Children need to be able to feel their emotions yet often become overwhelmed by the weight of those feelings. A child who experiences powerful feelings they cannot regulate or control may struggle during their early growth and development. Fortunately, self-regulation is a learnable skill.
Are you a mother wondering about healthy calming strategies? The appropriate adult support and advice can help young ones understand how to calm their minds and bodies. Read through these tips and tricks to teach children to calm themselves.
Identify and Validate the Emotion
Some children hesitate to feel negative emotions, choosing to suppress them instead. Parents need to help their children understand how their emotions work and realize that any non-happy feeling isn’t necessarily wrong or bad. Identifying the emotion is the first mindful step toward greater understanding.
Emotions build up and can become an overwhelming and uncontrollable wave if not identified, expressed, or validated. The inability to adequately control one’s emotions is how self-comforting childhood habits begin. Coping habits driven by instinct or triggered by impulse—such as non-nutritive sucking—may not be the best self-soothing tools available. Instead, help your child learn to calm down on their own by finding the right tools that won’t have future consequences on their health.
Stop and Take Some Deep Breaths
After displaying non-judgmental acceptance of what your child is feeling, remember to breathe. When humans are upset or anxious—regardless of age—their breathing typically turns shallow. Ergo, stopping what we are doing and taking big deep breaths leads to a calmer state of mind. Remember: the brain follows the body.
Teach your child to breathe deeply with different exercises and activities. Practice together to find the best position or stance, such as sitting, standing up, or lying down. Over time, a child can learn to take a breather on their own without any parental reminders.
Model How To Manage Difficult Feelings
Deep breathing isn’t the only trick to teach children to calm themselves. As a parent, you can influentially model the behaviors you'd wish to see and help your child manage strong or difficult emotions. Feeling these emotions and regulating them is a challenge even adults still regularly face.
This approach is key to helping children pause, notice what they are feeling, and take the appropriate action. Talk to your child about various situations in your life and model how to best problem solve. Consider the healthy calming techniques you personally use, such as listening to music, going outside for fresh air, or completing a quiet activity. Demonstrate your approach and empower your child to figure out what works for their emotions. Practice and patience can make all the difference.