Have you noticed lately that your child is having difficulty calming down when they get upset? Their tantrum lasts minutes, a half hour or even a whole hour! It seems that their emotions are getting so big that they are unable to rationalize or reason about why they are this unhappy. You want to help them and make sure they are safe, but right now you are feeling stuck.
It is important to remember that when children get upset, they aren’t able to use their rational and logical part of the brain, so they might not be able to tell you why they feel upset. Helping them get to a calmer place so that they can think more clearly will be beneficial for both you and your child.
Here are some coping tools to help your child calm down when they are feeling upset.
Tool Number 1: Take Deep Breaths
We all could use some deep breaths to regulate ourselves in these intense moments! Deep breathing sends messages to our brain to calm down. One way that you can introduce deep breathing is to make it relevant to things your child likes. For example, you might tell your child to “smell the flowers” or “smell the yummy pizza” and then to “blow the bubbles” or “blow out the birthday candles.”
Tool Number 2: Make Some Music
Do you remember when you used to rock your baby and hum or sing a song to them to help calm them down? Rhythm is extremely regulating for children, even when they aren’t babies anymore. When your child is having a hard time calming down, sitting with them humming their favorite song or any slow and rhythmic song can help them reset.
Tool Number 3: Become Mindful to the Present Moment with 5-4-3-2-1
Dependent on your child’s age, this mindfulness exercise can be helpful in distracting from intense emotions and helping them come back to the present moment. You simply name 5 things you can SEE, 4 things you can FEEL, 3 things you can HEAR, 2 things you can SMELL, and 1 think you can TASTE. You can even do this together so that your child feels safe and not alone in this overwhelming moment.
Tool Number 4: Take a break
Sometimes your child might just need a safe place to cool down on their own. After validating their emotions and telling them that you are there for them when they are ready, find a place for them to take a little space to calm down from the situation at hand.
Tool Number 5: Providing Sensory Input (Giving a Big Hug, Putting on Weighted Blanket, Taking a Shower)
Some kiddos find sensory input to be extremely regulating. A couple of examples of sensory input as a coping tool include, giving your child a big bear hug, putting a weighted blanket on your child, or having your child take a hot shower. These can be helpful in calming your child down in the moment.
So those are my five tips for helping your child calm down when they are feeling upset.
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I help children and families navigate trauma, transitions, and other mental health needs. My goal is to bring about meaningful change for both you and your child.
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Disclaimer: These writings should be considered a matter of personal opinion. They do not reflect professional advice. This medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and intimacy required to provide professional advice. If you are in need of consultation, I highly recommend you seek professional counseling. If at all possible, you should seek a reliable referral from a trusted source.
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