Youth Alternatives: Helping your child learn to calm themselves down

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CHEYENNE, Wyo - We all have to learn to calm ourselves down when we get angry or upset, but children don't always learn exactly what we intend for them to learn.

Photo: Pixabay

Cheyenne Youth alternatives sent us a few suggestions to help you ensure that your children learn how to calm themselves down.

-Stay Calm
Remember that, as parents, we are models of acceptable behavior. If we respond to our anger with our children by yelling at them then our children are likely to learn, that it is okay for them to respond explosively to their anger. The best way to teach our children to stay calm is to show them, that you can stay calm when angry. If you have to take a break to calm, then do so. In fact, you would be modeling an effective and acceptable way of calming yourself down.

-Validate their emotions
When your child gets angry or upset, start by validating their emotion before you try to redirect their behavior. Use the philosophy that it is okay to be angry; it is what we do when we are angry that can be good or bad. By validating that whatever your child is feeling is okay, you indicate that you understand their experience. That tends to help children begin to re-engage their rational mine. This will also teach your child that they do not have to prevent themselves from feeling in the first place; they simply have to control their actions.

-Explain that emotions are okay, but certain behaviors are not
First off, stay calm. Be stern, but calm. Punish your child for the act of hitting, not for being angry. Validate that it is understandable that your child is, or was, angry and relate that it was their behavior that was not acceptable. Be clear and specific about this distinction to ensure your child understands the difference (It is always a good idea to have this conversation again once everyone is calm on the inside and outside).

-Here are some specific things you can do to teach your child to calm themselves down.
Take a break from the angering or upsetting situation. Take deep breaths and repeat a calming phrase to themselves (Ex: Everything will be okay; This too shall pass; I got this). Exercise (Pushups, Jumping Jacks) Listen to music. Draw or Color