How To Use The 5 4 3 2 1 Grounding Technique

When it comes to a child’s emotions, it can often be difficult for them to fully express and explain how they are feeling, especially if the emotions are negative. As a result of this, it is very easy for a child to become trapped within their own thought process and to continue feeling the negative emotions.

How To Use The 5 4 3 2 1 Grounding Technique

As a parent, it is so important to help your child overcome this, and to teach them the correct coping mechanisms to calm them down and bring them into the present. The best way to do this is through grounding.

What Is Grounding?

Grounding focuses on the present, and helps a person to focus on what is around them. The technique is intended to be calming and helps to disperse negative emotions. It is a highly successful technique that can be used for a person of any age.

There are 5 different elements involved in grounding, and it is important for the person to focus on each of these elements individually and in order. Once they have grounded themselves with the five different techniques, they should feel a sense of calmness.

When you are teaching these 5 grounding techniques to a child, you will want to break them down as much as possible to allow them to have a clear understanding of what they need to focus on during each stage. The simpler the instructions are, the easier it will be for the child to ground themselves.

5. Five Things They Can See

To begin with, you will want to ask your child to focus on five physical things they can see around them. This can be any object, and it can be useful for them to choose specific objects they like, such as their toys.

It is important that the child chooses five individual objects. You will want them to say out loud what they have chosen. For example, “I see my favorite toy”.

4. Four Things They Can Feel

Once your child has chosen five things they can see, next you will want to encourage them to focus on and choose four things they can feel. This allows your child to become more present in the moment.

This element can cover a wide variety of different things, from physical objects to emotions.

For example, if they are outside they could feel the breeze on their face. If they are sitting on the sofa, they can feel its cushions. The items they choose can be varied. Again, these should be spoken out loud.

3. Three Things They Can Hear

Next, you will want your child to focus on three things they can hear. This could be the sound of rain, the TV, or even the sound of their own breathing.

This encourages the child to use all of their senses, be present in the moment, and hear what is going on around them. You should encourage your child, again, to say these three things out loud.

2. Two Things They Can Smell

Allowing the child to focus on two things they can smell is a great grounding technique because it encourages them to really think about their surroundings. It is more difficult to focus on what they can smell, which will encourage them to be more present.

As there may be some instances where the child cannot smell anything, you can encourage them to imagine and think about certain smells instead, such as the smell of strawberries, or freshly cut grass.

1. One Thing They Can Taste

The final grounding technique that should be used is taste. This again is something that requires more focus and attention. As a result, it will allow your child to help ground themselves.

If your child cannot currently taste something, you will want to encourage them to talk about their favorite tastes instead, such as chocolate, or fruit.


Grounding can take some time for a child to learn and feel comfortable with. This is why it is important to talk your child through each step when they are feeling anxious or worried. This will help them to focus on both you and the present.

Over time, as your child becomes more familiar with this technique, they can begin to practise this without needing the assistance. However, we would always recommend walking through this coping skill with your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding grounding.

How Do You Explain Grounding To A Child?

If a child is unfamiliar with what grounding is, it can be more difficult to explain this to them. As a result you will need to explain this technique in a way that is easy and accessible.

You don’t want to overcomplicate the explanation, and instead you will want to explain that the techniques they are going to use will help them to feel less worried or afraid.

Are Grounding Techniques CBT?

Yes, grounding techniques are something that is often incorporated and talked through in CBT. However, you or your child doesn’t need to be receiving CBT treatment in order to practise grounding. It can be useful for anyone to use.

How Do You Choose A Grounding Object?

The objects a person or child will choose to use for the grounding techniques will vary from person to person. While some children will find it useful to name the first thing linked to their senses, others will prefer to use objects that hold a level of importance.

The object itself is not the important thing that needs to be focused on. Instead, it is the act of grounding oneself through focusing on the object and naming it out loud.


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