Life is full of ups, downs and potential conflicts external and internal. I see many parents who want to help their child with their emotions. In my experience, children do the “right thing” if we give them some education on feelings and thoughts and how they affect us. When I was growing up my parents rarely talked about feelings negative thoughts or anxiety, so being a therapist was a good way to educate myself on all those things. It was a different then, presently, we know so much more, you can teach them they have enormous power to develop amazing skills and qualities and get better at the things they want to be good at, so why waste any time, empower them now!
Here are my top 8 ideas to help your child calm down with a free download for your child.
1.Model Problem Solving Behavior
We have all been there, I’ve shouted at my children, sarcasm was my favorite.I know it’s been totally ineffective in managing the situation. Be ready to apologise and try to take yourself out of the situation if you feel you are getting “hotter” Model taking five minutes ” cool down break”, but it always important to inform them you will return and ensure you connect again before you say anything.
2.Educate your child.
I am great believer in sharing knowledge to parents and children. Educate them about their developing brain, thier Amygdala. The very small but very powerful part of your brain that is there to warn us of danger and prepare us to respond back in Caveman times) Teach them about the “Flight” and “Fight” response and thoughts and feelings. ( I incorporate this in all my workshops if this is something you need to read up a bit, as well as emotion coaching)
3. Use language like Hot ( for anger) and cold for Calm.
Draw a thermometer, so they can point and show you how they are feeling. When you are in a hot state, you often cant talk or think so pointing can be a good idea!
4. Make a list of what helps everyone calm down.
Arrange a family meeting and :
- Make a list of what helps each person feel peaceful so they have something to refer to when they’re angry or out of sorts. (Draw pictures for younger kids.) What does it mean to feel calm and how does it feel?
- Hang the list somewhere they can easily see it.
5. Create a social story.
I am a fan of social stories, they are often used with child with ASD, that aside they are a simple way to show your alternative behaviors in a visual format. They are much likely to process the information and instructions in a comic strip form. By seeing and talking through something will help them to connect to it. This is one I created for ” how to cool down”. I have used symbols but photographs would be just as effective.
6. Create a self Soothe/comfort box.
This is one of my favourite ideas, you can find out more at my blog here
7. Let them find the superhero within themselves.
Children love superheroes, let them be their own superhero, talk to them about what do superheroes do? Do they save and take care of others, yes your child will say. Superheroes are good at working out feelings, they have to stop and work it out fast. Could you do it too? and then teach them to use self-talk ( affirming statements to manage big feelings)
Research has shown that children’s thoughts and “self-statements” can actually affect their physical feelings of anxiety or anger. When children say positive, affirming statements to themselves, they often report feeling less “Big Feelings” and feel more capable of handling stressful moments For example, a child who is able to say statements such as, “I am brave and smart and can take good care of myself” is typically able to cope better. Here are some examples of mad and hot feelings.
8. Help them to move it out
Young children and children who may struggle to talk may be more likely to move the big feeling out. Being a tiger and roaring it out or being a turtle and going into your shell to calm down. Practise together and have some fun with it. For you, I’ve created a simple download to put up on the wall as I am a big fan of visual cues below…
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for your commitment to the wellbeing of your child and your family and for your willingness to keep learning and growing.Remember: parenting is hard work and you all deserve support. Please share the gratitude and love by sharing and liking my Facebook Page and do contact me to hear about my workshops and consultations. With Love Catherine