Teaching Children to Self Soothe Using our Five Senses to Cope

When problems or distressing situations cannot be prevented or avoided, children need concrete suggestions and ideas to soothe themselves and tolerate emotions or even discomfort.  This simple activity incorporates art, an intentional focus on the five senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, and personal reflection.  Children are actively engaged in tolerating their own emotions and experiences.  Our own hands can help us cope.

Materials: paper and markers or crayons, scissors


Each child traces their own hand (or teacher can provide a larger cut out of a hand)

Each finger represents one of the five senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

Children are instructed to think about each sense and what brings calmness, happiness or pleasure to them for that sense. Children can then draw or write that aspect on the corresponding finger.

These “soothing hands” can be posted in cubbies, on a notebook, kept in a desk for easy access, or even displayed in the classroom. Children should be encouraged to engage in one of the soothing activities when distressed in the future.


Vision: a beach scene, pictures of my family, mountains, flowers in bloom, fall leaves

Hearing: music, silence, ocean waves, humming a tune

Smell: flowers, certain foods, candles, berries, cinnamon or other spice

Taste: gun, chocolate, ice cream, fruits

Touch: a special blanket, pets, lotion, animals (pets)

**This information was shared at the VSCA Fall conference 2014**