you can learn more and discover how music therapy can help your unique child.