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How to Make a Stress Bag for Your Child


Jeanette Yoffe M.A. M.F.T.


Children and Parenting


Author of Groundbreaking Interventions: Working with Traumatized Children, Teens and Families in Foster Care and Adoption and What s Your Name, Who s Your Daddy? a one woman play about growing up in foster care and adoption available on Amazon and Audible. She has appeared on the OWN and TLC Network, as a Psychotherapist teaching about Adoption in the shows Raising Whitley and Long Lost Family.

Stress is a common experience in our lives. Unfortunately, children today have more stressors than ever and need tools to help them cope in fun and unusual ways with the Stress Bag! A DIY you can make at home with your child.

Jeanette will explain the importance of teaching children stress management strongly suggested for kids ages 5-12.

GOAL: To get a child to utilize coping skills when he/she feels stressed emotionally and/or physically in order to learn how to problem-solve and regulate themselves on their own.

SYMPTOM REDUCTION: Feeling "Stressed," agitated, or helpless.
SYMPTOM INCREASE: Self-awareness, self-esteem, self-regulation, and self-reliance. 


 Jeanette will provide the following MATERIALS:

1 Bag with Handles
Stress Ball
Body Sensory Sack
Bubble Wrap- precut into 12” squares Clacker-Thinker
Paper to draw with crayons
8 Index Cards for Stress Busters Markers


Introduce the task by explaining how this stress coping skill bag is going to help children gain control of their "stressful" feelings with the use of a special bag they will explore and create together. Within the bag, there will be special skills for him/her to do when they have these feelings and don’t know how to express them. The order is not important.

Stress Ball: The child is told the stress ball is used to put all his/her stress into the ball by squeezing it, sitting on it, flattening it etc. The child does this until he/she feels their stress has been relieved and can move on.

Bubble Wrap: Bubble wrap is used to help a child focus their energy in one place all the while externalizing “stress” in a fun way. The child is instructed to take 1 piece of the bubble wrap, (which is pre-cut, you may include as many as you would like.) Then the child is told to stand on the bubble wrap and begin popping the bubbles with his/her feet. The parent/therapist can explore with the child how the wrap feels beneath his/her feet, what are they popping away? Where is the stress going?

Body Sensory Sack: The child is instructed to go into the spandex sensory sack and push and pull to externalize their emotions in a contained space. The smooth, stretchy material provides the deep pressure that sensory-seeking kids crave. The movement tool helps children learn spatial awareness and relax. It helps kids learn to self regulate and transition from hyper to calm, from sad to happy, from distracted to alert. Just climb in, stretch, crawl, move, roll and relax for calming sensory integration therapy.

Paper to Draw: The child is told the “Paper to Draw” is used to draw pictures about their stress. The child can draw pictures of the person and event and/or write words that express his/her stress. (See attached Paper to Draw Cover page for drawing book.)

Play-doh Rip-Squish-Spaghetti Technique: This technique teaches a child how to regulate and externalize their “stressful” feelings. The child is instructed to open the play-doh, take out the play-doh and say out loud “RIP” while breaking it into 2 pieces. The child is then instructed to say the word “SQUISH” while squeezing his/her feelings into the play-doh, then the child says “SPAGHETTI” while separating his fingers so that the play-doh squishes right through them like spaghetti. Tell the child to begin all over again with Rip-Squish-Spaghetti. He/she should do this 5-10 times until they feel more relaxed. Tell the child, this tool will help him/her release their "stressful feelings into the play-doh" instead of somewhere else where someone may get hurt.

Bubbles Blow-away-disappear technique: The bubbles are used for blowing, of course. The child is instructed to sit down in a chair while performing this task. He/she is going to imagine seeing the stressful feelings enter the bubble and then disappear when it pops. Encourage the child to focus, feel the lightness of the bubble gliding within their control. Each bubble he/she blows they watch until it pops so that the child begins to regain focus and internalize a sense of calm.

Stress Busters: The child with the help of the parent/therapist will create 3-8 Stress Busters and write them on the card. These are also stored in the bag and the child is told he/she can reach in the bag and pick one out at any time and they will tell him/her what to do with their stress.

Examples of Stress Busters are: (See attached cards.)
1. STRETCH my BODY like a CAT in my SENSORY SACK!!! Meow!!!
2. FALL on my BED backward 5 times. See if I can BOUNCE back up!!!
3. PRETEND I'm a STATUE in a museum for 10 seconds!!!
4. STAND on my TIP-toes and WALK really, really slow to the count of 10!!! Shhh! 5. SMILE really BIG in the mirror to the count of 3!!!
6. TAKE 5 deep BELLY breaths!!!
7. TIGHTEN my BODY for 5 seconds and let it GO!!! Do it 3 more times!!!
8. GO up to SOMEONE in my house and make a really FUNNY face!!

In the end all of the items are placed back in the bag and the child or parent/therapist writes on the outside of the bag “Things to do when I feel stressed to help me calm and catch my breath!.” The child keeps the bag within reach hanging on a doorknob or hooks in his/her room.

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