You probably don’t associate the word “calming” with cookie dough, but after you try this activity, you will see why this “cookie dough” is very calming indeed. This activity works because your child (the cookie dough) receives deep pressure and proprioceptive input from the “rolling pin” (the therapy ball).
Deep pressure and proprioceptive input elicit a calming response in the body because they can lower stress levels, reassure the body of its position in space, and facilitate the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters responsible for mood and behavior regulation (Buckley-Reen & Dickson, 2015 and research from Edelson, et al.).
This activity is very effective as a solo activity, and its also a perfect way to transition from high energy activities like running, jumping, climbing, etc.. and into calmer activities like doing homework, eating dinner, or getting ready for bed.
Bean bags (optional)
How to Play
1. Have your child lay on his belly on soft carpet or a mat
2. Tell your child that he is going to be “cookie dough” and that he can pick out the “ingredients” that he wants in his cookie dough
3. Put the ingredients into the cookie dough by lightly dropping weighted beanbags (or lightly pat the child’s back with your hands if you do not have beanbags) for approximately 1-2 minutes (or as tolerated) until all the “ingredients” are in the cookie dough
(*Note, this step provides additional proprioceptive input but some children may not tolerate the unexpected touch well. If you child does not tolerate this step well, just skip it and complete the next step)
4. Finally roll the cookie dough out by applying pressure on top of the therapy ball and then slowly rolling down from the child’s back towards their feet. Ask the child how the pressure feels as you are pressing down on the ball and adjust if the child asks for more or less. It is important to start at the top of the child’s back, not on the child’s neck or head, and roll the ball downwards.
After you get to the child’s feet, pick the ball up off the child and repeat rather than rolling it up towards the child’s back again. Roll the cookie dough out for 5-10 minutes or as tolerated.
When Should You Do This Activity?
This activity is great for so many different reasons, but especially for calming anxious nerves and settling down unorganized, overly active movement. As mentioned above, its a perfect transition activity when moving from high energy work (i.e. running, jumping, climbing, etc..) into calmer activities like homework, class time, or bedtime.
It is also very beneficial to use if your child is going to be entering into a stressful situation (i.e. school, unfamiliar places, work, sporting events, crowded areas, etc..). Try this activity to help get their minds and bodies in a calmer, more organized state. Since it is a great activity to do before bedtime, you can now allow your child to have “cookie dough” before they fall asleep!
Do you need the equipment? Try these Amazon links below…