When children don’t know how to regulate their emotions, strong feelings can often result in tantrums, outbursts, fighting, defiance, or withdrawal and isolation. It is important to help children understand that we all feel strong emotions and that they are allowed to feel really angry, sad, upset, or confused about something but how we respond to these emotions can lead to positive or negative consequences. Practicing calming techniques to manage strong feelings appropriately can help children learn to tolerate unpleasant feelings and thoughts or reduce the intensity of those unpleasant feelings and thoughts. There are many calming techniques that you can practice with your child to help them get through strong emotional moments. Be persistent and don’t give up!
Have your child lie on their back, relax their muscles, and place their hand on their belly.
Ask them to slowly breathe in and see how their stomach expands and fills with air.
Slowly breathe out and notice how the stomach deflates as all the air is all gone.
Repeat until the body feels relaxed.
Incorporate in a child’s routine and practice regularly.
Take a Break
Encourage your child to take a break and walk away in moments of frustration. If they are working on a task they can like doing homework or playing a video game and it is becoming frustrating, take a break and return to it at a later time. Sometimes we need breaks after a busy day and children will too, allow them the space and time after busy days.
Encourage your child to wrap their arms around their body and squeeze tight. This can bring a sense of comfort and help remind children to be kind to themselves.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
This strategy will help children be present in their body and space. To begin, have your child take a deep breath, look around them, and name and identify:
5 things they can SEE
4 things they can FEEL or TOUCH
3 things they can HEAR
2 things they can SMELL
1 thing they can TASTE
Physical activity is a great way to release excess energy, stress, and tension. Any form of exercise helps instantly bring a sense of calmness to the body and brain. Encourage your child to go outside and play, take a walk, or go for a bike ride. You can also do stretches or yoga at home. There are many great and free videos and visuals online that you and your child can follow.
Unfortunately, we cannot prevent our kids from experiencing challenging moments but we can help them navigate those moments and feelings. Finding the calming techniques that work for your child may take time and patience. As you identify calming techniques that work for your child, make a list and practice them often.
Written by Mayra Iniguez