To make your own stress ball, simply take a balloon, fill with playdough, then tie off the end. I have also seen other variations in which you fill a balloon with sand or flour, but playdough has the advantage of not being quite as messy if the balloon eventually rips. I have created a few balloon stress balls that I plan to add to the basket of fidget toys in my office. This could also be a great activity to do with a client as part of working on relaxation and healthy coping. The client can then decorate the stress ball however they like with a permanent marker. I have decorated mine with different feeling faces in order to help spark conversations about different emotions.
Stress balls can be great for a variety of uses. When children are anxious, a stress ball can help them to calm down and feel more centered. For high energy or ADHD children, a stress ball can provide an appropriate outlet for some of their energy. Balloon stress balls are small enough that they could keep one in their pocket or their desk at school. Stress balls can be helpful in anger management, giving children a safe outlet for angry feelings. Stress balls can also great for children on the autism spectrum--while they may not like the feel of clay or playdough, they may enjoy squeezing a balloon playdough stress ball.
Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT, ATR is a psychotherapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, adolescents, and families. For more information about individual therapy, child counseling, family therapy, and art therapy services, please visit www.therapywithcarolyn.com.