One thing you learn quickly as a parent is how quickly emotions can escalate. Whether it’s a crying baby or a toddler who throws tantrums hourly, emotions run high. When your child is
upset and you need to get them to do something, it’s won’t happen if they are at DEF-CON 1. De-escalate the situation and calm your child first with these tips.
It can be draining to cope with the roller coaster: fear, anger, sadness, and extreme happiness within minutes at times. When this happens at our house it leaves everyone feeling frazzled and on edge. Remember that you aren’t effective when you’re highly emotional either. Take several slow and deep breaths. Put yourself in a time out of sorts, even if that’s just stepping onto the front porch for a moment. Drink some water or hot tea… believe it or not, nothing insanely bad is going to happen at that moment. Just calm down. Once you feel level-headed and able to think clearly you can help your child much better.
Teach Your Child To Breathe
There are several methods that can be used to teach your child to take some deep breaths. My son liked “Blowing Out Candles”. He literally would take a huge breath, hold it and then blow it out forcefully like he was blowing out candles on a birthday cake. It worked very well when he was mad. I found a great printable for deep breathing exercises at Childhood 101. Their website has been indispensable to me. They offer a lot of free printables that I have laminated and hung in my home. They act as reminders for the kids…and adults.
Hug And Hold
There will be times when your small child has emotions that are just too big for them to handle. Although this technique may not work for your particular child, it’s very useful in some situations. To do the hug and hold, you sit on the floor, with the child in your lap. Sit with your legs crisscrossed over theirs so that you cannot be kicked. Cross them arms across their body and hug them tight so they can’t hit or pull hair. Be careful that the child doesn’t hit you with their head, that has happened to me before and it hurts! Eventually, your child will calm down, or at least expend a lot of their energy trying to escape.
Some kids really hate to the hug and hold technique (or are too big). When that happens it can be useful to give them space to figure out their emotions. Don’t lock them in their room all alone, because those emotions can be overwhelming and scary. When the child feels alone those emotions can compound further, which is the opposite of what we are trying to do! Instead sit close by, very calm but doing nothing. Don’t play on your phone or try to talk to the child. Your child will know that you are there are ready to talk once they calm down. Once they are ready, your child will approach you! I promise, it may take a minute (or several), but it will happen.
When a child is upset, he or she cannot understand logic. Shoot…most adults can’t do that either. Giving a big speech or lecture is only going to make things worse. Your child is frustrated at trying to deal with their emotions and understand what you are saying. Validate how your child feels “I can see that you are upset” or “So what you’re saying is…” show your child that you are listening and aren’t their enemy. Use as few words as possible and let the child do the talking. Say what you need to after the child is done talking. When they are upset, you’ll feel like you are talking to a wall.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped our family. Techniques vary per child and per situation. This is still a work in progress at my house. Please do not ever view this as me trying to tell you how to raise your kid. I have no idea what you might be going through, but I know that raising a kid is tough. It’s much harder when you have an emotional child…but remember that when they have “all the feels” they really do need you. Whether or not those feelings seem to be justified by anything, it doesn’t matter. Your child legitimately feels that way. Hang in there, and let me know if the comments if you have any more techniques!