10 Group Activities for Kids Who Are Acting Out

Written by Howard Spector on October 17, 2016

10 group activities for kids to practice and play outside of their counseling appointments

Whether they’re having tantrums at school, whining during dance class, or experiencing power struggles with siblings, children acting out can be overwhelming for everyone around them. However, group activities for kids are a major part of everyday life. They may enjoy solo play time, but learning to socialize with peers is critical.

School-aged children are in the classroom for the majority of the year, and sports and other extracurricular activities are great outlets to learn and foster friendships. So, how can adults address acting out, and help children be better team players?

Before they can address the behaviors, adults need to understand the most common reasons why children misbehave. When meeting with parents – or any adult with regular interaction with kids – teach them to look for the underlying motivators of behavior. Children often misbehave when seeking attention or control.

Children thrive on attention and don’t often discriminate between good or bad attention. They may first try for positive attention, and if they don’t receive it, continue even though they’re receiving negative attention.

Also, as children grow, their abilities to do things on their own develop, and they may yearn for more control over their own lives, whether warranted or not.

Sometimes, adults can meet a child’s immediate need, but other times, children need to learn how to take part in group activities for kids without acting out. Suggest these ten activities – suitable for young children through the teenage years – to parents and educators who are looking to keep their kids occupied and included.

Fun and helpful group activities for kids

1. Can’t-let-go obstacle course

Obstacle courses are fun and encourage achievement in kids. Build a small one with areas children can climb up, down, and through. Here’s the catch: each team must be connected by holding hands and complete the course together. If anyone breaks hands, the entire team starts over.

01-10-group-activities-for-kids-who-are-acting-out2. Mirroring

Pair up the children so that teams of two are facing each other. Then, have one person be the mover, and the other be the mirror. The mirror will need to copy the mover’s movements. Next, encourage them to switch roles. It’s a challenging game that teaches teamwork.

3. Playing with puppets

Sometimes, it’s not easy for children (or adults for that matter) to come right out and share what they’re thinking and feeling. Puppets provide a safe outlet to communicate. This activity works well in a family group setting. At home, parents and kids can replace puppets with stuffed animals, wrestling action figures, or any other toys in the house.

4. Read out loud

Children can explore different, magical worlds during storytime. Feed their need for control and attention by allowing them to be the storytellers. Have one child start reading a story, and randomly point to another to pick up where the first left off. Continue until the story ends.

5. Relay races

Any relay race requires teamwork. Be creative. Here’s one silly example: have children race by carrying an egg (make sure it’s hardboiled!) with a spoon to the finish line and back until all teammates have completed the relay.

6. Telephone game

Of all group activities for kids, you can expect this one to get messed up along the way – as it should. Make the children stand or sit in a line. Then, whisper a sentence to the first child. They repeat your sentence to the next kid in line, and that continues until it reaches the last person. No repeating the sentence person-to-person either. See how much the original statement changed from beginning to end.

7. Trace and draw

Have every child lay down on a long sheet of paper and trace his and her outlines. Then, have the rest of the group fill in all the outlines by coloring, drawing, or writing nice things about each person in his or her outline. This is a great team-building activity, and it also helps with self-esteem.

02-10-group-activities-for-kids-who-are-acting-out8. Video games

Are you looking for group activities for kids that they’ll beg you to do? Children love video games. Choose one with multiple players so everyone can participate. Similarly, let a group of children take turns playing a single user video game. Since they’ll want to reach higher levels, everyone will work together.

9. Write a story

Have your children create a story either on paper or orally. For an oral story, have the children stand in a line. Whoever you point to begins the story. Encourage creative thinking and imagination. Then, randomly point to a new child, who must continue the story using the last sentence of the person before them. Continue until all children have a chance to participate.

If you have more time, assign some students to act as authors and others, illustrators. Let the students or together to come up with a story idea, and then get to work on writing and drawing an actual short story.

03-10-group-activities-for-kids-who-are-acting-out10. Who is missing?

This game works better with a large group, such as a classroom or sports team. Have all children close their eyes and instruct one to leave the room (or hang out in a hidden area). Then, ask the remaining students to identify who left the room. This is a great game for children who act out when they are seeking attention. Once someone wins, start over with a new missing person.

You’re busy coming up with group activities for kids that you can share with the parents who come through your practice, so let us do the heavy lifting for you. SimplePractice has solutions to help you run the counseling practice you dreamed you’d open way back in grad school. Try us today (free!) for 30 days.

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About the Author

Howard is the CEO and Co-founder of SimplePractice. Howard has over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry. He is proud to have earned his MA in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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