For parents, each stage of a child’s development comes with new excitements and challenges. You’re teaching your kids and guiding them at every step of the way. The end goal of parenting, after all, is to help grow your children into independent and good humans. You need to teach them safety tips, how to feed themselves, good hygiene, and more. There’s a lot that goes into raising children!
Part of maintaining their overall well-being involves learning how to manage their emotions in healthy ways. Emotional regulation starts young, and you can continue adding in age-appropriate techniques as they get older. Whether your child is a toddler or a teen, tantrums, bad attitudes, or outbursts can come out. Keep reading for calming strategies you can, and should, teach to your children.
Take a Walk
When kids get worked up and angry, encourage them to take a walk. This is a strategy that works for younger and older kids and is one that will serve them well for life. When your children are younger, say, “Let’s take a break and go on a walk.” You could hold their hand and walk a little around the house or take them on a stroller ride around the block.
As they get older, teach them to tell you they need a pause to calm down. In elementary school, they can take a walk while wearing their kids smart watch. This lets them self-regulate their emotions while remaining in contact with you as they walk around the neighborhood or chill at the park. As your kids become tweens and teens, knowing when to take a break will be a huge help during arguments. When tensions run high and you’re having a hard time not yelling or saying things you’ll regret, take a walk yourself!
Practice Breathing and Yoga
Sometimes children – and even adults – get so upset they find it hard to catch their breath. Focusing on mindful breathing exercises can help your child calm their body. If your kiddo is feeling angry, getting anxious, or having a full-on crying fit, tell them to take 20 deep, slow breaths. Breathing techniques like this one can bring their system back down from its heightened state.
Another strategy you can teach your child is box breathing. With this technique, they take a breath in, hold it, and then release it, all for four counts. Concentrating on this sequence takes their mind off what has gotten them keyed up.
Adding kid-friendly yoga moves in with these practices can help center your child as well. Teach them a few poses to get into while practicing the breathing strategies. Triangle pose, downward dog, and child’s pose are just a few options to consider.
Listen to Music
Music has many therapeutic properties and can be a good tool for bringing a worked-up child back down to their typical resting heart rate. Young kids may be calmed by lullabies or parents singing to them. Toddlers might find Disney songs or even the Bluey theme relaxing. On long road trips, a soundtrack your kiddos love can stave off fits in the car seat.
As children get older, give them space to go to their room and listen to music. In their own environment, they can work through the feelings they are having and de-stress. Getting them headphones or a speaker with lights shows them you value that space. Encourage them to do their listening in a comfy, pillow-laden area on the floor or snuggled up in their comforter.
Retreat to a Reading Nook
The opposite of calm can be tantrums, crying, and anger, but it can also be simple overexcitement. Kids can get a little zany and overstimulated for a myriad of reasons. Changes in routine, big holiday parties, playdates, and being overtired are just a few causes. When your child’s emotions are all over the place, engaging in a quiet activity like reading can help them self-regulate.
Create a reading nook with comfy seats, neat lights, and their favorite books. When your child gets a little loud and out of control, turn off the television and beeping toys. Then let them know it’s time to stop running around and do some reading. It might be a challenge on the first few occasions when you try it. But as reading time becomes routine, their little bodies will come to expect the cooldown.
Art therapy has been known to do wonders for kids and adults. It can calm people down like meditation can. As with breathing exercises, when kids immerse themselves in creation, they focus on that and not what was bugging them. Art allows them to pour their energy into different mediums.
There’s no right or wrong way to make therapeutic art. Your child could draw, color, or paint. Or they could create with Play-Doh, modeling clay, or LEGOs.
Art can also be a way to create a visual representation of what is bothering them. Your child might have feelings inside they can’t vocalize, but through their creations, they can show you. Maybe they draw in all blues for sad or red for mad, or they could even create more literal drawings. No matter how they engage in art, it’s another way to calm and express themselves.
Self-Calming As a Life Skill
Learning to take a step back and calm oneself is an important life skill. Even many adults struggle with this. Fortunately, you can help your children grow up to be adults who manage their emotions in healthy ways. The earlier you start, the more beneficial it is for your child.
From walks to breathing exercises to creating art, there are many strategies you can employ. Spend time helping your child find the techniques that naturally work best for them. Having a couple self-calming options in their emotional toolbelt will set them up for life.