10 Tricks for Helping Kids to Calm Themselves Down

imageIn the heat of the moment, it’s not always easy to help a child calm himself. Learning to self-soothe and finding productive ways of managing anger are essential aspects of your child’s development, though, and shouldn’t be ignored. These 10 tricks can help you equip your child with the tools he needs to manage his emotions in healthy, productive ways so he can calm himself down when he starts to lose control of his feelings.

Change Their Environment – As he gets older and more mature, your child will need to learn how to stay calm when he’s in the thick of a conflict. While he’s still young and struggling to control his emotions, however, it’s best to remove him from an upsetting situation by changing his environment at the onset of a tantrum. Remove your child from the upsetting situation so he can calm down without further triggers, then work on building the necessary control when he’s feeling more composed.

Keep Your Own Anger in Check – You can’t teach your child to calm himself when he’s listening to you lose your own composure. Kids can try your patience in the best of situations, but losing your temper while you’re trying to help your child learn to manage his own anger is both counterproductive and confusing to him.

Give Kids an Emotional Vocabulary – Many tantrums spring from a fundamental frustration kids feel over not being able to adequately convey his emotional state any other way. Equipping your child with an emotional vocabulary allows him to use his words to express how he’s feeling, rather than emotional outbursts and tantrums. When your child is calm and happy, talk about feelings and the names for specific emotions. That way, when he’s frustrated or angry, he’s able to more accurately communicate those feelings.

Talk About Recognizing the Signs of an Impending Episode – The key to helping your child maintain his composure and calm himself down is first helping him to recognize the signs of an outburst before it happens. It’s far easier for your child to calm down before a tantrum than it will be for him to stop one that’s already rolling, so work on finding ways to identify an episode before it picks up steam and becomes too much for him to handle.

Work On Building Empathy – When kids have a clear understanding of how their outbursts, hurtful words and lashing out hurts other people, it’s easier for them to understand why they should avoid having an outburst in the first place. Find ways to encourage compassion and to foster an environment of empathy so that later, when your child is angry, he understands that his actions and words can hurt the people around him.

Learn Breathing Exercises Together – After a tantrum has passed and your child is in control of his emotions again, talk about breathing exercises he can do when he feels his anger, fear, frustration or anxiety spiraling out of control. Not only are you addressing his anger directly, you’re also giving him the tools he needs to actively avoid the next episode.

Don’t Reward Outbursts – When a child is screaming, crying or acting out, it can feel easier in the moment to just give in to his demands than to stand your ground. This will stop the screeching and restore some measure of peace to your household, however temporarily, and will send your child the message than an outburst will help him achieve the result he’s looking for. Make a point of not rewarding tantrums or angry demands.

Redirect Little Ones’ Attention – For very young children, the best way to get his mind off of the irritant is to simply redirect his attention until he’s feeling more calm. At such a young age, your child may not even have the emotional maturity to calm himself down. He’ll need your help until he’s a bit older, so just practice redirection and building compassion.

Save the Big Conversations for Later – Your child, regardless of age, is not going to hear the message behind your words when he’s in the thick of a tantrum. No matter how insightful and helpful your statements are, they will be ineffective until he’s calm enough to process them.

Avoid Minimizing Kids’ Feelings – Telling an upset or angry child not to cry or that the trigger behind a tantrum isn’t important may feel like a solid strategy, but it’s actually one that can cause bigger problems. Your child only hears you minimizing his feelings and telling him that he shouldn’t feel that way, that he’s wrong for being upset and that he’s overreacting. Instead of saying ‘this isn’t important,’ try telling your child that you understand why he’s upset, and that you’ll be willing to talk about it when he’s more calm and capable of conversation.

Source: http://www.4nannies.com/blog/10-tricks-for-helping-kids-to-calm-themselves-down/