Today we’re talking about heavy work activities for kids, and don’t worry, I’m not referring to child labor. Heavy work in my world refers to any activity that pushes or pulls on the body.
Heavy work may help calm your child when they’re hyperactive or having trouble keeping their bodies calm.
It also helps with emotional regulation and may serve as a successful coping strategy.
Heavy Work Activities for Kids
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Why Does Heavy Work Help Kids?
Heavy work stimulates the proprioceptive system, which is our sense of body awareness. We have proprioceptors in our muscles and joints that are stimulated during heavy work activities.
Most people receive enough proprioceptive input through their daily activities. However, some do not.
Those who do not are sensory seekers.
They’re often hyperactive and rough, jumping and crashing into things, may even act aggressively, because their bodies are seeking extra proprioceptive input.
For children like this, heavy work can help them stay calm by providing that much needed sensory input.
Heavy Work Helps Adults Too
Heavy work can help anyone calm down or deal with stress. It’s not just for kids.
Do you, or does anyone you know, like to clean when they get mad? What about exercise? Punch a punching bag? Those are all forms of heavy work.
I even know someone who likes to rearrange her furniture when she’s stressed out.
Heavy Work Activities
There are so many different activities that you can do to incorporate heavy work into your child’s day-to-day routine.
This list of heavy work activities will cover everything that I can think of.
Exercise-Based Heavy Work
- Wall sits
- Wall push-ups
- Regular push-ups
- Crab walks
- Mountain climbers
Although yoga is exercised-based heavy work, it deserves its own section.
Yoga is a fantastic heavy work activity. But, it also stimulates the vestibular system and is an ideal calm-down strategy for kids who enjoy it.
My kids and I do yoga every morning. We love the Cosmic Kids Yoga Adventures which are available for anyone with an Amazon Prime membership (You can get a 30-day trial here). The instructor, Jaime, makes yoga so much fun for kids and adults.
In Chair Heavy Work Activities
Often, kids are expected to remain seated in their chairs while they’re at school. This is often insanely hard for sensory seekers.
These are a few heavy work activities that kids can do without leaving their seats, which may be helpful during class time.
- Chair Pushups: Either hold onto the sides of your chair or put your hands under your bottom and push up, lifting your body about an inch off the chair. Hold for a few seconds, and then repeat.
- Chair Resistance Bands: These resistance bands just go around the legs of your child’s chair. Then, your child can push on them with their feet.
- Hand Pushes: Your child can do this discreetly, with their hands under their desk, if they’re a bit self-conscious in the classroom and worried about other kids looking at them. Just place the palms of your hands together and push them as hard as you can.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves tensing your muscles and joints as tightly as you can, and then relaxing them completely. You start with one part of the body, usually hands or feet, and work your way through your entire body. This is a great script for younger children to get them to engage in this activity.
Heavy Work Activities at the Playground
Since all activities that involve pushing and pulling fall into the heavy work category, there are loads of ways to incorporate this into a trip to the playground.
- Climbing the play structure, ladders, etc.
- Monkey bars
- Climbing up the slide
- Pushing someone on the swings
- Army crawling through the tunnels
- Fill a plastic bucket up with the pebbles and dump it out
Other Outdoor Activities and Chores
- Yard Work: Raking leaves, pushing a wheel barrel, spreading out gravel
- Stacking wood
- Riding a bike
- Pushing or pulling a wagon
- Hanging wet clothes on the clothesline
- Rolling a medicine ball or tires across the yard
- Build a fort/shelter out of tree branches
- Sandbox play
- Water table activities
- Building a snowman
- Gardening: Pulling weeds, digging, watering the plants
- Washing the car
- Shoveling snow
- Cross country skiing
Most household chores involve heavy work, which is why I mentioned that a lot of adults like to clean when they’re stressed or angry.
- Carrying laundry hamper
- Transferring wet clothes into the dryer
- Carrying bags of groceries
- Putting away groceries – especially canned goods in the pantry or frozen items
- Reorganizing the pots and pans
- Rearranging the furniture
- Taking out the garbage
- Baking – kneading dough or stirring batter
More Heavy Work Activities
Here are just some more activities that didn’t really fit a specific category.
- Lay on your stomach on a scooter board and propel yourself across the ground with your arms
- Wheelbarrel walking (requires two people)
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Pushing the cart at the grocery store
- Pushing a younger sibling in their stroller
- Climbing a tree
- Squeezing a stress ball
- Playing twister
- Gymnastic activities – somersaults, cartwheels, rolls, etc.
Looking for More Activities for Sensory Seekers?
I have tons of resources for kids who are sensory seekers. They benefit from many different types of sensory play, not just heavy work activities.
Check out this post: 52 Vestibular Input Activities for Sensory Seekers